Swiss violin maker
Since 1986 Michael Rhonheimer has been making and renovating baroque style string instruments - violins , violas and cellos.
Outplaying a Stradivarius
Violins produced by Antonio Stradivari during the late 17th and early 18th centuries are reputed to have superior tonal qualities. Dendrochronological studies have shown that Stradivari used Norway spruce that had grown when relatively low temperatures caused trees to lay down wood with narrow annual rings, resulting in a high modulus of elasticity and low density.
A scientist, Francis Schwarze, recently worked with Michael Rhonheimer to determine whether wood could be processed using selected fungi so that it became acoustically similar to the wood of trees that have grown in a cold climate.
Five violins were lined up behind a white curtain and the British virtuoso Matthew Trusler played works by Brahms and Mendelssohn on all of them. One was a Stradivarius, built in 1711 and worth $2 million, two had been built by Michael Rhonheimer. 180 volunteers and a renowned panel of experts listened intently.
"It was obvious to me that [my violins] didn't have a chance," Rhonheimer said. However, the audience and jury disagreed, picking Rhonheimer's Opus 58 as the best-sounding violin.