Amongst musical instruments, the violin has always attracted exceptional attention. Its birth has been surrounded by some mythical obscurity.  When hearing Stradivari’s name, everyone looks up in amazement.
What lies behind the secret of the violin?
The wood it is made of?
The lacquer?
The master’s hands?


   Would we not all wish to be able to get closer to the core of this myth? Would we not all wish to be an invisible witness to the birth of something new? To peep through a window to watch the master’s hands moving the plane on the wood evenly again and again, always finding a spot to smooth, a spot that our ordinary eyes perceive as already perfect?

  To take a deep breath of the scent of the workshop, which is a mixture of sweetish odour oozing from the shavings, and the fragrance of resin, glue and various plants? To witness how wood becomes a musical instrument that sounds to the soul?

   Would we not all wish it?

   Many know Veszprém as “the town of the queens.” However, sadly, only a few know that this is the town where one of the greatest Hungarian violinists and music teachers, Leopold Auer was born.

  Only a few meters away from the cathedral where, according to the archiepiscopal archive, “little Auer” used to play the violin, you can find a baroque building called the Bíró-Giczei House. Salesianum Archiepiscopal Tourist Centre opened its office here in 2011. In the very same year, Elemér Sümegi started his violin making shop in the building.

   The baroque atmosphere of the castle area provides the violinmaker with a most inspirational environment. The basic idea was, following foreign examples, to set up an open workshop that would become the central place of the instrument, as well as that of string music.

  The workshop known as “Sümegi Violin” has received many visitors, run interactive courses for schoolchildren and grown-ups, and organised house concerts in the inner yard of the building.

   In 2012, violinmakers from home and abroad were invited to commemorate Leopold Auer’s birthday with an international gathering of violinmakers, and with an exhibition. The name of the event was “Masters’ Violins in the Town of  Master Violinist.” It was a meeting of forms, styles, colours, and sounds. The four-day festival was exclusively about the violin. Our guest of honor was Gio Batta Morassi. At splendid concerts, all segments of Veszprém string music were present. Saturday was a “craft day,” which was broadcast live by Hungary’s main classical music channel called Bartók Radio.   Forty-two violinmakers had accepted the invitation, and seventy-eight instruments were exhibited. That weekend managed to fill Old Town with music.

  In a violin making shop, visual and auditory aesthetics are both present simultaneously.  It was a natural thought to set up a gallery where visitors could be witnesses to the birth of musical instruments, as well as to mini-concerts and various forms of art. In 2013, a new era started in the life of “Sümegi Violin” with an exhibition where István Szajkó’s paintings were displayed. Since then, the open workshop has also been functioning as an art gallery inviting and displaying various works of art.



translation: Péter Korbel
by SHI 2014.