Cremona School

The birth of the Cremona school is profoundly influential to the development of the violin making world, especially with regarding the heritage and education of string instruments. During the Renaissance, a great increase in commercial activities led to an increase in the sales and trading of violins, thus fostering the development of various schools of violin making. It was common for the craft to be passed from father to son or passed from generation to generation within a family. The Cremona school originated in the 1520s, which according to legends began when the luthier Giovanni Leonardo da Martinengo and his apprentice Andrea Amati (c. 1505-1577) moved from Brescia to Cremona and set up their workshop there. This was the beginning of Cremona’s glorious violin making dynasty. The wars and plagues of the early 17th century brought serious damage to the development of the Cremona violin making industry, but Niccolo Amati helped Cremona regain its former glory and also helped nurture a number of important luthiers in the process, such as Francesco Ruggieri (c. 1620-1698) and Giovanni Battista Ruggeri (1653-1711), both of whom became greatly influential in the Cremona school’s future development.

After the death of the master luthier Giovanni Paolo Maggini of Brescia, Brescia’s status as the world’s leading violin making center was soon taken over by Cremona. By the middle of the 17th century, the prices of Cremona violins were substantially higher than those made in Brescia. With the passing of the Cremona violin making heritage from luthiers to their pupils, the Cremona school continued to thrive and prosper, until the golden age of Stradivari, when it reached its peak both in terms of reputation and technique, indubitably leading the violin making industries in Italy and the entire world.

Sadly, after the two master luthiers Stradivari and Guarneri passed away, the violin making industry in Cremona began to decline around the 1760s. There were several factors which led to this decline, such as the political and economic conditions in north Italy which continued to remain unstable. The tradition of violin making was thus lost as there was no one to inherit the craft passed down by the famous luthier families. There were too many violins by Amati, Ruggeri, Stravidari floating around in northern Italy which meant consumers were less likely to order new instruments from contemporary luthiers. In addition, due to the influence of Mittenwald’s enterprise management of the violin manufacturing industry, Italy’s tradition of handmade string instruments gradually fell into decline.

According to current records, there were only three luthiers left in Cremona by the 1850s: Enrico Ceruti (1806-1883), Pietro Grulli (1831-1898), and Giuseppe Beltrami (1889-1973). They made violins with considerations for profitability and made fewer handmade violins. In 1937, in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the death of Stradivari, the International Violin Making School was founded. The luthier tradition in Cremona was revived once again after the 1950s.

In the beginning of the 19th century, string instrument performers brought out the potential in famous violins made by Stradivari and Guarneri, allowing audiences around the world to appreciate the superiority of these instruments. Violins of the Cremona school came to be valued as antique pieces. With the life experiences of performers fused with the instruments, the exquisite instruments were able to achieve a legendary status in history. By the middle of the 20th century, the craftsmanship and traditional value of instruments became once again appreciated, and the refined handicraft of Italian luthiers was highly adored and sought after. Luthiers everywhere advertised themselves as pupils and followers of the Cremona school of violin making. In 1938, the Italian government established the International Violin Making School. The number of luthier shops increased day by day, and Cremona regained its reputation as the mecca of violin making.

Amati Family

The Cremona school of luthiers still holds an extremely important place in history, but at the time when luthiers first began appearing in the region, there were also many other schools throughout Europe. Unfortunately, most of the schools of luthiers no longer exist. Luthier schools meticulously researched all the raw materials and the quality of wood used in making the instruments as well as the bows. The establishment of the Cremona school of luthiers was highly significant for later generations of luthiers. Since the Renaissance starting in the 14th century, commercial activity was rapidly growing, and the violin trade and the sale of violins was also expanding. The diverse market for violin family instruments included governments, churches as well as commoners, allowing the industry to flourish and thrive. In each school of luthiers, it was common to see entire families or at least fathers passing on the tradition of violin making to posterity. The Armati family of luthiers is second to none.

Andrea Amati was the first of the Amati family to start making violins. He was born in 1505, and by 1525 he was already working as a luthier. In 1538 he opened up his own luthier studio, which represented just the beginning of a family enterprise for the Amati family. By the middle of the 16th century, Andrea had already become a renowned luthier, and after he died his two sons, Antonio Amati (c. 1540-1607) and Girolamo Amati (c. 1550-1630) , continued the family tradition, carrying on the life of this school using the Amati family name. Between 1580 and 1630, it is estimated that the Amati family's violins took up a huge portion of the violin market, and also greatly influenced later luthier schools.

