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Title: Antonio Stradivari
Author: Petherick, Horace William
Language: English
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[Illustration: HORACE PETHERICK.]




  _Of the Music Jury, International Inventions Exhibition,
  South Kensington, 1885; International Exhibition,
  Edinburgh, 1890; Expert in Law Courts, 1891;
  Vice-President of the Cremona Society._







  Date and Place of Birth of Antonio Stradivari--His Instructor
    in the Art of Violin Making--Peculiarity of His Early
    Work, Nothing Striking, but Slowly Progressive--Which
    of the Designs of His Master He was Most Impressed
    by, and His Own Modifications for Improvement--His
    Departure from the House of His Master Free to Carry
    Out His Own Inclinations                                           1


  Details of Further Improvements upon His New Designs--Modification
    of the Soundholes--The Amati Varnish and
    Stradivari's--His Secrecy of Method in Working--His
    Knowledge of What was Wanted and Efforts at Advance
    in Tone Quality                                                    8


  The Date of the True Stradivarian Individuality--Alterations
    in Design--Proportions Settled for Good--The Exceptions--The
    "Long Strad"--The "Inlaid Strads"--An
    Acknowledged Master of His Art--Black Edging--The
    Arching and Channelling--The Brescians, the Amatis and
    Stradivari                                                        13


  Lesser Known Patterns of Stradivari--The Treatment of the
    Scroll by Him--The Individuality and Maturing of the
    Style--The Purfling                                               19


  Stradivari's Great Success--His So-called "Grand Epoch"--His
    Patrons--His Violins Reputed for Tone when Quite
    New and Sought After--The Help He Received--His
    Assistants and Pupils--Parts of the Work Requiring His
    Individual Touch--The Members of His Family who may
    have Assisted Him--Stradivari's Varnish--His Imitators            22


  Some Modifications in Stradivari's Works--Variation in Finish
    of Details--The Interior of His Violins--The Blocks and
    Linings--The Bar--Thicknesses of the Tables--Heads or
    Scrolls of His Different Periods                                  42


  Stradivari's Tone and System--Those of His Pupils and
    Assistants--Qualities of Tone Produced in Different
    Localities                                                        56


  The Reputed Golden Period of Stradivari Late in Life--His
    Later Modifications of Design--Signs of Old Age Appearing--The
    Help He Received                                                  70


  Evidences in Stradivari's Work of Old Age--His Death and
    Burial--Work Left by Him--The Advance in Value of His
    Work Since His Decease                                            79


  PORTRAIT OF HORACE PETHERICK                           _Frontispiece_.

  PORTRAIT OF ANTONIO STRADIVARI                       _To face page_  1

  THE HOUSE OF STRADIVARI                                  "     "     4

  STRADIVARI'S WORKSHOP                                    "     "     6

  PATTERNS OF VIOLINS                                          _page_  6

  ILLUSTRATIONS OF SOUNDHOLES                          _To face page_ 48

  ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCROLLS, FIG. _a._                      "     "    50

      "         "     "     FIG. _b._                      "     "    52

      "         "     "     FIG. _c._                      "     "    54

      "         "     "     FIG. _d._                      "     "    56

  CHURCH OF ST. DOMENICO, CREMONA                          "     "    80


It was in the month of April, 1898, when THE STRAD monthly magazine had
completed its eighth year of issue, that the Editor Suggested that then
might be an appropriate time for giving a biographical sketch of the
great Cremonese master in serial form, expressed in a manner interesting
and instructive as possible. With this view I took up the subject with
some enthusiasm and proposed to work upon lines which I believed to be
bound by truth. All references to peculiarities in connection with
Stradivari's designs, construction and purposes should be the result of
my own personal observation during many years of experience as
connoisseur and expert. In formulating my results of study of a great
number--possibly the majority--of the instruments of the master
extant--I have abstained as far as possible from using technical terms
not readily comprehended by a reader coming newly to the subject, and I
trust all persons reading through the matter now collected, added to,
and presented in book form, will find their time not mis-spent at least
when they arrive at the conclusion.

                                  HORACE PETHERICK.


It was during the second half of the sixteenth century that the violin,
with its well recognised combined excellences of artistic form and
musical sonority, was started on its way in the world to supply a want
and prove its fitness as a leading instrument at once and for future
times. So happily was this effected, so complete and mature was it in
conception, that the advancing intellect of three centuries has proved
incompetent to insert any fresh and permanent addition to its original
simple arrangement. Precisely as it came from the hands of an artistic
and inventive genius in the city of Brescia so we have it now, unchanged
in its essential details of construction, although having its natural
qualities made more evident after undergoing the modern adjustment with
regard to accessories of detail, or regulation as it is termed. This has
been effected by simply enlarging some parts for the purpose of allowing
more freedom and convenience in the execution of more modern music, its
elaboration of rhythm, besides the extended range of notes in the higher
positions of the register, necessitating this. As might have been
expected in connection with the then still living Renaissance period, on
the violin making its appearance it was soon taken in hand by men of
superlative talent, who stamped it with their own individuality in which
was a marvellous perception of artistic quality. All that was to be
done by means of proportion, form and colour, not setting aside the
essentials of refined sonority, were combined, each aiding in the grand
total and producing that known and so much sought after at the present
day--a beautiful Italian violin. For about a century or more many
Italian liutaros were busily engaged in sending forth under competition
works which are now by the cognoscenti treated as unrivalled excellence
of quality, classical, and the outcome of genius. Each worker being
anxious to maintain the standard of excellence, or take a step forward
in the practice of their art, the culminating point seems to have been
reached when the artist under consideration in the following pages was
executing his masterpieces in Cremona.





The year 1614, although not particularly noticeable at the time for its
portentous events, was destined to be one of considerable interest to
those who are enthusiastic lovers of the delightful quality of sound
emitted by a certain section--and that only--of a class of stringed
instruments which have made the city of Cremona famous throughout the
civilised world. For in that city and in that year was born a male
child, whose surname was eventually to eclipse by its own refulgence the
renown of the city itself. Its paternal name was Stradivari, people
trouble themselves very little about the prefix Antonio, common enough
in Italy, and which was the Christian name given him by his parents. Of
these we can only say, that as might be supposed, they were of a
respectable portion of the middle class socially considered and from
which have sprung all over the world--with few exceptions--the greatest
luminaries of the whole firmament of intellect.

Of his private life during manhood we know very little, of his boyhood
nothing. But we may fairly and truly draw our conclusions that as the
time arrived when he was supposed fit for training to fight life's
battle, he had already exhibited talent indicative of fitness for that
artistic branch of industry in which he was hereafter to be the
world-wide acknowledged head.

