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Author: John Dilworth
STRADIVARI, Antonio Born circa. 1644, died 1737 Cremona Italy. The greatest of all violin makers. His origins, despite much earnest research, remain unclear. His first appearance in the Cremonese archives concerns his marriage to Francesca Ferraboschi in 1667 when he was living in the parish of S. Cecilia. He settled with his wife in the parish of S. Agata. In 1680 he moved to a house in Piazza S. Domenico, in close proximity to the homes and workshops of the Amati and Guarneri families. The opinion of most commentators has been that he was a pupil of Nicolò Amati, but no firm evidence exists for this apart from an early label which states ‘Antonius Stradiuarius Cremonensis Alumnus / Nicolai
Author: Cecie Stainer
Son of Alessandro Stradivari and Anna Moroni. There is no definite record of his birth, but in a violin with a genuine label as follows . " Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis faciebat anno 1732 " was added in Stradivari's handwriting below " de anni 89 " ; this was at first wrongly read as " de anni 82 " Other dated instruments are now known which prove that Stradivari was born in 1644. Fetis's statement that Stradivari was born in 1644 was based on the report of a violin said to be dated 1736, and to be inscribed "anno aetatisga," which was formerly in the possession of Count Cozio di Salabue. Stradivari died Dec, 1737, and was buried Dec. 19, 1737, in the Cathedral of San Domenico, Cremona, which has since been pulled down. He was descended from a very ancient Cremona family, whose name, at that time spelt " Stradiverdi," appears in records as far back as 1213. While still very young he became a pupil of Nicola Amati, and was probably with him till 1667. When Amati died, all his tools, patterns, and models passed into Stradivari's possession. His earlier instruments bear labels of Nicola Amati, and may be recognised by the beautiful scroll or by the characteristic sound-holes. About 1666 he used a label with “Nicolai Amati alumnus" on it. Up to 1690 the violins signed with his name are very similar in pattern to Amati's ordinary full-sized instruments, and are of high model compared to those he made later; the wood is generally plain, the purfling very narrow, the oil varnish, a more or less pronounced yellow colour, but otherwise very similar to that used by Amati, is of soft and penetrating quality, and permeates the wood to some depth beneath the surface ; these instruments are known as'' Stradivarius amatise." He steadily improved in his work; the model becomes flatter, the sound-holes more graceful, the scroll more striking and original, the purfling slightly wider than before ; the varnish varies in colour from rich golden, very soft and transparent, to a light red, equally fine. This thicker and more lustrous red varnish was what he subsequently used exclusively. In 1690 he began to make the violins known as '' long Strads''; they are quite unlike N. Amati's work; measurements by experts have conclusively proved that these instruments are quite a quarter of an inch longer than his usual pattern. These "long Strads" were inspired by Maggini; in length of body and length of stop they are practically the same as Maggini's violins in his latest and finest period. The modelling of the back and belly, the shorter corners, the bolder and more open sound-holes all recall Maggini's work. The tone of remarkable power—has much of the Maggini quality. Stradivari also made some narrow violins, dated after 1690, which, though not so in reality, also appear to be of extra length, owing to their narrow pattern, this narrowness is particularly noticeable in the middle of the instrument between the sound-holes. The work is most carefully finished, everything proportioned to the modification of form. The tone is brilliant and powerful; the varnish is sometimes a beautiful amber colour, sometimes a transparent pale red. These instruments are not so uncommon as the "long Strads," which he ceased making in 1700, probably because of their length causing them to be difficult to play. The period of his finest work began in 1700, which culminated in what was practically perfection in 1714; the thicknesses of the wood and the lines of the pattern are all determined with scientific accuracy ; the varnish, in brilliancy of colouring and in delicacy and transparency of quality, has never since been equalled; the tone is splendid, invariably bright, sweet, full, and equal. The wood is chosen with the greatest care, and is sound and sonorous, the pine being of the best quality from Switzerland and the Trentino; the willow (of which the blocks and linings are made) taken from the banks of the Po, near Cremona. The arching rises in gentle and gradual curves, the purfling is executed with wonderful precision ; the sound-holes show a master's hand and remain a model for all ; the scroll, of severe character, is exquisitely carved ; the whole of the work (including that of the interior) shows the most beautiful finish in the smallest details. A splendid specimen of this period of work is the so-called " Messiah" violin, dated 1716, which was bought for £1,000 by Alard, the distinguished violinist, and on his death (1888) was sold by Messrs. Hill on behalf of the heirs for £2,000. The workmanship is perfection ; the arching of the back and belly exquisitely proportioned ; the wood of the back beautifully and regularly figured the tone strong, mellow, and delicate; the glowing ruddy varnish wonderfully beautiful, both in colour and quality the sound-holes most perfectly cut; the neck is the original one, but has been lengthened by a piece added at its junction with the upper block of the body ; the scroll is very graceful; the curves and outlines extremely beautiful. The letters " P. S." are very distinct on the peg-box end of the neck ; they are sometimes found on the violin which still have the original neck; they were the initials of Paolo, his youngest son, a cloth merchant by trade. There is a violin, also made in 1716, in the Istituto Musicale of Florence, with the label : " Antonius Stradivanus Cremonensis faciebat, anno 1716." A violin, dated 1714, called the " Dolphin," owing to the extraordinary richness and variety of tints in the varnish, is made of splendid wood, and is of perfect workmanship. It formerly belonged to Alard, later passing into the hands of Adams for £800. The prices given for Stradivari violins have risen in a most extraordinary way ; Stradivari himself sold them for £4, but by the end of the 18th century they were selling for £15 or £16 ; a little before 1824 Lupot sold a violin for £100, which was considered a large sum; in 1875 a violin, dated 1714, sold for £300, and, after 1881, fine violins were sold for £1,000 or more— in one case for double that sum. The violin, known, because of its perfect state of preservation, as "The Maiden" (La Pucelle), dated 1709, fetched £885 at a sale in Paris, Feb. 14, 1878 ; it was of beautiful workmanship, the sound-holes exquisitely cut, and the scroll strong in character. A most perfect specimen of the earlier work of Stradivari was exhibited at South Kensington in 1885; it was made in 1679 and was bought by Sir Samuel Hellier, of Womborne, Staffordshire, for £40 from the maker himself about 1734 , it is of large size, and is one of the inlaid violins, of which there are only about twelve in existence. Another inlaid violin is dated 1687 and was originally made for the King of Spain. Another violin dated 1690, which was originally sold for £25, next changed hands for £240, then for £1,000. Violins sold at sales do not, as a rule, fetch such high prices ; one was sold at Christie's for £290 ; that was in 1872, and it is now valued at £1,000. The " Ames " Strad , a beautiful violin, in excellent preservation, was sold at Puttick and Simpson's in 1893 for £860 ; but this was a record auction-room price. Stradivari only made a few violas, they are of a large pattern, and the quality of their tone is most rich, penetrating, and sympathetic. A very fine viola dated 1723 was in the Janze Collection ; one of the most beautiful known—the Viola Medicea dated 1691, is in the Istituto Musicale of Florence , it is of large size, and is interesting as showing that, at the time he made it, Stradivari