Historical Overview of Stringed Instrument Making

Join Philip J. Kass to examine the development of stringed instrument making in Europe. The discussion focuses on the establishment of consistent methods in Brescia, and especially Cremona, connecting how those traditions played out and influenced violin making elsewhere on the Italian Peninsula. We will identify the principle Italian makers and schools and how they developed their own directions based on what was observed and learned from Brescia and Cremona. We will examine the spread of the Cremona style to other capitals of Europe, the influence of the foreign practitioners on the Italian style, and finally the flowering of independent styles of violin making in Italy during the latter years of the 18th century.

Continuing through history, the class will study the way that style and method became increasingly homogeneous throughout the 19th century as the principle Cremonese models became standardized. Reflection on violin making in France, the Low Countries, England, German and the Austrian Empire will be included.

At the same time, the development of bow making from the late 18th century to the 20th century will be examined. The emphasis will be on the evolution of bow making in France, from Tourte through Peccatte and Voirin to the present, and how those ideas played out in bow making in England and Germany.

Tuition: A limited number of tickets are available for purchase. Participants of the 2018 UNH Violin Craftsmanship Institute receive a discount coupon for this event upon check out at the time of registration for the Institute. For more information email - luthiers@unh.edu

Offered in conjunction with the UNH Violin Craftsmanship Institute, celebrating 45 years as one of the oldest teaching programs for stringed instrument making and repair in the United States. For more information: training.unh.edu/violin

What You Will Learn


Historical Overview of Stringed Instrument Making

  • The beginnings of violin making in Europe – bowed strings in various regions
  • Andrea Amati and the development of a system for consistency
  • Development of the Cremonese School
  • The Brescians – an alternate approach
  • The Amati tradition in other cities: Mantua, Milan, Bologna
  • Influx of Fussen makers and the dispersion of violin making around Italy
  • Stainer and his influence
  • Fussen work and its impact on Rome, Venice, Florence
  • Separate traditions: Turin, Genoa, Naples, Lombard makers
  • Other national schools
  • France, Flanders and the Low Countries, Austria, German states, England
  • General characteristics of 19th century violin making in all major schools
  • Bow making in France: evolution of style and structure from Tourte through Peccatte and Voirin to the present
  • English and German bow making and how they developed in parallel with the French

Travel & Site Information


Historical Overview of Stringed Instrument Making


The University is located on 156 wooded acres in Durham, New Hampshire and is only a 90-minute drive from Boston, Massachusetts; 10 miles from the Atlantic Ocean; and 40 miles from the foothills of the White Mountains National Forest. The historic seacoast town of Portsmouth is 10 miles east of Durham.
Download a campus map.

Travel Information

Local airports:  Boston’s Logan International Airport or from Manchester (NH). Limousine service and bus service are available from either airport. AMTRAK also runs service from Boston, MA to UNH in Durham, NH. If you are flying into the area, we recommend selecting an airline with a flexible refund or ticket change policy in the event of unexpected circumstances.

C&J Bus service from Logan Airport to Portsmouth or Dover, NH. You will need to take a taxi from the end point to Durham.
C&J tickets cost $23 one way.

AMTRACK Downeaster-Train Service from Boston North Station, MA, to Durham, NH.
You will need to take transportation from Logan to Boston North Station.
AMTRAK tickets one way cost $19.
The Durham train station is a short walk to any campus location.

Room and Board

On-Campus Housing

Housing and meals are not included in the tuition. However, on-campus air-conditioned housing, including breakfast, is available for an extra charge. Housing reservations can be made by calling (603) 862-0863 or (603) 862-1900. For more information, please download the following forms:

Off-Campus Housing

  • Holiday Inn, Durham, NH
  • Three Chimney's Inn, Durham, NH

For More Information about Housing



Holloway Commons Dining Hall Hours

Breakfast: 6:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Lunch: 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Dinner: 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Breakfast is included with on-campus housing. Participants may also eat meals in the UNH dining hall on a pay-as-you-go basis.


Durham has a market and several restaurants to serve your dining needs.

Instructor Bios


Historical Overview of Stringed Instrument Making

  • Philip J. Kass

    Philip J. Kass is a respected expert, appraiser, consultant and writer on fine classic stringed instruments and bows. From 1997 until 2002, he was an associate of William Moennig & Son, Ltd. of Philadelphia where he handled many of the world’s great stringed instruments. He was trained under William Moennig III, William Moennig Jr., and Dario D’Attili. Mr. Kass supplemented his education through his own independent travels, inquires and exploration. He is an acknowledged expert and author of many articles, speeches, auction reports and book reviews over a career spanning nearly three decades. Published work by Mr. Kass appears in many industry publications and professional venues. Many of these publications have been based on his independent research into English and French bow making and the violin makers of Piedmont, Cremona, and the Amati family. A member of the Violin society of America since 1975, Mr. Kass has served on the Board of Directors in multiple leadership roles from 1975 to 2010. Today, Mr. Kass is an independent expert working with international clients but based in Havertown, Pennsylvania.

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