Garden & Gun: Seventh Annual Made in the South Awards

Crafts Winner: John Montgomery, Inc.

With his world-class instruments, luthier John Montgomery carries on a centuries-old practice

Product: Viola
Made in: Raleigh, NC
Est.: 1983

Whether buzzing through a bluegrass tune or tackling Beethoven’s Fifth, string musicians in North Carolina and beyond rely on John Montgomery for exquisite handmade instruments. Montgomery—whose customers include members of the National Symphony Orchestra—studied his craft in France and was honing it in New York City when he decided to return to his ancestral roots in 1983. “My father’s family is from the state,” he says, “but I also worked with  a lot of North Carolina musicians, so I knew there was talent here.” 

Montgomery spends much of his time rehabbing pieces, as well as maintaining the Smithsonian’s and the Library of Congress’s stringed collections, but he also makes at least a quartet—two violins, a cello, and a viola—every year. Each instrument takes a month to finish, starting with his design: “They have to sound good, look good, and be easy to play,” he says. Next, he fashions a mold and selects the woods, coaxing them into graceful hourglass shapes. A wood-resin varnish, using a method he’s fine-tuned over decades, provides the final touch. 

Of the pieces Montgomery made this year, his viola, constructed from a mix of American maple and European spruce, hit an especially sweet note. “It has such a rich, full tone,” he says. He knows because he tests his creations, but that’s the most playing he does. “You don’t want to come to a concert featuring me,” he jokes. “My instruments are my legacy.” 

Price: $22,000-$23,000
 

Hutchison, E (2016, December/January). Seventh Annual Made in the South Awards. Garden & Gun Magazine. Retrieved from http://gardenandgun.com/ 

Raleigh Violin Shop Owner Helps Catch Suspected Instrument Thieves

Thousands of violins have passed through John Montgomery’s violin shop on Hillsborough Street in downtown Raleigh in its more than 30-year run. But one, brought to him last Monday, made a special impression.

Built in the 18th century by Italian violin maker Carlo Ferdinando Landolfi, the violin was a masterpiece, worth roughly $200,000. And the man who wanted to sell it to Montgomery, Leslie Edward Fields, could not keep his story straight.

The violin, as well as three others that Fields and another man sold to Montgomery earlier this spring, had been stolen from violin shops near Atlanta. Montgomery’s recognition of the theft resulted in the arrests of the two men, and the recovery of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stolen musical instruments.

John Montgomery stands next to violins at his shop, John Montgomery Violins in Raleigh, NC on Monday, June 15, 2015. John Montgomery helped stop men who were trying to sell him stolen violins from Atlanta, Georgia. 

John Montgomery stands next to violins at his shop, John Montgomery Violins in Raleigh, NC on Monday, June 15, 2015. John Montgomery helped stop men who were trying to sell him stolen violins from Atlanta, Georgia. 

“Mr. Montgomery is really the big hero in this,” said Megan Hallam, office manager for Atlanta Violins, which recovered five stolen violins, worth $40,500. The $200,000 violin was stolen from Ronald Sachs Violins, also in the Atlanta area.

Montgomery, 61, buys, sells and restores violins, in addition to building his own. Fields, 52, of Atlanta was a “fast-talker,” Montgomery said, but when pressed on how he came into possession of the valuable Landolfi violin, he started tripping over his words.

At one point, Fields told Montgomery that he would not disclose where he got the violins.

“I won’t buy your instruments until you can tell me where they’re from,” Montgomery remembers telling him, and so Fields wrapped the violins in cloth and left. Strange that he would not protect such valuable instruments in cases, Montgomery thought.

Montgomery took to the Internet to find out more about the violins Fields offered. He identified them using details such as marks in the wood or design features of a particular maker. Expensive violins are more similar to a painting than a middle school trumpet; they typically do not have serial numbers.

“I’m an expert,” Montgomery said. “I’ve worked with them all my life so I know the differences.”

He found the violins in the online inventories of the two Atlanta-area violin shops. Ronald Sachs Violins, which lost the Landolfi, had reported the theft already. Atlanta Violins did not know any were missing.

Montgomery purchased another violin from Fields a week prior, as well as two from Gary Crouse, 60, of Roswell, Ga., under similar circumstances. He looked into those, too, after Fields aroused his suspicions, and they were missing from the same shops.