That his special abilities were thoroughly recognised by his parents
receives much emphasis from the fact of his being offered to, and
received as pupil by, Nicolas Amati, greatest of that great family of
stringed instrument makers. Young Antonio was thus placed in the most
favourable situation possible for the fructifying and development of his
own particular talents. That portion of his life which was spent with
the great master of line in violin facture, will, probably, in its
details always remain a blank to us: but there is a lightning like flash
thrown out by the fact of old Nicolas Amati bequeathing his collection
of tools, patterns, etc., to Antonio Stradivari, and, be it noticed, not
to his own son, then over thirty years of age. That the future master of
his craft had been a steady and beloved pupil of his great teacher,
there is no room for doubt; indeed, steadiness, fixity of purpose and
honest intention, are manifested in his work during the whole of his
career. The earliest of his handiwork has become known to us while he
was with Nicolas Amati. In this he exhibits extreme delicacy of
handling, and seemingly, in the confidence of his master, certain little
modifications in the design of the sound holes were permitted, or
perhaps passed as improvements, but there is nothing eccentric or
extravagant introduced, a gentle addition, or a trifle less here and
there, being the way in which he ever cautiously worked out his idea of
improvement, and this latter seems to have been the moving spirit during
his whole life.

At no time do we meet with sudden departures, or what are sometimes
termed flashes of genius--the onward progress of his style of design
and its execution was as unimpassioned as his life was uneventful. When
we examine the earliest known work of his hand--it may be observed on
some of the late violins of his master--there is plainly perceptible the
efforts at excelling where at all possible; and if, as is extremely
probable--his master was sometimes desirous that the purfling should be
somewhat bolder than was to the taste of his refined pupil, this was
inserted with a delicacy and precision beyond what had been before
deemed the acme of finish.

His departure from the house of Nicolas Amati had to be taken some day
in the ordinary course of events, and he would then act alone in
competition among the growing swarms of makers who were now busy as bees
in most parts of Italy. The start is generally reckoned to have occurred
between the years 1664 and 1666, it may have been in 1665, when he had
reached his twenty-first year.

That old Nicolas Amati was right in his estimate that young Antonio
Stradivari's natural abilities augured well for his success
as a liutaro, was now to be proven. With the best possible
recommendation--that of being trained by the most distinguished maker of
the city--he carried others no less necessary for the long course of
thought and labour that he was about to enter upon. These were, an
earnest desire for improvement in all his undertakings, natural,
indigenous ability for tasteful design and its mechanical execution and
the power of steady concentration of the faculties, backed up withal by
a sound, physical constitution in which "nerves of iron" must have been
a conspicuous element.

To those who at the time may have been looking forward with some
speculation as to what young Stradivari would put forth now that his
course was free and untrammelled before him, there was probably some
disappointment at finding no signs of striking originality, no spasmodic
struggles of genius to assert itself by throwing aside those
individualities, general and detailed, which were so well marked in the
work of his great teacher, and which as pupil he had been studiously
and conscientiously carrying out. On the contrary, his efforts seem to
have been rather to draw the mantle thrown by his master closer around
him than to dispense with any part of its protective power. Thus we see
in his works of this period which have remained to us, very little more
than replicas of those of his master in which he for some years perhaps
had taken no inconsiderable part. But in doing this, the intention and
power of selection guided by sound judgment at once asserted itself. He
did not take that pattern known to us moderns by the name of "grand,"
and which term was in all likelihood quite unthought of by either
himself or his master. Who invented it is a question that may be left
complacently to the bookworm of the future.


There is really nothing in the so-called "grand" pattern of Nicolas
Amati that seems to agree happily with that title, it is, on the other
hand, one in which the love of dainty elegance of contour has been
allowed almost unrestricted play by its author, and to an extent
undreamt of before. He perceived, however, that there was a limit, a
step further, and disaster would be certain; Nicolas was sufficiently
wide awake not to take it, but left it for his hosts of imitators, many
of whom, not gifted with the same perspicuity, "rushed in where angels
fear to tread," their just reward being laughter and derision. The
attainment of elegance at the expense of strength and stability was not
at all in agreement with Stradivari's artistic tastes, and we
accordingly have no evidence of his having touched the so-called "Grand
Amati;" that which he did take up with was less complex in the
subdivision of its curves, and a more simple looking thing altogether.
To him it may have seemed to have more of the true characteristic
quality always accompanying the grand in art, that of simplicity. It was
this pattern, and this only, so far as our information goes--that
Stradivari took as the basis on which any future developments should be
grounded. He worked upon it for some time seemingly to his own
contentment and probably the satisfaction of his patrons, these being
sufficiently numerous and influential to enable him ere many years had
passed to think of purchasing a house.[A] This he accomplished in the
year 1680, when he was thirty-six years of age. Now be it noted
Stradivari had been working on the simplest of Amati patterns for
fourteen years, and during that time from his steady industry the number
of violins, besides other instruments of the family, which left his
atelier must have been very large. The similarity in type and regularity
of excellence in finished workmanship was almost enough to have
impressed the connoisseurs of the day that there was no originality or
speculation in the maker, but it was just about this time that the
independency of thought began to manifest itself; it was almost as if
the acquisition of the freehold property had stimulated the
self-reliance which had no doubt always been present, but which was now
to show itself more clearly in his art. He had been in practise long and
successfully enough to give a right claim to mastership. The veteran
Nicolas Amati, who was now over eighty years of age, had probably been
doing little or nothing for some time, and so his pupil, with all his
admiration for the retiring chief, felt at full liberty to do really as
he liked.


  [Our illustration of Stradivari's atelier is from a painting by
  Rinaldi, the sketch for which was made on the premises. The church
  of St. Domenico, Cremona, was demolished some twenty years since and
  our illustration is from a photo taken just before the event. The
  Chapel of the Rosary, being the place where Antonio Stradivari was
  interred, is the one below and to the right of the tower and lighter
  in colour than the others.]

[Illustration: No. 1. Grand Nicolas Amati. No. 2. Nicolas Amati pattern
of Stradivari. No. 3. First independent pattern of Stradivari.]

The step he took, insignificant enough to the casual observer now, must
have been equally so then, but proved one of the most important ever
taken in this branch of art, considering the restraints necessarily
encompassing any efforts at original design. This is perhaps the more
evident when the main features of the Amati designs and others of the
time are analysed. It will be seen that the upper and lower thirds of
the design have much in common with each other, and that the middle or
waist partakes also of the same characteristics, the whole being a
series of full rounded curves, varied as required, to harmonise and
flow with ease and grace to the squared corners. The slightest possible
narrowing or decrease in the size of the upper of the waist curve and a
corresponding enlargement of the lower part, served in the hands of
Stradivari to impart a different aspect to the whole pattern. The waist,
now less pinched in at the middle, looked longer without being really
so. The parts above the upper corners and those below the lower ones
were modified, the large curves becoming a little flatter just before
blending with the smaller ones. From these alterations, each one
trifling in itself, there resulted what may be called the first or
earliest Stradivari pattern; in it were the germs of all the succeeding
ones that contributed more and more to the fame of their designer as
they appeared. The natural caution or indisposition to throw aside one
pattern before a fair trial of the newest had proved acceptable to his
numerous patrons, was possibly the cause of Stradivari's running the
older designs alongside the newest creations of his fancy. Thus we find
that mixed with the innovations are what he might have called his old
Amati pattern, probably off the same moulds that he had used when first
starting in business on his own account, or even before.



