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Music is the Healing Force of the Universe
We are proud of our highly developed musical life in Slovenia. The Slovenes are a nation of singers and musicians. As well as boasting numerous choirs we provide a good basis for our four professional symphony orchestras (with a tradition stretching back to 1701) with 52 music schools, 5 secondary music schools, two academies of music and a teacher-training college. In addition to their other orchestras the music schools have 35 string orchestras, seven of which are symphony orchestras. Not bad for a country of barely two million inhabitants.
Violin-making has naturally developed alongside violin-playing. The first manufacturers of string instruments appeared in Slovenia after 1750. Over 50 violin-makers have been identified to date. There was even a secondary school for violin-making in Ljubljana between 1932 and 1940, and it was under the guidance of a master from this school that Vilim and Cvetko Demsar took their assistants exams.
The Demsar family from Selca near Skofja Loka have practised the traditional local craft of pail-making for centuries. The pine for pails must be chosen carefully, just like the wood for violins. Even before leaving to become a carpenters apprentice, Blaz Demsar (1903-1981) was an accomplished pail-maker - in other words, an expert in resonant wood. By 1927 he had become a skilled carpenter and during this difficult period turned his skill to making violins. In 1948, thanks to his original concept of the mechanical nature of the acoustic response of stringed instruments, his instruments found their way into the hands of a concert master. By 1960 his violins, violas and violoncellos (he made over 600 in total) were being used by soloists. The reason he attracted this interest was the authentic old Italian sound of his instruments. His three sons are all excellent professional string players. Two of them, Vilim (b. 1937) and Cvetko (b. 1940) trained under him as violin-makers.
Working with his father, Vilim Demsar developed an even better technically-defined method of producing a sound for solo use. He achieved an extremely uniform quality of sound across the entire string family (violin, viola, violoncello, double bass and viola da gamba). Particularly impressive is the sound of his small instruments for children, since very few manufacturers recognise that it is children in particular who need the best possible instruments, complete with high-quality accessories (strings, bow, case, etc.), in order to develop.
That coveted old Italian sound can be heard with all of Vilims instruments - although it should be noted that it is difficult to distinguish this from the ordinary sound. We notice it only when the instrument rings out under poor conditions and we listen to it from a distance: in a hall with poor acoustics, amidst strong competition from other instruments in a full auditorium (i.e. in public performances with piano accompaniment, in chamber music groups, or solo with an orchestra), or quietly on audio equipment. With Vilim Demsar this sound is the result of numerous small and invisible inventions - a constant factor with all the old Italian manufacturers, from the inventor of the violin, Andrea Amati (1505-1574), onwards.
On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Tartini, from the Slovene town of Piran, came the idea for a new form of violin, proposed by internationally-known Slovene designer Oskar Kogoj. In addition to his nature design in the form of a helix (scroll), he contributed to the improvement of the sound with wave-shaped middle bouts. Combined with Vilims already established sound, Oskars idea came into being as a sound which immediately aged, as though it was already 200 years old.
In the light of all this, it is actually not violins that are manufactured here but a special violin sound and this is not produced to meet only the wishes of the customers, i.e. the musicians, but primarily the wishes of the audiences. Here, then, they make instruments for soloists.
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