“He must have walked out with them,” said Hallam, adding that staff saw Fields in the store wearing a suit jacket. She said the shop suspects the jacket was modified to conceal the instruments. Security camera footage from Ronald Sachs Violins shows Fields taking the violin to a bathroom, concealing it in his jacket and walking out of the store.

After speaking with the shop owners, Montgomery notified the Violin Society of America, a professional group for violin shop owners nationwide. The group’s president, Lori Kirr, sent an email alert to its members.

“If either of these men come into your shop, call the police and if you can try to stall them safely until the police arrive,” Kirr wrote of the two thieves that Montgomery identified.

The community of violin shop owners is tight-knit and connected online, Kirr said. She said that organized thefts are extraordinarily uncommon, and shop owners rallied quickly in support of each other.

“If you try to sell stolen violins, it’s not going to be so easy,” Kirr said.

The nationwide alert proved unnecessary when Crouse showed up at Atlanta Violins. Staff recognized him from a photocopy of his license that Montgomery had shared with them. He made the copy when he purchased the violins from Crouse in April.

Atlanta Violins staff called police and talked with Crouse to keep him in the store. He was strangely eager to talk, Hallam said, having come to the store looking for free violin cases, claiming to represent a children’s orchestra.

“It felt a little bit like being caught up in a spy caper,” Hallam said.

Roswell police arrived and questioned Crouse, then trailed him to a nearby hotel room, unable to arrest him on the spot for the thefts. They later executed a search warrant for the room and recovered the stolen violins in addition to oboes, trumpets and a clarinet.

Ronald Sachs Violins is still missing two violins that were not recovered after the arrest and are worth $35,000, staff members said.

Crouse and Fields were charged with felony theft by receiving stolen property and are being held in the Fulton County (Ga.) Jail. Fields has a lengthy criminal record in Georgia, including theft charges earlier this year.

Montgomery said he was encouraged by the way the community of violin shop owners came together to put a stop to the scheme. He said his experience with the craft not only allowed him to pick out the stolen goods but also made him especially committed to putting a stop to the operation.

“We’re connected, we’re supportive,” Montgomery said of violin shop owners. “This is something that no one would wish on anybody.”

Parts, S (2015, June 19). Raleigh Violin Shop Owner Helps Catch Suspected Instrument Thieves. The News & Observer. Retrieved from http://www.newsobserver.com/

Photo by Alex Tricoli, atricoli@newsobserver.com

 

 

The Violin Maker

In Raleigh, John Montgomery turns maple and spruce into instruments that sing.

For nearly 35 years, John Montgomery has fashioned violins, violas, and cellos from his Raleigh workshop, shaping the wood with handmade planes and knives, making string quartets out of maple and spruce.

You can find his work in the hands of North Carolina Symphony musicians, or with musicians playing sonatas at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. — each instrument a tree slab that Montgomery taught to sing.

On an average Thursday, he restores a cello made in 1850, its wooden parts strewn across his office like the battered components of a Model T Ford.

He mentions casually that he maintains a violin for the concertmaster of the National Symphony Orchestra, and that he counts the violinist of the Carolina Chocolate Drops among his clients. But he humbly admits that his own playing isn’t something you’d fawn over. Master craftsman by day, casual fiddler by night.

“It’s not critical to perform well,” he says. “I joke that I’m not distracted by repertoire.”

Character in the chords

Montgomery was born in California and bounced between Wisconsin, New York, Utah, and France before landing in 1983 in Raleigh, where he soon set up his landmark shop on one of the quieter blocks of Hillsborough Street.

Back then, the N.C. Symphony was small-time, compared to its modern lineup, and Raleigh’s budding musicians needed someone who knew how to make and repair things with strings.

Montgomery fit the void. His path to violin making grew out of his twin passions for music and tinkering.

He chose the cello in junior high school because it seemed like such a novelty. Then he drifted into violin a few years later, playfully fiddling along with the folk revival of the 1960s.

At the same time, he became interested in leather working, making belts, vests, and guitar straps to fit the folk mood around him.

But the key to his future appeared while at college in Wisconsin when he won a Thomas Watson Fellowship to study folk music in France. There, he fell in with a pair of brothers working outside Dijon, learning to make what may be the world’s oddest instrument: the hurdy-gurdy.

Shaped like a gourd, turned with a crank, the hurdy-gurdy is commonly associated with monkeys, who dance and beg for spare change while the music plays.