was not yet experienced enough to make the thickness of the upper plate sufficient in proportion to the size of the instrument. When the viola was recently taken to pieces it was found that Stradivari himself had strengthened (doubled with new wood) the parts originally too much thinned ; that only Stradivari himself had touched the work was proved by his inscribing it with the words " Corretto da me Antonio Stradivari. ' One viola is mentioned as having the back made of poplar ; it had a most beautiful tone and showed most delicately finished work. Few of his violoncellos are in existence; they were made on two patterns, one large one small ; the large instruments are now as scarce as the large violas , they have an enormously powerful tone, but it is perhaps more difficult for performers to play on them owing to their size. One of these large violoncellos was in the possession of Professor Servais, of the Brussels Conservatoire ; the tone was of silvery sweetness, combined with extraordinary power A magnificent instrument dated 1720, which belonged to Signor Piatti, the great violoncellist, was known as the " red " 'cello, owing to the very rich colour of its varnish. The immense superiority of Stradivari's violoncellos to all others owing to the excellent choice of wood, the correctness of the thicknesses, and the accurate proportions of the whole instrument, which results in a tone unequalled for fulness, brilliancy, and power, causes them to fetch extraordinarily high prices, if, by any chance, one comes into the market. The smaller violoncellos are too narrow; in proportion to the length, violoncellos require a greater height in the sides than violins do ; Stradivari omitted to take this into account, and thus sometimes made instruments which have a thin quality of tone, which is only to be improved by increasing the height of the sides. A very beautiful specimen of this small pattern formerly belonged to Duport, then to Franchomme, who sold it for £1,600. One of the finest known, formerly belonging to Alexandre Batta, of Paris, who paid £440 for it, was made in 1714, and is in exceptionally good preservation, without a crack, and with no trace of any repairs it was bought by Messrs. Hill in 1893 for £3,200! This same firm of violin makers also had one dated 1711, which they priced at £2,800. A violoncello in most perfect preservation, dated 1689, was bought by Professor Delsart, of the Paris Conservatoire, on Feb. 3, 1887, at a sale for £800 ; it is especially remarkable for the beauty of its wood; its equal is perhaps only to be found in the violoncello, dated 1691, which is in the Istituto Musicale of Florence; it is of very large size, and the workmanship is absolutely perfect. A great many of the violoncellos dated between 1698 and 1709 have the backs made of poplar-wood. A very beautiful violoncello which was in Madrid, dated 1725, was more arched than that of Franchomme; the wood was pine of excellent quality, the sides of finely figured wood ; the brilliant red varnish, on an amber golden ground, was very delicate and transparent; the whole instrument was in perfect preservation. Stradivari's double-basses are rare ; Dragonetti had one ; Count Ludovico Melzi had another, a very fine specimen ; it was on a broad pattern, very much arched ; the lower corners of the middle bouts are rounded off, apparently to avoid injury. Two things strike one about the work of Stradivari—the extraordinary number of instruments that he made and their great excellence; it is said that there are no less than a thousand of his violins, violas, and violoncellos; he lived to a great age, and worked incessantly all his life. In his time, viols were still being used in orchestras; he made many with six strings and with seven strings, also five-stringed viols with flat back, high sides, and arched bellies. Viols, bass-viols, violas da gamba are known with the backs made of poplar-wood. A viola d'amore, with the usual six gut strings and six wire strings, is dated 1716. A mandoline, dated 1700, which formerly belonged to J. B. Vuillaume, was remarkable for the finish of the workmanship and the beauty of the varnish ; the head was most delicately carved. A harp is also known made by him. A guitar inscribed on the back of the peg-box, "Ants Stradivarius Cremonens F. 1680," was supposed to be the only one made by him ; but the Paris Conservatoire claims to have another in the Collection there. In the same Collection is a beautiful fragment of the head of a viola da gamba and also a kit of large size, dated 1717, signed by Stradivari, which has a graceful scroll, the sound-holes excellently cut and varnish of wonderfully delicate and brilliant quality. A viola da gamba, "alia gobba" (i.e., hunchbacked), made in 1684 for Countess Cristina Visconti, had the violoncello scroll and sound-holes; double-basses had long been made with violoncello sound-holes, but Stradivari was probably the first maker to effect this improvement in the viola da gamba. It is interesting to notice how, even in his lifetime, Stradivari's instruments travelled all over the world, his reputation was so great on Sept. 8, 1682, Michele Monzi, a banker in Venice, sent him an order for a set of violins, tenors, and violoncellos; these instruments were afterwards sent as a present to James II. of England. In 1687 he made a set of instruments for the Spanish Court, inlaid with ivory purfling, and with beautiful scroll-work running round the sides and head. Some of these fine instruments, richly ornamented with small figures, flowers, fruit, arabesques, inlaid in ebony or ivory, executed with the greatest skill, are still in existence, as well as the tools which he used and the original tracings of his designs. In 1690 he finished making a "concerto"—viz., two violins, one small and one large tenor, and one violoncello, for the Grand Duke of Tuscany. One of the tenors is in Florence and is inscribed on the interior of the upper plate, "Prima 20 ottobre 1690 per S. A. da Fiorenza." In 1707 he made six violins, two tenors, and one violoncello for the private orchestra of Archduke Charles of Austria. In 1715 he made twelve violins for the private orchestra of the King of Poland (Elector of Saxony), The instruments, relatively few in number, made by Stradivari between 1730-37 vary a good deal in character; some are very fine and of beautifully finished work, but others do not attain the same perfection; they are more arched, resulting in a less brilliant tone, the delicacy and finish of the work has changed, the scroll is heavier, the varnish is sometimes a brown colour, like that used by his sons for their instruments ; there is no doubt that, after his death, much of his unfinished work was completed by his sons or by his pupil, Carlo Bergonzi, labels being used with Stradivari's name on them. Instruments that were made simply under his direction are inscribed ' sub disciplina Stradiuarii," in very small type. Many of his pupils became celebrated makers, such as Carlo Bergonzi, Alessandro Gagliano, Lorenzo and Giambattista Guadagnini, &c. Stradivari had married, July 4, 1667, Francesca Ferraboschi (b, 1640, the widow of Giovanni Giacomo Capra) ; she died May 20, 1698. She had six children, of whom four were sons: Francesco, b. Feb. 6, 1670, d. six days later; Francesco, b. Feb. 1, 1671, he worked with his father and d. May 11, 1743; Alessandro, b. May 25, 1677, he became a priest and d. Jan. 26, 1732 ; Omobono, b. Nov. 14, 1679, he worked with his father and d. July 8, 1742. On June 3, 1680, Stradivari purchased from the Brothers Picenardi, for about ;£280, the house formerly known as 2, piazza San Domenico, now as 1 piazza Roma; it was there that all his famous work was done. He married his second wife on August 24, 1699, Antonia Zambelli (b. June 11, 1664, d. March 3, 1737), she had five children, of whom four were sons : Gio. Battista Giuseppe, b. Nov, 6, 1701, d. eight months later; Gio. Battista Martino, b. Nov. 11, 1703, d. Nov. 1,1727; Giuseppe, b. Oct. 27, 1704, became a priest and d. Nov. 29, 1781 ; Paolo, b. Jan. 26, 1708, d Oct. 19, 1776. Stradivari is described as a tall thin man, incessantly working, in his white leather apron and his white cap ; he made a great deal of money, for in his time "ricco come Stradivari" (rich as Stradivari) was quite a proverb in Cremona.