Leaving the consideration in general of the designs of Stradivari's
early days, that is, for such a long life, we may look over some of the
details. It is well known to connoisseurs that the handiwork of Nicolas
Amati was during his best days of the utmost delicacy; in his later work
we notice an approach to heaviness in some respects. The very beautiful
subdivisions and subtleties of the curves in pattern and modelling began
to disappear and the purfling became bolder. Young Stradivari, when
working on some of his master's violins, seems to have been allowed to
do some of this, probably with the material given out by old Nicolas.
The work of the young man may be known by its greater decision, such as
would be reasonably expected; but after leaving the Amati household the
natural bent towards exceeding refinement soon asserted itself. The
purfling, particularly after some years, is narrower, and inserted with
a precision and ease in its course impossible to excel, even if
approachable. The mitring at the corners ends in a bent point in the
manner introduced by Hieronymus Amati and not, as has been stated, by
Stradivari; the latter carried out the ideas of Nicolas in making it
very sharp and this mannerism he continued throughout the whole of his

Stradivari from the first made his sound holes more perpendicular than
those of his master; after leaving him, they also became more slender
and the upper and lower wings wider and closer to the opposing curve.
The precision and sharpness of the cutting of these parts has become the
standard of excellence to which hundreds of Stradivari's imitators of
different countries and times have striven to attain. It is, perhaps, in
these parts of the different instruments--for Stradivari soon got to
work on all the four sizes, besides other kinds not played with the
bow--that his fine nervous system manifests itself, the sureness of his
knife when passing along from one point to another leaving an edge
upright and clean as cut glass, yet with a free grace of line never
excelled by any master of the renaissance period.

Of the parts the young assistant of Nicolas Amati was allowed to put his
individuality to, conspicuously stands the scroll. The one typical of
Nicolas's later days, although free and elegant, yet had a somewhat
heavier touch about it, possibly the master was gradually losing his
muscular power, more necessary to exert in this matter of detail than
any other. Stradivari began his own type by bringing the first turn from
the axis or "eye" a little higher up than that of his master; the axis
itself is a trifle larger and flatter, the edges of the turns are
squared off with a machine-like exactness that does not interfere with
the ease and flow of line. The peg box is strong and ample, after a few
years it became massive, more so occasionally than is to be met with at
any other time, the grooves down the back are not so deep, the
termination or shell likewise and a little wider.

That Nicolas Amati would by any possibility neglect to duly initiate his
favourite pupil in the mysteries and secrecies whereby his work should
receive its final crowning adornment, its envelopment in the thin film
of glory, is not to be thought of. The lustrous solution that was so
fitting an accompaniment to the dainty designs of the Amatis, was from
the first handled with a masterly dexterity and perfect knowledge by
Stradivari. Most of the early work is covered with the orange or amber
colour that were the prevailing tints on the early productions of the
brothers Amati as well as Nicolas. It is somewhat curious that most of
the prominent varnishers among the liutaros of Italy seemed to prefer
this in their early days: or was it that the deeper or more intense
colours required longer experience in management? Anyhow, so it was, and
Stradivari seems to have been no exception to the general rule. If a
well preserved early Stradivari is placed side by side with one of "the
brothers" or Nicolas Amati's amber coloured specimens, the varnish
enveloping them will be seen to be precisely alike, whether considered
in respect of transparency, consistency or thickness. Here is art
indication that for the best part of a century, these clever artificers
of Cremona had the same stuff, used it in precisely the same manner, to
a hair's breadth, for they knew there was no going beyond it; every part
of the process was methodically carried out in compliance with certain
laws known to, or instituted by, previous masters. There is an old Latin
motto implying that "the perfection of art is to conceal art";--it it
has often been quoted in illustrative reference, sometimes with sly
humour, at others in most serious vein, for instance, when an eminent
judge's judicial wig was known to have beneath it another of equally
natural pretentions, and when quoted as the motto for the year in a
Royal Academy catalogue, to be interpreted by the noble army of
"rejected outsiders" as meaning extra efforts that year by the Council
at concealment or suppression of art that was superior to their own.

But if there ever was an instance in which this motto could with
strictest appropriateness be applied, it was the work of Stradivari.
Most if not all of the known masters have at times shown by some little
accident or other, their method of working, thus, notwithstanding the
extremely careful and finished work of the Amati family, there is
occasionally to be seen some unobliterated signs--truly very slight--of
their having traced their pattern on the wood for either the sound holes
or the turns of the scroll. Stradivari left no evidence of this, nor are
any distinct traces left inside or out that would betray the manner,
kind of tool, or direction of working. Further, in most beautiful
specimens by the "brothers Amati," besides other great varnishers, some
faint indications have been seen of imperfectly dissolved resin, but not
so with Stradivari, who carried out to the letter in this department of
his art, that steadfastness of purpose in striving to do in the best
way, that which his judgment had pronounced to be the best thing to
accomplish. He further carried this out afterwards in the application of
the deeper coloured, and usually softer, varnishes, which when
manipulated by other masters of the same school, have frizzled or
cockled from some cause. This is seldom if at all to be observed in any
of Stradivari's work, he seems to have taken every possible precaution
for preventing change in aspect after the instrument had received his
final touches.

We may now retrace our steps for awhile and take up another thread of
the fabric of Stradivari's individuality, that which is in fact by
dealers ignored and by players adored. There can be no question that
during his minority under the great Amati, young Antonio must have been
much interested in his master's fame for imparting a fine quality of
tone to his instruments. It must soon have been apparent to him that
success in his career would not be achieved by progress in the artistic
part of his work alone. The critics of the day, who must have been
sufficiently numerous and exacting in accordance with the advanced state
of the art, would naturally be alive to any subtleties of difference
between the productions of the reigning king of liutaros and his
successor. The onward progress of musical composition and increase in
the numbers of public performers, virtuosi, and others, demanded from
an artificer taking this position, at least equal skill in producing
those essential qualities for which the city of Cremona had become
famous. Old master and young man probably had many a talk over what was
best to be done to keep pace with the increasing requirements of the
moment, and the time approaching when the hand of the former in the
course of nature would lose its cunning. The hour came, the man was
ready. Stradivari started forth from his master's house with full
confidence in having a true and good grasp of the wants of the moment
and those looming in the future. In the good patronage which soon came
to him, was contained the assurance that his estimate, although formed
so early, was perfectly correct; thenceforward he saw no reason for
alteration in the type of acoustical quality that distinguishes all of
his instruments, and that which he had once for all fixed upon.