But however strange the hurdy-gurdy is to American ears, it’s a staple of French folk music, and its crank-operated wheel works much like a violin’s bow.

When Montgomery returned home, seeking his fortune, he was already on the path to making violins, a small jump from hurdy-gurdies. Two years later, he finished up at The Violin Making School of America, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, where many of the world’s best craftsmen first sharpened a knife.

 

Today, Montgomery and his family live within walking distance of the shop, and he splits his time between repairs, dealing in instruments and building his own. He tries to make a quartet per year: two violins, a viola, and cello.

“My favorite one is always the last one,” he says. “They take on a lot of character because the tree gives us a lot of character.”

He offers this advice to a dabbler: Sharpen your tools. Don’t be so impatient to get working that you cut with a dull knife.

Montgomery picks up a sample of maple, an unusual cut with the grain showing like the loops on a topographic map or the whorls of a fingerprint.

Before long, someone will cradle that wood against his chin, draw a bow across the strings, and coax out the music Montgomery placed inside.

Shaffer, J (2012, July 21). The Violin Maker. Our State. Retrieved from https://www.ourstate.com.

Josh Shaffer is an award-winning writer for The News & Observer in Raleigh. 

Washington, Stradivarius Capital

Before there was Les Paul, there was the violin. A 16-ounce package of polished wood, nifty curves, elegant corners and air just begging to be moved, it was designed to amplify four strings. Unlike Paul’s Gibson and Eric Clapton’s Fender, it is entirely player-powered.

It surfaced in Europe a little after Columbus set sail for the East Indies. Musicologists still trade footnotes on where it came from and how it got there. But it was reasonably clear by the late 20th century that its genome extended the length of the Silk Road and included Moorish Spain.

Dance bands were the first to appreciate its potential. But it soon went global as Europe went global. Players from Northern Italy’s Guastalla to Southern India’s Goa discovered that it was as good for the gagliardo as it was right for the raga. In skilled as well as unskilled hands it could bring tears to people’s eyes.

In principle, all violins are created equal, endowed by their creators with backs, bellies, ribs, necks and heads. But within a generation of the instrument’s debut, it was clear that some were created more equal than others. Catherine de Medici, the Italian-born regent for her teenage son, King Charles IX of France, knew where to shop for the court band as early as 1560.

Andrea Amati was still the first and only maker in Cremona, a little town on the Po, when the order for 12 large and 12 small violins, six violas and eight cellos arrived from Paris. Over the next 200 years, five generations of Amatis, three of Guarneris and the redoubtable Antonio Stradivari would produce the instruments that made Cremona famous. Today, between them, the Library of Congress and Smithsonian Institution boast 11 precious Stradivarius instruments, a wealth of public goods practically unequaled in the world.

Betts violin, by Antonio Stradivari, Cremona, 1704. (Michael Zirkle/Courtesy Music Division, Library of Congress)

Betts violin, by Antonio Stradivari, Cremona, 1704. (Michael Zirkle/Courtesy Music Division, Library of Congress)

By the end of the 18th century, Stradivari led the market with a brand recognition Coca-Cola might envy. An estimated 250 violins by Giuseppe Guarneri, a younger contemporary, who called himself del Gesu, caught up about a generation later.

Hauling their peers and competitors behind them like kite tails, both Strads and del Gesus have been A-list collectibles, leading indicators of Western culture, and financial as well as musical instruments ever since. (Are you listening, Wall Street?)

Arnold Ehrlich, a leading German critic looked on in bafflement in 1899 as prices reached four digits in pounds sterling, and five in marks and francs. “Prices are absolutely bonkers,” Gary Sturm, curator of instrument collections at the Smithsonian, told the New York Times in 1984 as they flirted with seven figures in dollars.

A generation later, Sturm remembers the interview with an indulgent smile. About a thousand violins, mostly Italian, mostly 16th to 18th century, currently sell for $1 million to $2 million, according to Philip Margolis, whose www.cozio.com is the closest there is to a global database on fine stringed instruments. Two hundred more go for $3 million to $5 million. That leaves about 50 Strads and del Gesus that go for $10 million and up.

With the eyes of the world on the teetering economy, jaws dropped as gold has soared, approaching $1,900 in August and settling in around $1,700 lately. Yet remarkably, only Bloomberg News took notice in June, when the Lady Blunt, a 1721 Stradivarius, named for the Arabian horse breeder, self-taught Arabist and granddaughter of Lord Byron, who owned and played it from 1864 to 1895, left gold in the dust.

