A short biography

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by    Leonardo Michettifoto composta x  biografia3


The story of the life of Plinio Michetti, as a man and an artist, may be initially known, in a broad outline, from these notes in which I summarize a part of my personal memories. In practice, it is also the beginning of the story of my family.

The son of Giuseppe Michetti and Bogliolo Maddalena, Plinio Michetti was born in Calizzano (SV) on 20 january 1891.

His father was a farmer but well read in the classics calling his other children Teresa, Ottavio, Ofelia, Rosmunda, Pia, Silvio, and Rea Silvia.

He passed on to his son his manual skills, and his initial  interest in violin making.

Before he joined the army, my father took violin lessons. However the lessons were in Ceva some 19 km from Calizzano over dirt tracks and a 1000 m mountain pass, no mean task on a bike, with the result he did not continue for long with the lessons.

He served his country from 1910 to 1919, and fought in the Libyan war from 1911, and in the First World War from 1915 to 1918.

He went to Libya as a volunteer taking the place of a married friend who had children, and lived in dreadful conditions there.

He took part in battles from Isonzo to Bainsizza, and after Caporetto he was in France at the battle of the Marne, and was the subject of gas poisoning.

Never forgetting the hardships of that dreadful period, he remained all his life proud to be a Knight of Vittorio Veneto.

He sustained himself in the terrible times of war with the hope of peace and thoughts of constructing a violin.

In 1921 he married Paola Maria Bianco, and went to live in Savona where, in 1922, his daughters Emilia and Giuseppina were born.

At that time he met and got to know Euro Peluzzi, a named expert in violin making, who liked my father and encouraged him to follow his passion to make violins.

Thus he came into contact with the Ligurian violin makers, from whom his manufacturing technique, based on external form and continuous internal linings, seems to be derived.

There is no evidence, to my knowledge, that my father had regular and systematic contacts with the Genoese lute makers Candi and De Barbieri, and it seems to me that we can exclude he had taken part, as in a sort of apprenticeship, to the activities of their shops.

In 1925 he moved permanently to Turin, where in 1930 his son Leonardo (the author hereof) was born.

He was an active lute maker until at least 1968, including the  years of the Second World War.

In 1944, during our evacuation from Turin to Farigliano (CN), to avoid the allied bombs on Turin, German troops came and burned that village with others, and I am proud to have been able to save a my fathers woodbox of violins from the fire.   On the evening of 27 december of that terrible year, I drew two portraits, one of my mother, and one, simple but faithful, of my father, which is reproduced here.

During those early years in Turin, he had working relationships with all the violin makers operating in Turin including Guerra, Gatti, perhaps the Marchettis, certainly Fagnola, and in particular with Oddone who recognised the quality of his works and greatly encouraged him.

Within ten years of his arrival in Turin all but Guerra had disappeared.

He admired their art and skill, understanding their diversities and the common line of Piedmontese tradition marked out by Rocca and by the acknowledged master of all, Pressenda.

My father drew on these men for elements of his style, which he then developed over the next 40 years.

Therefore Plinio Michetti must clearly be considered among the Piedmontese lute makers, together with, in those years, other important names, as of Genovese, Colombo Bruno, Gallinotti, Curletto, Morano.

In particular, as he was convinced that varnish should play an important part of the sound of the instrument, as a living part of it, his life’s devotion, with great commitment and passion, was the development of this varnish.

So he made umpteen trails with initially no chemical basis, but leaded by belief and bravery, exposing himself and, for truth, his family to great risk as he concocted his varnish on the kitchen stove.

On one occasion when it burst into flames, my mother fled the house with six-day old me in her arms : my father insisted on extinguishing the fire alone refusing to let the firemen into the flat, for fear their entrance would let in oxygen and fuel the flames.

After many years he realized his dream with an oil varnish with wonderful qualities of depth colour and elasticity, exactly as he envisaged. Magnificent, but a complete mystery even to me, to my dismay.

My father was a modest man completely immersed in his work almost to the exclusion of the outside world. Thus his instruments were only known through limited personal contacts and through exhibitions in which he took part, invariably winning awards and prizes.

He had an exceptionally strong physique and was a tireless walker, making his last ascent of Rocciamelone (3538 m), with his son, daughter in law and grandsons, at the age of 83.

He lived until 1991, to the age of 100 years, 8 months and 20 days.

Now he is known to the world, and I am trying to imagine how he would react to that.




Label   "Plinio Michetti fece in Torino l'anno 1958"



















Violino 1948










































Violino 1958

































Viola 1948

va1948cConstruction technique

Discovery photo

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