Luthier Gerald Botteley has Died, Aged 88

The British luthier made fifty instruments and served as a teacher at local schools

(Photo credit: Rutland & Stamford Mercury)


Gerald Botteley has passed away from sepsis, having struggled with prostate cancer for several years.

As a teenager, he left school at age 15 to play with the Royal Artillery Band. He then trained as a luthier with Edward Withers in London, before being offered a teaching position at Oakham School in 1969.

Over the course of his career, he crafted fifty violins, the last of which was completed in January 2021.

The biggest pleasure of Botteley's work as a luthier was to make violins for his grandson Joseph, who attends a specialist music school. When offered the option to play on a fine Italian violin, Joseph turned it down, saying he preferred the tone of a violin made by his grandfather.

Outside of his work as a luthier and teacher, Botteley was a keen writer and poet, publishing several novels and a poetry collection. He was also an excellent chess player, winning the UK's Senior Chess tournament in 1994 and even getting the opportunity to face off against the world champion, Garry Kasparov.

"I played most of [his violins]," said Roger Stimson, a friend of Botteley's. "They all had very different characters. Gerald always said he let the wood tell him what to do."

"Gerald was a truly generous man, he was known to give from his collection of violins to needy students," Stimson added.

Our condolences to Mr. Botteley's family, friends, students, and colleagues.