Antonio Stradivari: The Master's Violin-Making Career


Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737), has long been recognized as one of the greatest violin-makers in the world. The violins he made and designed have been imitated and copied by countless violin makers. Until now, his violins have become the industry standard, known together with Guarneri's violins. Let's take a look at the details of the master and violin making.

Fiddlover 11.1 Antonio Stradivari, by Edgar Bundy, 1893 a romanticized image of a craftsman-hero

Apprentice to Nicola Amati

The founder of the Italian Cremona violin-making school is Andrea Amati. His descendants and apprentices trained by family members are all famous violin-making masters. Nicola Amati (1596-1684) inherited and carried forward the techniques of his ancestors and gained a higher prestige. His first apprentice, Francesco Ruger, born in Cremona in 1602, entered Amati's factory in 1630-1632. A few years later, in 1636, the young Andrea Guarneri became Amati's apprentice, and in 1641 Nicola family registered the name of Andrea Guarneri. Andrea Guarneri is considered the true heir of Amati and often used the label "Alumnus Nicolai Amati." However, Antonio Stradivari rarely used such labels. According to research, he mentioned Amati only on one label in 1666, and after 1667, he never mentioned it again. He may have started his apprenticeship in violin-making between 1656 and 1658.

Early employment career

Antonio Stradivari did not leave Amati's factory after his studies but was employed by Amati until Amati died in 1684 at the age of 88.

Anyone's success is inseparable from persistent efforts, and Antonio Stradivari is no different. He is not a shining genius, his success is inseparable from constant research and exploration, and his employment career has accumulated a lot of experience in violin making. When he first started making pianos, due to his lack of fame and experience, there were few orders for fine musical instruments. Therefore, it is rare to see his early works. During this period, he kept on trying and experimenting, and always insisted on his ideas. Although some ideas turned out to be wrong later, this did not affect his accumulation of valuable experience in continuous time and exploration, which also Laid the foundation for later forming his style.

The changing style of making violin 

The size he originally used was the small size violin commonly used by Amati between 1660 and 1670, with only minor changes. The sound of this violin style is bright and correspondingly fast, but the volume is relatively low. Between 1670 and 1680, this period was the beginning of the formation of his style. The lines of the violins made at this stage were rough and seldom smooth. By 1680, he had already gained some fame, and until the death of his teacher in 1684, he quickly understood his value. In 1684, he established his violin workshop (later moved to Piazza 1 in Rome, where he lived all his life). From 1684 to 1685, during this year, the size of the violins he made increased, and the sides were thickened and wider. This feature can be found in violins made between 1683 and 1689.

The year 1690 was the most significant year of his career, marking a complete revolution in shape, structure, and size, creating the "Long Strads". The sound of this violin is full and deep and has a large volume potential, but the sound is dull, and the longer scale length also increases the difficulty of playing.

In 1691-1692, several extra-large violins were made, which were not only long and wide but also raised the side panels and approached the size of the small Maggini violins. But in 1692-1695 it returned to its original width, and it is clear that he was constantly exploring and innovating the shape and size of the violin. Until 1698, he was making long violins almost all the time. But the long violin was never seen again after that, but its width was preserved and the length returned to its pre-1690 dimensions (i.e. Amati 1640-1650 violin shape). Since 1703, he has gradually started to get rid of Amati's influence, formed his unique style characteristics, and has been constantly improving and perfecting.

Golden Age: 1700-1725

The year 1700 was the beginning of the Golden Age, and the violins made during this period are considered to be the period of the highest quality of his instruments, at which time he had been making violins for 40 years. He is no longer young, but time takes away the years and leaves behind the valuable experience. Although he is nearly 60 years old, it is amazing that he still has the sharp mind and energy, combined with the experience he has honed over the years, to create beautiful instruments. At the time, he had become the most famous luthier, and no one could be more famous than him. But this only means a new beginning, and the pursuit of art will never stop.

Beginning in 1703, he gradually developed his style. The 1704 violin is marked by a very long violin horn, but this is very rare in later works. Works from 1705-1710 are characterized by a very simple shape and structure, with each part precisely linked. In 1710, when he was 66 years old, the violin he made was still simple and standard, but wider and more textured than before. Years will still have an impact on Stradivari, although he has good talent and a lot of experience, he can't avoid starting to decline. His work shows his inability to work on processes that require meticulous polishing, although these changes are only very subtle. Surprisingly, his age is directly proportional to the number of his works, the higher the age, the higher the number of works. He made more violins in the 10 years 1710-1720 than in any other 10 years before, and in 1715 he made the "Alard". The outstanding "Messie" was made in 1716. Between 1720 and 1725, as he grew older, he increasingly needed the help of his apprentices to complete his work, but he kept on producing.

The last creative time

Between 1725 and 1730, he was still working diligently, but it is clear that his work has become very small in number and the technique has become unstable, often not very standard, but there is no doubt that his work is still sought after.

Between 1730 and 1736, his state had become more and more difficult to maintain so there were some flaws in the works at this stage, but for him, the craftsmanship had been imprinted in his heart.

Throughout his life, Antonio Stradivari has been making art with diligence and talent and has never stopped.

On December 18, 1737, Antonio Stradivari died at the age of 93.

Antonio Stradivari's influence on later generations

There is no doubt that Antonio Stradivari is a real master, his violin style has provided the standard of violin making for later generations, and it has become the most common type of violin, which is why people know him very well.

During his lifetime, he is estimated to have composed 1,116 musical instruments, 960 of which were violins. Of these instruments, approximately 650 have survived, including 450-512 violins. Antonio Stradivari's violins, each worth at least millions of dollars, are extremely expensive.

As a manufacturer with 30 years of experience in making violins, Fiddlover has been insisting on learning from Antonio Stradivari, working hard to make its products, and providing violin lovers with cheap and exquisite instruments.

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