17 December 2013
The Glorious Stradivari Revolution
Antonio Stradivari, a man known by many as on of the greatest luthiers of all time. The question at hand is why? From as early as the early 1700’s Stradivari was well known in the music world and still is. His instruments are reproduced in order to fool consumers into buying an instrument that has the same design as a Strad. There are also luthiers that try to replicate Stradivari’s beautiful design for their own satisfaction. Antonio Stradivari’s instruments have become socially and technically popular over time due to his superior craftsmanship, and for others, its large price tag. Stradivari’s life, affecting how his instruments were made, changed the perception of his instruments technically and socially.
Antonio Stradivari was born in Bergamo Italy 1644. In his youth he lived in Cremona Italy, where he became the apprentice of Nicolo Amati. He had married twice, once in 1667 with a woman named Francesca, whom he had six children with. His first son only lived for six days. The rest later became priests, and apprentices of their father. Francesca then died in 1698. Soon after Stradivari remarried in 1699 to a woman named Antonia. Antonia and Stradivari had four children. Two of which had died. Stradivari bought a home in Piazza Roma; this is where Stradivari carried out his work as a luthier, with his sons at his side as apprentices. In 1737 Stradivari had died and was buried in the church of San Domenico in Cremona where his family had originated.
A luthier is defined as a creator and maker of stringed instruments. Stradivari’s main focus was perfecting violins, but would often branch into violas and cellos which are much more rare to find today. Through his life as a luthier he slowly began perfecting his craft. It all starts with a person named Nicolo Amati. Amati lived in Cremona just as Stradivari did. When Stradivari was a young boy at around the age of 12 to 14 he began as an apprentice to Amati. He created his first instrument in 1666 with only small resemblances to Amati’s violins.
His scrolls exhibit lines of the Amati, but he added a sort of robustness to the feminine gracefulness. How fine for instance is the semi-circular termination at the lower peg box? He was the inceptor of the slanting soundholes which influence the formation and free emission of sonorous tone. The Amati soundholes are ‘set straight’ and to a certain extent cause a loss of tone…(Henley ch. 1, 15)
Even as an apprentice he had begun changing the standard of the Amati violin, whose bar was set very high.
Stradivari’s life as a luthier can be split into four different periods. The Amati, Experimental, Golden, and Decline. The Amati period, 1666-1699, was a period of time when he was under the apprenticeship of Nicolo Amati. Although the period is called the Amati period, his instruments then did not resemble much of Nicolo’s work. ...