Author: Willibald Leo Lütgendorff
Schüler von Nicolas Amati. Der Meister aller Meister der Geigenmacherei, ein genialer Künstler, der nicht mehr erreicht und noch weniger übertroffen werden konnte. Obwohl er schon zu Lebzeiten in hohem Ansehen stand, sind doch nur spärliche Nachrichten über sein Leben auf uns gekommen; die wenigen zuverlässigen Angaben verdankt man hauptsächlich den Forschungen Paolo Lombardini's, Sacchi's und Mandelli's, der seine Forschungen den Brüdern Hill überliess. Desto mehr aber erzählen uns seine herrlichen Werke. — Stradivari entstammt einer alten Patrizierfamilie, deren Name auch Stradiverdi geschrieben wurde, und schon 1127 bekleidete ein Ottolinus Stradivarius die Würde eines »Senator patriae«; den gleichen Titel führte 1168 Egidius Stradivari; um die Mitte des 14. Jahrhunderts werden zwei Rechtsgelehrte Grisandro und Guglielmo Stradivari erwähnt. Der Name soll übrigens auf »Stratiarus«, d. i. Zolleinnehmer, zurückgehen. Antonio war der Sohn des Alessandro Stradivari und der Anna, geb. Moroni. Seine Geburt ist in den Matrikeln der Stadt nicht verzeichnet, und es liegt daher nahe, zu vermuthen, dass er nicht in Cremona selbst, sondern vielleicht auf einem nahen, der Familie gehörigen Landgute geboren sei. Nicht einmal auf das Jahr seiner Geburt konnten wir schliessen, wenn er nicht in eine seiner Arbeiten neben seinen Namen und der Jahreszahl 1732 geschrieben hätte »82 Jahre alt«. Er muss also, wenn diese Angabe genau war, erst um 1650 geboren sein. Aus den Kirchenbüchern erfährt man ferner, dass er am 4. Juli 1667 Francesca Feraboschi, die Wittwe Gian Giacomo Capra's, heirathete, von der er sechs Kinder hatte. Francesca war 1640 geboren — also wohl zehn Jahre älter als Stradivari — und starb am 25. Mai 1698. Am 24. August des darauffolgenden Jahres ging er eine zweite Ehe ein mit Antonietta Zambelli (geb. 1664, † 1737), die ihn gleichfalls mit fünf Kindern beschenkte. Er kaufte am 3. Juni 1680 von den Brüdern Picenardi ein Haus an der Piazza San Domenico No. 2 (heute Piazza Roma No. 1) für annähernd 6000 M. Er muss schon damals recht wohlhabend gewesen sein, später aber wurde er ein reicher Mann; ja, das Sprichwort: »Reich wie Stradivari!« soll sich bis auf den heutigen Tag in Cremona erhalten haben. Leider ist bisher kein sicheres Bildniss des Meisters bekannt geworden, man ist daher darauf beschränkt, sich nach der Schilderung des Geigers Polledro in Turin (1781—1853), dessen Lehrer Stradivari gut gekannt haben wollte, die eigenartige Persönlichkeit des grössten Geigenmachers vorzustellen. Danach war Stradivari ein grosser, hagerer Mann, der bei der Arbeit stets eine weisse Wollmütze und weisse Lederschürze getragen hat. Er hat in seiner Jugend gewiss eine für seine Zeit sehr gute Schulbildung erhalten; wann er bei Nicolas Amati in die Lehre trat, und wie lange er bei ihm blieb, ist nicht bekannt; er wird wohl, wie es damals üblich war, sechs Jahre gelernt haben und scheint auch nach seiner Lehrzeit noch bei Amati geblieben zu sein; ja, man glaubt in einigen Geigen Amati's aus der Zeit vor 1667 die Hand Stradivari's deutlich zu erkennen. Da er 1667 heirathete, wird man auch in dieses Jahr seine Selbstständigmachung zu setzen haben. Dem entspricht auch die Thatsache, dass die ältesten Geigen, die seinen Namen tragen, zwischen 1668 und 1670 entstanden sind. Schon seine ersten Arbeiten verrathen seine seltene Begabung, aber er steht da noch ganz im Banne der Amati-Schule. Er war gewiss selbst ein trefflicher Geiger, und als solcher erkannte er, was den Amati-Geigen noch fehlte, und sobald er darüber klar war, begann er eigene Versuche anzustellen, und 30 Jahre lang hat er versucht, bis er endlich fand, was er wollte. Man weiss, dass er einen fabelhaften Fleiss besass; es giebt aber aus der Werdezeit seiner Kunst doch nur verhältnissmässig wenig Geigen; er muss also alle, die ihm nicht voll entsprachen, wieder vernichtet haben. Man theilt sein Schaffen in drei Perioden ein: die erste setzt man von 1668—1686. Damals legte er auf die Schönheit des Holzes noch wenig Werth; wenn es nur gutes Tonholz war, war es ihm recht. Aber schon in dieser ersten Zeit sucht er das überkommene Amati-Modell zu verbessern; wenn er auch noch wenig änderte, so gab er doch bald der Schnecke eine schwungvollere Form und stach sie tiefer aus. Ein gutes Beispiel für diese Periode ist die aus dem Jahre 1679 stammende sogen. »Hellier-Violine« (jetzt im Besitze von Charles Oldhams). Er scheint inzwischen einige Meisterwerke der Brescianer-Schule kennen gelernt zu haben. Er wollte nun ihren volleren Klang mit dem süssen Schmelz der Amati-Geigen verbinden, und so zeigen die Arbeiten seiner zweiten Periode, die die man von 1686—1694 setzt, Manches, was an die Brescianer erinnert, aber er nimmt jetzt die Wölbung flacher, macht die Geigen etwas grösser, schweift die )( kühner aus und schneidet die F-Löcher, die er jetzt weniger steil anordnet, feiner aus. Auch das Holz wird schöner, wie er überhaupt damals eine gewisse Freude an der Ausstattung gehabt zu haben scheint, da er verschiedene Instrumente mit Elfenbeineinlagen verzierte. Möglicher Weise wurde er durch besondere Bestellungen dazu veranlasst; so machte er 1687 mehrere Geigen für den spanischen Hof, 1684 und 1690 solche für Cosmo von Medici, die besonders schön ausgestattet wurden. Der Brescianer Einfluss macht sich besonders bemerkbar in den Geigen, die er schon nach 1687 herzustellen begann, und die in ihren Maassen an Maggini's beste Arbeiten erinnern. Er nahm das Modell in der Mitte schmaler als vorher oder nachher; die Geigen sehen dadurch etwas länger aus, und so hat man das Patron »allongé« genannt. Auch diese Versuche befriedigten ihn nicht, obwohl er damit schon alle seine Vorgänger übertroffen hatte. Die Schnecke zeigt in dieser Zeit einen mitteltiefen Stich, der zweite Ring ist um ein Drittel schmaler als die Augenbreite, die äussere Windungskante steht im rechten Winkel zu den äusseren senkrechten Linien. 