Ref :   0847

A fine German violin by
Joachim Gräbner
(1928 - c.1981)
Johannesburg, 1979

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Joachim Gräbner made mainly cellos and violas and his instruments have for years been in the hands of the foremost musicians in South Africa. Other than being consistently well-crafted to high standards, his instruments are particularly noted for outstandingly good tone, which make them very desirable for soloists.

South Africa's foremost violist, Jeanne-Louise Moolman of the Odeion Quartet at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein plays exclusively on a Gräbner viola - an instrument she has used for numerous concert performances, recitals and recordings and which in many ways sets a benchmark in viola tone, focus and carrying power. The important cellist and teacher, Michael Haller, has spent most of his professional life playing on a Gräbner cello - likewise an instrument with extraordinary tonal properties. The same can be said of the noted cello teacher, Tilla Henkins. However, Gräbner made some outstandingly good violins, completely on a par with his violas and cellos. The important violinist and teacher, Richard Reid plays on a Gräbner violin for his public performances.

Gräbner's instruments are admired further afield: over the past number of years I have been contacted by musicians, dealers and makers from variously California, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and England to get more information about Gräbner - all of them expressed great appreciation for their instruments and the workmanship they manifest. In reality I have not encountered one single negative comment about a Gräbner instrument by those who play on them, or about Gräbner himself by those who new him.

Joachim (Karl Heinz) Gräbner was born in 1928 and raised in the south of Germany. He studied violinmaking with the important maker and master, Fridolin Köhler in Munchen. In his adult life he settled in Johannesburg in South Africa, which, during the 50s, 60s and 70s had a number of important symphony orchestras with their commensurate spin-offs like musicians, teachers and students, which no doubt made this country an attractive prospect for an aspiring violinmaker. He was prolific in this respect - numerous orchestra musicians played on his instruments. Gräbner sadly died of leukaemia, very prematurely and at the peak of his powers, in about 1981. The account goes that he died alone at home and had been dead for several days before being found.

This violin, dated 1979, is made of beautiful and well-chosen tone materials: the one-piece back is of really fine high-end maple with a mild flame of medium curl; the ribs, neck and scroll are evidently from the same wood. The spruce top has unusually even growth lines of medium grain from flank to flank. The Fs are highly characteristic of this maker - very elegant and somewhat narrow. Purfling is nicely traced and the corners are characteristically squared off with tidy mitres. The reddish-brown varnish is of high transparency, really showing the materials nicely.

The one thing Gräbner understood was tone and how to achieve it in all his instruments. And this violin is no exception - it was made deep into his working life, when his knowledge of his craft was at a peak. In keeping with his norms, this violin has good tone from every perspective.


Dimensions :
  Standard full size.
Length of back: 35.7 cm

Condition :
  Excellent condition. The top and back are free from cracks.
A repair was carried out to the back's neck button. This was done to professional norms and is virtually indiscernable. The work was carried out by the important craftsman, Dale Walton, who for years was the studio foreman for the noted Dutch violinmaker, J. J. van de Geest. It can be said with confidence that the violin is structuraly perfectly secure.

Provenance :

Price : P.O.A.


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