Samuel Zygmuntowicz, violin maker
Published on December 19, 2013
Samuel Zygmuntowicz (born 1956) is a contemporary luthier. He began his instrument making training when he was thirteen years old and studied making and restoration under Peter Prier, Carl Becker and René Morel.
Zygmuntowicz was born in Philadelphia and is a graduate of the Violin Making School of America in Salt Lake City. Later he received five years of additional training in the restoration workshop of Jacques Français and René A. Morel. Since 1985 he has been based in Brooklyn, New York, often making replicas of classic instruments.
Isaac Stern owned two of his violins. After Stern died in 2001, both violins were sold at a Tarisio auction in 2003. Each violin surpassed the previous record for the highest price paid for a string instrument by a living maker at auction. One of the instruments sold in 2003 was a Guarneri-model violin made by Zygmuntowicz in 1994 for Stern. That 1994 violin held the record for the highest price paid for a string instrument by a living maker at auction until the record was broken in October 2013. The violin was sold by Tarisio for US$130,000.
In their 2008 recording of Bach fugues, the Emerson String Quartet all played Zygmuntowicz instruments.
Zygmuntowicz is the creative director of the Strad3D project, which The Strad Library called “One of the most groundbreaking and comprehensive studies of the violin form ever conceived.” It involved the first ever 3D laser vibration scanning of Stradivari and Guarneri violins, and included acoustic testing and CT scanning. Zygmuntowicz turned the endeavor into a broad collaborative project including traditional documentation, musical performance, dendrochronology, and documentary film. The interactive DVD, which includes images and scientific research from the collaboration, was published and is available for purchase.
Directed and Filmed by Dustin Cohen
Edited by Michael Hurley