Born and raised on a small farm in rural Minnesota, Philip Soltis has been intimately surrounded by violins and music for many years. In 1986, he and his wife Yoshiko, a classical pianist, introduced their two young daughters to classical violin studies. For the next 15 years, their home was filled with the sounds of violin and their summers were marked by family ‘vacations’ to Suzuki violin camps. It was not until 1999, however, that Philip made the transition from listening to violin music to making the instruments themselves. While visiting his nephew Ryan Soltis at the Violin Making School of America in Salt Lake City, Philip started work on his first violin.
In 2000, Philip began working as an apprentice under master luthier David Folland in Northfield, Minnesota. Since then, Philip has learned the intricate techniques of woodworking and violin craftsmanship, and has made more than twenty instruments, including violins, violas, and cellos.
In addition to extraordinary craftsmanship, Philip applies his vast understanding of natural sciences and engineering to enhance his trade. From identifying the best spruce tree for violin wood, to constructing his own violin shop, to fashioning his own tools, Philip is responsible for each step of his instruments from tree to final product. Because of the intimate knowledge and care put into each instrument, Philip is able to fine tune and customize the instrument to meet his clients’ needs and provide individualized service beyond each sale for any necessary adjustments or repairs.
Philip has primarily sold his instruments to musicians in local colleges and communities in Minnesota and the Midwest, aspiring to make high quality instruments accessible for music students and musicians early in their professional careers. He hopes that his instruments will continue to bring beautiful music to homes, conservatories, and orchestras across the world for centuries to come.
To hear Philip discuss his life adventures as a violin maker, listen to this 2011 interview by “Out There Atlanta.”