Cremona Italy-The Rise And Fall Of The Violin Hometown


The violin is a product of the Renaissance, reached its peak in the Baroque period, and has been handed down to this day. Although the structure of the violin is close to perfection, we can still observe that in different social, economic, and cultural backgrounds, the violin will still undergo subtle changes, and the differences in the craftsmanship and material selection of luthiers will gradually produce differences.

Cremona from Classical to Late

It is generally believed that in the mid-18th century, Cremona's fine tradition of violin-making came to an abrupt end. According to history, the decline of Cremona violin craftsmanship coincided with the death of Carlo Bergonzi (1747), and most of the literature avoids discussing the changes in the violin after 1747, and after careful observation of the Cremona author after Carlo Bergonzi and the ample biographical material at hand, the author believes that gradual decline is more plausible than abrupt end. Taking 1747 as the beginning of this series of declines, here is an overview of the last 10-15 years of the Golden Age of Cremona violin-making so that we can fully understand the Golden Age of Cremona violin making How it ended, we will find out that the decline of Cremona's late violin craftsmanship can already be seen as early as 1747.

Although Cremona craftsmanship reached its zenith at the beginning of the 18th century (by Andera Amati), the death of the three masters of the Golden Era (Antonio Stradivari in 1737, Guarneri del Gesu in 1744 and Carlo Bergonzi in 1747) made it difficult to Imagine how subsequent authors have maintained Cremona's 200-year-old violin making craftsmanship.

Many of the late works of Hyronimus II Amati, Antonio Stradivari, Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu, and Carlo Bergonzi are not perfect, compared with the prototypes made by the Amati family in the 16th and 17th centuries, they are slightly inferior in appearance and performance, especially Works by the studio of Nicola Amati and masterpieces by Antonio Stradivari. So far we can say that these minor imperfections do not prevent the late works of these masters from being regarded as equal to or even better than the works of their youth, not to mention that the late works of these masters have more Heyday works that have higher evaluations.

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Looking further into the source of the decline, let's look at the work of Antonio Stradivari's studio during the last year, the works of Antonio's sons Francesco and Omobono Stradivari, especially after the death of their illustrious father.

When Cremona lost the master Antonio Stradivari in 1737, his sons Francesco and Omobono Stradivariu, aged 66 and 58 respectively, invested their youth in assisting Antonio, and after 1737 they owned even Nobles would be jealous of the huge wealth, but they still work tirelessly. Francesco and Omobono didn't have any pressure at the time to force them to work, but they may have relied on their prominent family background and superior position to further accumulate their wealth through the sale of violins, but they did not (or could not) Improve the artistic value of works.

The violins made by the brothers Francesco and Omobono after Antonio's death are extremely rare, especially those made by Francesco, whose craftsmanship and materials (with a few exceptions) are a step backward compared to their father's heyday. Among Antonio's late works, it is not difficult to find some excellent works by Francesco and Omobono (their craftsmanship can be found even in the early works), even if there is some controversy about whether the two brothers knew the formula of their father's paint, But they didn't bother to replicate its preparation process or follow the steps to paint onto their work (with rare exceptions).

In 1743, Francesco, the last luthier of the Stradivari family, died, and only Guarneri del Gesu and Carlo Bergonzi remained in Cremona. Bergonzi and Guarneri were the authors of the same period, but unfortunately, by himself, Hand-made works are few and far between, and despite his talent, he never enjoyed the autonomy of the rest of Cremona's elite family of violinmakers. Although Bergonzi was already a luthier around 1690, the first violins labeled by Bergonzi himself did not appear until around 1730, and his work dwindled rapidly in the year of his death, with Bergonzi's last work (made in or before 1744) ), it can already be seen that his son (Michele Angelo), compared with his father, has regressed in the craftsmanship of the violin.

When Carlo died, his son Michele Angelo was 25 years old, and he was alone on the mission to continue the traditional craftsmanship of Cremona. But unfortunately, he died young and has no designated heir. In the ten years after his father's death, the demand for new instruments in Cremona decreased, and the authors of the same period in other Italian cities - Pietro Guarneri, Santo Serafin, G..B. Guadagnini, Camillo Camilli, Tommaso Balestrieri and some Members of the Gagliano family - showing their ability to outperform Michele Angelo. Scattered local demand and poor craftsmanship annoyed Cremona luthiers, and the Cremona luthier industry gradually declined.

Inevitably, a new standard of craftsmanship slowly took shape, the so-called late Cremona style, referring to the works of those Cremona luthiers from 1775-1880, basically, this period was characterized by a simplified, The less rigorous production and the use of unsightly but easy-drying alcohol paint (often used), the different colors and structures make Cremona's works of this period very different from those of the past, the quality of the wood It has also dropped significantly compared to before. Therefore, the authors of this period were unable to meet the past standards of refinement in terms of the performance of their craftsmanship and the paint they used. In any case, we can still see in these works the admirable parts of Italian work - character, strength, and beauty. The market at the time-shifted the direction of the late Cremona works, so both were to blame for the decline, which encouraged us to study these luthiers, appreciate them and try to understand how they contributed to modern Italy The violin school paved the way.

Instruments made by the families of A. Stradivari, Amati, and Guarneri, before Lorenzo Storioni (after Carlo Bergonzi, a creative and probably the most famous Cremona luthier of the time), gradually from Cremo Na disappeared. Paolo Stradivari (1708-1775, the eldest son of Antonio Stradivari's second marriage), 1743 inherited nearly a hundred instruments made by his father and brother, and in 1775 (the year of Paolo Stradivari's death), he would have about ten Pieces, mostly of Antonios's later years (but including the famous violin "Messia" and some of his brother's), was sold to Count Cozio di Salabue, together with the tools and production methods of the studio. Although the Stradivari family came to an end in Cremona after 1775, the tools and methods of making these were originally loaned to the Bergonzi family (tenants at the Stradivari house from 1745-1758) by Antonio II Stradivari in 1776 It was taken back around 2000 and handed over to Cozio in Piedmont.

