The Maestro Sacconi
in the testimony of the violinist
Henryk Szeryng

Monaco, June 24, 1985

I had the pleasure of meeting Simone Fernando Sacconi when he was working at the Wurlitzer Company in New York. He was with Mr. Rembert Wurlitzer, who was not only a friend, but also a great admirer of Cremona and of all the great Cremonese violinmakers. In my opinion, Sacconi represented the art, culture, and tradition of Italian violinmaking in the United States. Not only was he, himself, a wonderful violinmaker and an amiable, communicative man, but he was also the ambassador of the great classical Cremonese school of violinmaking in the United States, and perhaps all over the world.

He had an important role in my life, because it was thanks to his intervention 29 years ago that I chose one of my violins, the famous 1743 Guarneri del Gesù called «Le Duc»; there were a lot of instruments and the choice was pretty difficult, but he said, “My dear Maestro Szeryng, I think you should have this violin, because you would not be satisfied with an instrument that is easy to play; it seems to me that you need a violin that already has a lot of personality on which you can then impose your own.” These words were of vital importance for me, and instead of choosing a beautiful instrument that can be played without attracting attention, one which doesn't give the violinist the chance to affirm his superiority over the instrument – not with brute force, naturally, but with patience and familiarity with the instrument, etc. – we chose this Guarnerius together, and I have it with me all the time. It isn't the easiest of violins to play, nor is it the most stable because it is capricious, but in reality, it is perhaps the most human of all the ones I have encountered during my lifetime.

Sacconi was an important figure, because he managed to stimulate the development of contemporary violinmaking, to which he contributed with most beautiful examples. He was also able to transmit his love for the greats of the past, and was successful in teaching so many young violinists that Guarnerius, Stradivarius, Bergonzi, Amati, and all the others should be admired and loved, not only as great violinmakers, but also as examples of human genius, as the products of a great civilization. We know that one must be an artist in order to be a violinmaker, and it is necessary to be a man of science, of wisdom, and of philosophy, as well. We are aware of the fact that violins cannot be constructed solely with the application of the laws of physical acoustics, that the empirical aspect has its importance; rules exist and must be respected, naturally, but the exceptions and variables are so numerous. In this sense, and on this subject, Fernando Sacconi succeded in what I would define an apostolic mission: he developed a sense for tone quality and for its capacity to reach the greatest distances; he encouraged everyone to search for big, rich sonority, but he was always against forcing, which naturally causes the violin to emit sounds that are lacking in clarity. We were very much in agreement on this point, because both he and I believe that the volume of sound increases with the beauty of the tone quality, and not just with force, with pressure on the bow.

I believe that the contribution Simone Fernando Sacconi made to the philosophy of the violin was most important, and in innumerable cases he demonstrated that it is possible to have respect for tradition, and at the same time have the ambition to search for new ways, new possibilities.

In order to do things of importance, man in general, the artist, the man of science, the poet, the painter, the sculptor, need to concentrate, to be able to isolate themselves during the preparation of a compelling piece of work. Sacconi went to Long Island near New York City, very close to the ocean and to the beautiful Jones Beach, and when be felt the need for inspiration, instead of staying in his atelier be went for a walk. For me, even taking a walk by oneself bas a most important function in the life of the artist, because if one walks in the vicinity of a masterpiece or in the midst of natural beauty, the moment of inspiration suddenly arrives, even though one may not be conscious of the miracle. In this, too, I find part of the affinity that bound me to Sacconi: the search for beauty, for Nature, for concentrated thought.

Simone Fernando Sacconi's most fundamental contribution to the fields of music and violinmaking was that of having served as a sort of bridge between Cremona and all the modem violinmakers. He did not say that the Cremonese masters should be copied – that would not even be possible – but he firmly believed that one must profit from the wonderful experience of the past, search for the possibilities of the future, and in the present, mix elements of both.

For Sacconi, violinmaking was simply a form of life.

Monaco, June 24, 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, D.C. (Cremona, ACLAP, first edition 1985, second edition 1986, pages 263-265 - Italian / English).