John Day violin, London circa 1860
A professional violinist and amateur violin maker, John Day was born into a family of musicians in London, England in 1830. As a young boy, he performed with his older sister, Ellen Day, a piano prodigy who performed for Queen Victoria, Franz Liszt, Felix Mendelssohn, and FrÃ©deric Chopin. After concertizing in Brussels, Belgium in 1843, Day was accepted as a student by Charles de Beriot, later appearing as a soloist with the London Philharmonic, other English orchestras, and on numerous concert series including the famous provincial festivals of Louis-Antoine Jullien. In 1847, Day took a position in Queen Victoriaâs Private Bandâa post he would hold for over 50 years, performing for ceremonial occasions and concerts hosted by Prince Albert at Buckingham Palace. Also an accomplished organist, Day was employed by local churches. By the 1860s, Day was building violins, copying models of Amati and his own Guarneri del GesÃ¹, which were highly praised for their beauty and tone quality. He promoted his instruments and shared his opinions on violin making in The Strad magazine, and in 1897, four of Dayâs instruments were chosen for display in the Victoria Loan Exhibition at the Crystal Palace: two del GesÃ¹ model violins (1852 and 1870), an Amati violin (1887), and a del GesÃ¹ viola (1885). He died in London in 1905.