In Memory of René A. Morel, 1932-2011

November 16th, 2011

It is with great sadness that we announce René A. Morel, our dear friend and colleague, passed away this morning, November 16, 2011 in the company of his family after an ongoing battle with cancer.  He was 79.

Born in Mattaincourt, France, René began his career in violin making at the age of 12 in nearby Mirecourt, where he worked for the firms of Diuedonne and Bonnél.  After service in the French Air Force, Mr. Morel emigrated to the United States, living for a brief time in Chicago.  He moved to New York City in 1955 and began work at the Rembert Wurlitzer firm under the tutelage of Simone F. Sacconi.  He later partnered with Jacques Français in 1964, a partnership that would last until 1994 when René opened his own firm, René A. Morel Rare Violins, in New York dealing and restoring fine instruments.  In 2008, he began a collaboration with Tarisio that lasted until present day.

In the world of violins and stringed instruments, René was considered one of the finest makers, restorers and adjusters.  A lifetime of lutherie included over 60 years at the bench and allowed him to work on some of the most important stringed instruments in existence.  He was the chosen adjuster, confidant and friend to customers and colleagues across the globe.

René’s passion also translated to his family life; he was a beloved father and grandfather who enjoyed spending time with family and friends.  A lover of the outdoors, he often visited his home in the Catskill Mountains and his appreciation for food, wine, and travel was frequently shared with others.

His loss will be felt around the world, though his legacy will live on through the instruments on which he worked, the pupils he mentored and the hearts he touched.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made in René’s memory to The Juilliard School for the support of the rare instrument collection, which René so lovingly cared for.  For more information about making a gift to The Juilliard School in the name of René A. Morel, please contact Lori Bierly Padua at (212) 799-5000, ext. 7152 or

We invite you to click “Comments” below to share your thoughts and memories of René here.
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76 Responses to “In Memory of René A. Morel, 1932-2011”

  1. Rudy Koenig says:

    Fran, Kris and Family:

    Our warmest love and prayers to all of you in the loss of your Father/Grandfather. What a wonderful legacy he left for you, along with his kindness and love of life! He will truly be missed by all.

    Dad and Joan

  2. Nicholas Caraccio says:

    Rene Morel’s passing has saddened me deeply. With Rene it is moor like a very close relative has departed instead of just a colleague, although I have not seen him in many years. He is one of those people who because of his charm fun personality,sharp wit and his mastery of the violin making/restoring/ field touches you more deeply than one would think. I worked in Jacques Francais/ Rene,s work shop for about 8 years and we had our ups and downs but in the end we could huge and kiss each other on both checks laugh and all was righted. His death has hit me harder than I thought it would and I regret I did not see him before he died or before his spirit has passed on. May God welcome him with open arms. My heart felt sorrows go out to Christa and to his family and closest friends.

  3. George Taylor says:

    I don’t know Rene the way you do. Please forgive my spelling. Snot nosed kids from the Bronx. Coming into Jauques Francais. ” We want to by a violin!” Laughter. ” Let zem play zee violins”. Rooms of instruments we could only dream of buying. Last words with Rene. ” George , you are getting old”. A youthfull smile spanning my ages. What kindness can do for a kid from the Bronx. If I am alive, you will live with me. You are my black and white.
    Love George Taylor

  4. David Aron Steinberg says:

    It is with great sadness that I learned of Rene’s passing. I met him in 1980 when I was a student at Juilliard. I will never forget his kindness to myself and my family, as well as his great artistry in maintaining, adjusting and caring for my violin for many years. It is indeed the end of an era in the violin world. I will greatly miss his warmth, his humor and his remarkable zest for life. He was a truly extraordinary man. Heartfelt condolences to the Morel and Nagy families. May he rest in peace.

  5. I first met Rene when I was 21 and he has worked on my violin since then. He was encouraging every time I went to see him. As he worked he always told us jokes and great stories. I will miss him deeply.

  6. Farhad Behroozi says:

    This is truly a sad moment for anyone who knew Rene Morel. The violin world will not be the same without him.
    My sincerest heat felt condolences to his family and close friends. I am sure he is in great company and sharing some knowledge and secrets with Antonio.

    Farhad Behroozi

  7. Uri Pianka says:

    I wanted to extend my deepest condolences to the family of Rene and to Tarisio at the passing of Rene. He took loving and expert care of my violins for almost 40 years, and always with dedication and a fantastic ear and results.

  8. ravatin frank says:

    Mon cher René;
    Je te parle au présent car je ne peux pas imaginer que tu n’es plus parmi nousl, Tu siais, René, j’a

  9. Gyorgy Pauk says:

    I want to express my deepest sympathy on reading the news about Rene Morel’s death. I have known him for many years and he worked on my violins with great expertise and knowledge. He will be missed in the profession.

    Best wishes, Prof Gyorgy Pauk

  10. ravatin frank says:

    Cher René;

    J’ai pleuré en apprenant ton décès. Évidemment tout le monde loue tes talents de luthier , quoi de plus normal quand on a comme toi travaillé avec passion. J’ai aussi beaucoup aimé t’entendre parler avec tendresse d’aviation, de danse, des Vosges.
    Adieu baladin et merci

  11. Gian Carlo Guicciardi says:

    René left us and I like to imagine him together with all the other friends/collegues of us that recentlly passed by.
    All the violin making world and not only is crying, thousands of words have been written about him to try to ease the pain. I’ve met him nearly 20 years ago and since the beginning it was clear his capacity of
    being the centre of the attention. Always ready to share and give advices he made us understood that having fun was and is as much importat as studying, learning and working. Also because of this reason we will miss him.
    I’m sorry that I’ve not met you recently. Rest in peace René, all the people who knows you will not forget so easily about you. A last virtual big hug, Gian Carlo Guicciardi

  12. A wonderful man, never seemingly condescending to others or too mindful of his prominence in his field. The end of an era.

