When many people think of Chinese violins, the first thing that comes to mind is student instruments produced in a factory, the quality of which has improved such that a musician can now find quality Chinese student instruments at affordable prices. What may not immediately come to mind is the master violinmakers in China who are hand crafting fine violins, violas, cellos, and bows for advanced and professional players. This is the third in a series of StringBridge Connect posts that will introduce you to some of the best Chinese violinmakers.
One of the best known and most influential master violinmakers in China is Ming-Jiang Zhu (朱明江). Mr. Zhu was a student of Master Chinese Violinmaker Liang Guohui (梁国辉) in Guangzhou, China. Prior to his death in 2014, Mr. Zhu held the distinction as one of the violinmakers who had won the most awards at the Violin Society of America Competition, and as the Chinese maker who had won the highest number of awards at the Violin Society of America (VSA) Competition. Between the 7th VSA Competition in 1986 and the 21st VSA Competition in 2014, Mr. Zhu won 21 total awards, comprised of two gold medals, two silver medals, and 17 certificates of merit. This achievement is especially remarkable in light of the fact that Mr. Zhu never studied outside of China and could barely play the violin himself.
In addition to his own successes, Ming-Jiang Zhu also taught several award winning violinmakers. His students include award-winners Shao Chen (who has himself won a silver medal and certificate of merit at the Violin Society of America (VSA) Competition), Qiao-Ming Tan (who has himself won a certificate of merit at the Violin Society of America (VSA) Competition, and Wei-Xian Zhu (who has also won a certificate of merit at the Violin Society of America (VSA) Competition.
Prior to his death, Mr. Zhu was a member of Entente Internationale des Maîtres-luthiers et Archetiers d’art (International Society of Violin and Bow Makers), and served as a judge of workmanship in the First China International Violin Making Competition in 2010.
Today, after Mr. Zhu’s death, his workshop Noble Heart Violins, continues to produce high-quality instruments under his name.