It was the third time in 40 years that the Lady Blunt had been up for auction. At Sotheby’s in 1971, it went for a record $200,000, the equivalent of $1.1 million today, in a shootout between a London investment banker and a Singapore real estate developer. The seller, Sam Bloomfield, was an aircraft manufacturer from Wichita. The buyer — Robin Loh, an overseas Chinese from Sumatra with an honorary degree from Berkeley — was the first Asian to make it to the winner’s circle.

This time, with bidding on line, and Tarisio, a zippy little New York specialist, as emcee, it went for a record $15.9 million after a 100-minute dogfight between two faceless bidders. The seller was the Nippon Music Foundation of Tokyo, already owner of 19 Strads. Known only to those who need to know, the buyer was presumed to be Asian or Russian, in any case not American.

But there was nothing anonymous about a winning bid that computed to an annualized return of 11.5 percent over 40 years or, at $1 million per ounce of violin, around 625 times the same day’s price of gold.

The give-and-take

As might be expected, Cremona’s finest have followed power as well as money. Soviet stars made do with instruments confiscated from the vanished imperial establishment. Satellite republics bought an occasional Strad for local musiciansto take to international competitions. At least one Strad can even be found in North Korea.

But for the most part, they’ve gravitated to the usual geopolitical suspects. (Are you listening, CIA?) From Charles IX to Napoleon III, it was Paris. From the 1880s to World War II, it was London, where W.E. Hill & Sons in London’s New Bond Street became the violin trade’s Greenwich meridian. Between the turn of the centuryand the guns of August, Berlin and St. Petersburg joined the game. Then, with East Asia still behind the moon, came America, and Washington.

In 1915, opportunity knocked at the Smithsonian castle when Dwight Partello, a retired State Department and Treasury official and amateur player, decided to turn down $125,000 from New York’s Metropolitan Museum and leave his collection to “the nation.” On his death five years later, “the nation” seemed a sure winner.

But neither Partello nor the Smithsonian factored for his furious and resourceful daughters. Within weeks, the first sister had recruited a New York Times columnist and a platoon of superstars including the violinist Fritz Kreisler and the conductor Arturo Toscanini for a barrage of public protests. All proclaimed their shock, shock, that 26 great instruments, including four Strads and a del Gesu, should be locked up in glass cases.

The second sister followed with a letter from their father that seemingly conferred ownership on herself. With even the attorney general unwilling to challenge it, the Smithsonian conceded defeat, and the sisters saw the instruments off to Lyon & Healy, the Chicago dealer.

Yet barely a generation later, a critical mass of patrons had not only turned the nation’s capital into an international Strad capital, they had ensured that as many as nine would be played where anyone who wanted to could hear them — with the federal government, of all unlikely agencies, as trustee of at least five.

Washington’s Strads

The great awakening began with a passion for chamber music in happy connubium with a wholesale grocery fortune. On Oct. 23, 1924, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, a Chicago heiress and talented amateur pianist, informed the Librarian of Congress that she intended to build the library a concert hall and endow a trust fund to pay for concerts in it. It took Congress only three months to accept the auditorium, and another five weeks to accept the unprecedented endowment.

On March 3, 1925, President Coolidge — no relative — signed the bill. On Oct. 28, 1925, the auditorium was dedicated with a series of five concerts. The whole project had made it to completion in 370 days. (Did you hear that, Congress?)

A windfall of instruments arrived a decade later. This time the passion for chamber music was joined to a carpetmaking fortune. In 1934, Gertrude Clarke Whittall, an Omaha-bred heiress from Massachusetts, settled in Washington, where acquaintance with Louis Krasner, one of the era’s more interesting violinists, guided her to three Stradivarius violins, a viola and a cello.

In 1935 she donated them to the Library of Congress, with a sustaining fund to support a resident quartet, and a reception room where the instruments could be visited and admired when not in action next door in the Coolidge Auditorium. Two years later, the widow of Robert Somers Brookings, a St. Louis hardware millionaire and founder of Washington’s first think tank, added a 1654 Amati by Andrea’s grandson, Nicolo.

