S is for Stradivari

S is for Stradivari

Antonio Stradivari (1644—December 18, 1737) was an Italian luthier, a crafter of string instruments. He is considered the greatest artisan in this field. The Latinized form of his surname, Stradivarius, as well as the colloquial “Strad” are terms often used to refer to his instruments. Scholars estimate that Antonio produced 1,116 instruments, of which 960 were violins. It is estimated that around 650 of these instruments survive.


Antonio Stradivari by Edgar Bundy

It is believed that Stradivari was a student of Nicola Amati, apprenticed from 1656–58, and produced his first decent instruments in 1660, at the age of 16. His first labels were printed from 1660 to 1665, indicating that his work had sufficient quality to be offered directly to his patrons. However, he stayed in Amati’s workshop until about 1684, using his master’s reputation as a launching point for his career.


Cremona, Italy, where Stradivari was born.

In the early 1690s, Stradivari made a pronounced departure from his earlier style of instrument-making, changing two key elements of his instruments. First, he began to make violins with a larger pattern than previous instruments; these larger violins usually are known as “Long Strads”. He also switched to using a darker, richer varnish, as opposed to a yellower varnish similar to that used by Amati. He continued to use this pattern until 1698, with few exceptions. After 1698, he abandoned the Long Strad model and returned to a slightly shorter model, which he used until his death. The period from 1700 until the 1720s is often termed the “golden period” of his production. Instruments made during this time are usually considered of a higher quality than his earlier instruments.

Husky 214px-Stradivarius_violin_front

Stradivarius violin, photo by Husky

Stradivari’s instruments are regarded as amongst the finest bowed stringed instruments ever created, are highly prized, and are still played by professionals today.

Click here to listen to videos of world-class performers, such as Anne-Sophie Mutter, Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, and Yo Yo Ma, playing Stradivarius instruments.

The Vienna Philharmonic uses several Stradivari instruments that were purchased by the National Bank of Austria and other sponsors.

Information for this article came from Wikipedia.



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