Martin Horvat Biography

How I came to be a violin maker

As a child I learned to love the simple life of the past. I spent several months a year in an old farmhouse in the countryside of lower Austria.

The well in the courtyard, the creak of the wooden bucket full of freshly drawn water, the old sundial, and the engulfing warmth of the fireplace are just some of the memories that are etched in my mind. That led me on a quest in search of beauty and harmony, a desire that has guided me since childhood. At the age of nine I started taking music lessons and since then I have continued to study different instruments.

My grandmother comes from Trieste, and it was she and my Italian relatives who introduced me to Italian art and all its beauty. My sense of style and elegance began to develop in my youth. As a teenager I discovered the Italian Renaissance; my idols were Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo. The painter inside me is aroused every time I varnish an instrument as my methods are greatly influenced by the study of Renaissance painting techniques.

My love for Italy dates back to my childhood. I adored the abundance of style and art, with its warm cheerful beauty. Italy was a world filled with colours and fun, where I felt at home. That playful and creative attitude continues to influence my work.

After graduating from secondary school with honours, I continued my musical studies in Vienna. I took specialization courses in cello performance, and I studied piano, trumpet and composition. This allowed me to refine my understanding of sound and musical technique. Additional courses in physics helped me to further my knowledge of musical instrument acoustics.

I started to build musical instruments in Holland and it was then that I realised my true calling in life. Although I loved performing, it was the act of making instruments that stirred something within me. Lutherie was the ideal synthesis of my abilities and interests.

I studied violin making at the International Violin Making School in Cremona, where I graduated in 1998.

My two reference points are Cremona and Vienna. The former is where I am based and where I continue to enhance of knowledge of violin making. The latter is my hometown, where I continue to enjoy close working relationships with some of the city’s finest musicians. It is this combination that compels me in my search to continue to refine my instruments both in terms of sound and beauty.

My childhood memories and early musical studies and then my later studies of art and craftsmanship have contributed to making me what I am. In this sense, my violins are the fruits of a host of wonderful experiences. Excellence in handcrafted works is the fruit of competence, thought, culture, experience and skill as well as the sensitivity of the artisan.

As a violin maker, I consider myself a purist, both in the methods I use both on a practical level and for my research.

I have been living and working for over twenty years in this beautiful city of Cremona, which has always been at the centre of violin making.

I am a member of the “Cremona Cultural District”.

I have been married for 16 years and I am the proud father of three children. My wife has opened my eyes to another culture, that of Japan, which I have come to love and respect. This new cultural horizon has influenced me not only on a personal level, but on a professional one as well.