Maestro Maolin Song
您现在的位置:首页--> China’ Stradivari – Maestro Maolin Song,the founde--> 详细信息

A giant tree in the forest

Newspaper Interview with Maestro Maolin Song

Published on March 6, 1998, China Daily

Song Maolin’s violin craft hailed

  The way Song Maolin drives his car offers some clues about his personality: sure and steady. But the old suit he is wearing doesn’t give away his status as a successful craftsman and business man.

  Song is a master violin maker and the managing director of Beijing Forest Musical Instrument Corporation Limited, which exports more than2,000 violins to U.S.A., Germany, Austria, Swiss, Sweden, Britain Italy, Holland and Singapore each year.

   The very first time he touched a violin, he told Beijing Weekend, was in 1968, when he was a 16-year-old student at Beijing No 127 Middle School. He borrowed a violin from a neighboring granny, and although he had only played erhu, he was able to play it and thus joined the school’s propaganda team – an honor for a student at the time.

  But soon the neighbor asked him to return the violin because she was afraid it would be damaged. “I was very upset about it,” said Song. After three days, he borrowed it again, promising not to play it and to just “have a look”.

  “I wished with all my heart to have a violin of my own.”

   So Song began to learn carpentry at age 17.

   “My parents were not able to plan for my future, so I planned it for myself.”

   But then a political movement came for young people to go to the countryside, and Song Maolin went to Wuliangsuhai in Inner Mongolia to work as a carpenter, beginning in 1970.

   However, Song’s love for the violin was almost innate, for once there, he made his first violin.

  Baotou Song and Dance Ensemble came to Wuliangsuhai to perform, and they brought with them a cello, which was much admired by the people there. Song at that time could do excellent carpentry work, and encouraged by his fellow regiment soldiers, he began to make a cello. Fifteen days later, he brought out two cellos – one of which was said to have “wonderful timbre”- from the carpentry workhouse. The news spread and there came somebody who wanted to exchange a cello with one of Song’s. But the leader of the regiment Song was in refused without hesitation, saying that the cello was “born in the regiment and so is our own child.

   From then on, making violins became Song’s life-long pursuit. The leader recognized Song’s potential and not only created the conditions for Song to continue making violins in the regiment , but also gave him a two-month holiday a year to study violin making at the Beijing violin Factory. There, he got to know Dai Honglin a master violin maker, and became his apprentice.

   The working conditions at Wuliangsuhai were very poor. Song Maolin had to work in his spare time and often forgot to eat dinner because he became so absorbed in his work. He had no paint and had to use yellow earth to paint the violins. But the violins he made did sell in Baotou City. “I could sell a violin for 300 Yuan – quite a lot of money at the time,” Song recalled.

 In 1978, Song Maolin came back to Beijing. He was fortunate enough to be admitted to China National Opera Theatre as a scenery maker. At that time, most of his contemporaries were jobless when they first came back to city. But Song couldn’t forget the days when he made violins.

“I missed violin making,” Song said. So in 1986, he established Maolin Musical Instrument Corporation Limited. The first days were difficult, but Song was confident. “Business will go well as long as your goods are of high quality.” In 1992, he set Beijing Forest Violin Limited .Now 90 percent of Song’ violins are exported to a dozen foreign countries and are fairly well received.

Driving into Song Maolin’s factory, the first sight was stacks of timber occupying the whole yard. One would wonder why he stocks so much wood. Talking about wood, Song has a lot to say. “Although technique is very important in making a good violin, good timber is also an important factor,” Song said.

He found that timber from old houses makes excellent material for violins, so he offer appears at old house demolishing sites looking for old timber.

But wood has also been the source of a major problem for him. The wood commonly used to make violins – white fish scale pine – is endangered, for it is also used to make disposable chopsticks. In Northeast China, many factories are using the pine tree to produce these chopsticks. The Japanese have the pine trees in their country, but they don’t use them in order to maintain resources. Instead, they introduced a chopsticks – making machine to China and in return imported disposable chopsticks. This kind of tree is favored for its fragrant wood. “This is plunder in another form,” Song said, anger in his eyes. Ten chopsticks are the material for a front piece of a violin. But 10 chopsticks are worth less than one Yuan, when a violin is worth more than 3,000 Yuan.

Now this kind of tree has been nearly exhausted from Northeast China. Song has to turn to Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region for pine trees. He bought wood by hundreds of cubic meters and hopes to match Japan’s conservation efforts.

 “The Germans have a law stipulating that only those who make musical instruments can fell a certain kind of tree. We Chinese should also have such a law,” Song said earnestly.

Now that Song’s expertise as a virtuoso violin maker is becoming known, many musical troupes and individuals are asking him to make violins for them. But Song is still the regiment soldier who was crazy about making violin. He pours his heart and soul into it with the guiding philosophy that violin making is not only a trade but an art. He pays great attention to the quality of his violins. Once he burned 300 violins which had flaws. The violins made in his factory are all hand-made. Song firmly believes that hand-made violins are better than those made with machines. I can’t cheat my customers with machine- made violins,” said Song, who also makes violins for children. “Our children’s violins are the best in the same effort to produce them.” I hope there can be more violinists in future generations. And my violins won’t let them down.”

China is developing fast. As material life becomes rich, people are developing more spiritual pursuits. More Chinese people will enter the field of music,” Song predicts, “and my violins will help them achieve their goals.”  

  Maoling Song and his daughter, Sonya Song












1986年在全国提琴制作比赛中,宋先生制作的中提琴荣获全国第三名,得到专业的肯定之后,1992年宋先生成立了更大规模的纯手工制琴出口型企业北京森林乐器有限公司。首届哈萨克斯坦国际弦乐比赛中,中央音乐学院王昌海教授带队的比赛选手玛莎和康文婷使用森林中提琴在比赛中荣获金奖和哈萨克斯坦作品奖。在比赛结束后有很多观众和音乐家们到后台观看玛莎比赛中使用的中提琴,当得知是一只中国提琴时,大家哗然了——“中国的中提琴竟有这么好!” 同时获奖的俄罗斯选手使用的是价值20万美金的德国提琴,但评为一致认为宋老师的琴的三、四弦音色的强度要更胜一筹。 2007年,在日本举办的世界名琴鉴赏会上,宋先生的中国小提琴技压群芳,音色被鉴定为最接近斯特拉迪瓦里名琴的一支琴。