Briefly the acoustical quality of his instruments may be described as a
further development of the tone brought to such a high degree of
excellence by the great Amati; an increase in the volume and energy,
with more equality of scale, while retaining all the other qualities
that had caused players and listeners alike to be delighted, and which
had given such renown to the great family of liutaros in Cremona.



We now resume our consideration of the progressive development of the
Stradivarian design as exhibited in the instruments of 1680 to 1690 or a
little later. At the earliest of these dates the complete independency
or self consciousness of power, as a master liutaro, is already
perceptible. There is no possibility of these violins having been made
on the moulds used during his bachelorship. People sometimes speak of
these instruments as being "Amatisé," which is great nonsense; had
Stradivari died somewhere between 1680 and 1690, they would have been
rapturous in their admiration of his originality and widely separated
ideas from those of the Amati, but as he lived many years on and gave
forth many more manifestations of his own individuality, the likeness of
these 1680 and 1690 to old Nicolas is eagerly searched for and often
supposed to be evident. It was at this time that Stradivari probably
made more new moulds or blocks on which to construct, than at any other.
With some few exceptions those that were now being made could be used
for any of his violins during the remainder of his career. The average
proportions remain the same, the differences are minute in measurement,
notwithstanding their effectiveness in helping to a different expression
in the designs. The exceptions referred to and made between the above
dates are of a diverse kind. There is the well-known "long Strad," of
which one author has said that it "has received the title," "not from
increased length, but from the appearance of additional length which its
narrowness gives it, and which is particularly observable between the
sound holes." The actual measurements of this pattern are, length
14-3/16 inches by greatest width 8 inches bare as contrasted with the
ordinary 14 by 8-1/8; it will therefore be evident at once that there is
a positive increase in length, and a decrease in width. These violins
are not very rare as compared with the total work of Stradivari extant.
Another variation, but now very seldom seen, is a pattern that may be
said to be somewhat opposite in its tendencies, as it is a trifle
shorter, but of full average width, with a proportionately wider waist.
This type of violin must have been sufficiently plentiful at one time,
as one of the first Gaglianos made a deliberate copy of it; that is, so
far as his Neapolitan idiosyncrasy and pride would permit. Besides these
were the "inlaid Strads," instruments of the greatest beauty in all
respects, but having instead of the ordinary purfling a broad black
fillet and diamond or lozenge shaped ivory insertions alternated with
smaller circular ones; they are further embellished with a floral
inlaying round the sides or ribs and also on the sides and back of the
scroll. These instruments--Stradivari is known to have made a quartette
of them for the Spanish court--are of the greatest rarity. They are said
to be all known, but this statement seems open to question when coupled
with the assertion that Stradivari made other similar but very small
violins. The known ones are of very full size, the parties ordering them
at the time possibly being alive to the advantages of quantity as well
as quality. Public opinion since the time these were made has not grown
in appreciation of the additional ornamentation. The violin pure and
simple, with its single line of purfling only as it left the hands of
the first master of the art of Brescia, is the one which has found the
most lasting favour with connoisseurs and the public generally.
Decorative additions, in various and more or less eccentric or
extravagant styles, have been introduced from time to time by
enterprising liutaros of different countries, but the discerning portion
of the public will have none, and thereby pronounce the violin to be an
unfit subject for extra clothing; beauty unadorned, adorned is most, is
a figure of speech quite applicable to the simplicity of the violin as a
work of art.

Stradivari, who had now acquired--at the period 1680-90--a standing as
an acknowledged master of his craft, showed in his handiwork a decided
leaning in consonance with this, as--excepting these "inlaid Strads"--he
carefully refrained from introducing any of the little tricks, or
fanciful alteration of details, that so many, even of his own
countrymen, seem to have been led to affix to their productions. After
all, the "inlaid Strads" were probably so made, not at their maker's
suggestion, but by desire of the patrons holding a high social position.
Double purfled violins seem never to have left his hands, as none appear
to be extant and no mention is made of any.

There is one particular part of the finishing of the violin which calls
for remark, and in the absence of evidence to the contrary must be put
to the responsibility of Stradivari. This is known as the "black
edging." It cannot come properly under the term decoration, as it has no
variety in its management and consists only of the blackening of the
squaring off of the junction of the ribs; likewise at the edges of the
turns of the scroll and continued down the front and back of the peg-box
to the shell. Its first appearance is not possible to determine and will
probably remain unknown. Nicolas Amati did not introduce it, his work
being of the kind that had no accommodation, or sufficient surface for
it. Once begun, however, Stradivari seems to have persistently held to
it. There is no proof positive that it was henceforth his invariable
rule to put this kind of finish. The parts concerned are the first to
receive and show signs of wear; therefore an instrument must be very
fresh indeed to have much "black edging" left. Viewed from an artistic
standpoint it cannot be considered an improvement, or any adornment,
for, however neatly it is executed, the work of hand beneath is more or
less obscured. Further, the eye of the connoisseur is distracted by it,
and the neatness of the work is not seen to advantage until the black
has become nearly effaced. Other makers of renown, besides Stradivari,
adopted this method of putting the final touches to their work, Giuseppe
Guarneri, I.H.S., Carlo Bergonzi, and other later makers, among them

Concerning the rise of the arching, or modelling of the periods above
referred to, there has been much erroneous supposition in connection
therewith. That all the early "Strads" were of high build, that the
progress was gradual towards the "flat model," that Stradivari was
feeling his way and becoming enlightened as to the necessity of reducing
the arching in order to obtain a fuller and more telling tone with
better ring; further, that the channelling or "scooping" near the border
was gradually reduced for the same reasons, and that these things did
not reveal themselves at once, but gently dawned upon his perceptions;
moreover, that he earnestly communed with nature, made numberless
experiments concerning her acoustical and other mysteries, and that the
outcome was faintly looming in the horizon and soon was to blossom forth
as the golden period, with grand pattern, all of which is really nothing
more than grand "tomfoolery" spread abroad a generation since by critics
"having an eye" only to such things that seemed to them agreeable with
the conditions and surroundings of money getting commodities.