Nicolo Amati (1596-1684) was the son of Girolamo, making him a third-generation luthier in the Amati family continuing the family tradition. In the 1630s, Nicolo was without a doubt the most outstanding luthier teacher at the Cremona school. His pupils included such famous violin makers as Adrea Guarneri, Antonio Stradivari, and Francesco Ruggieri, who all went on to become important masters of modern violin making. Although the Brescia region of Lombardy in northern Italy also produced a lot of competitors in the violin making industry, it was the Amati family’s contribution which gave Cremona a competitive advantage over other regions. Their designs and methods for making instruments are still affirmed by people today.

When Nicolo Amati died in 1684, Girolamo II Amati (1649-1740) took over the family business and carried on the family tradition. However, since there were not very many members of the family that worked as luthiers, and since the making of violins had spread to other areas of Italy such as Milan, Venice, Bologna, Rome and Naples, the family business eventually ceased. With fiercely intense competition, Girolamo II traveled to distant lands in 1697, and moved to Piacenza until he finally returned to Cremona in 1715. From then until he died in 1740, he rarely made any instruments and the Amati family tradition of being a luthier died with him.

Ruggier Family

Being the first luthier in the Ruggeri Family, Francesco Ruggeri has been considered as one of the earliest pupils of Nicolo Amati. His works involved a strong Amatese style, and has been highly praised and valued as almost keep pace with that of Amati today. Francesco had four sons: Giovanni, Giacinto (1661-1697), Vincenzo (1663-1679), and Carlo (1666-1713) in his studio to whom succeeded the workshop after he passed away, but only Vincenzo had achieved the same quality as him.

Guarneri Family

Andrea Guarneri (1623-1698) was the school founder of Guarneri family; who was originally a student of Niccolò Amati (1596-1684) . Guarneri family was considered to be one of the greatest violin makers in the history. Andrea's two sons - Pietro Guarneri (1655-1720) and Giuseppe Guarneri (1666-1740) were also violin makers.

Pietro Guarneri was the eldest son of the master luthier Andrea Guarneri, born in Cremona, Italy, he was established in Mantua, where he worked both as a musician and a violin maker. His instruments were generally finer than his father's. He was also developing himself as a violin and viola player. By 1685 he was accomplished enough to be performing for the Duke of Mantua as a violin soloist and a viola player in the Mantuan Court Orchestra. His musicianship made him unique among the great Italian violin makers of the classical period. People called him "Pietro di Mantova".

Giuseppe Giovanni Battista Guarneri had two sons named Pietro Guarneri and Giuseppe Giovanni Battista Jesus. The eldest son, Pietro Guarneri moved to Venice, and was known as the "Pietro di Venezia" In order to distinguish the same name with his uncle, the second son of Giuseppe named "Jesus” Giovanni (Guarneri del Gesù) . Giuseppe Giovanni Battista Jesus became the most distinguished, outstanding violin maker among the Giovanni family. He was also known as the greatest violin maker in the history.

Stradivari Family

Antonio Stradivari is undoubtedly one of the most well known and greatest luthiers in all of history. His residence and luthier workshop are both still preserved and open to the public to visit and appreciate. A plaque in front of his workshop says that it was because of his meticulous and great art that Cremona is such an unforgettable city.

Stradivari was constantly experimenting with different shapes for the body of his instruments, and eventually he established the highest standards ever sought, which would eventually become the source for numerous imitations and replicas. Stradivari took the form, ratios, varnish and timbre of the violin to its zenith. Among all of his contemporaries, the superior structure and incomparable beauty of his instruments’ timbre were something no other individual was capable of attaining. It was not until the appearance of Giuseppe Guarneri (1698-1744) that someone finally produced violins that could be compared to those of Stradivari. However, Stradivari’s varnish was still of the highest quality, and is considered an extremely successful creation.

His two sons Francesco Stradivari (1671-1743) and Omobono Stradivari (1679-1742) continued the family tradition. Influenced by their father’s pursuit of perfection and discipline, the two brothers also made outstanding instruments, but they are not well known because their father lived to be very old and was so prolific that their achievements are rarely acknowledged. They were never able to share their talent with the world. The two brothers died not long after their father passed away, and the family tradition died with them.

