Carleen Maley Hutchins
Study With Sacconi

A letter from Saunders of January 26,1959 offers Hutchins congratulations for her contact with Rembert Wurlitzer (1904-1963) and Fernando Sacconi (1895-1973), two important individuals in Hutchins's continuing training as a luthier.[FN 28] Sacconi, a fine Italian maker and instrument restorer and a leading authority on the work of Antonio Stradivari, joined the Wurlitzer firm in 1950. Hutchins met Wurlitzer in the mid-1950s after her work with Berger. She remembers how Wurlitzer rushed through her workshop, looking at all of her instruments. As may be seen in Saunders's letter, by 1959 Wurlitzer had invited Hutchins to meet Sacconi. She continued to work with the Italian maker until Wurlitzer's death in 1963. in a letter of recommendation for Hutchins's first Guggenheim Fellowship in 1959 (she won another in 1961), Wurlitzer spoke of his regard for the work of Hutchins and Hopping in plate tuning:[FN 29]

We have known Mrs. Hutchins for some years and have been very much interested in the research she has done and we are of the opinion that she fully deserves further encouragement...

As far as I know, the ideas of Mrs. Hutchins are unique and I believe fully worthwhile exploring. Basically they take the form of measuring the pitch response of the upper and lower plates of an instrument at various points and of then correlating these figures with the various variations in constructions of the instrument...

Such measurement may quite likely lead to a scientific approach to the making of superior bowed instruments...

We are quite familiar with Mrs. Hutchin's (sic) work as an instrument maker and we believe that she is quite capable of undertaking this work.

Hutchins work with Sacconi took place periodically at Wurlitzer's on 42nd Street. They met in an upstairs room apart from the main workshop, meaning that luthiers training there were unaware of Hutchins's study with Sacconi. Hutchins has remembered her work with him in print:[FN 30]

Sacconi wanted me to follow as closely as possible the methods he had evolved from the work of Stradivari--the molds, the designs, the tools and the ways of using them...

She has recalled his advice to find Italian Lombardy poplar for purfling in Chianti wine crates, and his surprise at her finding willow for blocks in polo balls. Sacconi lent Hutchins his tools, patterns, and cutters, and made her drawings of the famed MacDonald Stradivarius viola. One of the biggest boons to her research made possible by Wurlitzer and Sacconi was the opportunity to test the plates of the Wirth Stradivarius violin, apart for repairs in about 1962. Hutchins picked up the plates, "more valuable in weight than platinum,"[FN 31] at the 42nd Street shop and took them back to Montclair for testing, learning much about the plates of a fine instrument in the process. Hutchins received the following letter from Lee (Mrs. Rembert) Wurlitzer in 1989, recalling her work with Wurlitzer and Sacconi:[FN 32]

I just returned from The Metropolitan Museum and I was so pleased to see your instruments on display there. That is quite an honor.

Rembert and Mr. Sacconi would be very proud, they were both so interested in your work. Mr. Sacconi would be especially pleased since he worked with you so often. I remember when Rembert loaned you a Strad that was open so you could study it and take measurements. I wish you all the luck and hope to see you one day. Have a good summer.

Sincerely, Lee Wurlitzer

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