Having met as young professional musicians, Steven and Simon discovered their common love for fine stringed instruments and formed a partnership called Morris & Smith, which merged with J & A Beare in 1998.
Simon started his career as a professional cellist, becoming the co-principal of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra upon leaving the Royal College of Music. He subsequently played for ten years under the directorship of Sir Neville Marriner with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields; more recently he has served there as a trustee.
Simon became a director and joint owner of J & A Beare in 1998, subsequently becoming a joint managing director in 2012. Simon has worked with his co-director, Steven Smith, to sell more than sixty instruments by Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesù in recent years, as well as many other outstanding instruments such as the Pietro Guarneri cello to Mstislav Rostropovich, the ‘Gibson, Huberman’ Stradivari violin to Joshua Bell and the fine violin by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini now played by Julia Fischer.
Simon is regularly invited as an expert commentator, appearing on the BBC, CNBC, Classic FM; he has also contributed to The Financial Times, The Independent and The New York Times. Simon has also written articles for The STRAD magazine and penned contributions to the four-volume work “Antonius Stradivarius”. Together with Steven Smith, Simon has been one of the main contributors to “An Introduction to the Old Italian Violins” by Beares Publishing.
Steven Smith, a director of Beare’s since 1998, grew up in an environment of music and violins. His father was a violin dealer whilst other family members were heavily involved in the music profession. At the age of fifteen, Steven had already constructed a violin but decided to pursue his violin studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, attaining a Diploma in Professional Performance with distinction.
As a young professional musician, Steven played with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the English Chamber Orchestra and the BBC Symphony. As a soloist, he also performed with the London Festival Orchestra and became a founding member of the acclaimed Smith Quartet.
Since 2012, Steven has been a joint managing director at J & A Beare alongside his partner Simon Morris and has consistently been at the forefront of the international violin market.
“What fascinates me is the history, the making schools behind these great instruments and the journey they have taken in order to reach us. The moments that really stand out for me are when we have uncovered surprises. For instance, a violin was brought into us covered in a thick heavy varnish; over several months we painstakingly removed it and beneath we found the varnish of a glorious Guarneri del Gesù!”
– Steven Smith
“One of the most exciting moments for me has been accepting from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen’s Award for Enterprise and International Trade. We are the only fine art business to have ever received this esteemed accolade and I felt it highlighted the importance of J & A Beare’s continued contribution to the music industry.”
– Simon Morris