Making Musical Instruments
Opus 9 - Pardessus de viole

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    Beginning in the late seventeenth century in Europe, the viola da gamba was gradually supplanted by the violoncello, whose robust sound was better suited to the orchestras then appearing. However, the viola da gamba continued to enjoy widespread popularity in France until the end of the eighteenth century, during which the pardessus de viole, which is even smaller than the treble viol, was added to the viol family.

      Pardessus de viole - CMC 92-1/S92-2465/CD95-642 Pardessus de viole
    In the manner of Nicolas Bertrand
    By Dominik Zuchowicz
    Ottawa, Ontario
    British Columbia maple and Sitka, spruce, Gabon ebony, boxwood, bone, gut, silver, gold leaf, linen and glue, oil varnish
    Overall length: 63 cm; body: 31 x 18.6 cm; ribs: 7.6 cm
    Label: "Dominik Zuchowicz Ottawa 20/12/91 1991"

    The French nobility adopted the instrument enthusiastically. Ladies of the court were delighted with the pardessus de viole, whose small size made it charming and entirely in keeping with the elegance of the era. Moreover, the register of the pardessus enabled it to replace the violin, which women avoided playing as it left unsightly marks on the neck.

      Pardessus de viole - Tête sculptée couverte de feuilles d'or This beautiful carved head covered with gold leaf calls to mind the sumptuous furnishings that baroque musical instruments were designed to complement.

    Dominik Zuchowicz based this pardessus de viole on an instrument in the Musée du Conservatoire de Paris, itself the work of Nicolas Bertrand (d. 1725), one of the great French luthiers of the period and the "faiseur d'instruments ordinaire de la muzique du Roy" (The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments). A sculpted woman's head, covered with gold leaf, graces the neck of this meticulously crafted instrument.


    Dominik Zuchowicz

    Dominik Zuchowicz dans son atelier d'Ottawa, en 1991 Dominik Zuchowicz,
    in his Ottawa workshop, 1991.

    In his Ottawa workshop, Dominik Zuchowicz builds and restores instruments from the viol and violin family, such as the early double bass (or violone) and the baroque violin. This artisan began his career as an independent luthier in 1974 after spending four years repairing and restoring instruments in a stringed-instrument workshop in Winnipeg. At first, he focused mainly on instrument repair, but began making more and more instruments, specializing in early models. With the help of a Canada Council grant in 1981, he undertook research in European collections and at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. While in the United States, he acted as restoration consultant for the Boston Symphony Orchestra's Casedessus collection and for the collection of the period music division of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. At the same time, he developed a clientele of musicians with a keen interest in period music.

    In 1982, Dominik Zuchowicz returned to Ottawa. His clients include numerous professionals, and his instruments are played in the faculties of music of the Université de Montreal, McGill University, Carleton University, and the University of Western Ontario.

    Dominik Zuchowicz's label