Olivier Fanton d'Andon Biography



Olivier Fanton d'Andon was born in Cannes, France (famous for its film festival) on June 12, 1953. He comes from a family of musicians (his father, a pianist and organist, was for a long time the titular organist of Grasse Cathedral in France and an Algiers Cathedral).

Olivier Fanton d'Andon learned the flute at an early age and later the classical guitar. He pursued medical studies at Nice University, but at the end of his third year, he decided to stop studying medicine in order to make musical instruments.

His artistic and exacting temperament enabled him to reach a very high standard of quality in his instrument making. He was warmly encouraged by the French instrument maker Jean Parrenin, a member of the Groupe des Luthiers et Archetiers d'Art de France (Group of Luthiers and Bowmakers of France), and used as a guide the excellent 'Manuel Pratique de Lutherie" by Roger and Max Millant which deals with the making and restoration of the violin and violin family.

In 1978 Olivier Fanton d'Andon established his first workshop in Aix-en-Provence, France, transferring it to the Old Town in Nice in 1980.

At the beginning of 1981, after having restored a surprising and remarkable romantic guitar made in Nice in 1834 by the French luthier Pierre Pacherel, kept in the museum of instruments in the Conservatoire National de Région in Nice, Fanton d'Andon became interested in making contemporary guitars. He made experiments which lead to his making the classical guitar model which he has produced for more than twenty-five years. Today Fanton d'Andon's guitars are performed upon throughout the world by such virtuoso musicians as the Greek guitarist Antigoni Goni, professor of guitar at the Conservatoire Royal de Musique of Brussels in Belgium, and the French guitarist and composer Roland Dyens, professor of guitar at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris in France.

In September 1982 Olivier Fanton d'Andon presented his own guitar model (not quite finished, alas) to the "Concours des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France-Exposition Nationale du Travail" (Competition for the Best Workmen in France- National Exhibition of Work). Though not yet completed, this guitar, nonetheless, captured the attention and admiration of the jury (Chairman René Quenoil, violin maker, Vice-Chairman Daniel Friederich, guitar maker). The latter wrote that "the candidate has displayed rare skills and possibilities. The marquetry of the rosette and the technical work are exceptional. The good taste in the choice of wood and the play of the colours is worthy of the highest congratulations." The jury encouraged Fanton d'Andon "to prepare a finished guitar for the next national exhibition of work when he would have every chance of gaining the highest distinction."

In June 1986, on the occasion of the next National Exhibition of Work, Olivier Fanton d'Andon received the title of "Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Workman in France) - Gold Metal for Workmanship." The Chairman of the jury René Quenoil, wrote that Fanton dAndon's guitar is a "masterpiece of an exceptional quality."

In October 1988 Fanton dAndon received the "Prix du Public" (the Audiences's Prize) at the 4th International Competition of Master Guitar Makers of Radio France, Paris.

In 1992, he transferred his workshop to Châteaudun in the region of the châteaux of the Loire, South of Paris.

In 1993 he was given a "Grand Prix des Métiers d'Art en Création Contemporaine" (Grand Prix for Contemporary Creation in Artistic Crafts) by the Société d'Encouragement aux Métiers d'Art (The Society for the Encouragement of Artistic Crafts, Paris) and other distinctions (Regional Prize ArtCom 95&.)

In 1999 and 2000 he was the prize winner in the Centre Region of "the Dunhill Prestige International Grand Prix."

In January 2002 the President of the French Republic Jacques Chirac, Grand Master of the National Order of the Legion of Honour, made Olivier Fanton d'Andon "Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur," the highest national distinction. This prestigious award acknowledges one of the smartest ambassadors abroad of fine French stringed-instrument making. It also acknowledges an exemplary career path.

In 2004 Olivier Fanton d'Andon moved his workshop to the pretty village of Montigny-le-Gannelon, about 10 km from Châteaudun where he continues to exercise his art.

Currently he is awaiting the award of a label "Patrimoine Vivant" (Living Heritage) from France for his artistic activity.

Olivier Fanton d'Andon has also spent much time restoring bowed and plucked stringed instruments, working as much for private collections as for national museums, putting his talent and expertise at their disposal.

Olivier Fanton d'Andon has made a generous contribution to Jose Romanillos's book "Antonio de Torres, Guitar Maker, His Life and Work" by making a precise organologic sketch of a guitar by Antonio de TORRES (Sevilla, año de 1884, guitarra num.60, 2.a época) kept in the instrument Museum of the Conservatoire National de Région of Nice. Fanton d'Andon also took part in a partial restoration of this instrument, and his photo illustrates the cover of Jose Romanilloss book.

Today his time is mostly concentrated on creating very high quality classical guitars, in a very personal manner, faultlessly made and with extraordinary sounds (a 'Resonant Rainbow" according to Roland Dyens). His guitars stand out by their beautiful sober and refined lines which are in perfect harmony with their elegant voice.

