Violins of hope. The Luthier Amnon Weinstein

Posted on Feb 23, 2019

Whether it’s maple, spruce or ebony wood, in this Tel Aviv workshop you can breathe a very special air. In this narrow space you can find not only the knowledge of an art, that of violin making learned in Cremona, Italy, but also a story to be told.

AMNON WEINSTAIN Luthier: “In his city there was a wedding, and at that time weddings lasted 3,4, even 5 days, and were accompanied by violin music and other instruments. Here my father fell in love with the sound of the violin.”

Amnon Weinstain, born in 1939 in Poland, preserves not only the ability to make violins but also a constant desire to play again the violins that accompanied the destinies of many during the Shoah.

AMNON WEINSTAIN Luthier: “I had no intention of touching this stuff for years, I was afraid. I lost almost 400 members of my family. This collection is now divided into 4 parts: violins, violas and cellos that belonged to the Israeli Philharmonic; then there are violins that the Jews played in the fields, in the ghettos, in the streets that led them to the gas chambers. Of these we know a lot: we know the history of the family, we have photos of these people, we have the books they wrote, we have comprehensive information.

“Then we have the violins that we know exactly are from the time of the war but we have no evidence. Finally there are the violins, like this guy, with the star of David.”

The violins of hope, this is the project of the Israeli luthier, which, in his words, “have a story to tell”, come from all over the world and once restored are entrusted to the hands of great violinists and to the ears of the public around the world.

AMNON WEINSTAIN Luthier: “Each violin is like a person, it has its own story. Violins are not like other objects, they play at concerts and when people can listen to them, each violin has its own story to tell. The first violin I found before the project, because I was afraid, very afraid, played at Auschwitz on the road to the gas chambers. He told many things. He went back to Israel, he saved himself, and he wanted his son to play the violin. He came to me and didn’t want to touch the violin and asked me to repair it. Then he told me the whole story and when I opened the violin it was covered with black dust, ashes, because it was played near the gas chambers…”.

Shims, thicknesses, chain, resonance holes, inclination of the handle, varnish, soul, bridge, strings and bow… everything comes back to life in his hands. A sound that becomes almost magical thanks to the art of the luthier and the perfection of the violin.

AMNON WEINSTAIN Luthier: “For me it’s a job, it’s my whole life. The violin speaks when it can be played. Now it’s a piece of wood, now I can see something here, all the bad things; it was played in bad conditions, but now it is starting to live and when it’s ready it will be a marvel”. The notes of these violins carry a message of hope and peace.