The restorer and bow maker Jean-Frédéric Schmitt has died at the
age of 75. In his Lyon workshop he did restoration and sound
adjustments for many leading musicians, and worked on nearly 300
valuable Italian instruments.
Born in 1937 in a suburb of Grenoble, France, Schmitt studied at the Mittenwald School of Violin Making and spent time in the workshops of Pauli Merling in Copenhagen and Etienne Vatelot in Paris. He worked for a period in Japan, before returning to France, where he moved to Lyon in 1967 and opened his own workshop. Over the next 40 years he trained and mentored some 100 assistants.
In addition to restoration, Schmitt was committed to strengthening the French bow making industry. In 1981 he founded Lyon bow making shop J.F. Daber, which today is one of the leading exporters of French bows.
He was the author of the 1993 book Violin Making in Lyon, a study of 19th-century lutherie in the city. He was also the subject of a 2007 documentary film, Le Maître des Cordes.