Bergonzi Family

Carlo Bergonzi (1683-1747) was the first and most notable member of the Bergonzi family. He was one of the most famous luthiers in Cremona during the 17th century. Bergonzi is believed to be on equal footing with Joseph Guarneri and Antonio Stradivari. Carlo possibly studied with Joseph Guarneri and Vincenzo Ruggieri, and was one of Stradivari’s last pupils and assistants. Thus, some academics think he was actually Stradivari’s greatest pupil and inheritor and of his tradition. However, his style exhibits characteristics of Guarneri’s instruments more than any other style.

Carlo’s two sons, Michele Angelo Bergonzi (1721-1758) and Zosimo Bergonzi (1724-1773) , followed in the footsteps of their father and carried on the family tradition to become luthiers. Zosimo’s two sons, Ncola Bergonzi (1754-1832) and Carlo II Bergonzi (1757-1836) were both eventually in charge of the family enterprise.

Ceruti Family

G. B. Ceruti was the founder of the family and has been long considered as a student of Storioni. According to the research, he had been taught by Nicola Bergonzi and Carlo II Bergonzi in his early years. G. B. had also been viewed as a chief of Cremonese luthiers in the early 19th century. He reestablished the Cremonese violin-making traditions and, further more, made the Ceruti family being capable to lead the Cremonese School for more than three generations.

Being a son of G. B., Giuseppe Ceruti (1785-1860) was also a luthier, but his works were extremely rare. Giuseppe Ceruti’s son, Enrico Ceruti (1806-1883), was an excellent luthier who made a great amount of works; some of them had even been praised as the finest works in the 19th century. Enrico possessed high reputation internationally, and has been estimated as one of the top-five luthiers in the 19th century.

Pierto Guarneri of Mantua, 1655-1720

Pietro Guarneri was born in 1695 in Cremona and died in 1762 in Venice. He was the son of Giuseppe Guarneri, and he was known as the “Peter of Venice.” In the 1710s, since the Cremona economy was not doing well, Pietro decided to leave his hometown and stayed in Mantua for a little while until finally moving to Venice in December of 1717, when he worked together with Carlo Tononi at Matteo II Sellas’ workshop. After 1733, he began working on his own at home making instruments, but did not have his own shop. His contemporary luthiers in Venice included Matteo Goffriller, Domenica Montagnana, and Carlo Tononi. Pietro found a thriving musical environment in Venice, and soon used his background to develop his career. He married M. Aniola Maria in 1728, and Matteo II Sellas was the godfather of his children.

Guarneri’s earliest instrument label is from 1730, and nothing is known about the instruments he made before that. The year 1740 was his most prosperous year, not only did he surpass his competitors, he was on par with contemporary luthier masters such as Domenico Montagnana (1686-1750) and Santo Serafin (1699-1758) , meeting the highest of standards. However, his work began to diminish after 1750.

Guarneri combined his father’s style with the Venetian school’s style, which made his instruments unique and intriguing. Among the main features of his instruments is the back of the instrument where the end pin is located, which was a tradition of the Cremona school’s Amati and Guarneri families. His instruments’ bodies were relatively flat and wide with gorgeous f-holes which were also wider than usual. The purfling and edges of the instruments were quite elegant. The scrolls were very wide with visibly clear marks where the chisel had cut it.

(Giovanni Maria del Bussetto, 1640-1681)

凡尼‧馬利‧德‧布塞托 (Giovanni Maria del Bussetto, 1640-1681)是十七世紀優秀的製琴師,約於1670年至1680年間活躍於克里蒙納 (Cremona),也可能活躍於布雷西亞(Brescia)一地。在當今展示的義大利名琴中,甚少看見由布賽托製作的琴,這是因為目前可確認為布賽托製作的提琴,數量相當稀少。不過提琴品質相當精美優良。

因此,有關布賽托提琴風格、特徵、製作日期等的描述,總是充滿衝突矛盾。除了木頭和高品質的琴漆與當時的阿瑪蒂 (Amati) 學派相似外,無論是模子、琴頭、F孔和琴板的翻邊都異於當時的製琴風格。從高度工藝技巧與工整的外觀來看,布賽托可說是當時頂尖的製琴師;在克里蒙納製琴史中,也是位奇特且神祕的製琴師。

現今能確認是布賽托所製樂器相當少,但那些提琴有著容易辨認的特殊F孔,及相當方正的輪廓,並熱烈地被討論著。雖然對布賽托樂器的評價多變不一,但他所製作的高品質樂器,堪與當代最偉大的製琴師比擬,且他的作品常常被認為是其他克里蒙納製琴師的傑作。例如有把約製於1680年的提琴,面板有相當優良的塗漆,就被誤認為是朱塞佩‧瓜奈里 (Giuseppe Guarneri filius Andrea, 1666-1740) 所製的提琴。「不是他做的提琴,被誤導為他的作品;是他的傑作,反而被誤認為是別人的作工」,這對布塞托來說的確不甚公平!

