Leonard Campman Violin – Wellsboro, Pennsylvania 1962
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Wellsboro, PA 1962
We have a handmade American violin by Leonard Campman (1912-2008) who studied violin making with the famous G.M. Francois of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Gabriel Marc Francois was a seventh generation born and trained Mirecourt violin maker who also studied with Paul Bailly in Paris and London. Francois immigrated at age 25 to the United States to start his own workshop in 1898. It was Victor Herbert, the Pittsburgh composer, who with tales of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra persuaded him to come to Pittsburgh. The Francois shop developed a fine reputation among the Symphony and was a highly regarded firm from 1898 to 1944. Francois took Leonard under his wing as an apprentice from 1935 to 1939. Leonard stayed on until 1941. Mr. Francois’s widow tried to get Leonard to take over the Francois shop in 1939 but Leonard was raised a country boy and really did not care for the big city of Pittsburgh. Leonard Campman was born in Morris, PA and lived most of his life with his wife Irene in the mountains of Wellsboro, Pennsylvania after serving in the military from 1941 to 1946. Campman was stationed in Washington, D.C. for a time where he developed a friendship with Herman Weaver, at that time maker and owner of The Violin House of Weaver. He also served in England, France, and Belgium. While in Europe he used any leave time he had to visit as many violin makers as he could. Campman made more than 30 violins in his lifetime and continued to build and do restoration and repair of string instruments until he became legally blind at the age of 86.
The sound on the violin is strong. The tone is focused and carries well which is very appealing to this old bass player. I have played the violin in a larger worship area and in our violin workshop to see how the sound projects. The violin held its own in the large space projecting well and the instrument responded quickly when I was having fun trying to play my favorite Scottish fiddling tunes. The instrument has not been played for at least the last 12 years because it has been waiting along with 300 other instruments and bows to be worked on in our shop. The low G and D string sound is what sells me on the violin, but the brilliant, brighter treble voice is just as sweet. This instrument is ready for an up-and-coming player; someone looking for a handmade violin that does not need to own a European instrument. The violin has carrying power, leans slightly to the brighter side, and will hold its own in a lineup of handmade instruments.