These worthies were forgetful of the fact that the different varieties
of flat and high model, channelling deep or none at all, long waists
and short waists, sound holes long, short, near or wide apart, had been
well, if not exhaustively treated by the artists of the Brescian school.
To assume that those refined artificers, the Amati family and their
disciples, were not conversant with everything for or against the use of
a flat model would be crediting them with but little mental capacity,
particularly in respect of their perceptive faculties. Both Stradivari
and his teacher must have been well acquainted with the different high
and low modelling of Gasparo da Salo, as well as that of his pupil
Maggini, and others. He must have been aware that his own most generally
used model of medium elevation, with slight exceptions both ways, was
anticipated by each in turn. This, by the bye, disposes of any theory
that Stradivari's distinctive quality of tone resulted, as is often
stated, from his adopting a different elevation to what had been in use
before. It may be fairly argued that if it had been true, as some
writers have stated, that the flatter the model the better and stronger
is the tone, then Stradivari would have been less gifted with sound
judgment than he has been hitherto credited with; some of his early
modellings, 1680-90, being as flat, if not more so, than any known
during his whole career. For his selection of the particular degree of
rise the reasons--for there were several--are not difficult to
assign:--firstly, it was in consonance with his effort at achieving the
most harmonious result--artistically in his designs; the less determined
rise in the arching being more agreeable with the disposition of line in
the pattern that he had been settling down to--posterity has
emphatically endorsed his views in this respect; secondly, having
noticed that a more shallow curve in the arching was quite favourable
for the exhibition of gracefulness, while it was accompanied by more
strength and permanency, with less liability during time and usage to
develop a stony or bumpy appearance. But while thus looking acutely
forward to future eventualities in one direction, Stradivari was no less
careful to avoid reducing his model too much. Knowing the soundpost
would be certainly shifted occasionally, he saw in the very flat model a
source of danger lurking in the difficulty of seeing and getting at the
post, even with the usual appliances at the command of the professional
repairer or regulator, while the sound holes would be much more liable
to damage than when the sufficiently raised arching permits a fair use
of the "post setter." He was also careful, while keeping the depth and
width of the channelling within reasonable bounds, not to let the
arching spring or commence too near the border, as the screw cramps of
the repairer, especially the large sized ones used in olden times would,
unless most skilfully and cautiously applied, soon register the progress
of the repairer on the varnish to the destruction of the beauty of
appearance as a whole. These, then, appear to be the cogent reasons for
the adoption of the medium rise in the modelling by Stradivari.



During the period of 1690-1700 the modification of parts of the pattern
and details was slight but nevertheless important. Occasionally the
upper corners drooped a little more, and when they are now seen in fine
preservation seem rather long in comparison with later ones, but they
are not really so, it being in the expression no doubt arising from the
greater robustness in the treatment of the corners which now were
becoming in aspect more square, but with the usual peculiarities
retained. There was also about this time another modification sent
forth, a pattern that has the waist curve narrowed in a trifle at about
two-thirds of the way upward, causing a slight suspicion of a wish to
return to his old Nicolo Amati period, but it seems to have been only
momentary, and beautiful as these violins are, they do not appear to
have been repeated. They are in consequence very rare.

Accompanying these little variations there was a slight change in the
treatment of the scroll; it became less massive, while all the principal
features of detail were retained, the grooves at the back were deepened
a little as they ran down to the shell, which last was made a degree
less shallow. In the earlier part of this period the general contour has
a little more flow in the disposition of line, but later on this was
checked, as if not meeting with the full approval of the master, whose
goal of ambition was kept steadily in view from the first--that of
introducing a design that should worthily rank as classical, and in its
details and execution be such, that no weak spot or point of failure
should be discernable under the closest scrutiny. The sound holes now
received further attention and, it might be almost said, for the last
time, as they were continued to the end of Stradivari's career with no
particular or intentional modification. In length there was no
alteration, but the design seems more condensed, more compact, yet
slightly wider in the opening. This is all accomplished without losing
the smallest touch of grace, and although firm in the extreme it has the
opposite of any tendency to hard geometrical form. Stradivari seems to
have had some feeling of contentment with it, for although little
differences of measurement in minute particulars occur afterwards, no
modification in character is attempted. He was most exact in imparting
his own individuality in every instance. It is in this department of the
liutaro's art that the imitators or forgers of Stradivari's work have
found such an insurmountable block in the way of success. The
impossibility hitherto of imparting the requisite identical expression,
notwithstanding the most careful examination and tracing, constantly
adds force to an old saying among dealers that "to make a perfectly
successful imitation of Stradivari he must be a Stradivari himself." In
this view it is obvious that a maker having the sure consciousness of
possessing the power of the master would no longer make tracings of him,
but bring out his own originals. Among the scores and scores of
imitators, some of them having achieved considerable renown as such, the
best of them have not succeeded further than giving their own impress to
their tracing of the master's work. This is quite apart from their
failure to reproduce the master touch in other branches of the liutaro's

In the composition of his purfling he had been, before the periods under
consideration, somewhat unsettled, but he now seemed to have come to a
conclusion that the middle or light coloured portion, should be a
trifle wider than the dark or outer portion. This was also for a
permanency with but little variation. The three parts are probably of
the same kind of wood, with the outer portion darkened by artificial
means and not wood with its natural colour, as in so many early works.
But there was no change in the manner of insertion. There was the same
firm, upright handling of the purfling tool, which, as in his early
period, was sent along with unerring precision and cut its way through
hard and soft wood cleanly and equally well. In this respect of
mechanical dexterity, the great master has had few rivals; he was
apparently equally at home in subduing to his requirements a log of
tough, curled maple, as in gently reducing the exquisitely refined
growth of pine that was to act as a soundboard in throwing out the
luscious quality of tone associated with his name. It was not always so
among the most eminent of Italian liutarios. Many of them have left
unmistakeable evidence of impatience when trying to overcome the
resistance of the tortuously grained maple in turn with the much softer
and straight threaded pine. There was a peculiarity connected with the
purfling that must not be overlooked, and that is, its passing through
the little pegs at the upper and lower part of the instrument, and which
is most carefully attended to by modern close imitators, so that people
should be convinced, if possible, that their's is the real thing.
Stradivari, however, may not have conceived the idea of there ever being
in the future the swarms of his imitators, who, for the last century,
have been but too evident in consequence of the daily increasing
admiration or even reverence for his work. It is not surprising,
therefore, that for some reason known only to himself, he, on rare
occasions, did not run the purfling through the peg, or to be more
strictly correct, the peg was inserted clear of the purfling line. That
this peg peculiarity is no point of recognition may be inferred from the
fact that Stradivari's teacher, Nicolas Amati, treated it in like
manner, besides several of his contemporaries.



The period 1700-15 or thereabouts, found Stradivari not only an
acknowledged master of his craft but among his contemporaries recognised
as the head. His business had been all along steadily flourishing, his
patrons had been of high social position, some most illustrious, others
actually royal. Among the latter the King of Poland stands out in relief
as having specially sent an envoy to Cremona and that he had to wait
three months before he could return with his commission fulfilled.
Whether he ran in danger of being decapitated for "hanging about"
Cremona so long is not known, but one thing is certain, that patrons
royal, illustrious, of high social standing and refined tastes, wanted
the newly made violins of Stradivari that could never have been played
upon, almost in the absolute sense of the term, while they could have
easily obtained well seasoned, well tried instruments of makers who had
lived long before. Here is "a nut to crack" for those who persistently
assert the necessity and efficacy of age and use to bring tone to
maturity. If any further evidence should be thought necessary to
support the assumption of the equal excellence of the new Stradivarius
with those that remain with us at the present time, it is contained in
the praise of those who heard and used them when quite fresh, declaring
the agreeableness of the tone to be beyond rivalry.

