Harry Vatiliotis is regarded as one of Australia's finest violin makers. His career spans over 40 years and began as a young repairer and maker under AE Smith, who is considered by many to be Australia's finest violin maker to date. Vatiliotis is one of the last makers who was trained by Smith and that is still working professionally. Many other famous Australian makers and repairers have gone through the Smith Workshop and the list reads like a "who's who" of violin making. These makers include Henry Lykke, Charles Clarke, William Dolphin, Lloyd Adams, William Paszek, Kitty Smith, Cedric Clarke and Phillip Burgess. Many of these makers are represented in the Powerhouse Museum's collection and the Vatiliotis instrument maintains this consistency and provides a comprehensive representation of the "Smith School".
This violin is being used in a comparative study of two violins both made by Harry Vatiliotis. The Violin Twins project as it is called began as a way of comparing two instruments made as identically as possible by the same maker to observe how they change over time. One violin, commissioned and owned by musician and composer Romano Crivici, is played frequently in various environments. The other instrument commissioned and owned by the Powerhouse Museum is only played once or twice a year and is kept in a relatively stable environment. Tests have been conducted by the University of New South Wales Department of Physics, Music Acoustics Laboratory both on the physical characteristics of the violins during construction and prior to varnishing. Perception tests were also carried out where violinists and audiences were asked to choose which instrument was which based on the way they sounded.
An overview of the project and the tests conducted by Dr Ra Inta, Professor Joe Wolfe and Associate Professor John Smith can be viewed through the University of NSW website; http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/powerhousetwins.html
A detailed scientific report was published in Acoustics Australia, April 2005;
A Powerhouse Museum blog post commemorates the projects 10th anniversary;
Michael Lea, Curator, music & musical instruments, 2002.
Updated February 2012.