Nalimov, Semyon Ivanovich
- Laurence Libin
(b ?1857; d Petrograd, Russia, Aug 22, 1916). Russian luthier, developer of the modern balalaika. He has been called the ‘Russian Stradivarius’. His life is not reliably documented; some sources place his birth in the 1870s. An unschooled peasant but gifted woodworker, he had been apprenticed to a carpenter in Vologda province. It is said that, intending to seek work in St Petersburg, he was able to travel only as far as Eremkovo, where he worked for two years as a carpenter and began to make balalaikas, assembling the bodies from pieces of wood rather than carving them. His work attracted the attention of V.V. Andreyev (1861–1918), a virtuoso performer and reviver of Russian folk instruments, who in 1890 persuaded Nalimov to start a balalaika workshop near his home in Márino. Supposedly, Nalimov began using maple taken from the door and window jambs of Andreyev’s house. With Andreyev’s encouragement Nalimov built about 170 balalaikas in a family of sizes as well as many other string instruments during the following 20 years. With his salary from Andreyev he was able to buy a house opposite Andreyev’s manor. In ...