Stradivari may be said to have been now in the enjoyment of the
plentitude of his powers. Success was attendant upon him without
intermission. Tradition says he was reputed in the locality as
positively rich, but we do not hear of his aspiring to civic honours as
alderman, vestryman, guardian or councilman--common or otherwise--as the
outcome of the possession of full coffers. Stradivari simply went on
making fiddles. In a position to secure the best materials in the
respect of quality, artistically and acoustically considered, he put the
best workmanship upon them; also he further selected the best help
which, in common with all eminently successful artists, he must have
found it necessary to employ.

We now arrive at a point when the question may be fairly put, how much
help did he have, and of what kind was it?

As Stradivari left no record behind as to the number of pupils trained
on his premises, or assistants who came perhaps as improvers, we are
left to do our best in the way of inference. In the first place we may
take up the acknowledged fact of his having turned out an enormous
number of musical instruments during his very lengthy career; and it
must be remembered that his energies were not centred alone in turning
out magnificent violins, but that the viola, violoncello, double-bass,
besides some of the then not quite obsolete viols of different sizes and
fantastic forms, received his attention. These had to be produced at the
requirements of his patrons, of whom many had probably not yet
completely emerged from the misty musical atmosphere with which the
fanciful forms with florid decorations seemed so intimately bound.
Further, the fittings for them had to be made presumably on the
premises of the maestro and not as at present in foreign parts. At the
time there was not existent that extensive and special manufacture of
bridges, tailpieces, tail-pins, and pegs that forms a large and
significant branch of commerce at the present day. That the violin
bridge especially was a production of the Stradivari establishment and
not "made in Germany," is sufficiently indicated by its present form
having been introduced by Stradivari. On comparing it with the different
patterns of bridges that had been issued by the previous masters of
Cremona, it will be seen at once that the master mind of Stradivari had
effected improvements that have their counterpart in the designs of his
violin patterns. We may notice the successful efforts at stability with
simplicity, just enough of detail that would lend itself in completing
the harmony of the whole design, while dispensing with every unnecessary
angle or curve. Of the fingerboard and tailpiece we cannot speak in the
same terms; the master seems to have accepted the manner of treating
these parts as handed down by preceding generations from Gasparo da
Salo, and thought there was no need for alteration. The design of the
inlaid ornamentation on both these accessories, was, of course, of a
kind with which the house of Stradivari would be identified and the
execution also in accordance. Of the tailpin and pegs, with the
decoration of both, the same may be said.

All these particulars point to considerable time spent in direct
supervision after the preliminary designs had been made by the
principal. This would reduce the available time for direct manual labour
at his disposal. There would occasionally be some time spent in the
discrimination for purchasing of particular choice kinds of pine and
maple, these requiring the closest attention. Whether samples were
brought for Stradivari's inspection by agents or their principals, or
whether the maestro took journeys to particular districts where the
exact kind of wood suitable to his requirements was to be had, we know
not, but there seems to be much probability that the latter was his
mode of obtaining that splendid growth of pine, both in appearance and
tone-producing quality, with which he brought about such beautiful
results. This, when obtained, had to be carefully stored away until such
time as it might be required for immediate use. The cutting down and
sawing up into lengths for different instruments would not be such as a
maker with less patronage would personally engage in; we can therefore
place this aside from the time consuming duties. There is, in the
foregoing, enough and much over for reasonable inference that with a
master, such as Stradivari, having the refined taste and adaptability
for work, there was a considerable amount, if not all, of the merely
mechanical work done according to his command or under his eye. This
would naturally enough increase in proportion as the business connection
grew. There would be in this nothing differing from what has been
habitual with eminent professors in all branches of art; as far back as
Phædias, Praxitelles and Appelles of the ancient classic Greek period.
Later on it is well known that many of the masterpieces of the
Renaissance period had much work upon them other than that immediately
from the master's own hand. If this were not permissible, the number of
the grandest creations of artistic genius would be most seriously
limited. Raphael and his contemporaries, Rubens and Rembrandt, besides
many other masters, are well known to have had numerous pupils in their
studios engaged in carrying out ideas previously determined upon and
drawn out for their guidance. These assistants were gradually drawn into
the way and habit of thinking of their masters, and on leaving them,
their own individuality or natural tendency uniting with what they had
absorbed of their master's manner, the blending of the two became a
fresh production of style. If we take this as our guide in summing up
the probable amount of help that was drawn upon by Stradivari during his
career, especially that part at which, in our consideration of him and
his works, we had arrived, it cannot possibly lead us far from the
actual facts. Taking into account the known pupils or assistants who
received the benefits of personal instruction from Antonio Stradivari,
they are more numerous than we can affix to the name of any other
master, as it must be borne in mind that Stradivari had initiated a
fresh style, the influence of which was destined to be of a far more
reaching character than any hitherto coming to the front. The
Stradivarian school became the foremost, most numerous and soon was to
be the most imitated, of all. Among the earliest of his pupils (the
precise number or even the names of all will never be known), may be
placed Alexander Gagliano of Naples, working with him about the period
of 1680 and some years later, one or two others of the Gagliano family
may have been workmen in the Stradivari atelier. Lorenzo Guadagnini,
Joannes Battista, his son and Josef of Pavia all claim to have lent a
helping hand and received instruction, and there is nothing in their
work that is in contradiction. The first became a great master of the
Milanese school and was afterwards rivalled by his son, who was more
cosmopolitan and not identified with one place in particular. I cannot
include the names of Montagnana or Gobetti, which have been frequently
referred to by various authors as pupils of Stradivari; a close
examination of their style and workmanship leads to a different fountain
of inspiration, notwithstanding which they both unquestionably were at
one time influenced by the work of the great Cremonese artist as it
arrived in Venice. Of Carlo Bergonzi, a great master, it is a well
established fact that he worked with Stradivari and probably did much
more for him as assistant than is generally acknowledged, but that he
was originally a pupil is not in keeping with the early and varying
patterns which have gone under his name. Further on it will be necessary
to refer to this luminary of the art. We must not forget the two sons of
Stradivari, Franciscus and Omobono, who received their initiation at the
hands of their father and worked with him for many years, carrying on
the business after his decease. Rumour has brought forth another name
as pupil or workman with Stradivari, and whose identification with some
fine specimens of the liutaro's art may yet prove an interesting study.
A relative of the master, we should expect to find his work strongly
tinged with the Stradivarian characteristics. His tickets are said to
have been all removed in very early times after their insertion and that
one only is known to have been preserved intact. Of the great rival--in
public estimation--of Stradivari, Joseph Guarnerius, I.H.S., it can only
be said there is not a single feature in his handiwork, style or tone,
agreeing with the supposition that he at any time was his pupil or
assistant, moreover, having by me distinct evidence of his pupilage of
another maker of a different school, will of course prevent the
inclusion of his name.

