I am very happy that I could accept an invitation to perform at the International Violin Making Competition in Náchod. The atmosphere I met with during the competition was just amazing! Mysterious silence in the jury room, where dozens of violins hung in space waiting to be assessed. Tip-toeing around the instruments and speaking in a low voice so as not to disturb the jury members located in different room corners. It was just the opposite of what is normally seen at violin interpretation competitions, where the full acoustic beauty of violins is assessed and the interpreter´s performance is judged …
I was captured by the Best Scroll Competition. Several dozens participants were to curve a violin scroll in just one day. It felt like being at Antonio Stradivari´s manufactory! Contenders seated along long wooden desks worked hard on carving their scroll and paid no attention to wooden chips falling on the floor. And still they managed to talk to one another. There was a mixture of various languages; the predominant one, however, was temperament Italian. Maybe that´s where my ‘Stradivari’ association came from.
I´m very happy to had been in Náchod and I very much appreciate the possibility to play Maestro Stradivari´s instrument of 1728 (which was exhibited at the competition). It was generously lent to me by its owner, Mr. Clause Lebet. I held in my hands an instrument without a parallel in our region. That was of another of my breathtaking experiences in Náchod.
I wish the organizers all the best in their efforts to continue organizing the festival also in the future. Interpreters´ fame sometimes overshadows the fact that without the work of violin makers there would be nothing to perform music on. We rely on them, on people capable to build a masterpiece musical instrument – a violin. My thanks and admiration goes to them.
Rome, 26 May 2004
My experiences from the 2nd International V. Metelka Festival, which took place in Náchod from April 29th to May 1st, are unforgettable. The festival concept was quite original. The Best Scroll Competition – when a violin scroll was to be carved in just one day - required the presence of the contenders and helped to build a very friendly and warm atmosphere. The festival, as well as individual violin making competitions, went very smoothly thanks to its organizers – the founder and director Jaromír Joo, Dr. Stanislav Bohadlo and Dalibor Bzirský, a young Czech violin maker.
I would also like to recall the three beautiful violin recitals of Gabriela Demeterová, Ivan Ženatý and Pavel Šporcl, three leading young Czech artists. It was my honour to entrust to their hands three instruments from my collection – Antonio Stradivari´s “Milanollo” of 1728, G.B. Guadagnini´s “ex Grumiaux” of 1753 and A. Amati´s “Charles IX” of 1562.
There were unforgettable meetings, bowling evenings and jam sessions that took place during the four Náchod days. There were beautiful moments of friendship - quite symbolic at the time of the Czech Republic´s accession to the European community.
My feelings from the Náchod competition are thoroughly positive. It was wonderful to see contenders, judges as well as visitors enjoying the festival´s friendly atmosphere. The fact that the competition was not an anonymous one gave us, in my opinion, a wonderful chance to observe. Each contender could discus the opinions of individual judges in a peaceful and impartial atmosphere.
The possibility to compare individual violin making schools has been extremely interesting and enriching. The Best Scroll Competition was a really exciting experience. Working all day long together with other contestants was very pleasant and stirring. We became to know each other; old friends were met and new friendships were concluded. We could observe various scroll curving techniques. This I consider very beneficial for our – sometimes slightly reclusive - work.
The acoustic test was in my opinion the most difficult one. We were informed that the comparative instrument is to be Antonio Stradivari´s “Milanollo” of 1728. With a relief we found out that the difference between our instruments and the Stradivari´s violin was far less abysmal than we originally feared.
My overall impressions from the competition are very good - not only because of the perfect organization of the competition, but also because of the pleasant cultural and musical atmosphere of Náchod.
With my heartfelt compliments,
.... president of the Academy of Music in Prague, to Dr. Stanislav Bohadlo, the secretary of the Festival.
Dear Mr. Bohadlo,
thank you very much for the wonderful organization and running the festival V. Metelky as a famous reprezentation of the Czech culture ....
.... I think it's good idea combination the violin art, exhibition of unique musical instruments and the best interpretation within the frame of one festival .....