1690 wird das Modell grösser, die Wölbung schöner, er nähert sich wieder dem Amati- Modell, und es entsteht das sogen. »amatisirte Patron«. Um 1693 ist sein Modell etwa 35,8 cm lang. Die obere Breite beträgt 16,8, zwischen den )( 11,4 und die untere Breite 20,9 cm. Der Boden ist in den Backen schwach gehalten. Die dritte Periode beginnt nach 1695, erreicht ihren Höhepunkt 1714 und währt bis 1720. Es ist dies die eigentliche Glanzzeit des Meisters; jetzt hat er gefundem was ihm vorgeschwebt hatte. Er ist über seinen Vorarbeiten und Studien ein Fünfziger geworden, seine eigenste Schöpfung, das charakteristische, in jeder Beziehung vollkommene Stradivari-Modell, war jetzt fertig, und von nun an weichen seine Arbeiten in den Hauptsachen nur wenig von einander ab. Als nach 1720 die Sicherheit der Hand etwas nachlässt, will er durch einen neuen Versuch seine Arbeiten auf der alten Höhe erhalten, und er schafft das sogen. grosse Stradivari-Modell. Es ist das die kurze Zeit der Nachblüthe, dann aber macht sich das Greisenalter doch mehr und mehr fühlbar, er macht die Wölbung ohne sichtbaren Grund spitzer, die Geigen klingen weniger klar, selbst der Lack ist nicht mehr so schön wie früher und zeigt jetzt vorzugsweise eine braune Farbe, während er früher Goldgelb oder Blassroth in verschiedenen Abstufungen, aber immer glänzend und feurig, angewendet hat. — Wenn man die Thätigkeit Stradivari's überblickt und auch davon ausgeht, dass Kunstwerke nicht auf wissenschaftlichem Wege hervorzubringen sind, so muss man doch bezweifeln, dass er zu seinen Ergebnissen rein empirisch gekommen sei und sich lediglich von Erfahrungsthatsachen und Schönheitsgefühl leiten liess. Die Geigenmacher in Cremona wurden als Künstler von ihren Zeitgenossen betrachtet, die Söhne vornehmer Familien wendeten sich dieser Kunst zu, und gewisse, auf wissen schaftlicher Grundlage beruhende, geheimgehaltene Werkstatttraditionen hat es zweifellos gegeben, die einem gebildeten und denkenden Künstler die Richtung für seine Versuche wiesen. Nur dadurch wird es erklärlich, dass es den neueren Geigenmachern, unter denen doch gewiss viele künstlerisch hochbegabte Meister waren oder sind, denen weder Erfahrung und Verständniss noch Schönheitssinn fehlte, noch nie gelang, eine Geige herzustellen, die einer tadellosen Stradivari wirklich gleichkäme. Es sind ihnen Copien gelungen, die bis in die letzte Kleinigkeit von bewunderungswürdiger Treue waren, — aber die eigentliche Seele fehlte doch. Bei dem heutigen Stande der Kunst des Geigenmachens ist es aber immer noch das Sicherste, so getreu als möglich zu copiren. Stradivari nahm zur Decke das leichteste, klarjährigste Holz. Die Wölbung bildete der Fuge entlang eine sogenannte Kettenlinie, wie auch die Querprofile der Decke Kettenlinien bilden. Die Deckenstärke beträgt in den Backen 2 1/2 mm, an der Stelle des Stegs (in der Brust) 4 mm. Der Durchmesser des kleinen Schallkreises misst 40 mm; sein Mittelpunkt befindet sich in der Fuge unter dem Steg; 3,5 mm davon entfernt nach oben ist der Mittelpunkt des grossen Schall- Ovals, das 95 mm lang und 70 mm breit ist. In diesem Oval ist die Decke 3 1/2 mm stark. Zum Boden nahm er schönsten Ahorn, nach dem Spiegel gespalten die Brusthöhe betrug bei ihm, wie bei der Decke, 14—15 mm. Die Stärke des Bodens schwankt oft und geht bis zu 6 mm. Die Zargen sind so hoch als die Wölbung von Boden und Decke zusammen, also 30 mm, so dass die Gesammthöhe 60 mm beträgt. Dieses Maass suchte er jedenfalls immer zu erreichen, denn wenn er die Wölbung etwas flacher nahm, machte er die Zargen um das Fehlende höher. Die Höhen der Oberzargen verringerte er um 2 ½ mm; Riechers meint, um der Decke eine Spannung zu verleihen und dem Halse den nöthigen Widerstand zu gewähren; wahrscheinlicher ist, dass er es nur that, um der kleineren Luftkammer ein entsprechend geringeres Volumen zu verschaffen. Dem Innern wandte er die gleiche Sorgfalt zu wie dem Äusseren, vielleicht sogar noch mehr; es wird daher auch kein Zufall sein, dass er die Klötze aus leichtem Weidenholz machte. Der Bassbalken ist schwach und hat den Anforderungen, die zu den Zeiten des Meisters an eine Geige gestellt wurden, auf das Beste entsprochen, muss aber freilich heutzutage durch einen stärkeren ersetzt werden. Die F-Löcher, deren untere Lappen stets aus gestochen erscheinen, sind in ihrem edlen Schwung unübertrefflich; die Hohlkehle ist 4 mm vom Rand entfernt und flach. Die Schnecke ist voll in der Form und nicht mehr so tief ausgestochen wie in der zweiten Periode. Am Boden befindet sich oben und unten ein Ahornstift (der zur Hälfte in die Einlage gebohrt ist, um den Boden auf die Form zu heften.) Der goldgelbe Grundlack ist mit einem hellrothen Lack überzogen und wirkt jetzt