The number of pupils and assistants who worked with or under the
supervision of Stradivari in his prime, might, if we knew all, be more
considerable than we should be prepared to expect. The proportion in the
usual course of nature, of those able to single out a path for
themselves, prove their individuality superior to their fellows or
eventually become of great eminence, must of necessity have been
comparatively small. There may have been many working "on and off" under
the eye of the master at different periods who were without ambition or
the talent to rise above the position of humble helpers among their more
talented brethren, born to be assistants only, and, in consequence,
never heard of outside the studio. These, and the before mentioned, must
all have had something to do with the instruments their master was
sending forth into the world; the more clever ones being intrusted with
some responsibility on particular work. It is not impossible to fix upon
the parts the assistants probably would be allowed to work upon. In the
first place, all the designing, drawing out and tracing down of the
pattern on to the mould, or on to the unprepared blocks that were to be
carved into necks, scrolls, or marked out for ribs, would be

The different stages succeeding each other would be most likely as
follows--firstly, the master having been commissioned by a wealthy
patron to make of his best pattern and highest finish a quartet of
instruments, he would take from his store of choice pine and sycamore,
which he had taken so much trouble and skill in collecting together,
such pieces that appeared to him suitable for the instruments to be
constructed. The upper and lower tables had previously been hewn or sawn
to size, then the jointed back and front, if both were so, planed
carefully and made ready for the master's work, which would first come
on to the wood as a careful tracing from his original design. Sometimes
the tracing down may have been done by some advanced pupil or competent
assistant. We may fairly assume the presence here of one or two, if not
more, assistants, besides a pupil or improver. One would be selected for
the bow-sawing of the pattern, another afterwards receiving it for
roughly gouging out according to measurements at hand or marked by the
master. Another had meanwhile the bending of the thin slips for the ribs
to the necessary curves, or working down the corner and end blocks that
had been affixed to the mould. Another, if not the same, might have been
carrying out the first stages of the working of the scroll, or perhaps a
very competent and trusty assistant would be allowed, under the eye of
the master, to work on more advanced forms, making ready for the final
or necessary touches of the master hand. The sound holes may have been
traced down and even the upper and lower circular holes bored. Further,
it is not impossible, that after the modelling back and front had been
sufficiently advanced, the glueing and screwing down was intrusted to an
assistant, and even some of the finishing up with glass paper or other
material in use at the time and place, of parts of minor importance.
These are, perhaps, the majority of the details in which the
individuality of the handwork of the master was not obligatory in

In summing up what could have been done by other hands than those of the
busy master, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, unless
we admit its presence, to account for the extremely large output of the
great Cremonese, even when taking fully into the balance his very
industrious habits and extraordinary long working career. Assuming the
above view to be reasonable, the number of new instruments which left
the Stradivari house must have been very large. It is well known that
the master undertook the repairs of musical instruments, which
department would require some personal attention or supervision, even if
actually executed by his assistants or his two sons, Francescus and
Omobono, who, when their father died, were not very young, the first
being sixty-five years of age, and the other fifty-five. They had most
likely worked with their parent for about forty years and must have done
much of making and repairing, that is, crediting them with some of their
father's industrial tendencies. Stradivari had two other sons by his
first wife, Francesca Ferraboschi, one, Giulio, died 1707, aged forty;
the other, Allesandro, in 1732, aged fifty-five. Nothing seems to be
known as to whether they were brought up by their father in his own
craft or not; if they were, there was time for them also to have done
much work with him. There was a son by his second wife, Antonia
Zambelli, who died 1727, aged twenty-four, who under the same
circumstances may have helped. We have thus five sons of Stradivari,
who, if they were all taught the art, may have been working together,
besides other assistants at the same time. Carlo Bergonzi has already
been mentioned, but although he came late into the field, yet there
seems a slight indication that he may have had to supply the place of
others who had departed for the carrying out of their own schemes.

Having so far roughly estimated the kind and amount of work, not
necessarily his own, on the violins that were sent forth by Antonio
Stradivari, we may glance at the particulars of detail that demanded his
handiwork and that solely. That there were keen connoisseurs living at
the time of Stradivari, as also in the previous century and earlier,
there is no room for doubting. Workers in art reduce their inspirations
to tangible forms helped by colour that people may see them and,
comparing them with what may have gone before and have been executed at
the same time, pass judgment on them. In like manner Stradivari, like
other masters before him, knew that his handiwork would be scrutinised
as well as the tone of his instruments. It was therefore obligatory that
purchasers should know his work, that in fact his sign manual should be
always present. Contemporaneous with him were makers, artists, who had
been initiated in the mysteries of the manufacture and application of
the wonderful varnishes which have since by their qualities made them
famous throughout the civilised world. There was nothing, however, in
the material or its application that could, under the closest
examination, be discerned as different to what might be seen on the best
instruments of the Amatis--these must have been numerous at the
time--the Ruggieris or the Venetian masters, but these did not in the
application invariably work up to a certain standard of excellence,
whereas Stradivari always did. There was a consummate beauty of result
in this branch of the liutaro's art known at the time to many, beyond
which it seemed not possible to go. It was, therefore, more in the
construction and workmanship then, that the sign manual was perceptible.
With this view Stradivari seems to have been careful to let the evidence
of no hand but his own be seen in parts that were sure to be closely
scrutinised as evidence.

Standing first perhaps in importance would be the cutting of the sound
holes, the design and careful drawing of these being completed, and cut
in metal--it is said thin copper was used by him--they may have been
mostly traced down by himself on the pine of the upper table prepared
and in readiness to receive it, although this part without much danger
could have been done by an intelligent and experienced assistant. The
cutting and finishing with the thin keen edged knife, however, must be
his, the slightest shaving over the traced line or not quite up to it
would be sufficient to impart a totally different character to the
whole. There is no part of the violin in which the sum total of the
native characteristics and ability are shown to such exactitude as the
cutting of these all important and expressive openings. In those of
Stradivari is to be seen the same firmness of purpose and strict curbing
of the fancy from proceeding too far, or allowing stability to be over
balanced by love of gracefulness, as seen in the designs of his eminent
master. To allow no weak part to be perceptible; strength of line with
sufficient grace, admirable proportion and balance, and yet withal
sufficient expression of mobility and freedom from heaviness were each,
seemingly in turn, given the best attention by the great genius of
Cremona. It is not using extravagant language when they are termed the
eyes of the violin, for it is to these that experienced connoisseurs
turn their attention at once when inspecting a violin of character newly
placed before them. Cut by an Italian, cut by a Frenchman, by a German,
by a nobody in particular or who understood nothing about it, are the
thoughts arising in the mind. Each country has its peculiar and native
rendering of every sound hole that was first designed in Italy. This
tendency to impart their own national characteristics by each native
workman, runs parallel with that in pictorial art in the transferring to
various materials the impressions received after study of the original
or animated reality. To many the sound holes of an Italian gem of the
highest class are but sound holes that are more neatly done or prettier
than usual. To others they will be the expression in that simple form of
an exquisitely acute perception of what will excite pleasurable emotions
with regard to delicately balanced proportions, graceful flow of line,
and freedom from all appearance of effort. That there is much in little
concerning this, is proved by the non-success of all foreign copyists
to give a reproduction of the Italian native touch to these details.
That this is not an overdrawn description, may be seen on a close
comparison between an original Stradivari of almost any period and the
most closely traced, laboriously studied and keenly cut sound holes of
any of the modern imitators. All have failed signally over these two
apparently simple openings on the surface of the upper table.

