Last week marked the 283rd anniversary of the death of legendary luthier, Antonio Stradivari. Stradivari, who is considered to be one of the most illustrious violin craftsmen of all time, produced over 1100 instruments. In this article, we explore who was Antonio Stradivari and what is so special about his Stradivarius violins.

Who was He?

Antonio Stradivari was born in 1644 in the city of Cremona, Italy. Cremona had already well established as the city of violin makers, with other famous luthiers such as Andreas Amati residing there. Stradivari’s family had all been involved in the craft of violin making and unsurprisingly by the age of 12, he started learning the art through an apprenticeship with Andreas Amati. By 1666, Stradivari began to produce violins independently however created violins of a very similar design to those of his teacher.

However, later on in his life, Stradivari really started to experiment with dimensions as well as types of varnish on the surface of his violins. Although the varnish might seem to be quite insignificant, it is extremely important to the tone of an instrument. By 1684, Stradivari became renown as the finest violin maker in Cremona.

Between 1700 and 1720 was the greatest part of the violin craftsman’s life, being branded the Golden era, when some of his finest instruments were produced. He used only the finest of maple wood to craft his instruments, and also developed the famous golden brown varnish which is now a trademark feature of his instruments

Stradivarius continued to make instruments in his workshop in Cremona until 1732, when he passed away.

What is so unique about Stradivarius violins:

Many violinists consider that the reason his violins are so special is the superior tone they produce which is heralded as the most stunning and pure sound a violin can make. It is for this reason that many famous violinists such as Itzhak Perlman, who has won 24 Grammy Awards, chooses to use a Stradivarius violin.

 His legacy:

Many would say that Antonio Stradivari revolutionised the violin, not only changing the design or tone of it but almost giving birth to a new instrument, one which would dramatically alter how music could be played.