Domenico Busan

Viola made by Domenico Busan in 1800. Nora Taksdal plays on this instrument.

Domenico Busan was born in Treviso in around 1720, and worked in Venice from about 1743. He  comes at almost the very end of a long and illustrious independent Venetian tradition of violin making, a style set in motion by Matteo Gofriller’s free adaptation of earlier Cremonese and Tyrolean models.

In Venice, the use of fine richly coloured varnish continued some time after it seems to have been abandoned in favour of quicker-drying, more durable varnish by makers elsewhere. Busan’s workmanship is not at all well-disciplined, but he managed to provide the wonderful sound that is the most distinctive quality of eighteenth century -and earlier- Italian work. 

He is particularly valued for his cellos and violas, which unusually seem to outnumber his violins. Cellos were a notable specialisation of Venetian makers. Violas however, were never produced in significant numbers by any classical Italian makers, apart from the Brescians Gaspar da Salo and Giovani Paolo Maggini. Even then, few conformed to a comfortable size for modern orchestral playing, but by Busan’s time, this had begun to settle, and his work, mostly made to modern proportions, is very much in demand. This viola attributed to him is nevertheless quite large in its body, measuring 427mm in length, but its breadth and depth provide the required depth of viola tone. The almost brutal, squared-off form of the body looks as if it has been cut and carelessly altered, like so many earlier tenor instruments, but it is original.

Nora Taksdal

Nora Taksdal (b. 1968) has performed as a viola soloist in all of Norway’s symphony orchestras. She is a member of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra of Oslo, and employed by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra (NRK). She has also developed a music radio program for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation.