A regular guest of Cremona Musica since the beginning, luthier for more than 30 years, teacher: this is Massimo Negroni. We interviewed him to know more about his work, about the changes in the world of lutherie and to have some advice for young luthiers.
Mr. Negroni, which is the point of strength of your instruments?
For sure the selection of the raw materials, with their aging, and varnish, two elements that are fundamental to craft good string instruments.
You are one of the historical names of the contemporary Cremonese lutherie: how has the work changed since you started?
When I started, I bought a revolutionary machine, the fax, to work with foreign customers and a phone for the private ones. Nowadays the PC is a key element, with the internet, the social media, and other means of communication that, sincerely, do not always suit me. Also, competitions have changed. When I started if you won an important competition you had a lot of guaranteed work, now they lost their value because there are many events and fairs around the world. Today, being able to sell yourself is more important than winning a competition.
Your son is a luthier too and he works in the same workshop. I guess he learned a lot from you, but is there something he taught you?
I taught him to work, the style, how to treat the materials, the varnish, and also history, because I think it is important to know history to live the present and to have a better future. He helped me a lot with the PC and the new means of communication.
What is your advice for young people that want to be a luthier?
If the skilled young stay closed in their workshop to work they will not go far. They must move, introduce themselves to orchestras, conservatories, music high-schools, and take part in as many fairs as possible. This is the way to make yourself known and to have a good career.
You also use X-rays: can you explain how they are important today?
X-rays are fundamental to evaluate the conditions of an instrument without ruining it. A good X-ray can show you everything: attacks from wood-eating insects, cracking, patches, grafts, non-original parts, and more. A restorer must make an X-ray before intervening on a violin, because he must have a complete view on the health condition of the instrument, and you can also make a correct estimate of the cost. Now it is also considered a scientific element to attach to the catalog of the instruments in the museum or in private collections.
What is the importance of Cremona Musica in your work?
I started taking part in Cremona Mondomusica when its name was “Lutherie meetings” and it was held at the Cremona Chamber of Commerce. After so many years I never left Cremona Musica because it is a fundamental event for my clients. I got to know many of them during the fair and it is also a good moment to meet luthiers, buyers, and friends. I have seen and learned many things, I grew from a professional point of view, and you should not be afraid of comparison, on the contrary, you should learn from constructive criticism. This is Mondomusica.