Ref :   0702

A fine and good Italian violin by
Alfredo G. Galea
(1909 - 1994)
Durban, 1957

Alfredo G. Galea (1909-1994) was accredited as Master Violin Maker by the Italian National Association of Violin Makers in Rome, an accomplishment merited by the high quality of his work. The German researcher, Lütgendorff notes that Galea made his first violin at the age of 11 and by age 15 had completed 15 violins. His teacher at that time was the Italian violinmaker, Ami care Coschiera.

After the Second World War Galea moved to Durban in South Africa for a position as first violinist in the Durban Symphony Orchestra. At that time Durban was home to Amon Bilmark (1894-1961) - a former pupil of Simone Sacconi. Soon after his arrival in Durban in about 1946, Galea entered a partnership with Bilmark, but that lasted only briefly, until 1950.

Galea set up his own workshop. He would remain in South Africa for a total of about 16 years, alternating between Durban and Cape Town. By the late 50s he was firmly established as a violinmaker of a very high order.

During one of his concert tours to South Africa, Yehudi Menuhin met Galea. Menuhin was impressed by Galea's work and suggested that he should move to the United States. Menuhin eventually assisted him in emigrating to the US in 1962. Galea settled in Longbeach Ca. where he opened a violinmaking studio and shop. This studio was soon to dominate the violin community in that area and became noted for excellent repairs and restorations. For the next 32 years in the USA, Galea enjoyed the recognition he deserved and desired. He remained there for the rest of his life until his death on 28 July 1994, aged 84.

Galea commanded respect through is work. Ruggiero Ricci commissioned a violin from him in 1970. By 1979 Galea had made around 200 instruments and his life's work amounted to around 240 instruments. He made only two to four violins per year, and they are in the hands of professionals all over the world. So far I have not come across one that showed work of inferior quality or of poor tone. Being a good violinist, Galea knew what violinists wanted and didn't sell an instrument until it conformed to the tonal properties he expected and became known for. All his violins sound really good.

In this violin, made in Durban in 1957, Galea diverts from his previous models in that it, unusually, has a two piece back. And whereas Galea's instruments are usually varnished in a very pale golden oil-based varnish, this is the first Galea I've seen done in brown varnish. This varnish, being somewhat soft, has worn adequately to show a lovely golden ground, complimenting the brown varnish. The workmanship is clean and of a very high order.

The purfling is truly impeccable and the flawless work on the corners gives evidence of Galea's impeccable attention to detail - here is the hand of a master. A charming aspect is the slight asymmetry of the top corners on the front. The violin is in excellent condition, free from any cracks or evident repairs. As with all Galea's violins from his South African period, this instrument bears his handwritten label and brand in the inside centre of the back.

It appears from the somewhat flat arching and the other dimensions of this violin that it may have been made from the same mold used for the 1955 Galea that was Galea's personal violin and which later became the property of the important violinist, George Walker, until his death (No 0670 displayed in the Archive page of this website). This violin is well-toned with the clear, clean, balanced tone one always associates with this superb violin maker.


Dimensions :
  Back length: 35.7 cm

Condition :
  Excellent condition. Absolutely no cracks or evident repairs, Varnish somewhat worn with a few superficial marks.

Provenance :
  This violin was made especially for Florence May Brown (1914 - 2008) who served as Concert Master of the Durban Symphony Orchestra during the 1950s. A superb concert violinist, May Brown died, aged 94, and the instrument was left to her daughter, Lorraine Curry. The violin now belongs to Johan Grobbelaar.

Price : Price on application


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