Antonio Stradivari, Italian violin maker (1644 - 1737)
From the Dutch version of the Italian paper ‘Il Giornale”, January 22, 2024. Translated by Ineke, edited by Diana D. Le. Stradivari; The Ferrari among violins. Violin André Rieu Italian craft. From Puccini to Vivaldi and from Morricone to Ramazotti; Italians have been masters of music for centuries. You hear their work in classical theaters, on the largest stages and on the radio worldwide. Italy is a country of craftsmen and art has nested in that industry, literally. There is a wide range of musical instrument makers, from those 'Gepettos' who occasionally build a violin, accordion or harp to factories with hundreds of employees. As a rule, it is the small workshops, where only a few skilled employees are masters of the craft, that bring the most prized instruments onto the market. Larger firms operate more efficiently than small ones, but are less adapted to responding to the needs of individual musicians. And there is that other distinction: you have instrument makers who became famous for their craftsmanship and the perfect quality of their instrument versus those who are known for their inventions and innovations in design. Antonio Stradivari (1644 – 1737) is probably the most famous violin maker in the world. If it is not the shelf life of his violins, then it is the price. After all, Stradivari are still sold for several million at auctions. Although the violin maker reached a particularly old age, his life was far too short to attribute all the labeled Stradivari to his hand. He must have employed fellow builders, if only because the studio in Cremona also produced guitars, mandolins and harps. Three centuries later, we can only guess at his craftsmanship. A fine hand and a sharp ear, critics agree, but how exactly did he work and what determined his signature? Stradivari was not the only Italian with the ultimate hand/ear combination. Gagliano, Guarneri, Guadagnini, Amati, and Grancino are also considered true masters of stringed instruments, although they did not build every violin with their own hands. Curious about the unique Italian last, we called the Dutch Violin Making School in Makkum. “The most striking aspect of the classical Italian school is the high average sound quality. Although there are major differences in construction, from the perfection of Stradivari to the erratic approach of Guarneri del Gesù, the instruments of both masters are equally loved by professional musicians. Yes, that makes it clear that the secret of that sound does not lie in the precision of construction. Apart from that, a thick layer of superstition about violin making grew up in the 19th century, to emphasize the magic of irreplaceability. This is also why their violins have risen rapidly in value.” André Rieu’s Stradivarius The most famous Dutch string players are also under the spell of the best Italian violin makers, as André Rieu revealed the price tag of his Stradivarius in the weekly magazine Privé: “Many millions. Think of 7 to 7.5. I just play with it and it goes with me on the bus. What does it do to me? Oh well, let me be down to earth, because I just see it as an instrument. I treat it very respectfully, because after all, it is 350 years old. It belonged to an English countess so, not to a famous musician. By the way, there are many instruments that simply belonged to counts or countesses, because that's how they all used to be. This one was made in 1692, I have now owned three. The first was from 1667, that was the second made by Stradivarius. (Note: The Italian name is Antonio Stradivari; the Latin version is Antonius Stradivarius.)
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