etwas bräunlich. Er ist von schönstem Feuer, weich und elastisch und hat die Eigenthümlichkeit, dass er heute noch, wenn man den Finger länger darauf ruhen lässt, den Eindruck der Hautlinien zeigt. Das Gesammtgewicht einer Stradivari-Violine beträgt ohne Wirbel, Griffbrett und Saitenhalter 260—275 Gramm. In der Hauptsache zeichnet sich das Modell durch die Verbreiterung des unteren Theils und eine relative Verengerung des mittleren Theils aus, was dem Ganzen ein elegantes Aussehen verleiht. Die Umrisse sind am Ansatz des Halses und beim Saitenhalter nur wenig gekrümmt und scheinen in der Mitte der )( fast ganz gerade; die Ecken sind vorspringend und breit. Die F-Löcher, die ihre Abstammung von Amati noch erkennen lassen, sind klein und fein geschnitten und stehen etwas geneigt, um den Raum zwischen den oberen runden Enden zu verringern. Diese Beschreibung kann aber, wie gesagt, nur in der Hauptsache stimmen, denn im Einzelnen gestattete er sich noch immer kleine Abweichungen, die wohl durch die Eigenschaften des ihm jeweils zu Gebote stehenden Materials veranlasst und diesem angepasst wurden. Stradivari entwickelte eine unglaubliche Fruchtbarkeit; aber selbst, wenn er jede Woche nur eine Geige fertiggebracht hätte, so giebt das bei seiner sechzigjährigen Arbeitsdauer immerhin etwa 3000 Geigen. Er erhielt für eine Geige, nach unserem Gelde gerechnet, 100—160 M., was aber bei der damaligen Kaufkraft des Geldes schon einen ziemlich hohen Preis darstellt. Es ist daher sicher, dass seine Geigen von allem Anfang an von ihren Besitzern als werthvolle Kunstwerke behandelt und als solche vererbt wurden und so konnte die Annahme Hill's, dass sich etwa 1000 bis in unsere Zeit erhalten haben, vielleicht das Richtige treffen. Wenn man aber die zweifellos echten Werke zusammenzählt, so wird man schwerlich einige 100 herausbekommen. Die Brüder Hill haben versucht, eine vollständige Liste seiner noch nachweisbaren Arbeiten aufzustellen, haben die Arbeit aber unausführbar gefunden. Es gelang ihnen jedoch, 540 Geigen, 12 Bratschen und 50 Violoncelli nachzuweisen. Stradivari war peinlich genau in der Arbeit, und als echter Künstler hat er nur in Geigen, die thatsachlich aus seiner Hand hervorgegangen waren, seinen Zettel geklebt. Von Gehilfen liess er sich nur die untergeordneten Vorarbeiten machen und in Geigen, die zwar in seiner Werkstatt, aber nicht von ihm selbst fertiggemacht wurden, bemerkte er ausdrücklich »sub disciplina« oder »sotto la disciplina di Antonio Stradivari« etc.. Wenn gleichwohl einige echte Werke von ihm vorkommen, die nicht ganz auf seiner sonstigen Höhe stehen, so ist das darauf zurückzuführen, dass die Söhne des Meisters nach seinem Tode auch die unvollendeten Geigen und diejenigen, die er nur zu Versuchszwecken gemacht hat, mit seinen Zetteln versahen und verkauften. Er selbst gab solche Arbeiten nicht aus den Händen, und Thatsache ist es, dass aus den Jahren 1670—1690, also aus der Zeit, in der er an der Herausbildung seines eigenen Modells arbeitete, nur sehr wenig Geigen vorhanden sind. Die Zahl der ehrlichen Stradivari-Nachahmer ist Legion; bei den Preisen, die die Stradivari- Geigen jetzt erreichen, ist es auch bis zu einem gewissen Grade erklärlich, dass die Zahl der unehrlichen Nachahmer und Fälscher nicht minder gross ist. Unter 15 000 M. ist jetzt keine »Stradivari« mehr zu haben; für die besterhaltene Geige des Meisters, die sogen. »Messias«, zahlten Hill & Sons 1893 die Summe von 50 000 Frcs.; die »Herkules« im Besitze Ysaye's in Brüssel, wurde um 26 000 Frcs. gekauft. In welcher Weise die Preise stiegen, ersieht man aus der Thatsache, dass die aus dem Besitze des Stahlfederfabrikanten Gillot stammende, »der Kaiser« (the Emperor) genannte Geige 1872 bei Christie um 5 800 M. verkauft wurde und jetzt 20 000 M. kostet. Das Violoncello von 1714, das Alex. Batta besass — eines der herrlichsten Werke des grossen Meisters —, erwarb er 1836 für 7 500 Frcs. und Hill kaufte es 1893 für 80 000 Frcs. Nicht die beste, aber eine der interessantesten Violinen soll das Haus Salabue besitzen, die eine Angabe des Alters Stradivari's neben der Jahreszahl 1736 von dessen eigener Hand enthält. Ein Jahr nach der Vollendung dieser Violine starb er. Schon im Jahre 1729 kaufte er sich in der 1869 abgebrochenen Kirche San Domenico ein Familiengrab, an dem er die Inschrift »Sepolcro di Antonio Stradivari e suoi Eredi An. 1729« anbringen liess. Der Stein wird jetzt im Rathhause zu Cremona aufbewahrt, aber die Gebeine des Meisters wurden beim Abbruch der Kirche achtlos in ein Massengrab geworfen. — Was eine Künstler hand im Geigenmachen zu leisten vermag, Stradivari hat es geleistet. Das Holz ist so vortrefflich und so schön, als es sein kann, der Lack nicht minder, und den Wohllaut, den Glanz und die Kraft des Tons zu beschreiben, wäre ein vergebliches Unterfangen. Auch seine Vielseitigkeit muss Bewunderung erregen, denn man kennt alle Arten von den zu seiner Zeit üblichen Streichinstrumenten, also ausser Violinen auch Violen, Violoncelli, Gamben etc. und Bässe, auch Taschengeigen, selbst allerlei Lauten und Harfen von ihm. Sogar mit dem Ausbessern alter Instrumente hat er sich gelegentlich beschäftigt, wie der Zettel in einer Viola beweist, auf dem man liest: »Corretto da me Antonio Stradivari.« Für seine Violoncelli hatte er zwei Modelle, ein grosses und ein kleines.
