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More detailed information about stringed instruments and the history of violin making.


Cremona: the early Lombard history of violin making


The perfection of early violin making in the classic Cremonese style


Cremona holds a distinctive spot among the towns where classical Italian violin making flourished, a process whose earliest origins can never be fully explored. The reason for Cremonas special status is less the fact that the Cremonese craftsman tradition has a long and time-honoured standing there, since other towns can also look back on a tradition of comparable — if not longer — history. Instead, Cremona is remarkable because from early on violin making there reflected mastery and had an enduring normative influence. The history of this Lombard town's local artisanry is simultaneously the history of the earliest days of violin making, the study of which always begins with examining the classic Cremonese masterpieces. The artistic and technical standards defined by Cremona violin makers Amati, Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesù in the approximately 150 years of their work remain unchallenged to this day.

Giulio Cesare Gigli, fine 18th century Italian violin

Giulio Cesare Gigli, 18th century Italian violin

Inventory No.: 4093
Maker: Giulio Cesare Gigli
Length of back: 35.6
Year: approx. 1760

Nicolo Gagliano

Classical Italian violin by Nicolò Gagliano, 1762

Inventory No.: 4940
Maker: Nicolò Gagliano
Length of back: 35.3
Year: 1762
 

The figure at this pinnacle of Cremonese violin making is Nicolo Amati of Cremona (1596-1684), whose instruments are characterized by their size and their highly arched tops. As one of the first Cremona violin makers, Nicolo Amati used his model to produce a large but sweet sound which helped Cremonese violins to distinguish themselves from those of the Salo and Maggini schools of Bresica for the first time. Nicolo Amati's greatest student, Antonio Stradivari (1648/49-1737), spent half of his career following in the footsteps of his master before he began to build smaller violins with a lower arch and a more powerful sound. As the rigours of soloist performance increased over the course of musical history, Antonio Stradivari's violins became more and more of a template for other copies. Even in light of the long-term dominance of the Stradivari violin, however, the Amati violin is in no way to be regarded as an obsolete predecessor; for centuries it remained a viable and widely imitated style, and it increased the artistic possibilities for all generations of violin makers to follow.

The most interesting person among the great violin makers of Cremona, however, is most likely to be Joseph Guarnerius del Gesù (1698-1744); his short life is steeped in legend and produced an oeuvre of fewer than 200 violins, a slim yield. In comparison to the constant perfection of the Stradivarius workshop, Giuseppe Guarneri's violins are noteworthy in part due to some of their inadequacies in craftsmanship: it would seem that Guarneri del Gesù was so radical and uncompromising in his pursuit of the ideal of a large sound that he was glad to overlook a few "incidental" aesthetic issues. The sound he created confirms his approach, however, and the effects of his violins have continued to have a lasting impact, even to this day. For example, Nicolo Paganini's favourite Guarneri del Gesu was one the legendary soloist reverently dubbed "il cannone." It was repeatedly copied by the great Jean Baptiste Vuillaume, and today one of these copies is played by the young virtuoso artist Hilary Hahn.

Our online catalogue features our attractive online selection of contemporary and antique violins - including violins from Cremona - with audio sound samples.




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Stradivari's heirs: contemporary violin makers in Cremona

Eric Blot, expert of Cremona and Italian violin making

Ente Triennale Cremona and other international violin making competitions

Contemporary violin makers - the modern artisan elite

Daniele Scolari and the second generation of the new art of violin-making in Cremona

Markneukirchen: violin making in “German Cremona”

Mittenwald: violin making “in the midst of the forest”

Mirecourt: the spacious home of French violin making

Contemporary violin makers from China and Taiwan

New arrivals in our catalogue
  • Older Mittenwald violin, 1960's
  • Antique French 3/4 violin with a strong tone - J.T.L.
  • Handsome old German violin. "Conservatory violin", approx. 1920
  • SALE Older English violin, made in the 1940's - warm, golden tone
  • Old Czech violin full of character, made in the Italian style, c.1910
  • Alfred Knoll viola bow. Silver mounted, a strong player
  • SALE Raffaele Calace, Italian Neapolitanian violin, 1916 (certificate Eric Blot)
  • 1/4 - Fine French 1/4 violin bow. Morizot Frères (certificate J.-F. Raffin)
  • SALE Fine Neuner & Hornsteiner 3/4 violin, Mittenwald, c.1850
  • Old Mittenwald violin, J. A. Baader, No. 4908
  • Excellent silver mounted violin bow, stamped Felix Martin
  • Fine master violin bow by C.A. Hoyer, Markneukirchen
  • Excellent German violin bow after Lupot, approx. 1940
  • SALE 1920's German violin by Otto Ebner, Augsburg
  • SALE Claude A. Thomassin, fine French violin bow (certificate J. F. Raffin)
  • French Richelme violin No. 23, Marseille 1869 - collector's piece
  • German master violin, Otto Gläsel, Gelsenkirchen
  • MARMA, silver violin bow after Sartory, approx. 1920
  • Antique French 1/2 violin, J.T.L. Compagnon c.1880
  • SALE Italian violin from the 1970's - warm, mellow sound
  • WORKED OVER AND IMPROVED: Fine master violin, 1940's. Probably American
  • Neuner & Hornsteiner violin, Mittenwald c.1900
  • French violin, "Marque Apparut", 1936
  • Markneukirchen violin after Amati