As far as traditional Italian violin making is concerned, it can only be passed down through the form of apprenticeship, and the relationship between master and apprentice is usually father and son. Every luthier develops a unique style and technique, and while these personal styles or techniques are inseparable from the master, they are never the same. Zosimo Bergonzi (Michele Angelo's brother, Nicola and Carlo II's father), according to recent discoveries, does make violins, but whether he has opened a studio (which may affect his son and Storioni) remains unclear. There is no information that Storioni's father was also a luthier, neither Storioni nor N. Bergonzi can confirm this.

To be sure, Storioni, Nicola, and Carlo II Bergonzi have a few more opportunities to approach Paolo Stradivari's violin collection, so their work can be seen as continuing the tradition of the Stradivari studio. Guarneri del Gesu, another relatively obscure master luthier in Cremona, whose work has qualities that can inspire young luthiers, some masterpieces, and instruments of Carlo, Michele Angelo Bergonzi, and Stradivari's instruments Come has a better chance of staying in Cremona, so we can guess that in their early work, Storioni and Nicola Bergonzi tried to find their principles among the different influences, but unfortunately, there was no Its predecessors of the Baroque period, to ensure the artistic achievement of its works.

Traces of Storioni's work can already be seen in the late 1760s and early 1770s, while works by Nicola Bergonzi and her brother Carlo II Bergonzi appeared almost a decade later. Storioni, later assisted by apprentice Giovanni Rota, can be seen as a major force in setting a new paradigm in Cremona violin-making, in contrast to the Bergonzi's violin-making family, a conservative halfway between family tradition and Storioni.

By the turn of the 19th century, Storioni and the last member of the Bergonzi family had retired from violin making, despite the deaths of brothers Nicola and Carlo II around 1830. But since the late 1790s, the two brothers did not contribute much to the violin-making industry at that time. This state is reminiscent of the decline of Cremona at the beginning, floating for more than half a century until the emergence of Giovanni Battista Ceruti - the pioneer who opened a new era for the Cremona violin industry.

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Cremona from late to modern

Although Giovanni Battista Ceruti started as a follower of Storioni and the Bergonzi brothers, breaking through his style of relying on Storioni, by maintaining and repairing the works of the Cremona masters, he created a new face of the Cremona piano industry, This is the beginning of what we call the modern Cremona. His achievements transcended his short career and he became a more creative luthier than the Bergonzi brothers and Rota, passing on his knowledge to his son Giuseppe Antonio and grandson Riccardo Fabio (Enrico). Giuseppe spends most of his time working with his father or his son, so his productions are few and far between, while his son Enrico is far more prolific than his father. His compositions are personal and follow the tradition of 18th-century Cremona violin-making.

The dark years in Cremona's history (from the death of G.B. Ceruti in 1817 until the activity of Enrico) may be similar to the period between the death of Michele Angelo Bergonzi and the activity of Storioni and Nicola Bergonzi in 1817, although Giuseppe Ceruti in 1817 -In 1840, musical instruments were produced, but very few have been passed down to the present. The Cerruti family gradually influenced Gaetano Antoniazzi (who moved to Milan in 1870). In 1900, Gaetano's sons Riccardo and Romeo and their apprentice Leandro Bisiach built Milan into the center of Italian violin making.

In the 19th century, the Ceruti family made a great contribution to the Italian violin industry. At that time, only G.F. Pressenda (1777-1854) in Doolin, Italy, and his apprentice Giuseppe Rocca (1807-1865) could compete with it. Their prototype and inspiration came from The authors of the late Piedmontese, ironically, the works of the average Dühring luthier, retain the character of the old Cremona violin, but decide to use a style different from the Cremona in the fine works. As a result of this decision, the legacy of Storioni, the Bergonzi family, and G..B. Ceruti, the classical and romantic art of violin making in Cremona, with the death of Enrico Ceruti in 1883, more or less came to an end in Cremona.

In fact, there are still good works in Cremona at the same time as Enrico Ceruti or after it, unfortunately, these works are less, less inconsistent, or too commercial in comparison.

Pietro Grulli (1831-1898 contemporaneous with Enrico Ceruti), inspired by the models of Storioni and Ceruit, Giuseppe Beltrami has produced some fine works.

The studio of Aristide Cavalli (1856-1931), handed over to his son (Lelio, 1883-1956), opened until about 1930, employing a number of local luthiers Romedio Muncher, Pietro Fontanini, Luigi Digiuni, and Carlo Schiavi, according to Ceruti's The model made many student violins.

In 1937, on the 200th anniversary of Stradivari's death, the desire to bring all the outstanding violin craftsmanship back to his birthplace led to the creation of the International Academy of Violin Making in Cremona. As a result, the violin industry has been revived, and it has prospered since the mid-20th century. The Academy's teaching focused only on the models of Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu, ignoring the evolution of craftsmanship over the two centuries, and the later Cremona luthiers were therefore left out.

The violin-making process has become more and more mature with the evolution of time. At present, in addition to the traditional Italian violin production base, China has also become a very important violin production base. At present, 70% of the world's violins are produced in China every year, and Chinese violins are gradually entering the world.Fiddlover violin also originated in China and provides high quality and cheap violins for every violin lover.

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