Author: George Hart
The instrument on which he played Was in Cremona's workshops made, By a great master of the past, Ere yet was lost the art divine ; Fashioned of maple and of pine, That in Tyrolian forests vast Had rocked and wrestled with the blast; Exquisite was it in design, A marvel of the lutist's art, Perfect in each minutest part; And in its hollow chamber, thus, The maker from whose hands it came Had written his unrivalled name— ' Antonius Stradivarius.'"— Longfellow. The renown of this remarkable maker of Violins is beyond that of all others ; his praise has been sung alike by poet, artist, and musician. His magic name is ever rising to the lips in the presence of the " king of instruments ; " its sound is as familiar to the humble player as to the finished artist. He has received the undisputed homage of two centuries, and time seems but to add to the number and devotion of his liege subjects : he is as little likely to be dethroned to-day as Shakespeare. Although many interesting particulars concerning Antonio Stradivari have been obtained from time to time, there is wanting that which alone can fully satisfy his admirers, viz., connected records of the chief events of his life. Every endeavour has been made to supply in some way this deficiency, by consulting documents relating to the city of Cremona during the 17th and 18th centuries. The results of these enquiries are of much value, and the reader will be made acquainted with them in the following pages. With a patience worthy of reward, the late librarian at Cremona, Professor Peter Fecit, searched for the will of Stradivari, but as no proper register appears to have been kept until long after the famous maker died, his efforts were unsuccessful. Although the contents of the will might throw but a faint light upon the doings of the testator, there might be found particulars that would link together much of the information we already possess. The date of birth of Antonio Stradivari was made known by M. Fetis in 1856,"" upon evidence contained in an inventory of instruments which belonged to Count Cozio di Salabue. The inventory was made upon the occasion of the instruments being deposited with Carlo Carli, a Milanese banker. Among the Violins there appears to have been one by Antonio Stradivari, bearing a label upon which, in the handwriting of its maker, was stated his age, namely, ninety-two years, and the date 1736; thus making the year of birth 1644. " That plain white-aproned man who stood at work, Patient and accurate, full fourscore years, Cherished his sight and touch by temperance ; And, since keen sense is love of perfectness, Made perfect Violins, the needed paths For inspiration and high mastery." Stradivari, by GEORGE ELIOT. Previous to the publication of this evidence by M. Fetis, the date of birth was given as 1664, and it has recently been stated as 1649 or 1650 Don Paolo Lombardini, in his pamphlet on Stradivari published at Cremona in 1872, gives an interesting genealogical account of the great Cremonese maker and his family. The author follows the date of birth as stated by M. Fetis. This is succeeded by information of his own discovery, namely, the date of the marriage of Stradivari, July 4th, 1667. He appears to have married a widow named Capra, whose maiden name was Ferraboschi, her age being twenty-seven, and that of Stradivari twenty-three, according to the date given by Lombardini. It is interesting to find evidence of some importance relative to the question of the age of Stradivari from the pen of Lancetti. He says, " Antonio having worked to the age of ninetythree years, died in Cremona in the year 1738, at the age of ninety-four years." Though this is obviously incorrect (the register showing that he died in 1737), the extract serves to support the date of birth, resting upon the evidence of the resting upon the evidence of the inventory, inasmuch as it satisfactorily shows the age Stradivari was considered to be by his own family, since Count Cozio communicated the information to Lancetti from correspondence with Paolo Stradivari, son of Antonio. In passing, it may be observed that Stradivari died December i8th, 1737, and therefore the year mentioned by his son Paolo was only incorrect by thirteen days. He was equally as near the truth in saying his father was ninety-four when he should have said he was in his ninety-fourth year. Having referred to the manuscript inventory, upon which rests the date of birth as given by Fetis —which document, taken by itself, it must be said is unsatisfactory—and having noticed the age of Stradivari as represented by his son, I will turn to other evidence in support of the inventory. In the possession of Mr. George H. M. Muntz, of Handsworth, is a Violin by Stradivari, dated 1736, and in the handwriting of its maker, the age given is ninety two. Another Violin by Stradivari, made in the same year, and similarly labelled, is in the possession of the family of the late Mr. Fountain, of Narford Hall, Norfolk. This Violin has been regarded as one of the instruments found in the maker's shop when he died. It originally belonged to Habeneck, the well-known professor, and was taken to Paris between the years 1824 and 1830. Luigi Tarisio became possessed of some of the instruments mentioned in the inventory found among the papers of Carlo Carli, the banker, and one of these Violins in all probability furnished the evidence of the date of birth referred to by M. Fetis, and both instruments were probably purchased by Tarisio, together with the Violin dated 1716, named by Vuillaume " le Messie." The last instrument necessary to notice in confirmation of the date, hitherto resting alone on the inventory, is in the possession of M. H. de St. Sennoch, Paris. It is dated 1737, and in the handwriting of Stradivari is his age, ninety-three years, which decides the correctness of the statement made by Lancetti (upon the authority of Count Cozio di Salabue, who received the information from Paolo Stradivari in 1775) that "Antonio worked up to the age of ninety-three years." In the absence of direct information concerning the life of Stradivari, we must turn to his instruments for such evidence as we require; and these, happily, give us a greater insight into his career than would be readily imagined. I am not aware that any Violin of Stradivari is known in which it is stated that he was a pupil of Niccolo Amati, or that the assumption has been maintained on any other grounds than the indisputable evidence furnished by the early instruments of this great maker.* Never has affinity in the art of Violin manufacture been more marked than that between Stradivari and Niccolo Amati during the early life of the former. I have, in another place, remarked upon the almost invariable similarity occurring between the works of master and pupil, and have used this canon in refutation of the doctrine that Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu was ever a pupil of Antonio Stradivari. Lancetti states that the instruments of Stradivari made in 1665, and others in 1666, bear the label of Niccolo Amati, and instances one that was in the collection of Count Cozio, to which Stradivari made a new belly many years later, in his best style. It is certain that instruments as described by Lancetti have been recognised by intelligent connoisseurs as wholly the work of Stradivari (in which case, as may be imagined, they have no longer been allowed to sail under false colours, but have had their proper certificate of birth attached to them). In other instances the beautiful scroll of Stradivari has been recognised on the body of an Amati, or the sound-hole has shown that it was cut by the hand of Stradivari. Having met with a Violin by Stradivari (since the publication of the first edition of this work), dated 1666, it would appear that he left the workshop of his master at that time, or not later than the year of his marriage in 1667. Between the years 1666 and 1672 there is observable a marked change in style, and the workmanship is better. The Tenor (Plate I.) is a remarkably perfect example of the period mentioned. The instruments he made about this period have wood for the most part singularly plain, and different in kind to that which his master used. His use of this material I am disposed to attribute to the want of means rather than choice. The purfling of these early instruments is very narrow, and many of the backs are cut slab-form. Previous to about the year 1672, we find that his whole work is in accordance with the plans of Amati (not as seen in the latter's grand pattern, but in his ordinary full-sized instrument); the arching is identical, the corners are treated similarly, the sound-hole is quite Amati-like in form, yet easily distinguished by its extreme delicacy, the scroll a thorough imitation of Amati, and presenting a singular contrast to the vigorous individuality which Stradivari displayed in this portion of his work a few years later. Enough has been said to enable the reader to recognise the connection which must have existed between Amati and Stradivari, to admit of such marked resemblances. Taking the instruments of Stradivari as beacons throwing light upon many curious and interesting points of the maker's manufacture, the number and character of his Violins and Violoncellos made during the decade following 1674, is indicative of his having increased both his reputation and his patronage. The last year of this period, namely, 1684, was that in which his master, Niccolo Amati, died, at the age of eighty-eight. We have already seen, in the notice of Amati, that Niccolo was the last member of the family who maintained unbroken the long chain of associations connected with the house of Amati, extending over a period of a century and a half. The circumstance of all the tools, patterns, and models of Niccolo Amati having passed into the possession of his pupil Stradivari, and not into that of his son Girolamo (who was then thirty-five years of age), clearly shows that the son did not succeed to his father's business. We are thus led to believe that during