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Featured Maker Interview • Bizzi

Featured Maker Interview • Bizzi

We spoke to Guido Bizzi, founder of the company, about his musical beginnings, his home in the historic Villa Bossi and creating a new instrument for Jane Chapman.

The Bizzi workshop in Northern Italy has been producing fine bowed strings and keyboard instruments for nearly 50 years. 

As their main stockists we are delighted to showcase our collection of modern and baroque violins, violas and cellos, harpsichords and Previously Owned Instruments.

Featured Maker Interview | Bizzi
The Early Music Shop: Your background as an engineer seems a long way from making musical instruments. How did you become involved with making and restoring historical instruments?

Guido Bizzi: When I was studying engineering at the Politecnico of Turin I happened to become a singer at the Corale Universitaria and then to create my own ensemble, five singers specialized in Monteverdi: La Camerata Polifonica di Torino. By the way, a few years ago I had the chance to discover a recording of "Il Lamento di Arianna" made in 1968 that can be found in internet. When you sing 16th century music you inevitably arrive at discovering other instruments, and among them the harpsichord. My technical background and my propensity for hand-working led me to manufacture musical instruments for our Camerata. This was the beginning of everything.

EMS: You are based in Northern Italy at Villa Bossi which is home to Bizzi Historical Keyboards, Liuteria Bizzi and Accademia Europea Villa Bossi. How important is this beautiful and historic location to your work and do you think the instruments could be made anywhere else?

GB: Before arriving at Villa Bossi, we had been living and working in the countryside, where we were surrounded by the beauty of nature. Finding Villa Bossi was very important for us but this was only 15 years ago. Working in a beautiful, historical mansion helps a lot, but I think I can make harpsichords also in other places provided I have trees and green around.

EMS: You have been working with The Early Music Shop for many years. How did the relationship start and has it changed over the years?

GB: Everything started in the 1980s when I made friends with Richard Wood, the founder of the EMS, an extraordinary and visionary person with whom we designed many projects — too many probably — which in some cases were just dreams and rather difficult to put into practice. After the arrival of Chris Butler, EMS became a "real" company and much easier to work with. I have a great friendly feeling with Chris and I am convinced that our cooperation will grow in the future with a lot of satisfaction for both of us.

EMS: You recently created a new instrument for Jane Chapman for the International Festival of Early Music.  How did this collaboration come about and are there any other musicians with whom you would like to work?

GB: It was a great pleasure to work with Jane, a great musician that we were happy to welcome to Villa Bossi, where she tried the instruments for her LIFEM concert. She gave us interesting tips about certain aspects of the harpsichord performance. We always learn a lot from great harpsichordists, especially when they are so open and generous like Jane. We have been working with important musicians over the years like Ton Koopman or Pierre Hantai for instance, and I am proud to say that with many of them we started with an artistic cooperation which at the end became true friendship.

EMS: Makers often describe their instruments as ‘children'. Do you have a favourite and why?

GB: Oh, no, indeed! If you think that way you will never sell an instrument made by you!  You don't sell your children... Favourite? I don't know really. Probably the favourite is always the last one because in every new instrument there are little changes that we consider an upgrade compared to the previous ones. This is a kind of activity where you're never 100% satisfied with what you're doing. A few years ago my son Lorenzo started to make improvements in the harpsichord construction but, despite the significant results he achieved, he also doesn't seem to be happy because he always wants more... I don't know why...

EMS: Bizzi is a family business.  Why is this important and what plans and hopes do you have for the future?

GB: Very difficult question. Working within a family and for the future of your children has been something natural for hundreds of thousand years. However a family business enhances the good things but also the problems. Honestly, despite some difficulties, the idea of my children continuing the business that we have built at Villa Bossi makes me feel proud. Without forgetting that I have three grandchildren who could also continue.

Who knows... let me continue dreaming, please...

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