Olivier Fanton d'Andon has taken part in many music exhibitions (Musikmesse in Frankfurt, Germany; the Tokyo Music Fair in Tokyo, Japan; Music Expo in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Mondo Musica in Cremona, Italy; Musicora, Salon de la Musique in Paris, France; Praha Muzika in Prague, Czech Republic&), in many festivals and international guitar competitions (Aalborg, Denmark; Nürtingen, Wetzlar, Germany; Roma, Mottola, Vicenza, Italy; Sinaia, Romanaia; Richnov nad Kneznou, Brno, Czech Republic; Paris, Montpellier, Carpentras, Trédrez-Loquémeau, Antony, France; Valencia, Spain; Rust, Austria; Fort de France, Martinique; Geneva, Switzerland &) and regularly attended the annual conventions of the Guitar Foundation of America (La Jolla, Charleston, Merida, Montreal, San Antonio, Oberlin, Miami, Columbus, Los Angeles) where his guitars have obtained a solid international reputation.

Finally, Olivier Fanton d'Andon is open to all encounters and exchanges. He organised a great exhibition of guitar making during the International Guitar Festival at Fort de France in Martinique in December 1994, and was commissioned in August 1998 by the Alliance Française (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) to give a conference on the making of his guitars at the International Guitar Festival at Brno in the Czech Republic.

He has welcomed the questions of colleagues from Chile, Canada, Germany and Italy who wanted to improve their guitar making techniques. (Learn More).

What they say:

A very beautiful guitar, light, easy to play, precise and extremely sensitive, Olivier Fanton d'Andon's "new guitar," where the so-called power of our instrument is no longer a pipe dream, is a resonant rainbow&. Roland Dyens, French guitarist and composer, Ville d'Avray, December 1997

Olivier Fanton d'Andon, chosen as one of the "Best Craftsmen France" in 1986, whose technique deserves the greatest praise and who is capable of producing marquetry of a remarkable standard, possesses what we could describe as the "touch of master." Daniel Friederich, French luthier, guitar maker, "Les Cahiers de la Guitare" n° 42, July 1992.

One of the most accomplished concert guitars to be found in France, the finish is exceptional, exceptionally easy to handle, the tone is at once clear, limpid and can be rounded as desired. In the highest sense of the word the guitar for the virtuoso. Thierry Faradji, musical journalist, dossier carried out for "Diapason" (n°399), December 1992.

The natural power of the instrument makes it a joy to play and to listen to, the equilibrium, the harmony of all the registers, the depth of the bass and the possibility to express a whole gamut of sounds and colours allow it to sustain an orchestral dialogue very efficiently. Michel Sadanowsky, guitarist, one of the Paris guitar Trio, Paris, 20th May 1993.

In all his work, he is a vigorous and uncompromising artist&. François Dry, excerpt from "Les Cahiers de la Guitare" (n° 48), September 1993.

Immediate response to the most subtle demands, balance and strength of sound, diversity of colour and melodic spontaneity, richness over the whole musical range. Frederic Ben Attar, guitarist and guitar teacher of the Conservatoire National de Région de Nancy, France, March 1992

The warmth of the bass ranges combines with the power of the treble and the artist is able to deliver a delicate interpretation with total sensibility or alternatively, express his music with greater force and vigour. Marc Franceries, guitarist and guitar teacher of the CNR de Lyon, France, 20thJanuary 1990.

We do not know of another craftsman today who has been aspired to come so close to perfection; the quality of sound indeed is reminiscent of the timbre and nobility of a Jose Ramirez, an Ignacio Fleta or even of a Robert Bouchet. We have no qualms whatsoever in predicting for Olivier Fanton dAndon a very great future. Ako Ito and Henri Dorigny, Nice, France, 14th June 1983. Both guitar teachers of the CNR de Nice (France), the Arts Centre in Oxford (England) and at Shawnigan-Lake Summer School of Arts (Canada).

Olivier, your instruments are very inspiring! Bravo for your brilliant artistry, and I am honored to know you. Best wishes always. Scott Tennant, guitarist, Los Angeles, GFA convention, 20th October, 2007.

My guitar? Olivier Fanton d'Andon, from a French guitar maker from Châteaudun (France). It's a wonderful spruce blond guitar that I met by accident in 1994, right before I was to play a concert. It was such a huge "coup de foudre" (French expression that means to fall in love at first sight) that I decided to perform the concert two hours later on that guitar. Almost fifteen years after I'm still thinking this guitar was really made for me. It's a very special and perfectly balanced instrument. Sounds like a piano somehow with, all together, incredibly deep basses plus crystal like trebles. It's a rare guitar I think (but better to stop saying great things about my guitar: somebody might steal it some day). Roland Dyens, forums of the Guitar Foundation of America, 23th May 2008.