(Giacomo Gennaro, 1624-1701)

描述義大利製琴師的相關書籍中,往往找不到賈寇莫‧詹納羅 (Giacomo Gennaro, 1624-1701)這位製琴師的名字的;但在希爾(Hill)的《瓜奈里家族之小提琴製琴師》(The Violin Makers of the Guarneri Family)一書中,就有簡單地提到這位優異的克里蒙納手工藝匠。賈寇莫‧詹納羅是他的正式名字,但他烙印在提琴標籤上的名字為”Jacobus Januarius”,是拉丁同義字,所以一般都以後者稱呼之。

製琴師詹納羅鮮為人知,他是尼可羅‧阿瑪蒂 (Nicolò Amati, 1596-1684) 的學徒及工作夥伴,官方文件上顯示詹納羅從1641年至1646年居住在阿瑪蒂家中。他的作品相當罕見,至今僅二至三件樂器被確定。他一直幫阿瑪蒂工作,提琴上鮮少貼上自己的標籤;也很可能他所製作的樂器,被今人誤認為是師父的傑作,如尼可羅‧阿瑪蒂、安德烈‧瓜奈里(Andrea Guarneri, 1623-1698)。詹納羅作品的做工相當純淨勻稱,與尼可羅‧阿瑪蒂的風格極其相近。提琴的塗漆幾乎都是金黃色澤,堪與克里蒙納大師級的作品相仿;同時樂器亦有非常卓越的音色。

Pietro Grulli, 1879-1898

Pietro Grulli (1831-1898) started by making pianos under the instructions of Francesco Ghisi. Around 1859, the demand for pianos decreased due to warfare. Following Ghisi’s advice, Pietro began his new career as a violinmaker. In 1862, Pietro sold out his first violin. In 1870, among the few luthiers still staying in Cremona were Pietro Grulli and Enrico Ceruti. At that time, Gaetano Antoniazzi had already moved to Milan. No archives can be found about the violinmaking records of Pietro during the war time between 1866 and 1872 . It was only after 1876 when Pietro’s works reappeared, documented in archives as pure handmade instruments “ practically without any tools”.

Grulli’s instruments are not lacking in potential, although there are some not so consistent in quality and lacking in elegance. Even a few connoisseurs exclude him out of the Cremonese school; However, he is still commonly regarded as one of the representatives of late Cremonese school. Some of Pietro’s best works are liberal and lively, reminding us of the fantastic characteristics of the late Cremonese master Lorenzo Storioni. The front and corners of Pietro’s violin are thick and stout. The archings are nearly perfect in fluency. The edgework is crude and thick. The reddish brown or brown varnish glimmers warmly.

Antonio Capela, 1932-f.1979

Antonio Capela (1932-f.1979) was born in Espinho, Portugal. He was the son of Domingo Ferriera Capela (1904-1977) and was Pietro Sgarabotto’s student. He used his father’s style of making violins, and used a golden yellow varnish.

Giuseppe Beltrami, 18??-1881

前無從得知有關這位製琴師的詳細生平,但可確定的是,他與恩里柯‧契魯蒂 (Enrico Ceruti, 1806-1883) 是同時期的人,當時在克里蒙納 (Cremona ) 的製琴師並不多。他於1870-1880年左右,活動於克里蒙納附近的維斯卡瓦托 (Vescovato) 。他曾經幫忙阿里斯蒂德‧卡瓦利 (Aristide Cavalli, 1856-1931) 建立「蒙台威爾第工作室」(Claudio Monteverde Workshop),有許多學徒在此地工作。那個年代的提琴風格,幾乎都受到契魯蒂 (Ceruti) 的啟發,高度原創性設計,中等偏高幅度面板、琴頭螺旋狀平凡、微斜的F孔、塗漆色澤為明亮的紅褐色、音色甚強而有力。目前留於世上的作品極少。