Meet the Musicians: Gennady Filimonov

Photo: James Holt / Seattle Symphony

Seattle Symphony Second Violin Gennady Filimonov travels around the world, documenting the stories of influential violin makers before they are lost to history.

By Andrew Stiefel

There is a detective in the Seattle Symphony: Gennady Filimonov. He is the Indiana Jones of violin and bow makers, tracking down lost pieces of history through trips around the world to places like Florence and Venice. His articles recapturing the forgotten stories of luthiers have been published in The Strad and Cozio Carteggio, an online journal from Tarisio. He is a contributing writer for both publications.

“It's like time travel, really,” Gennady explains. “And on top of that, to gather new sources, new information, actually opens up whole new chapters that nobody knew before. And for me that's very exciting.”

Gennady Filimonov Newspaper
Gennady Filimonov holds a framed newspaper photo from 1968 showing him playing his first violin. (Photo: James Holt / Seattle Symphony)

His love for violins and history started when he was young. Growing up in the Soviet Union, Gennady was selected for musical training after showing an aptitude for music. “The first time my teacher gave me a little, tiny violin, as I was a little kid, I would go to bed with my violin and sleep with it. I fell in love with it.”

A few years later, Gennady fled the Soviet Union with his mother, carrying his violin through the night and onto Paris, and, eventually, New York. He still has the instrument, which was also his daughter’s first violin.

In addition to his detective hat and Symphony black, Gennady is an entrepreneur and expert appraiser of fine instruments and bows, running his company, Filimonov Fine Violins, from his studio in Ballard.

“The violin is an amazing instrument, because it's the closest that comes to the human voice,” reflects Gennady. “When you think that it's only a sound box with four strings on it, able to produce so much emotion, and so many beautiful things, it's remarkable.”

You can read a few of Gennady’s recent articles below:

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Posted on March 7, 2019