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Dominic Zuchowicz, a contented man

Posted on 15. Apr, 2011 by admin in Mmmm... | 2 Comments

I’ve bought two instruments from Dominic Zuchowicz: a 7 string viola da gamba and a violone after Maggini.  In fact, I bought three instruments, trading an already-made Busch style violone for the one that he finally built for me. Strangely, this fantastic man lived right here in Ottawa, on a quiet street in a tidy house that had, most of the time, a sailboat moored on the driveway, getting fixed up.

This all involved visits, requests, re-fretting, tweaking, sitting in his front room talking about nothing or something.  He seldom charged anything for the “after” work, saying it was part of the service.  Right. Let’s not forget that I know nothing about the gamba, that my requests and questions weren’t very sophisticated, and that I’m generally unfamiliar with what it takes to make these instruments actually work.

He never dropped names or put off working on my instruments, thought there were more pressing things for him to do I’m sure.  He especially didn’t talk about getting sick or getting better or getting sick again.  That was Dom.

His wife told me that when he realized that he was seriously ill, that he wasn’t going to get away from this, and he was asked what he’d like to do with the time he had left, he said, “oh nothing, really.  I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do.”  His priority was to take care of instruments, finish orders, keep at it.  And that he did.

This was a man who didn’t fake it: who took pride in his work and needed nothing more than his own knowledge of doing good work to keep going.  He just simply went on, took care of all players’ instruments, from rattling Suzuki cellos to building French viols with ornate carved heads with the same care and attention.

Just knowing this about Dominic inspires me to be better at what I do.  Simply.  It also inspires me to take care of the small things as attentively and carefully as I do the big things.  Every day work, attitude, simplicity.  Love, also.  For big times and for small encounters with music, with people.

There is a side of Dominic that was only for his family, for his quiet life.  His wife, Barbara, his son Nikolas.  I was deeply moved when his son spoke at his memorial.  I have it here, pretty much verbatim.

I hear people say of those who have left them, that they wish they could have had that one last conversation, that they regret not having said such-and-such.  I don’t feel that way.  In the last few years, I spoke relatively little with my dad; and yet we were so very close.  All that had to be said, had been said.  And so we would sit together and read — and talk, but mostly read.  We quietly enjoyed one another’s company.

How happy it makes me to say that if we had another day together, it would be just the same.  And so while I regret his death, I can regret nothing from his life.”
To this, there is nothing to add.  May Dominic rest well.  He left us much to soon, but he lives in all of those instruments he built that are wandering the world now and in the hearts of all that met him.

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2 Responses to “Dominic Zuchowicz, a contented man”

  1. Verna Eyers says:

    Thank you for all you have said. This remarkable man was my cousin and I miss him. You have capture the true essence of the man. His life was truly well lived.

    • admin says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write me a word.. He was an inspiration in life in death and, somehow, the in-between that was his illness. I treasure the instruments that he made for me and love thinking that he lives on in them, just like the trees he used to make them..
      I’m sorry, terribly sorry for your loss. Marjolaine

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