Philanthropic lightning struck again in the wake of World War II. This time, passion was coupled to the estate of Sen. William Andrews Clark, who had once owned much of Montana, including the legislature that elected him in 1901. Long widowed in New York, his wife, Anna E. Clark, was a two-, even three-a-day concertgoer. In 1946, the Belgian cellist Robert Maas led her to Emil Herrmann’s flagship violin shop across from Carnegie Hall.

After decades of effort, Herrmann had just reassembled a set of Strads once owned by the legendary Niccolo Paganini. Maas wanted to play a great instrument in a great quartet. With a check from Mrs. Clark for $250,000, the Paganini Quartet was off on a 20-year career.

A day after it retired, the instruments arrived hand-carried at the Corcoran Gallery, where a Clark wing, going back to 1928, already housed a quartet of Amatis donated by Mrs. Clark in 1964. It was agreed that the Strads would remain inseparable; that they would be available to active performers, who would eventually include the Iowa, later Stradivari, Quartet, the Cleveland Quartet, and the first desk players of the National Symphony, and that they would be regularly played at the Corcoran.

Win some, lose some

Some 70 years after the Partello debacle, the Smithsonian finally lucked into a collection, too. The latest donor, Herbert Axelrod, was an immigrants’ kid from Bayonne, N.J., who made his own fortune in home aquariums and pet care. In all ways but one, he could hardly have been more different from his fellow patrons if he had been born with fins. But his shared passion for violins made all the difference.

In 1970, Axelrod bought his first Strad and discovered collecting. His passion for fish had already led to a relationship with the Museum of Natural History. From the 1980s on, the American History museum would be a beneficiary, too. Among his loans and donations were full quartets by Jacob Stainer, a Tyrolean master once held in higher esteem than Stradivari, and J.B. Vuillaume, the inspired Paris maker, dealer and self-promoter, whose Strad copies were often taken for the real thing.

But most remarkable was a quartet of the real — well, almost real — thing, unique in the world, save for a set in Madrid. Among the 600-odd surviving Stradivarius instruments are 13 embossed with flowers, mythical animals, cupids and inlays. By the mid-1980s, Axelrod owned three of them, two violins and a viola. But the cello in Madrid was the sole existing decorated cello. With the help of his dealer, the late Jacques Francais, Axelrod completed his set by engaging Rene Morel, Francais’s resident wizard, to copy its motifs to an undecorated Strad cello.

In time, Axelrod’s wheelings and dealings would get him into trouble. Generous tax write-offs, certified by Vienna-based Dietmar Machold, a famously creative violin dealer now fighting extradition from Switzerland to Austria, drew the attention of the Senate Finance Committee. The sale of some 30 instruments to the New Jersey Symphony led to awkward questions about their price and authenticity.

Donation of the Stainers to Vienna’s instrument museum brought Axelrod an Austrian passport that allowed him to dodge U.S. tax charges, until he was hauled in and extradited from Berlin. In 2005, he was tried and sentenced in federal court. But the Axelrod Strads, regularly played in Axelrod-endowed concerts, remain a glory of the Smithsonian.

Per capita, Washington probably had more Strads than any place else in the world, Sturm told the New York Times in 1984. At the time, he knew of 14. Two were owned privately, by Mstislav Rostropovich, the great Russian cellist, and David Lloyd Kreeger, CEO of Geico and a serious amateur violinist.

Both are long gone. In September 1995, the local stock declined by four more when the Corcoran sold the Paganini Strads to the Nippon Music Foundation for $15 million. There may be still be one or two more in private hands, according to David Basch, a veteran local consultant and freelance player. But none is in public view or earshot.

Yet barring a Tea Party initiative to privatize the collection, that still leaves a reassuringly deep bench. Counting the spectacular Servais cello at the Smithsonian, and the spectacular Tuscan-Medici viola, on loan from the Tuscan Corp., at the Library of Congress, the total currently stands at 11.

There have also been more windfalls. The great and universally adored violinist and composer Fritz Kreisler presented his del Gesu to the library in 1952. The widow of the great and underappreciated violinist and conductor Szymon Goldberg presented his del Gesu to the kibrary in 2007.

Declare them both Strad equivalents. Add the Brookings Amati, again made playable by John Montgomery, the North Carolina maker who is the designated wizard to both the Smithsonian and the library. Add Clark’s Amatis, acquired by Axelrod from the Corcoran and donated to the Smithsonian in the late ’90s. And local resources still hold their own with any other known venue.