the ten years above referred to, Niccolo Amati had been gradually lessening his activity, and that the patronage so long enjoyed by the Amati family fell for the most part to his gifted pupil, Antonio Stradivari. Among the interesting items of information supplied by the efforts of Paolo Lombardini, relative to Stradivari, is that of the purchase of the house, in 1680, of the Brothers Picenardi for seven thousand imperial lire, equivalent to about, £800 in present English money. This purchase, made about fourteen years after Stradivari began to manufacture on his own account, well marks the progress he made. I have, however, further proof of his fame and prosperity at this period in the valuable extracts from the manuscript of Desiderio Arisi, at Cremona. The knowledge Arisi had of Stradivari is shown by the following remarks written by him in the year 1720. He says, "In Cremona is also living my intimate friend Antonio Stradivari, an excellent maker of all kinds of musical instruments." It will not be out of place to make special mention of his merits. His fame is unequalled as a maker of instruments of the finest qualities, and he has made many of extraordinary beauty, which are richly ornamented with small figures, flowers, fruits, arabesques, and graceful interlaying of fanciful ornaments, all in perfect drawing, which he sometimes paints in black or inlays with ebony and ivory, all of which is executed with the greatest skill, rendering them worthy of the exalted personages to whom they are intended to be presented. I have thought proper, therefore, to mention some works of this great master, in testimony of the high esteem and universal admiration which he enjoys." These prefatory remarks of Arisi are followed by several important statements, which I have arranged in accordance with the different periods it will be necessary to refer to in the course of this notice. "In the year 1682, on the 8th of September, the banker Michele Monzi, of Venice, sent him an order for the whole set of Violins, Altos, and Violoncellos which that gentleman sent as a present to King James of England." The interesting remarks of Arisi with regard to the inlaid instruments of Stradivari are those we should expect from-an admirer of delicate artistic work, without possessing any knowledge of Violins as instruments of music. The existence of some of the instruments to which he refers, together with the tracings of the actual designs and the tools with which the work was accomplished, render his observations, read at this distance of time, peculiarly pleasing. The possessor of the models, tools, labels, and drawings used by Stradivari is the Marquis Dalla Valle,' of Casale, to whom they passed by inheritance from his great-uncle, Count Cozio, who purchased them in 1775. Vincenzo Lancetti, referring to the collection, after mention of Stradivari having been buried in the Church of S. Domenico, continues, " As appears from the correspondence held in 1775, by the said Count Cozio with Antonio's son Paolo Stradivari, cloth merchant, when the former bought of the latter all the remaining Violins, the forms, the patterns, moulds, and drawings of the said celebrated Antonio, as well as those of the Amatis, with which he enriched his collection." In an article published in the " Gazzetta Piedmontese," October, 1881, upon the occasion of the exhibition, at Milan, of the relics of the shop of Stradivari, the writer gives the following account of the negotiations :—" Count Cozio, a great patron, intimate with the greatest artists of the period, especially with Rolla, purchased, through the instrumentality of the firm of merchants, Anselmi and Briata, from Paolo and Antonio junior, respectively son and nephew of Antonio Stradivari, in 1776, all the tools, drawings, labels, &c., which had been used by the celebrated Violin-maker, and his heirs, who were desirous that nothing belonging to him should remain in his native town, as it is inferred from a curious document."* It is certain, however, that Lancetti received his information from the Count himself, and negociations were certainly carried on between Paolo and the Count, either directly or through his agents, Anselmi and Briata. The contents of the letters of Paolo and Antonio Stradivari junior which the Marquis Dalla Valle has placed at my disposal, serves to explain the two different accounts above given. We find that the Count had two distinct transactions, directly or indirectly, with the family of Stradivari. In 1775 he purchased the ten instruments made by Antonio which remained out of ninety-one (complete and partly finished) left by the maker at the time of his death in 1737. The payment in connection with this transaction was arranged by the banker Carlo Carli, which .'gave rise to the inventory upon which M. Fetis based his statement as to the age of Stradivari. In the month of May, 1776, negotiations were entered upon with Paolo Stradivari, relative to the tools, which led to their being sold. During their progress Paolo died, October, 1776, and the business was left for his son Antonio to complete in December, 1776. The copies of the letters written by Paolo and Antonio Stradivari are given at the end of this notice, and the chief part of the matter therein is referred to in the Section, " The Violin and its Votaries." The next period to be noticed relative to the work of Stradivari is that dating from 1686 to 1694. We here observe a marked advance in every particular. The form is flatter, the arching differently treated. The sound-hole, which is a masterpiece of gracefulness, reclines more. The curves of the middle bouts are more extended than in this maker's’ later instruments. The corners are brought out, though not prominently so. Here, too, we notice the change in the formation of the scroll. He suddenly leaves the form that he had hitherto imitated, and follows the dictates of his own fancy. The result is bold and striking, and foreshadows much of the character belonging to the bodies of the instruments of his latter period, and though it may seem daring and presumptuous criticism, I have often been impressed with the idea that these scrolls would have been more in harmony with his later
Author: Henri Poidras
The celebrated and greatest master of violin making. Pupil of Niccolo Amati whom he copied for a few years. (There exist violins signed by or attri buted to Amati which were made by Stradivarius). The instruments of this first period are the Amati-ised, Amati-like, also known as Amati-Strads. [We have an example which was] one of the finest specimens of this period, dated 1668. This violin comes from the collection of the famous violinist Niccolo Paganini, was sold by his son, the Baron Achille Paganini to J.-B. Vuillaume, then became the property of an amateur at Amiens, M. Desaint, who sold it to the Maison Gand where it was bought by M. Levers, the well informed and well-known collector. He in his turn transferred it to a young Russian, a victim of the Revolution, and this beautiful instrument must have shared the same fate. Towards the year 1676,, Stradivarius created the model referred to as " longuet " or longish, that is to say these instruments gain in length what they lose in width. One feels that he is gradually freeing himself from his master's model in order to perfect his own but it was actually in 1690 that the great model was made and never ceased to be improved upon until the year 1700, after with it was definitely adopted. Towards the year 1725, the workmanship is not so light, age beginning to affect the master's faculties. Nevertheless, the instruments of this period, the last, have the great quality of being stronger in wood which, at times, causes them to be superior, in tone. It will be noticed that the violins of the latter period, those of the last ten years of his life, have their backs of a lighter shade than their bellies. The violin recently sold by auction at the Hotel Druot was the property of the celebrated conductor Lamoureux, whose Society of Concerts bears his name, and belongs to the category constituting the latter manner. This instrument has been acquired by MM. Maucotcl and Deschamps, violin makers in the Rue de Rome, for the trifling sum of 103,000 francs. With the exception of his first models, Stradivarius always used magnificent woods. As to the varnish, the quality of its composition is only superseded by the beauty of the colouring, which varies from light red to brown- red according to the number of coats. It is hardly possible to describe the art and gracefulness of which his scrolls are the expression, an intricate point over which the cleverest of copyists has always failed. Scattered all over the world there must be about four hundred Stradivarius instruments, including those made by his sons. Considering this small number and the thousands of copies that have been made for over a century, some having no resemblance whatever but bearing the label, it is not surprising that a violin which has belonged to a family for a number of years is believed by the present owners to be a genuine Stradivarius. Stradivarius came from a very ancient and noble family, bearing a coat of arms. Little is known of the private life of this grand maker except that he was tall and played the violin fairly well, an advantage which must have been a great asset in his research. He died on the 18th December, 1737, leaving about eighty instruments, which his sons finished. It is to Viotti, the celebrated violinist, that must be ascribed the honour of having made the master's works known to the amateurs and to the Paris makers towards the year 1796, as most of them were ignorant of their existence, knowing only Stainer and Amati. This explains the arched style of the violins of the XVIIth century Parisian School. Fortunately, Nicolas Lupot, who established himself at this period, paid homage to the genius of Stradivarius and prompted by his model, founded the fine French School. The 'cellos by Stradivarius are of two patterns: small and large. The one of normal size, at least 750mm, and the other much larger.
