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  • Writer's pictureHannes Karpaty

Karpati's Violin Studio in the Old Town, its charm and lively history.

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

Introduction


Nestled in the fine district Gamla stan in Stockholm, is the Karpati violin studio. A hidden treasure that blends musical artistry with a lively history. Located on the fabled Baggensgatan, this remarkable violin studio attracts visitors from all over the world with its beautiful instruments while immersing them in the captivating stories woven into its surroundings.

From Stockholm's oldest residential building to a basement with its eerie past, the studio symbolizes the seamless blend of music, craft and history.

In the picture we see Karpati's violin studio when the sun shines at its best on Baggensgatan, Gamla Stan.

In this article we delve into the workshop's style and the street's surprisingly lively history.











Baggensgatan


When you first step onto Baggensgatan, you are quickly greeted by beautiful residential buildings, a great view of the German Church and of course violin maker Mikael Karpati's violin studio.

This colorful street, adorned with its charming cobblestones and centuries-old facades, gives an insight into Stockholm's bygone era. Its winding path serves as a constant reminder of the city's enduring history, preserving the essence of medieval architecture while embracing today's vitality.



An old neighbour, Stockholm's oldest building


Right next to the workshop, an architectural marvel awaits: Stockholm's oldest residential building, built in the 1330s by the then king Magnus Eriksson.

He built it for a certain type of monks and ordered them to arrange here an inn for pilgrims and monks who were on the move. So they did. Otherwise, the house had a number of different owners during its long life. At the end of the 16th century, it belonged to someone as foreign as a Scottish nobleman and knight: Anders Keith.

The house's weathered walls and timeless presence bring to life a sense of respect and connect visitors to the city's distant past. This venerable structure serves as a silent witness to countless generations, giving Karpati's workshop an undeniable aura of historical significance.





From prison cell Karpati's own wooden stock


Underneath the workshop's charming exterior lies a cellar with a captivating secret.

This eerie passage leads down to a pleasant cold with walls that give a clear trace of the Middle Ages.

This basement was once a prison for those who fell behind when it came to tax payments.

The poet and wise writer Carl Michael Bellman, who was one of Sweden's most famous poets and troubadours, was one of the unfortunate ones who had to serve a sentence in this basement, which was then called a "debt house".

This underground space now has a different purpose, now providing a safe place to store and age Karpati's various woods and other crafting supplies. The cellar's tangible touches from the past add an exciting layer to the workshop and an interesting topic of conversation for the customers who visit the violin studio.



Old fashioned charm


When visitors enter the violin studio, customers are enveloped in an atmosphere of timeless elegance.


The classic appearance of the workshop, with its carefully preserved wooden floors and architectural details, provides a glimpse into the past while serving as a backdrop for the creation and restoration of exceptional violins, violas and cellos. The welcoming glow from the fireplace, which was used much more in the past, creates the conditions for musical inspiration to flourish.


Within Karpati Violin's walls, the art of music meets masterful craftsmanship.

In here, in the peaceful workshop, Karpati's craft takes place, with all imaginable tools to help him.

On the walls, everything from mini-planers and measuring instruments to a ponytail that is used for retreading strings.

With inspiration from Baggensgatan's rich historical background, Karpati's commitment to preserving the traditions of violin building shines through in every delicate stroke.



Centuries of violin building on the same street


Johan Öhberg, a celebrated Swedish violin maker, was born in 1723. His remarkable craftsmanship and passion for music led to him becoming very famous in the world of violin makers. It was in the enchanting environment of Old Town in Stockholm that Johan set up his workshop at Baggensgatan number 18, just fifty meters from Karpati's workshop, which is now located at Baggensgatan 24.


In 1758, Johan began his lifelong journey as a violin maker and devoted himself to the meticulous art of making violins and cellos of incredible quality. Baggensgatan, with its cobbled streets and colorful buildings, served as the backdrop for his creative goals. Here, amidst the charm of Old Town, Johan honed his skills and developed a unique approach to instrument manufacturing.


The resonance of every note produced by his instrument was impressive, and musicians from far and wide sought out his masterpiece. The rumor about his workshop on Baggensgatan spread and was noticed by collectors and connoisseurs. Today Johan Öhberg cellos can be sold for over a million kroner.


Johan's influence extended beyond his own workbench. Like the renowned violin maker Karpati, who now passes on his skills to his son, Johan also had a son who shared his love for the craft. By chance, approximately 250 years later, Karpati would move in as a nearby neighbor to Öberg's premises at the time.


Even today, when strolling along the charming lanes of Stockholm's Old Town, the enchanting melodies of Öhberg's cello seem to linger in the air, a testament to the lasting impact of their craft and the harmonious union of music and place.



Johan Öberg Cello meets Karpati violin


On Baggensgatan's cobblestone street, two exceptional instruments were built more than 250 years apart by two different violin makers. Johan Öberg, who made a fascinating cello around the 1750s, while Mikael Karpaty created a fabulous violin. Unbeknownst to them, Mikael Sjögren of the Royal Philharmonic embraced an Öberg cello, while Haiou Meng, also from the same orchestra, embraced a Karpati violin. Their paths crossed at a lunchtime concert, and through their enchanting performance of Baggensgatan's echo.

They created an extraordinary bond between past and present, uniting two legendary violin makers in a timeless symphony.

Here is a short video of their performance in the grunewald hall.

It was on that fateful night, amidst the shared vibrations of two extraordinary instruments, that the epiphany occurred. A meeting of the Öberg cello and the Karpati violin, created two hundred and fifty years apart. They both originated from the same holy ground on Baggensgatan.



Explore the melodies of Gamla Stan:


Karpati's location in the Old Town invites visitors to embark on a journey through time. After immersing themselves in the enchanting atmosphere of the workshop, guests can wander through the labyrinthine streets and enjoy the neighborhood's timeless charm. From the grandeur of historic landmarks to the coincidence of world-renowned violin makers on the same street.

With Stockholm's oldest building as a neighbor and an intriguing past rooted in a prison for tax evaders, the workshop exudes a refreshing charm when visitors step into this enchanted space









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