Stradivarius – Why so special?

Italian luthier, or maker of string instruments, Antonio Stradivari crafted an estimated 1,116 string instruments throughout his life in the 16-1700s. Antonio, hailing from Cremona, is thought to have apprenticed under master luthier Nicola Amata. His apprenticeship would have had him producing his first quality instruments around 1660, at just 16 years old. It is likely that Stradivari may have also studied woodworking, as some of his later instruments are elaborately decorated. Antonio produced a variety of beautiful instruments including violins, violas, harps, cellos, guitars, and other string instruments.

The reputation of a Stradivarius instrument is widespread, with the quality of their sound believed to defy attempts to explain or equal it. Stradivarius instruments are quite valuable, and have been valued up to $45 million. Interestingly, blind experiments and acoustic analysis have not substantiated differences in sound quality from comparable styles of violins. Regardless, many assert that Stradivarius are uniquely superb, attributing this thought to different theories ranging from wood salvaged from old cathedrals, to preservatives contributing to especially resonant qualities.

Special efforts are being made to preserve these reputable instruments before they are lost forever. In Antonio’s hometown of Cremona, the entire city is hushed while sound engineers diligently record every note able to be produced by the Strad instruments in the collection at Museo del Violino.

Approximately 650 original Stradivarius have been preserved, with only about 250 in circulation. Of these, 3 prized Stradivarius violins will be toured in Philharmonie de Paris’ exhibition, Stradivarius: From Excellence to LegendClick here to listen to recordings of Stradivarius instruments.

Photo: Claude Germain, photographer

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