But user-friendliness is the clincher. Austria’s National Bank, a Machold client, loans to young players. In the market again for the first time since 1914, Russia’s new rich show off their trophies to 500 closest friends. Taiwan’s Chi-Mei Museum aspires to one specimen from every major maker. The Nippon Foundation continues to set global prices.

But for anyone who wants to see, hear, even play, examine and compare Strads, no place beats Washington. Sturm points with pride to decades of concerts, conferences, record projects, exhibitions, and K-9 school visits at home and on the road from Texas to Cremona, Germany and Japan.

Anne McLean, who programs the concerts in Coolidge’s auditorium, gets her kicks connecting young players with the library’s instruments on site, and the world with them online. Carol Lynn Ward-Bamford, the instruments’ official keeper, rejoices daily in being part of a gift that keeps on giving.

Say what you like about the political scene. (Are you listening, S&P?) We can at least remind ourselves that the local violin scene is still AAA.

Schoenbaum, D (2011, October 21). Strings Attached for Montgomery Violins. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com

Schoenbaum, a professional historian and amateur player, is author of a social history of the violin, and the people who’ve made, sold, bought, taught, played, loved and stolen it.

The Cellos of Stradivari

TITLE: The Cellos of Stradivari

SPEAKERS: Richard Belcher, Steven Honigberg, Alfredo Halegua, John Montgomery, & Carol Lynn Ward-Bamford
EVENT DATE: 2006/12/18
RUNNING TIME: 59 minutes
TRANSCRIPT: View Transcript (link will open in a new window)

DESCRIPTION:

Cellists Richard Belcher, Enso String Quartet, and Steven Honigberg, along with sculptor/instrument collector Alfredo Halegua, luthier John Montgomery and Carol Lynn Ward-Bamford of the Library's Music Division presented a lecture on Stradivari's cellos preceding the Enso String Quartet Concert.

Speaker Biography: Richard Belcher has performed as soloist with orchestras touring Australia and his native New Zealand. In 2001 New Zealand composer Patrick Shepherd's "Cello Concerto" was written for and dedicated to Belcher. He has been heard in recital throughout New Zealand and in the United States, and as a chamber musician in England, France, Canada and Costa Rica. He was also soloist with the University of Canterbury Cello Ensemble that toured New Zealand to great critical acclaim. Before moving to the U.S. in 1998, Belcher was successful in many competitions in New Zealand, including the National Concerto Competition and the National Music Competition. He was the winner of the Bernadette Richardson Competition and of the inaugural New Zealand Post Young Musicians Award in 1997. Belcher holds degrees from Yale University where, as a student, he was a guest on the Faculty Artist Series, and the University of Canterbury, where he graduated with Masters with Distinction and First Class Honours. As a member of the Enso String Quartet, he has held residencies at Northern Illinois University and, currently, at Rice University.

Speaker Biography: A member of the National Symphony Orchestra, Steven Honigberg has been featured numerous times as soloist with that ensemble. He won rave reviews for the 1988 world premiere of David Ott's "Concerto for Two Cellos" performed with the National Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Maestro Rostropovich, with repeat performances on the NSO's 1989 and 1994 United States tours. Voted "Best New Chamber Music Series" by the Washington Post, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's chamber music series was directed by Honigberg from 1994-2002. He is a member of the Washington, D.C. based Potomac String Quartet. Honigberg graduated from the Juilliard School of Music with a Master's degree in Music.

Speaker Biography: Alfredo Halegua creates monumental public sculpture that combines elements that have traditionally been considered separate modes of artistic expression---architecture and sculpture---to serve a variety of functions, including buildings, fountains and urban design. One of his largest commissions was a prize-winner competitive project for the Charlotte-Macklenburg Government Center in Charlotte, N.C.

Speaker Biography: John Montgomery is fully trained in both instrument making and restoration and has been working since 1977 when he began as a Watson Fellow studying Hurdy Gurdy construction in France. He attended the Violin Making School of America in Salt Lake City, Utah, and trained under William Monical in New York City. He has been a member of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers since 1987. In 1983, he established John Montgomery Inc. in Raleigh, N.C.

Speaker Biography: Carol Lynn Ward-Bamford is a music specialist in the Library's Music Division.

The Library of Congress. (2006). The Cellos of Stradivari [Webcast]. Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/