Francis MacMillen, the brilliant young violinist who has made Marietta famous throughout the length and breadth of his native land, as well as in the capitals of Europe, where his performances have caused him to be ranked as one of the foremost artists of his generation, will one of these days be delighting the musical public with the clear and beautiful tones he will draw from a violin made in this city. A Marietta artist will be using a Marietta violin, and critics will say that neither of them, the young man nor the instrument, can well be surpassed.
A violin which Mr. MacMillen expects to use in some of his future world-tours, if things go right, is now being fashioned in this city, by Mr. A. J. Maskrey, of Scammel street near Front, considered by good judges to be one of the most capable violin makers in the country. The instrument has been in course of construction since the visit of the violinist to his home city on February 1st, and will probably be finished by the middle of this month, according to a statement made by Mr. Maskrey to a representative of The Daily Times.
The greatest of care is being taken with every detail of the building of the violin. Only the choicest of materials are being used, and the work of fashioning the parts and fitting them together is being done with the greatest of care and skill.
The top of the violin is of Italian spruce; the ribs and back of Italian maple, woods which are specially adapted to violin making because of their qualities. The material has been carefully seasoned, having been cut in 1886.
When Francis MacMillen gave his recital here recently, Mr. Maskrey had opportunity to examine the instrument which the distinguished musician plays, and the violin being made by him will be fashioned in a degree after this instrument, a copy of the famous Stradivarius which Mr. MacMillen now owns. The MacMillen instrument is valued at $7,000 and was presented to him by Lady Palmer of London. When the young violinist made his first public appearance in the English metropolis, Lady Palmer was present and was so much impressed with his wonderful playing that she loaned the valuable instrument to him. After he had progressed beyond his student days, and has justified her confidence in him by taking his place among the great violin players of the world, she presented it to him, as an appreciation of his faultless execution.
Mr. Maskrey, the violin maker, has achieved success in more than one vocation. Born in Wolverthampton, Straffordshire, England, in early boyhood he moved with his family to Scotland. His father and grandfather both were experts in tin-plate manufacture, and now the son, who has followed in the footsteps of his forebears, has risen in the ranks until he is considered one of the world's greatest experts in the business.
Making of violins is in a measure a recreation with him. He devotes to it the time that other people give to their hobbies. But it must not be understood that he gives only perfunctory attention to his work. As a matter of fact he has been making violins for thirty-five years, and up to ten years ago he had not completed one that suited him absolutely. He is as deeply interested in the perfection of his musical instruments as he is in the results of his other business, and gives as much careful attention to the details.
When Francis MacMillen was here last month, he called on Mr. Maskrey in company with Judge H. L. Sibley, who is himself an expert on matters pertaining to the violin, and played an instrument that the violin maker had completed a few days previous to that time. He pronounced it the best new violin on which he had ever played.
Judge Sibley states that he considers Mr. Maskrey one of the ablest makers of violins in the country, and that it is debatable whether he has any superiors.
A visit from Francis MacMillen, when he shall delight his townsmen by playing on a Marietta-made violin, is something for the people of this city to look forward to.