The life of Antonio Stradivari and the event at the Musical Instrument Museum.

stradivariusviolin

My goal for this article is to educate people about Antonio Stradivari. The event at the musical instrument museum is about a great violin maker named Antonio Stradivari and how he created thousands of string instruments. There are numerous Stradivarius instruments that have survived the sands of time. Stradivarius will be the main music exhibit that features ten extraordinarily historic and modern examples from the string family, including a 1728 Stradivarius violin on display for the first time in the U.S., and in addition to showcasing historic and award-winning modern instruments, “Stradivarius: Origins and Legacy of the Greatest Violin Maker” includes the story of how early violin makers from the modest Italian city of Cremona shaped global music from the 16th century onward. The exhibition will also feature a series of tools and designs from the workshop of Antonio Stradivari. These priceless artifacts are rarely on display outside of Cremona.

Antonio Stradivari was born sometime around 1644 to 1649.  He was apprenticed from 12 to 14 to Nicolo Amati, who was another famous violin maker. He married his 1st wife, Francesca Ferraboschi on July 4th 1667. They had 6 children, including a baby boy who died at 1 week old. Francesca died on May 20th 1698. He married his 2nd wife, Antonia Maria Zambelli on August 24th, 1699. The only information available about Antonia is that she was 35 when she wed Antonio Stradivari and they had 5 children from 1700 to 1708. His will, dated 1729, is one of the closest estimations that we can give as to how Stradivari ran his family. Stradivari bought a house that is now called  No. 1 Piazza Roma around 1680 for the sum of 7000 Lire, 2000 of which he paid at the time of the purchase. The total amount was paid for by 1684.  The house was just a few houses away from where several other violin-making families of Cremona lived, including the Amatis and Guarneris families. Stradivari worked in the loft and attic, and he stayed in this house until he died. The tomb was received 8 years before he died, having acquired it from a Cremonese family and then he switched the names on the headstone.

Now there are 2 boys from Antonio’s first marriage who worked on making instruments in the family shop: Omobono and Francesco. Since Omobono had left home at 18 and went looking for a job in Naples, he left his father with his debt and that’s why his father never forgave him for leaving home and, just like Paolo, he would inherit only 6 violins, because that was all that was listed in the will for him. Francesco, who was to succeed his father, would receive the rest of his father’s estate which included all the finished violins, the violin making tools, and his father’s reputation.

In the early 1690s, Stradivarius made a significant departure from his earlier method of crafting instruments, changing 2 key features of his instruments. 1, he started making violins with a bigger pattern than previous instruments; these larger violins are usually known as “Long Strads” and 2, He also switched to a darker varnish, in place of the yellow varnish that was similar to that used by Amati. He then proceeded to use this technique until 1698, with few exceptions. After 1698, he stopped using the Long Strad model and went back to a slightly shorter model, which he used until his death.

The 20 years from 1700 to 1720 is referred to as the “golden period”, during which time, his amazing instruments were considered to be of a higher quality than the instruments he made prior to that. Instruments made from the late 1720s until his death in 1737 show how old he was. Stradivarius died on December 18th, 1737, aged 93 and is buried at the Church of San Domenico. Stradivarius instruments are regarded as among the best bowed and stringed instruments ever made, are heavily prized, and are still used by people in the modern age to create great music. Although Antonio had a very long life making instruments, it is unlikely that he crafted more than 1000 instruments virtually on his own, meaning that his sons, Francesco and Omobono and a 3rd son, must have been assisting him with creating the instruments.

There is 1 other great violin maker named Giuseppe Guarneri Del Gesu, although not much is known about him. He and Stradivari are the supreme violinists today, though in the past, Nicolo Amati and Jacob Stainer were listened to. San Matteo, the Stradivarius parish, and San Faustino, the Amati parish, were the center of Cremonese violin making. They extolled influence not only on each other, but also on many of their contemporaries and they set the standard for violin making for the next 300 years. Andrea Amati was the founding father of the violin. In the 18th century, Cremonese violin makers were the suppliers and local players were on the demand side. After Stradivari’s death, this drastically changed because, while the Cremonese violin makers remained the suppliers; the demand side consisted of lots of people. Many local players could no longer afford to pay for the instruments and most of the acquired instruments would either, be hidden in private collections, put in museums, or would be put back in their cases in the hope that they would gain value over time. Cozio, Tarisio and Vuillaume were the fathers of the Stradivarius frenzy that would extend well into the 21th century. Also, soon after Stradivari’s death, most of the other Cremonese violin makers would die, which put an end to the “golden period” of Cremona’s violin making. The golden period lasted for over 150 years and started with the Amatis and ended with the Cerutis.

The event at the Musical Instrument Museum will feature 10 violins from Antonio Stradivari’s instrument collection and will show us where these workers not only got the wood to make the violins, but also how they shaped the wood into violins and where those violins ended up all over the world anywhere from concerts to private collections. Stradivarius violins are to be highly treasured forever.

This article was created by Sydney.

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