I’m John Moroz, and I make violins. I come from a musical family of Russian descent, with a continuous lineage of professional musicians going back to the 19th century. Notable among them was my grandfather, Frank Gurowitsch, who studied violin in Berlin before World War I, and played professionally in New York City from 1920 into the 1960s. As a musician for NBC, he was a member of the renowned NBC Symphony Orchestra, under Arturo Toscanini. My great uncle, the pianist Samuel Chotzinoff, was Jascha Heifetz’ brother-in-law, and accompanied Heifetz in the 1920s. Excellence in music is a family tradition.
At 17, I picked up a book on guitar making. The black and white photographs showed an earnest craftsman making, entirely by hand, an instrument of simple and elegant design. My immediate thoughts and feelings were, I have to do this. In those days, there was no school teaching instrument-making in the United States. I was not deterred by this. I was determined to begin immediately.
I found some old hand tools in my grandfather’s basement in New Jersey. I visited a supplier of instrument-making wood on the lower East Side of Manhattan, and bought spruce and mahogany. Using the book, I began to teach myself, and completed several approximations of guitars. I worked at a guitar-making factory in Rhode Island, and after-hours made instruments and exhibited my rough creations at craft shows.
I finally became a violin maker at the Violin Making School of America, which was started in the 1970s in Salt Lake City. Through this school, founded by a German violin maker, I and my fellow students were immersed in the 500-year-old European tradition of stringed instrument making; what Hilary Mantel has called “…an ancient and delicate craft.” These skills and techniques were once well-protected secrets, and this knowledge was now available to those of us willing to persevere in the workshop.
After graduating in 1982, I moved to New York. There, I became assistant to master violin maker Amos Hargrave, who taught me repair and restoration. I had the opportunity to study first-hand the works of many of the great historical violin makers.
Since 1978, I’ve made over 400 violins, violas and cellos, and I’ve repaired and restored countless fine old European instruments, I bring this depth of experience to the creation of each new instrument. I begin with aged spruce and maple of the finest quality, and follow a process inspired by classical Italian design and tradition. My sophisticated sensibility of sound and design enables me to produce instruments known for their exceptional tonal qualities, richly-textured on the lower strings, brilliant and clear on the upper strings. I am passionate about the work, and continuously expand and refine my ideas about aesthetics and the production of sound in fine stringed instruments.