What is the Cremona School?
The Violin Making International School of Cremona was founded on 21st September 1938 The aims were (and still are today) to create a centre of excellence that followed and interpreted the genius of Stradivarius, Amati and Guarneri - in other words the Classical Cremonese makers. The violin making courses last five years. At the end of the first three years the 'Violin craftsman' Certificate is issued. After two more years the final 'Violin -maker' diploma is obtained. Since its foundation - now 67 years ago - the school has helped produce makers of an extremely high calibre whose instruments are very much sought after by players worldwide. Into this category a lengthy list of past graduates fall and it is a shame that we are unable to mention them all here. Of the graduates that have gone on to become professional makers of a truly international standing one must include Gio Batta Morasssi (enrolled 1952), Renato Scrollavezza (enrolled 1951), Francesco Bissolotti, Giorgio Scolari (enrolled 1965), Antonio Capela and no less than three generations of The Konia family.
Tell me about the Konia family.
Youngest - Oldest:
Stefano Conia (Jn). Stefano is the son of Stefano Conia (Sn) and is the great-grandson of Istvan Konya. He was born in Cremona in 1973 and was a pupil of his father before enrolling at the Violin Making School of Cremona where he was guided in his studies by Giorgio Scolari (b. 1952). Stefano received his diploma in 1991. Stefano's work has received good results in several national and international competitions.
Stefano Conia (Sn). Born in Hungary in 1946 Stefano is the father of Stefano junior. Strongly influenced by his fathers violin making Stefano enrolled at the Violin Making School of Cremona in 1968 - perfecting his craft with Sgarabotto, Morassi and Bissolotti. Stefano returned to the School a few years later and for a period that was to last over 20years he gave lessons in varnish, restoration and construction techniques.
Maestro Conia has been awarded many prises for his work at both national and international competitions. His instruments are recognized and appreciated throughout the world.
Lajos Konya. - Brother of Stefano Conia (Sn). Works in Hungary along-side his father. President of the Hungarian Instrument Makers Association.
Istvan Konya. - the maker of this fine instrument. He was born (01/05/1919) in Felsogalla, Hungary and is the father of Stefano (Sn) and Lajos. Initially a self taught maker (first violin at the age of 14) - who had the ability to impress violin virtuosi Yehudi Menuhin and David Oistrakh with the quality of his instruments. With strong influence from Menhuin, Konya - at the age of 44 - received an Italian scholarship to study at the Cremona School of Violin Making (enrolment No 46. graduated 1968).
In his diploma year Konya won the Gold Medal and first prise for a cello (now in the Cremona Museum) in the prestigious Triennale Competition. In August 1994 The Strad magazine published an article on the Konya family. Konya's production is over 600 instruments. Konya died on 15th June 1999 at the age of 80.
Is there a makers label or inscription?
Yes the instrument has an ink inscription on the inside upper rib - bass side - KONYA I. TATA 1983. It also bears a large (approximately 16cm x 10cm) and distinctive label showing a the outline of a violin and printed "Konya Istvan - Ungheria, Tata, Baji Ut 11, Annon 1983".
At the bottom of the label there are six circular medals that depict or commemorate the following:
- The city of Cremona
- Omaggio all ente Luteria Cremones E. Rossi and C
- Violin with bow and diploma scroll
- Al Miglior Liutaio Diplomarto Per l'annon 1967-68 in Memoria di Marola Guido, Violinista.
- Cello encircled by the words Trienniale Internazionale di Luteria Cremona
- Duomo (the Cathedral) and Torazzo (tower) in Cremona town square.
Further proof of authenticity accompanies this instrument and is provided from Cremona in the form of an e-mail from Stefano Conia (Sn) - dated 02/09/05 which is addressed to Tony Houska - Managing Director of The Contrabass Shoppe Ltd - which states following examination of the details presented "It was made by my father".
Has The Contrabass Shoppe done much work on the instrument?
The instrument was a little bit neglected when we found it - so we've done a number of things to tweak and tune this 22year old instrument back into the A1 condition that you now find it. In the main this included resetting the neck angle and redoing a crack in the front and a small one in a top rib. Rebushing work to the pegbox and the fitting of a stunning new set of hand made English machines has been done. A full set up has also been done.
I'm looking for a solo instrument. Should I be interested in the Konia?
Yes - you should definitely consider this instrument because the model and proportions (String length of 105cm) are perfect for a solo instrument. Most important of all is the sound. Set up with Pirastro solo strings the powerful, clear carrying sound is absolutely perfect for solo recitals.
This is a beautifully made instrument from a well-recognised maker. Konya instruments are prized by players in the USA, Canada, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden. Besides being a wonderful instrument to play - we think that this perfectly made instrument will prove to be an excellent investment.