Sifet Avdić from Tuzla is one of several people who manually make violins in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and he made his first violin in 1987. Sifet says this is a difficult job, but it cannot be done if there is no love for music and instruments.
– I started dealing with music in 1968 when I enrolled in a music school and then I began to grow love for the violin. I have not stayed in the music school for a long time, but I continued to play, and today I have my own music group, with them I play original and folk music, and sevdah. I started making the first violin without any expectations, but with an extraordinary ardor and intent to create for myself an instrument that I like to play very much – says Sifet.
Smell of wood
His father, who was professional carpenter, helped him a lot. Sifet says that he always liked the scent of the wood, and that he knew from the time when he was just a boy that he would do something with the wood.
– When I was 15 or 16, I went to the woods, cut wood and made skis. I started making money of this. In 1985, I started making šargija (plucked, fretted long necked chordophone used in the folk music of various Balkan countries). Everything was done manually and I had almost no tools. A little, by little, in 1987, I made the first violin – he remembers.
He says he had to make several violins in order to get the right one that would match the sound and other characteristics with the original one.
– During the war, I did not make violins, but I reactevated when the war ended. Now I’m not just making violins, but almost all string instruments, except for the guitar, gutars I’m just fixing. In addition, I am fixing other string instruments – says Sifet and adds that he has made about 35 violins so far, but 17 real ones, which are located everywhere in the world.
He says his three violins are in Japan, two at the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, two in France, Germany, Switzerland as well …
– As far as B&H is concerned, my violins are in Zenica, Sarajevo, Mostar, Živinice, Banja Luka … I also included my son, who has made three violins so far, and currently makes one for Slovenia – says Sifet.
It takes about 400 hours, or about 25 days to create a violin. He emphasizes that this work requires exceptional calmness and serenity.
– If I’m nervous about something, I’m not coming to the studio. I do not want to destroy the wood because the maple from which the real violin is made is extremely expensive. Bosnia and Herzegovina has the highest quality maple in Europe. The cubic of this tree costs between 2,000 and 6,000 euros, and when I get the wood, I tend to use every inch of it – Avdić emphasizes.
The greatest wealth
The bottom plank of the violin weighs 80 grams and the upper one is 50, while the total weight of this instrument should not exceed 450 grams.
– The handle is made of maple, the surrounding area and the neck too, and only the top plank is made of spruce. When the violin takes its future look, the painting follows, which is a very important part of the job. It is lacquered with shellac, a special lacquer for instruments that do not contain chemicals and is diluted with 96 percent alcohol, which passes through the wood and the moisture comes out – Sifet says.
He says he has earned everything in his life thanks to music and instrument making. He emphasizes that his family is the greatest wealth, and he hopes that his son will inherit and remain in this business.