Viola da gamba belonging to Myrna Herzog is back in action after year-long restoration at Shlomo Moyal’s Jerusalem workshop

When Myrna Herzog made the fateful decision in January 2018 to allow her viola da gamba to be placed in the hold of the Alitalia flight from Rio de Janeiro, it is unlikely that she could have imagined a worse case scenario than what transpired on arrival in Tel Aviv.

The shocking photos sent her complaint globally viral, and though Herzog attracted some online criticism for allowing the antique instrument to be placed in the hold, both the particular circumstances and sheer extent of the damage suggested that the lion’s share of responsibility rested with the airline and ground staff.

Alitalia did accept responsibility and offered to reimburse the cost of the instrument’s restoration, a task which fell to Jerusalem based luthier Shlomo Moyal, who has provided these photos of the year-long process.

‘Musicians find themselves in impossible situations, traveling with their precious instruments,’ he said at the beginning of his work on the viol. ‘Myrna’s instrument was brought to my workshop in pieces, the Gewa hardcase seriously damaged.

‘I find it inconceivable that airlines around the world can orchestrate complicated schedules, accommodate the wants and needs of different people, but cannot come up with a system to transport musical instruments which are the livelihood of musicians and in many cases are pieces of instrument-making history.

‘For me it will be a long interesting journey to restore this instrument, and i will do my very best for Myrna, an inspiring woman that is a true lover of music and history, both combined in this beautiful Edward Lewis bass viol from c.1661\2.’