Woodsound Studio, The Fine Art of Luthierie since 1975 - Repairs & Restoration

Repairs & Restoration

Ferdinand “Dino” Liva’s Degani Violin

Ferdinand “Dino” Liva playing his Degani Violin

Violinist and conductor, Ferdinand “Dino” Liva comes from a musically prominent family in northeastern Pennsylvania. He began studying the violin at age seven with his father, Ferdinand Liva (Sr.), a noted conductor and teacher, and continued his education at the Peabody Conservatory with Berl Senofsky, and at Temple University with Luis Biava, where he graduated with a master's degree and a Professional Studies Certificate. In 1992, Dino was appointed assistant professor of violin and chamber music at Wilkes University and conductor of the University Orchestra. He remained in that post until 1996.

Dino has been a member of the DaPonte String Quartet since it was formed in 1991 in Philadelphia. The quartet first came to Maine on a Rural Residency Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and Chamber Music America in 1995. At the end of the grant period, unlike most groups sent to enrich rural communities, the four musicians and their families decided to put down personal and professional roots in Maine and to build their careers from here. In the ensuing years Dino has performed with many local musical organizations including the Portland Symphony Orchestra. For the last nine years he has been adjunct faculty at the University of Southern Maine, and in the spring semester of 2009 was conductor of the University Orchestra and the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra. He also teaches privately and conducts the Sea Coast Youth Orchestra and the Sea Coast Community Orchestra in Damariscotta, Maine.

Degani Violin

Dino Liva’s violin was made in 1909 by Italian violin maker Giulio Ettore Degani (1875-1955), who learned the trade from his father, Eugenio Degani. Guilio Degani’s violins are based largely on his father’s designs, with fine and distinctive corners and edges and use of the same varnish, which was always held as a closely guarded secret. His instruments are widely praised as having a firm and crystal clear tone. His scrolls are very characteristic and original.

This example is typical of his work and dates from 1909. It has a two-piece back of maple with a medium broad curl descending across the back from the joint. The pegbox and scroll are of similar wood with the ribs being of a somewhat finer curl. The violin has a two-piece front of pine which is of a medium grain. The varnish of a rich orange-brown color on a yellow ground.

The label reads:

premiato con gran diploma d'onore in Milano
e medaglia d'oro in Torino
Anno 1910

After his father's death Giulio Degani continued working in the same workshop in Venice until July 1922 when he moved to Cincinatti in the United States. He stayed there until his death in 1955."

The Restoration of the Degani Violin

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Top off, inside view, exposing the extensive damage to neck and tail block area as well as the edges.

Another view of edges and base bar.

Closeup of damage to neck block area.

This photo shows the poor fit of the bass bar in the upper bout.

Bass bar fit in lower bout was even worse.

A ring casting of the top outside edges.

Here, the reformed top sits in a complete cast and new wood is being grafted into the worst damage in the neck area.

Here, both neck and tail block areas showing first layer grafting and planing of the entire edge.

Closeup of the edge planing showing the bottom of the purfling slot.

New wood grafted to the entire edge planing.

The edges have been carved to grade and new base bar installed. Note the doubling at the tail block and neck area.

Below: other views of the edges and tuned bass bar including cleating and potassium permanganate “aging” of the new wood (for coloring only).

The small rectangular patches are cleats used to reinforce cracks.

Below: views of the restored and set-up instrument, ready for a resumption of its stage career.

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