Short Film on Viola Maker Nicholas Frirsz

It’s always compelling to be able to share not only a beautiful creation with you, our readers, but a history and a heritage too. Which is why I’m rather eager to showcase the story of Nicholas Frirsz who’s a fifth generation luthier, someone who makes or repairs lutes and other string instruments. In this eight minute short film we get to hear of how he got involved in this family tradition.

Now based in New York, Nicholas strives to keep this tradition alive so it’s a real shame to hear the lack of apprentices available for him to train up in the way he once was by his father. In the film below he explains how life has changed since the day’s where you would follow the work of your family, which I think obviously devalues the experience that our young people have access too nowadays.

This being said I think it highlights a great importance on the skill set of Nicholas, as there can’t be too many bespoke viola makers that have this rich history and heritage behind them. Just listening to the little sub stories he has to tell is ever so inspiring, as it’s fascinating to hear about the 150 year old wood that his aunt stored when his father left for America, which really adds to the overall provenance of his work.

More than anything I really enjoyed actually seeing the skills that have been passed down to Nicholas. Throughout the film we get to see the delightful transformation from what is initially quite a raw, rough looking form into something refined, subtle and soft to the touch, which is amazing to see.

I’m a great believer in the idea that automated machines can never truly replicate what a hand tool can, and Nicholas’ work is substantial evidence of this. I just hope we all continue to see value in this tradition because art forms like these would be a terrible shame to lose forever.


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  • Ferry

    Hey guys, the video doesn’t show!
    Wanted to point this out to you.

    Cheers, Ferry.

  • Daniel Benning

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention Ferry! , the original video had been deleted – it should be good to go now.

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