Violins with a difference


Iacov Grinberg (grinberg), 27.04.2013, in: a3kultur. Online:

Translated from the German:


The exhibition of conical violins from the perspective of a patent specialist

The 8th International Violin Competition has, in addition to the expected musical pleasure, given us something very unusual – an exhibition of conically built violins.

What curious „conical " violins? The young violin maker Wolfgang Johann Stegmüller, who learned the craft not anywhere but in Cremona, the world-famous center of violin making, along with his father Wolfgang Stegmüller has dared to venture into a new direction with the shape of the violin, something that over the centuries had become sacrosanct. For this transformation he was granted a patent.

Not every invention is crowned with a patent. The Patent Office first has to determine whether something similar is already known. A granted patent for an invention confirms that it is world first, that no one in any country throughout the whole human history has already invented something similar.

Today, in an age when technology is developing rapidly and in an Airbus A-380 more than 2000 new patented inventions are used, the term "patent" has become common and has partially lost its aureole. What, then, makes this patent and this invention so exceptional?

Sheer millions of patents have already been granted to inventors throughout the world. In the area of violins, however, there are only a handful of patents. Regarding the shape of the violin, this [Stegmüller’s] is virtually the only one - the solitary one in the course of centuries of violin making!

The task was simple. The violin is a baroque instrument, a violinist used to stand in the center of a small room and the sound was enough for the whole room. Today, a violinist stands on a stage in front of a large hall and the sound is just not enough for the whole room. One would have to angle the sound toward the audience. Exactly this has been achieved by the violin maker with a small, for a non-expert barely discernible change to the frames of the violin.

During the presentation concert on April 24, [2013] according to the experts, the new violins showed a very beautiful sound and were much more audible than the conventional instruments. A violin, a cello and a viola in the new design have already been used for several years in concerts at the Munich Conservatory.

The inventor will hardly be made rich by this patent. The world of violin players and lovers is very conservative; an innovation has to wait decades for a wide recognition. Rather this patent emphasizes the authorship of the inventor. The use of patents as a confirmation of the world debut and authorship is not uncommon for the creators of brilliant ideas.

For me this invention was a clear indication that handicraft in Germany is still alive and in its most spectacular manifestations is true art.

(Iacov Grinberg)



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