Greetings from a violinmaker who works in Prague, a city with a rich tradition in violin making!
I started to play violin when I was 5 years old, and this influenced me when choosing my profession. Between 1982 and 1985, I attended the Violin Maker’s School in Luby, Czech Republic, a town near Cheb that was formerly named Schönbach bei Eger. During my apprenticeship, I started working in the atelier of my uncle, master violinmaker Josef Vavra (1912-1998). Undoubtedly it was him who taught and directed me for the road ahead.
Between the years of 1985 and 1987, I studied at the secondary professional school in Hradec Králové. In 1986, while still stuyding at the secondary school, I started to work in the atelier of master violinmaker Vladimír Pilař. My time in the atelier of this foremost Czech violinmaker was of fundamental importance for me. Vladimír and Tomáš Pilař enabled me to raise the level of my work much higher. In 1989, while working for Mr. Pilař, I made instruments for the International Violinmakers Contest, focusing on violas. It was in this contest that I won in two categories.
After this success I was invited to study and work for Bernhard von Hünerbein – Alte Musikinstrumente GmbH in Koln am Rhein. From 1989 to 1992, I had an opportunity to take part in the renowned London auctions, allowing me to see many instruments that were unknown to me. My stay in Germany greatly influenced me and my work. -Thanks to Mr. Hünerbein, in many ways, not only professionally.
In 1992, after my return to the Czech Republic, I became a member of the Association of Czech Violinmakers (KUH) and I started to build renomé for my own atelier. I worked closely with the master violinmaker Přemysl O. Špidlen and I made several short-term study tours in Germany, England and Italy. I participated in a number of contests, seminars and exhibitions, including the great exhibition, organized by the company Biddulph, of twenty-five violins of Guarneri del’Guesù in New York in 1994. During this period I also had the opportunity to meet many significant violinists, including Josef Suk, Yehudi Menuhin, Isaac Stern, Ruggerio Ricci or Maxim Vengerov. The personalities of these talented musicians have also greatly influenced my workmanship. In 1998, before his recital in Prague’s Rudolfinum, Maxim Vengerov asked me to lend him one of my instruments due to an accident he had with his Stradivari from 1728. He practiced for two days on my violin and the afternoon before his concert his precious instrument was returned to him fully repaired.
In 1999 I accepted an offer to become the master of a workshop in the significant restoration company, Claude Lebet in Switzerland in La Chaux de Fonds. I was working in this atelier until 2002, and during my time there I had opportunities to see and restore some of the greatest instruments of all the important violinmakers in history. Some of these insturments include: Stradivari violins from different periods, instruments belonging to the whole family of Guarneri and instruments played by great artists such as Eugène A. Ysaye, Fritz Kreisler, Pablo Casals and others. While learning about French violinmaking and bowmaking, I also learned a lot about the French language and culture. I also found French wines and cheeses very interesting and enjoyable!
Since 2003 I have been working again in my own atelier in Prague, Czech Republic. My younger brother is a successful violinmaker as well. Anyone who is interested in mycraftship will always find my door open. Prague, the city where violins were made almost 350 years ago, is definitely worth a visit!