Leandro Bisiach Sr.
(1864 – 1946)
The Bisiach family came from Dalmatia, the region on the eastern Adriatic coast which formerly was part of the Republic of Venice and which is now part of Yugoslavia. The patriarch of the family, Leandro, was born in Casale Monferrato in 1864. He studied violin making with Riccardo Antoniazzi, a pupil of Enrico Ceruti. In 1886 he opened his workshop in Milan, beginning as a violin maker. Success and acclaim came rapidly his way so that by 1900 he was regarded as one of the most important violin makers of his generation. He had as clients virtually all of the most important performers of his time, a fact readily apparent from the innumerable photographs which filled his walls, and his instruments had won many awards at the great International Competitions. By 1900, the complexion of his business had also begun to change. Leandro had a great talent as a maker, but he also had other great talents. He had a keen eye and was an astutePortraits of Giacomo and Leandro Bisiach Presented to William Moenning III businessman, and so he rapidly became known as a leading expert and connoisseur. Many of the greatest masterpieces passed through his hands, and his scholarship soon came to be spoken of in the same breath as that of his colleagues the Hills, the Harts, the Hammas, and Caressa. Expert repairs became an important part of his work, with standards that set the pace for others. With the tremendous demands that his other endeavors required, Leandro found it necessary to curtail his violin making. Although he could not continue to create violins in the quantity of his earlier years, he never actually gave it up. He continued to work with the assistance of his younger sons Giacomo and Leandro, Jr., up until his death in 1945. He also employed as violin making assistants many of the early 20th century masters. In this regard he stands as the most important early patron of Italian violin making of this century. He could count as assistants or pupils such masters as Romeo and Riccardo Antoniazzi, his teacher; Giuseppe Ornati, Gaetano Sgarabotto, Giuseppe Pedrazzini, Ferdinando and Afro Garimberti, Iginio Sderci, Giuseppe Lucci, Sesto Rocchi, Ferruccio Varagnola. to name a few. It would also be unfair not to note that Leandro was an accomplished concert violinist, maintaining a performance schedule in the midst of so many other pressing responsibilities. Leandro had four sons who ably continued the tradition after his death. The first was Andrea, who was born in 1890. Andrea was trained by his father as a violin maker, but was especially fine as a restorer and a connoisseur. His eye was particularly keen and he quickly filled the Bisiach vaults with fine classic instruments and the Bisiach home with outstanding art, sculpture, and furniture. Andrea continued his father's expertise until his death in 1967.
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