It was inspiring to meet Olga Adelmann, who helped pave the way for groundbreaking research
At the 1985 Triennale in Cremona, I heard an intriguing talk, delivered with a strong Berlin accent, about Sacconi’s restoration methods and the ‘Baroque violin’. Later over lunch, the guest speaker, Olga Adelmann, a petite and agile 72-year-old, told us how she danced in her spare time and had been the first woman to earn the German Master Violinmaker designation. She also recalled with uncanny lightness of heart how her family had been forced to rely upon her mother’s knowledge of indigenous plants to survive the hardship of World War II.
We had further conversations at the Musical Instrument Museum in Berlin, where she worked until 1976. She translated Sacconi’s book on Stradivari into German in 1976 and later published the results of her meticulous study on the Alemannic School of Violin Making. It was inspiring to meet this unusual woman who helped pave the way for groundbreaking research that has subsequently informed our understanding of classical makers.
Barbara Meyer has recently been appointed curator of instruments at London's Royal Academy of Music