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Philip Kass '72


When I arrived home from Italy on February 19, 2020, I had no idea that this would be my last plane flight to date, or that it would be well over a year and counting until I could return there.

It’s been years since I last sent a post, but for the past few decades I’ve been working primarily as an independent consultant on bowed stringed instruments as well as researching and writing about the classic Italian luthiers. My biggest current project is a book on the history of violin making in Mantua, which I have visited repeatedly for research and, most recently, as a quiet and familiar place in which to write the book. This is a multinational enterprise: my co-author and publisher is Italian, our photographer, a German, and the instruments we seek, scattered worldwide. The pandemic has caught us all in mid-stride. Important instruments that must be photographed for inclusion lay tantalizingly out of our reach. The biographical essays can be revised via the wonders of email, but the serious work of writing our analytical essays requires us to be sitting together, poring over and comparing photos. Furthermore, some minor research was never concluded, and the archives are not always currently accessible. So, it could be that our planned 2021 publishing date will probably be pushed back a year.

When now working on these sorts of fun projects, I still provide appraisal and consultation services to players and dealers alike, as well as a few museums, orchestras, and the Curtis Institute here in Philadelphia. And, I have not given up my music making — far from it, in fact. In my traveling days, musical get-togethers were infrequent, but now I have a quartet of forcibly idled professional musicians which has been meeting several times a week since last July (I have named it “The Covidian Quartet”). I cannot tell you how much the music has helped to make these times not just bearable, but even enjoyable.


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