Author: Karel Jalovec
Cremona. Born 1644, died Dec 18, 1737. He was the son of Alessandro Stradivari (b. Jan. 15, 1602) and Anna, b. Moroni. The name of his forefathers was originally Stradiverti or Stradiverdi. They were a patrician family which had resided in Cremona for a long time (as early as 1127 a Stradiverdi is being mentioned as a "senator patriae" ). Stradivari also had several lawyers among his ancestors. The year of his birth (1644) has been determined on the basis of his own assertion: into a violin of 1737 he inscribed the words "d'anni 93", i. e., at the age of 93 years. Stradivari married for the first time, on July 4, 1667, Francesca Ferraboschi, b. in 1640, who brought into this marriage a four- year-old daughter (the father's name was Capra). By Stradivari she had four sons and two daughters (Francesco, b. Feb. 6, 1670, d. Feb. 12, 1670; Francesco, b. Feb. 1, 1671, d. May 11, 1743, a viohin-maker; Alessandro, b. May 25, 1677, d. Jan. 26, 1732 a priest; Omobono, b. Nov. 14, 1679, d. Apr. 8, 1742, allegedly also a violin maker; Giulia Maria, b. Dec. 23, 1667, who married, on Dec. 21, 1688, the notary public Giov. Angelo Farina and d. Aug.7, 1707; Catarina, b. Feb. 18, 1674, who remained single and d. June 17, 1748). Stradivari's first wife died on May 25, 1698. On Aug. 24, 1699 he entered into a second marriage with Antonietta Zambelli, by whom he had five children (Giov. Battista Giuseppe, b. Nov. 6. 1701, d. 1702; Giov. Batt. Martino, b. Nov. 11, 1703, d. Nov. 1, 1727; Giuseppe, b. Oc. 27, 1704, d. Dec. 2, 1781, as priest; Paolo, b. Jan. 26, 1708, a merchant, d. Oct. 17, 1776; and Francesca, b. Jan. 17, 1700, who died unmarried on Feb. 11, 1720). Descendants of A.Stradivari live in North Italy to this day. The master's likeness has been preserved only on a miniature painted by Gialidini in 1691; a verbal description was given by the violin virtuoso Folledro in Turin (1781 — 1853) who alleged that his old teacher, who had known Stradivari personally, had described him as a tall lean man who used to wear a white woollen cap and, when working, a white leather apron. In 1680, he bought off the brothers Picenardi, for 7000 lire imperiale, a house in St. Domenico Square, now Piazza Roma No 1, which was destroyed in 1889. Stradivari was buried in the Rosary Chapel of St. Domenico's Church at Cremona, where he had bought a family vault as early as in 1729. His tombstone can be seen in the town hall of Cremona. Much information on Stradivari has been drawn from the labels contained in his instruments, from some notes which Stradivari wrote about himself, further from the valuable memoirs taken down by count Cozio di Salabue (1755—1840) and marquis Orlando della Valle, both of them well known collectors. The works created by him in the years — 1670 provide evidence that he was a pupil of Nic. Amati and that he left Amati at that time. The Paris violin maker Francis Chanot had an autograph of Stradivari reading as follows: "Made at the age of 13 years in the workshop of Nicola Amati." He is alleged to have become Amati's pupil when only eleven years old. Stradivari's diligence is proved by the number of instruments he made. His ingenuity is evident in each and every genuine specimen. His instruments were in high favour already during Stradivari's lifetime. No wonder that Stradivari was overwhelmed with orders from the middle-classes, noblemen and even from reigning families throughout Europe. Violins were sold by him at 4 louis-d'or apiece at the lowest. In this way be acquired considerable wealth, so that the saying "as rich as Stradivari" became current at Cremona. Stradivari's invention in drawing is borne out by the various ornaments on some instruments, (e. g. the Hellier and Greffuhle violins), and by the remarkable collection of drawings of emblazonry for the Grand Duke of Medici, of the year 1690 in the Regio Instituto Musicale in Florence, which bear Stradivari's inscription reading as follows: "Armi che ho fatto per li istrumenti per il Gran Principe di Toscana" (Coat-of arms I have made for the instruments of the Grand Duke of Toscana). Further drawings are preserved in the Dalla Valle collection. Unique is the decoration which adorns the sides and scroll of the above-mentioned Hellier violin built in 1679. His firm and steady hand is proved also by a peculiarity of his, a fine black line, thin as a hair, which is drawn along the salient parts of the scroll and the joints of the sides. This line has almost disappeared since it was drawn in exposed places, but on close examination traces can still be discovered, especially where the sides are glued together. The number of instruments built by Stradivari during his lifetime is estimated at no less than 3,000 violins. Nowadays there survive about 540 violins, 12 violas of large pattern which are, for the most part, excellent, but do not differ so much as the violins. About 50 'cellos are known, in two sizes. The backs of the older 'cellos and contrabasses are of poplar wood. Preserved are also 5 contrabasses, one guitar, one viola da gamba, one bass-viol, one pandurina, 3 mandolins, one zither, one pochette. Some of the instruments built by Stradivari, in 1687, for the royal court of Spain (6 violins, 2 violas and a 'cello still exist in various states of preservation) have also beautiful tarsia adornments. Stradivari chose for his instruments a peculiar kind of pine wood which he split in a manner of his own so as to obtain an excellent resonance. Maplewood was worked by him in a similar way. Pine, although very light, is tough and not only easy to split, but also easy to peel. The wood was probably taken from a particular group of trees. Stradivari did repairing work, too; this is proved by a label contained in a viola: Corretto da me Antonio Stradivari.
Anssi Karttunen (cello), Nicolas Hodges (piano) Birmingham Contemporary Music Group / Oliver KnussenChapel of King’s College, Cambridge, 8 November 2014 ★★★★☆ ‘Beethoven never does what you expect him to’, remarked Sir Harrison Birtwistle after Anssi Karttunen and Nicholas Hodges had played the Cello Sonata Op.102 No.1. It made a fitting climax to the lunchtime recital on the...