Expert in instruments of the violin family

Jonathan Marolle reecalls a memorable experience: Hundreds of violins were hanging from the wall. He noticed one instrument. “I was struck by the quality of its varnish, which didn’t reflect the light in the same way as the others.

Its peculiar texture and color reminded me of the Italian violins of the 18th century,” explained the expert. After this initial expert assessment, Marolle continued to authenticate and value the fine violins that would be included in the next auction of Vichy Encheres. Jonathan Marolle works in close collaboration with Jean-Jacques Rampal, the head of his lutherie and expertise workshop, who is also an expert consultant with Vichy Encheres. The violin which caught his eye was indeed made by Joseph Guarneri (1666-1740). It sold for 570,000 Euro at the auction.  That auction of December 2014 will be long lived in his memory. For the young 33 year old expert and restorer, however, every authentication turns out to be thrilling. “Whether it’s a violin of the French or English school, a semi-factory made instrument or a masterpiece such as the Guarneri, what matters to me is to discover where the violin came from, who made it, and confirm these attributions through the authentication process.

Why has this violinist, luthier and instrument restorer to the greatest international soloists (Valeriy Sokolov, Frang Vilde, Henri Demarquette and Maxim Vengerov) chosen to focus on the history of violins and their authentications? The violin belonging to his grandfather, brought back from the German prison camp in which he was incarcerated during World War II, influenced him greatly. “I started learning the violin at the age of five so I could play this family violin. Today, it still accompanies me on a daily basis, as it is hanging just behind my work station in the workshop,”explained Marolle. Another key moment in his career was when as a child he met Etienne Vatelot, Vatelot’s founder of the Vatelot-Rampal workshop. “I had the opportunity to wait for one of his readings titled ‘Stradivarius and his Imitators’. I had become fascinated by his research methods. The minute his reading was finished, I rushed towards him to convey my enthusiasm. In return, the master offered me an internship in his workshop”. Marolle graduated from the school of violin making in Mirecourt.