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Born on December 18th, 1833, Pierre Aloysius Josephs III grew up in New York City where his father, Pierre Aloysius II, was a successful builder. His family was prosperous enough to send both he and his brother, James, to college where the two of them studied music and learned to play Pierre Aloysius III
Pierre Aloysius III
the violin. James would later become a professional violinist while Pierre's growing fascination with violin construction flowered into an avid study of the woodshaping and varnishing techniques used in their manufacture. His later travels in Europe on business afforded him the opportunity to study various violin collections and to visit the workshops of many prominant violin makers, including the famous master craftsman, Jean Baptiste Vuillaume. An exacting perfectionist of esteemed repute, Vuillaume was renowned for the quality of his work. He made over 3000 instruments and purchased many more, including a collection of 24 Stradivari, among them the famous Messiah Stradivarius. Pierre studied Vuillame's techniques in a series of shop visits occuring from 1864 to 1872 and later in 1874. Judging from his work, it is apparent that he learned many finepoints of violin making from his visits. It was not long before he put what he had learned into practice in a business of his own he started in Missouri.

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Pierre's workIn 1877 Pierre moved West to join his father and the rest of the family in California. His first wife, Lois Anne, had passed away some years before, leaving him with their three children, a girl and two boys. In a short time he remarried after meeting his second wife, Mary Ellen, and soon the family had four new mouths to feed. When the children were old enough he packed them up and moved to San Francisco. He found a small house on Telegraph Hill and then set up shop on the Thurlow Block in room 47, near where Sutter and Kearney are today. Throughout this period he made many violins and also did many repairs. One notable repair he made was of a stradivarius owned by famous German violinist August Wilhelmj. Pierre was recommended to Wilhelmj by Vuillaume who said Pierre was the only man west of New York capable of repairing such a fine instrument. This was a high complement, coming from such an uncompromising perfectionist as Vuillaume.

After the repairs were completed Wilhelmj was effusive in his praise of Pierre's work:

Wilhelmj "Through the constant traveling I have been obliged to make since my arrival in Australia, I have been prevented from carrying out my promise in reference to letting you know the result of your work upon my Stradivari violin, and as this is about the first opportunity I have had, I eagerly seize it, as I have been anxious to tell you as you have been to hear of the extraordinary success your labors have obtained. The instrument appears to have undergone a complete transformation, and I cannot describe in too extravagant terms the perfect purity and richness of its tone. The "G" string in particular, has increased double in power and quality. In fact, I am delighted to be able to tell you that all your hopeful predictions have been fully realized, and my only regret is that you are unable to hear if for yourself, and so enjoy the satisfaction of your own work."

After the death of his father Pierre and his family moved back to New York City in 1886, taking up residence at 400 West 124th street in Brooklyn. He took only his youngest children from his second marriage, the eldest having decided to remain in San Francisco. His new violin shop, located at #12 East 23rd Street, was where he worked building and repairing violins until his death in 1895.

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