Being in the United States, I was lucky that Rembert Wurlitzer, like myself, had studied with Amédée Dieudonne, as he found out from Emile Ouchard that I was unhappy in Chicago and ready to return to France. First he contacted me and came to visit me, then offered me a job and mentioned Maestro Sacconi. Being in the United States only a few months it was the first time I heard of this name. Inquiring for more details, Mr. Wurlitzer explained to me that he knew of none in the world to match Mr. Sacconi's technique of restoration, and because of having myself studied with Amédée, I would be very fortunate to go to New York and study further with this great Master.
November 25, 1955 was the date agreed upon. On that morning Mr. Ouchard accompanied me and I was introduced to Mr. Sacconi. I must say, the very minute I saw him I knew he was an artist. Everything about this handsome man made him look artistic, and on the very spot I liked him. Moreover, he loved to speak French and for me it was a great help due to the fact that I could not speak English at that time. The very first work he gave me was to cut a violin bridge on a Lupot. When I gave him the finished bridge he was very enthusiastic, and let me know he was pleased. The second job was a cello bridge on an Amati, and from then on he only gave me valuable instruments to work on, and I became more than ever determined to learn. Mr. Sacconi always loved someone who could do things, anything at all, as long as you showed it was done with intelligence and common sense, and also with loving care and undisturbed attention. My tool handling, learned in France, amazed him and very soon we were friends. I believe that he had a deep feeling for those who could accomplish the craft he had in mind, but was sometimes too busy to do himself. One of his greatest qualities as a teacher was that he got the very best out of everyone, and in a very tactful way. He would correct your mistake or your ignorance about the craft or artistry.
One anecdote I like to tell my pupils of today about Mr. Sacconi is: «One day, a few months after my arrival at Wurlitzer, one of the greatest violins of Guarnerius del Gesù came into the shop. Right away the Master called me, handed it to me and asked ‘what do you think of this?’ I turned the instrument in all different positions, and being naive about it I said ‘Maestro, I think I would have to get dust in my eyes before I would cut a scroll so lumpy.’ He looked at me with his charming smile and very softly said ‘René, I think you would have to wipe it off’.»
You learned from him by being advised and corrected, but he would never hurt your feelings. On the other hand, even if it is difficult for any man to change a system or a method, he always had an open mind. I recall having to restore ribs on a famous cello. Following the Maestro's guidance, I thought that, as I did in France, I had to plane the ribs very thin and later glue new ribs inside, keeping only three-tenths of a millimeter of the original. When he looked over my shoulder and discovered what I was doing he went back to his seat, pulling his hair, thinking I had ruined the ribs. When he calmed down and came back we talked about it, and he let me continue. The finished work pleased him, and he allowed me to do all the other ribs in the same manner, and it became the accepted way of restoration. This proved an open mind, and he was always trying to improve for the better, and most all his pupils got this feeling from him, which is one of the very important qualities in our work. In my eyes he was the one, who in a lifetime was able to develop a way of restoration never reached before and gave intuition and incentive to continue to improve the quality of restoration that he started to his pupils.
Maestro Sacconi was not only a genius in violins; anything he would attempt would have to be above average. In photography he was an artist, and as a fisherman, the same. If something was interesting to him, then only the best result would be satisfactory and even then, he would make the only critique, apologizing for things that no one else was able to see or detect. In his violin making he showed that he loved Stradivarius above all and copied him to perfection. The instruments are just magnificent and they are here to prove it.
His knowledge about instruments was tremendous, and therefore, his expert opinion about the authenticity of instruments was highly respected. His meticulous scrutiny of the detail of each maker was so acute that he became one of the greatest world experts. Anytime he would have a chance to teach an interested person how to recognize these details, he again would do this with a deep love and with the intention of passing on to you a part of his great knowledge. Many violin experts of today's world can be thankful to Mr. Sacconi.
As a man he was very gentle and friendly, but always a little afraid of just anybody. Anyone raising his voice would scare him somewhat, and he had the greatest difficulty in making strong decisions as to ruling his shop. I thank Maestro Sacconi for my success, and as I said earlier, he opened my eyes. From a craftsman he led me more into artistry and to learn how to love those magnificent instruments we have the duty to keep in perfect condition.
New York, August 31, 1983
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 90-91 - Italian / English).
© 2023 - In memory of Simone Fernando Sacconi in the 50th Anniversary of his death