Michel Eggiman, Maestro Liutiao (a title meaning “Master Lutist”), and his bottega fall into neither the traditional nor the contemporary artisan / workshop category. Or rather . . they fall into both.
He has only been in Rome since February, 2007. Yet neither he nor his shop would have been out of place here in the 17th century. He is not a figlio d’arte (literally “child of art/craft”, meaning from a family of craftsmen, 2nd generation or more). Yet he apprenticed in Cremona, the city in northern Italy which basically invented the instrument back in the 15th and 16th centuries and which has been famous for making them since.
Since moving to Rome from Lucca in Tuscany, he says he is having far more fun with his work because of Spain’s dynamic contemporary classical music scene. This doesn’t make sense until he explains that more work available there for professional musicians and conductors means that a younger generation are entering their field. These younger artists naturally have a more contemporary approach to the music and thus allow maestri liutai like him more freedom with the choice of materials and methods used to make the instruments. Now that he’s in Rome (with its international airport), Michel says that many Spanish musicians regularly fly over for day trips to place commissions with him.
Located near Campo de’ Fiori, on Via Montoro, 13, his bottega can’t be more than 12′ x 10′ square feet, but be sure to stop by if you’re interested in seeing violas and violins coming to life at the hands of a young Maestro artfully blending the traditional and contemporary in his work.