My interest for harpsichords started when I became more
involved in music, which was during my years at the Polytechnic in Turin.
I made my first harpsichords in the 1970s, when I founded the "Laboratorio" in Milan. But the "business" in the true sense or the word was born in 1996, when I decided to increase the dimension and scope of my work.
How do you deal with the relationship between the skill of the hand and the creativity of the mind?
Manual skill is a gift of nature, but it has to be cultivated. In a similar way, you can be gifted in music, but the results will only arrive after very intense practicing and study. When I was little, I was always doing something with my hands, and this is what made me want to continue. Even today, I can show how certain fine work needs to be done.
Do you use new technologies to make your instruments, or have the techniques remained the same?
It’s a matter of common sense. It would be absurd to fell a tree and cut a wooden board like people did centuries ago. I believe we should use contemporary techniques in those operations that simplify manual labour while guaranteeing the same result. Instead, in those processes where the hand of man can and must be perceived, I refuse to use modern technology. For example, a keyboard can be made by numerical control machines, but then the fascination and magic of a handmade object, with all its beautiful little imperfections, is lost.
A keyboard can be made by numerical control machines, but then the fascination and magic of a handmade object, with all its beautiful little imperfections, is lost.
With my work I am contributing to giving back to the harpsichord the importance and prestige it enjoyed for centuries in the past.
What are the prospects for artistic crafts in our globalised society?
They are very interesting and things are changing in the right direction. In Lombardy, for example, many young people (whose fathers had left their grandfather's workshop to go to work in a factory, which was subsequently relocated) are going back to their family tradition, when the chain has not been entirely interrupted. But you need to have passion as well as a bit of humility, which are two extraordinary gifts of our famous artisans in Brianza.
What passion inspires and motivates you?
I have many strong motivations. For example, to make an instrument for someone who has been dreaming about it for a long time and buys it only after a lot of sacrifices, knowing that he or she will receive a great deal of joy and will dedicate the most beautiful moments of the day to it … Or to make an instrument for a student whose future career will depend upon it. This is the priceless satisfaction that few other professions can offer. On top of that, it is very rewarding to know that with my work I am contributing to giving back to the harpsichord the importance and prestige it enjoyed for centuries in the past.
Your instruments are sought after all over the world: who are your clients?
Different types of clients order my instruments: conservatories and music schools, students, professional musicians as well as amateurs, in the sense of those who play for pleasure, sometimes even at a high level. My youngest clients are in France, because they start playing when they are only seven or eight years old. In Italy, we make very little music and often poorly, even if we have the most famous “ensembles” in the world. But just across the Alps you'll find families that sing and play together in the evening.
You have contributed to the birth of the Violinmaking School in Milan. How would you rate the standard of education in this sector today?
My judgement is not very positive, unfortunately, for at least two reasons. To begin with, the institutions are not interested in developing the cultural sector, and funding is always either insufficient or altogether lacking. Moreover, this type of education should be accompanied by training in the workshop, where, however, the masters jealously guard their "secrets". In short, we lack an overall plan to develop a sector that could make Italy an international point of reference, like it was for centuries in the past. What we need is a little far-sightedness. This is something that we are trying to achieve with the new project of our Foundation.
You are pursuing an ambitious entrepreneurial and cultural project with the Fondazione Musicale dei Laghi. Would you like to tell us about it?
The opportunity came in 2007, after years of research. The solution we found went beyond all of our dreams: Villa Bossi in Bodio Lomnago will become the headquarters of the Fondazione Musicale dei Laghi and of the activities it runs, including the Harpsichord Museum and the Musical Academy, with concerts, performances and much more. The novel aspect of the Foundation is that it will be a cultural enterprise in every respect. It will be run like a business, with a watchful eye on costs and revenues. It will develop projects and numerous business services. Several multinationals, such as Siemens and Bayer, are among the supporting partners, together with other major enterprises of this territory. The Foundation will also host quarterly meetings dedicated to the business management of cultural initiatives.
Are you tied to your territory and to the context in which you work?
This is precisely one of the Foundation’s objectives. Our work is addressed to museum visitors, to musicians coming from far away, to musical tour operators. Thus the quality of our hosting facilities, of our gastronomy, of our natural and architectural sights, in other words, of our way of life is fundamental to the project.