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Neil Ertz, Violin

Staff, pupils and former pupils were saddened to learn of Neil’s death on 5 October 2016.

The following obituary appeared in The Strad on 6 October 2016 and is reproduced here with permission.

British luthier Neil Kristóf Értz died on 5 October at the age of 50. A respected maker and restorer, he was also well known as a teacher of violin making, and had been a contributor to The Strad.

Born in 1966 in Scotland, Értz studied the violin and viola at St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh, before attending the Newark School of Violin Making from 1983–86. He then worked at various workshops across Europe, including three years at Geigenbau Machold (1988–91), alongside Roger Hargrave. Following a year working in France, he and Hargrave worked together in Myenburg, Germany, for five years (1992–97), making new instruments and researching the methods of the old Italians, in particular those of Guarneri ‘del Gesù’. This research was used in the 1994 exhibition of ‘del Gesù’ instruments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the subsequent publication Violin Masterpieces of Guarneri del Gesù in the same year.

Értz opened his own workshop in Cambridge, UK, in 1997 and returned to Edinburgh in 2009. Among other projects, he repaired several instruments used by the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq when it visited Edinburgh in 2012, and gave lectures at the National Violin Making School in Querétaro, Mexico. An instrument made by Értz won first prize at the inaugural Querétaro International Violin Making Competition. He was a regular attendee at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, where his instruments were displayed alongside those of other contemporary makers. His article on making violin ribs appeared in the June 2006 edition of The Strad.

‘Neil was incredibly intelligent, with a phenomenal memory,’ Roger Hargrave recalls. ‘I once asked him if he remembered an article I’d written for The Strad ten years ago, and he immediately said, “Yes, it was on page 1302!” I thought he was joking but it turned out he was right, and he could remember any article I asked about afterwards. He worked with me unstintingly on the Guarneri book, although his name never appeared in it. He was an unsung hero of the violin world.’

Neil Ertz 1978 - 1983

Neil Ertz, Violin

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St Mary’s Music School is one of the nine specialist Music and Dance Schools the UK (and the only one in Scotland)  funded by the UK Government and providing the finest training in Britain. It is a co-educational, non-denominational specialist music school, offering a world class standard of music and academic education to musically gifted children aged 9-19 years. It is also the Choir School of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh. It attracts day and boarding pupils from across Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Europe and internationally. 

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