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master violin and viola case maker


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A Tribute to Mike Gordge


Dear Musicians...

In March the world of violins and musicians lost one of the greatest case makers who ever lived, Michael Gordge of M.A. Gordge Cases, UK.

Mike worked for many years at the W.E. Hill & Sons firm, building the famous Hill cases, until Hill closed and Mike founded his own business. His cases were well known for their meticulous quality of construction and understated, very British style to which he remained faithful over the years despite changing customer tastes and markets.

In any profession, one tends to make the distinction between colleagues and competitors. For me, Mike was a colleague and a friend, and I think this was possible because we both respected each other and never was tempted to copy one another's work or ideas. Although we actually never met in person, we spoke often over the phone, sharing technical views and trading gossip. Since the late 1980s my company imported his cases for customers on the Italian market, and his were the only ones to which my workshop offered maintenance service, in addition to my own.

I think that the best way to remember Mike is by his work, so I have prepared this page as a tribute to it. The case pictured is one of the last he made, a De Luxe model built in 2007 destined to the U.S. market, as the instrument suspension and hygrometer - two items Mike wasn't particularly fond of - will testify.

Observing this single image it is easy for even the untrained eye to see and appreciate the symmetry and supreme tidiness of his work, while the professional eye will note the minimal tolerances in the construction, a sure indication of the amount of care he put into his work. A few details may appear at odds with one another, but like with an English automobile, this only increases the case's personality rather than detracting from it. I am fortunate to have been able to acquire this particular case, new and unused, for my collection, as it is well-representative of his work.

There seems to be an unwritten rule that Master Case Makers aren't awarded the same esteem and recognition that Master Violin Makers receive, despite an often superior creativity. I feel however that with Mike Gordge an exception should be made. His passing didn't make the front page, nonetheless it has impoverished the world of case making, forever.

Mike and his work will be missed by many.  

Dimitri Musafia  

Update: The assets, equipment, and name "M.A. Gordge" have since been purchased by a Canadian firm with the purpose of continuing the production of these cases.



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