    Rob Lorimer

  13. Sungsul Kang says:

    Rene was the greatest master I have ever known.
    I was influenced by his passion and soul as well as his craftsmanship.
    It was my honor to have a chance to be taught by him.
    I feel sorrow for the loss.
    He’ll always be in my memories and thoughts.
    Peace, prayers and blessings.


  14. Nicolo De Vizzio says:

    I remeber quite a few times I have had the opportunity and great privelidge to have Monsieur Morel working a copple of my instruments. Especially my last one in which I am still presently playing on. His work is always been inspirational. Especially from mnay of his proteges. I also remeber when I also enjoyed listening to Mr. Morel speak with either my Aunt or my Mother in Itailian, when they sometimes had the opportunity to accompany me to the shop. We will all miss Monsieur Morel and his delightful talents, along with his very warm personality. I am sure we will all meet again someday in the afterlife. Many Blessings to his friends, coleagues and family members who mourn. In the tradition of the Catholic Church, it is always been known when an individual performs music, they are praying twice. I will always remeber that thought when I pick up my violin to play.

    Nicolo De Vizzio

  15. evelyne morel says:

    thank you all for your wonderful comments and reflections about our has been very inspirational to us..all of your experiences with dad seem so personal and heartfelt..he certainly was a huge personality..thank you for sharing your fond memories..miss you you dad

  16. Steve Starkman says:

    For 30 years I have sought no other luthier to adjust my instument or when in need
    of repairs. His work and his professional and kind manner were unique in the business.
    He was a superb individual to have in our profession. His passing ends a great era
    in the violin world. I personally will miss him as I know will many others.
    Au revoir,Rene!
    Sincere condolences to his family.

  17. Brice Dupin de Saint Cyr says:

    Dear Rene,
    Your departure brings back the souvenir of the good time we had together.
    You had a rare energy in the workshop. Jacques was charming, you where genius.
    No secret, no doubt, your life was filed with the love of violins and you enlighten everyone around you.
    I remember the good time, the jokes, the food, the drinks, the satisfaction of good restoration, the friendship.
    Now my thought goes to your family that had the privilege to love you.
    I am deeply sorry.
    Adieu et… toutes mes amities Rene!

  18. David Gusset says:

    Rene was one of my mentors in life and in work. He was generous, giving, caring and complimentary. His generosity was infectious. Ever grateful for what Maestro Sacconi had done for him, he helped instill that in his pupils. Whenever I visited his workshop, sat with him at meetings or met him at exhibitions, he always had nice things to say about my work. In his shop, he would always pull out the best instruments for me to study at my leisure. His sense of humor was ever present, good natured and quick witted. He charmed everyone with his incurable accent and his outlook on life. He remained young at heart and never hardened with age. At least twice he offered me a place to learn in his workshop, but I declined because I didn’t think I had the stamina to live in NYC. I will always regret not having jumped at the opportunity to work in his shop.

  19. We go back a long way, my very dear friend. I remember going hunting with you and Jacques in Lexington one fine day, being sorry and yet glad that we found no pray . I am sure that all the great old luthiers will welcome you with open arms up there for having kept their creations safe and sounding so beautiful still. My deepest sympathy to your wife and family. Adieu vieux copin, Gabriel

  20. December 10 2011 at 1:00 PM
    We go back a long way dear friend. I remember going hunting with you and Jacques at his place in Lexington NY one Automn, and being bot sorry and relieved that we found no prey that day. I am sure that all the great luthiers will welcome you with open arms up there for having kept their creations safe and sounding so beautiful still. Adieu vieux copin, Gabriel

  21. Svend says:

    His memory is felt in the frequencies that fill the continueum.
    May it be so for all music instrument makers.

  22. Mon très Cher René,

    Pour la première fois tu me fais de la peine..!
    Toi que je considérais comme un oncle, et pour mon père « Pierre » comme un frère..!
    Merci et respect à toi « Mon René », pour tout ce que tu représentais à mes yeux et à mon cœur..!
    Ce que tu nous a enseigné et transmis sans réserve et avec passion..! « Merci »..!
    Mon seul Bonheur, est de savoir que tu vas retrouver ton Maitre et Ami « Simone F.SACCONI »..!
    Je me rappel avec Bonheur, que tu étais le dernier, lors des « Sainte Cécile » à connaître et chanter « La Bande joyeuse du Haut d’Chaumont »..!
    Tu vas nous manquer « Baladin »..!
    A ta famille, je veux simplement exprimer mes plus sincères condoléances et affectueuses pensées..!
    « Arrivederci Baladino »…♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸ ღ
    Patrice TACONNE

  23. Rene’s restoration of my Storioni cello performed in 1995 was outstanding. It has remained stable and utterly beautiful for these many years. I mourn the loss of a true artist in wood and varnish.

  24. Robert and Jane Meadow says:

    Rene was a great inspiration and will be greatly missed.

  25. Don Mallow says:

    Rene ….We worked together, not on instruments,but on your house in Liberty…… While I was designing the additions to the house I was always impressed by your knowledge of building..not just intsruments… So, the trips to Liberty were more than professional…We enjoyed your marvelous hospitality and cooking..I recall your warning about the buckshot in the pheasant….
    And of course..over all the years watching you care for the various instruments in the family…sometimes bringing one back from the brink.
    Who will be there at 10 o’clock at night when Barbara calls with an emergency..?.We remember that event seven years ago…
    We will remember you…

  26. Barbara Duffy says:

    I would like to express my sorrow and regrets to all concerned. Rene will always be remembered for his talents and special gift as a great man. He will be greatly missed…