Wednesday, March 2, 2016
The violin in Lombardy: Part 3 - Antonio Stradivari: Section A
Antonio Stradivari (1644 – 18 December 1737) was an Italian luthier and a crafter of stringed instruments such as violins, cellos, guitars, violas and harps. Stradivari is generally considered the most significant and greatest artisan in this field. The Latinized form of his surname, Stradivarius, as well as the colloquial "Strad" are terms often used to refer to his instruments. The Hills Violin Shop estimate that Antonio produced 1,116 instruments, of which 960 were violins. It is also estimated that around 650 of these instruments survive, including 450 to 512 violins.
Stradivari and the Cremonese violin making school
San Matteo, the Stradivari parish, as well as San Faustino, the Amati parish, made up the center of cremonese violin making.They exerted influence not only on one another, in terms of the shape, varnish and sound of instruments, but also on many of their contemporaries; they defined violin making standards for the next 300 years.
Even at the beginning of the 18th century, Stradivari’s influence could be seen not only in the work of Cremonese makers, but also international ones, such as Barak Norman’s, one of the first important British makers. In the 1720s Daniel Parker, a very important British luthier, produced fine violins after Stradivari’s work selling anywhere from £30,000 - £60,000 in recent auctions. Parker based his best instruments on Stradivari's` `long pattern`, having the opportunity to study one or more of the instruments. Well into the 19th century, Jean Baptiste Vuillaume, the leading French luthier of his time, also made many important copies of Strads and Guarneris.
In the 18th century, Cremonese luthiers were the suppliers and local players on the demand side. After Stradivari’s death, this drastically changed. Although the Cremonese luthiers remained the suppliers, the demand side consisted of collectors, researchers, imitators, profiteers and speculators. Many local players could no longer afford the sought out instruments and most of the purchased instruments would be hidden in private collections, put in museums, or would be simply put back in their cases, hoping that they would gain value over time. It is then that the so-called ‘fever’ for Stradivaris took off.
Cozio, Tarisio and Vuillaume were the fathers of this frenzy that would extend well into the 21st century. Also, soon after Stradivari’s death, most of the other major Cremonese luthiers would die, putting an end to the golden period of Cremona’s violin making, which lasted more than 150 years, starting with the Amatis and ending with the Cerutis.
Stradivari's instruments are regarded as amongst the finest bowed stringed instruments ever created, are highly prized, and are still played by professionals today. Only one other maker, Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, commands a similar respect among violinists. However, neither blind listening tests nor acoustic analysis have ever demonstrated that Stradivarius instruments are better than other high-quality instruments or even reliably distinguishable from them.
Fashions in music, as in other things, have changed over the centuries, and the supremacy of Stradivari's and Guarneri's instruments is accepted only today. In the past, instruments by Nicolò Amati and Jacob Stainer were preferred for their subtle sweetness of tone.
The Mystery of the Stradivarius _ part 1
The Mystery of the Stradivarius _ part 2
The Mystery of the Stradivarius _ part 3
The Mystery of the Stradivarius _ part 4