The Maestro Sacconi
in the testimony of the cellist
Amedeo Baldovino

Florence, June 21, 1985

I think the first time I met Simone Fernando Sacconi was in 1961 in New York. I had gone to Wurlitzer's hoping to find him for a little job that had to be done on my Stradivarius, and perhaps even more just to get to meet him. I had heard so much about him, and had also admired a copy he made of a Stradivarius cello while he was still in Rome. I found him, and when I saw how he received me I realized that everything I knew about him was of little significance once one was in his live presence. Shortly thereafter it was as if I had known him for a long time; he was so warm and direct and so far from being conventional in the way he spoke with me that it was fascinating, and at the same time seemed so intimate. Before he even took the «Mara» out of its case, he described it to me. I was overcome, even though I knew that he had seen it before it became mine in 1954. When he had it in his hands, he said, as if he were following a train of thought and talking himself, “When this was born, it was perhaps even more beautiful than the 'Duport'...” We knew that its more «tormented» existence had prevented it from maintaining its supremacy after two and a half centuries! That day there were four other Stradivarius cellos at Wurlitzer's: the «Duport», the «Davidoff», the «Vaslin» (which then belonged to Warburg), and another there for restoration which had belonged to Paul Grümmer. With all simplicity Sacconi put them side by side on the big sofa, just like you put brothers seated together, and then added mine, the last to arrive. Never before, and never again will my cellist's eye ever see such grace of God in one place!

While I looked at them in ecstasy, his voice commented on the particulars of the dream, pointing them out to me... his sensitive, expert observation did not materialize, but rather, transfigured that precious material...

I saw him again and had him as a guest in Rome, where he stopped on the way to Cremona to give the city back its lost Art, reordering the Museum and teaching in the School of Violinmaking. In fact, it was right in Cremona a few years later that Renato Zanettovich and I found him, happy and surrounded by disciples and city officials (including the Director of the Tourist Office, I think). We wanted to show him a violin which a friend of ours (E. W. Paul of London) considered a 1734 Guarneri del Gesù. We gave it to him, and I remember as if I were seeing him now how attentive he was to every sign, positive or negative, which might confirm or disprove the attribution. The examination seemed endless in the silence of all present. It was interesting to note how Sacconi gradually entered into the instrument. Just as joy enters into us when we slowly recognize a face we knew and loved long ago, the expression on his face gradually changed. At last he began to speak, caressing the edges of the violin almost with tenderness. He explained how the Maestro worked, picking out and showing us the revealing signs. His magic made the life of the instrument so clear to us that it was as if we were observing a resurrection... I don't know for how long he kept us suspended from his words. I remember his transport of delight when he made out a small sign on the inside of the back, which he said was a trace left by the tiny metal wedge which the Maestro used to measure the thickness of the wood... We spent the rest of the day so happily, as if we were celebrating the return of a long-lost creature to its native city.

Florence, June 21, 1985

Taken from the book: «From Violinmaking to Music: The Life and Works of Simone Fernando Sacconi», presented on December 17, 1985 at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC (Cremona, ACLAP, first edition 1985, second edition 1986, pages 185-186 - Italian / English).