NEWS: Michael Carlton Byrd
We are shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Michael Carlton Byrd. Michael joined J&A Beare in the late 1970s while the firm was still based in Wardour Street. He finally left Beare’s to set up his own business in September 1996.
Michael was an extremely fine restorer, maker, and a great asset to the violin world. He studied at the Newark School of Violin Making with future colleagues at J & A Beare, Peter Gibson and John Dilworth; the former had this to say:
“I first met Michael in 1973, over 40 years ago at Newark. He and Jenny had travelled from their home town of Winston Salem, where they had both studied at North Carolina School of Arts, to New York, from where they caught the boat to England.
Michael Studied violin making and restoration for three years, after which he graduated with distinction. One of his violins was used as a fine example for future students to copy. In fact, one of Michael’s violins was held in such high esteem that it was played by Yehudi Menuhin when he came to perform at a concert at the Newark School.
Warm, open Americans, Michael and Jenny made many friends at the college and with the natives, who were charmed by their wonderful accents. They were very keen skaters and often used to go to Nottingham ice rink where they became friends with Torvill and Dean.
He was always wonderfully exuberant and threw himself into his many passions with such energy and enthusiasm. I remember enjoying his home-baked bread and his home-brewed beer. He did have a go at making wine too. Cooking was to be an enduring passion of his and we all enjoyed the results of that. He had many cookery books, and would spend a lot of time getting a sauce just right.
He discovered the joys of cricket at Newark and went out and bought Wisden and The MCC Laws of Cricket. Later when he joined Beare’s we always listened to the Test Matches on the radio. Ask the Umpire, a programme that was on at lunchtime asked questions about unusual interpretations of the laws of cricket – and such was Michael’s knowledge that he knew quite a lot of the answers. We had many enjoyable work outings to Test Matches at Lords and 20-20 evening games at the Oval.
He didn’t just like watching cricket; we spent many a summers’ evening on Clapham Common playing the rest of Beare’s workshop – finishing with a pint or two when the sun went down.
It was not just his passion for cricket that blossomed at Beare’s. From his bench in the workshop in Broadwick Street Michael could see across the road to the film editing offices opposite. He became more entranced by an attractive young woman working there – and he finally did engineer an introduction – Deb.
I have been looking at old photos of Michael and it has made me remember how good he was with children/ he was always willing, and always had the energy to play with them. And children loved his boisterous sense of fun. Michael and his first wife Jenny had two daughters; Elizabeth and Charlotte. With his second wife Deb he had two daughters and a son; Eleanor, Nina and Harry.
Michael was great company for adults as well. He was always interested in everything – and always interesting.
Time spent with Michael was time spent enjoying life to the full. Michael will be greatly missed by family and friends.”
Michael was a tremendous asset to the business and a fine luthier; his presence, skill and knowledge will be missed by the violin world. We send our thoughts and prayers to his family.