Notwithstanding this, it may be said there are scarcely two violins
alike in respect of expression of these adornments of the structure,
each instrument is made to convey its own impression, or display its
particular kind of beauty. There is a difference, scarcely to be
measured mathematically, that in one will be suggestive of masculine
strength, while in another it will be exquisite feminine grace.

In none of the imitations of the master are there seen these qualities
expressed in the same degree and kind. It has often been said, and there
is more than a substratum of truth in the remark, that, "to copy a
Stradivari successfully"--of course, in the fullest sense of the
word--"the copyist must be a Stradivari himself." There might,
appropriately, be an addition put to this, namely, that a man who could
work up to the dizzy height of his ambition in this way, would not copy,
but make originals.

Another detail of the workmanship always attended to by the master
himself, was that of the purfling. Much has been said of the wonderful
accuracy of Stradivari's purfling and that as a purfler he stands
unrivalled. This must not be taken in the widest sense, as there have
been, and are living, scores and scores of makers who have cut a rut
round the border of a fiddle as sharply, and inserted the three
conventional lines of dark and light wood as deftly as it could be by
the hand of any man, be he named Amati, Stradivari, Ruggieri, Tononi, or
Montagnana. There is a degree of evenness and keenness of cutting and
clean insertion beyond which it is not possible to go. But there the
imitators come to a full stop. Without the inventive power which will
make this curious, simple, yet wonderful little fillet, aid in giving
the desired expression to the whole work, the imitator is not--as people
say nowadays--in the race. The finishing of the border, the corners and
the delicate and often very elaborate system of curves around the sound
holes, the hollowing of the wings of these latter, and the final
surfacing of both back and front, I have no doubt had Stradivari's
individual attention. All the delicate and small work of the scroll,
perfecting that elegant flow of line and finish of each turn of the
volute, as if everything depended on the exactness of its individuality,
obliterating all marks of the tooling and giving his own impress to the
gouging of the shell and even the completion of the peg-box; then last
and not least, the preparation and application of that pellucid envelope
that was to serve two purposes, utility and enrichment of effect.

With regard to this, much has been written and said about its
incomparable quality, its elasticity, colour and transparency, with
other excellences needless to dilate upon. Summarily taken as a whole,
the simple fact is, that in no respect is his varnish different, or
better than that of his predecessors, the Amatis and masters of the
Brescian school; it had been done before and his most famous
contemporaries were doing it still, and he was in this position for the
simple reason that no better could be done.

If it was not possible for Stradivari to improve upon the varnish of the
Amatis who had preceded him and the masters in the art belonging to the
Brescian school,--among whom may be mentioned Giovanni Maggini, Antonio
Mariani, and the first one to use it on violins, Gasparo da Salo--it was
strictly in accordance with his invariable rule of putting forth his
best that he so dexterously manipulated it, probably both as to its
composition and final application, that faultiness in some respects to
be seen in specimens of other masters is not noticeable in his. Thus, as
is well known, the Brescians, perhaps without exception, were often
very careless regarding the thickness of the film, it being occasionally
of irreproachable evenness, at other times having almost the appearance
of being laid on with a large brush in great haste. On some connoisseurs
this haphazard fulness of treatment, this oft times generously effusive
manner, carried out with a careless consciousness of power, acts as a
charm, inciting to intense admiration the like of which is roused by the
rich, juicy brush of Rembrandt and the masters of the Venetian school of
painters. But this is not the perfect realization of aim with regard to
the envelopment of masterpieces by the old Italian liutaros; in the
instances referred to, and sufficiently numerous, we wonder at the
wealth of material and smile at its manipulation. Antonio Stradivari
would in no wise act thus at any time. To him it was enough that he was
possessor in full of the knowledge of materials, and to deviate from the
good paths pursued by the artistic Amatis, was not to be considered for
a moment; we therefore find that with him the best material was laid
with the utmost skill and care. It must be indeed rare that "frizzling,"
or contraction of the upper surface of the varnish, is to be seen to any
appreciable extent. I do not recollect one instance, while with the
Ruggieris, most of the Venetian school, and a number of makers of lesser
note, it is quite common.

Concerning the colour or variety of tints adopted by Stradivari at most
times, it was most likely done to the requirements of his different
patrons, many having a desire for the rich orange, some, the light red
or "cherry" tint, while others were not content with any than the red or
rich full bodied port wine tint. The simple brown seems to have been
less in demand, as it is during the period under consideration, rather
exceptional. While using the lustrous coverings for his works with
consummate skill, there is one qualification that must not be lost sight
of. Beautiful, refined and artistic in the strictest sense of the term,
Stradivari never gave way to a desire to outbid the rest of the
fraternity for congratulations in respect of gorgeousness, he seems
never to have fallen back upon his reserves in the direction of
intensity of colour. Thus if a finely preserved specimen of his orange
varnish is viewed side by side with one by Joseph Guarnerius, I.H.S.,
the extra degree of fieriness will be on the side of the latter, but it
by no means places Stradivari on a lower level, as the combined
qualities of his work, taken as a sum total, is not reached by any
liutaro of old Italy.

It may be fairly taken as certain that if there was any master having at
command all the necessaries for turning out musical instruments of
matchless superiority, both as to acoustical and artistic qualities, it
was Stradivari, and many connoisseurs would expect to find nothing but
maple used of the richest curl, and that would throw up with delightful
effect the lustrous varnish so carefully laid upon it; but, strangely
enough, his most magnificently curled backs and sides are mixed with a
few that are comparatively plain. A variety of reasons might be assigned
for this, but that which bears the greatest probability about it
is--that the instruments being chiefly made to order, the maple of
richest curl was not always to be had, at least in time for the
construction as required. In other respects these plainer mapled
instruments are fully equal to anything that came from his hands. Of the
proper tone-giving pine he seems never to have been short; there it is,
always of beautiful growth, having, like his own handiwork, both
delicacy and strength and of a general appearance such as would attract
the eye of the veriest tyro in the liutaro's art. How many imitators of
the great manipulator have looked at this growth of pine and wondered
where the old master obtained it! and how he knew that it possessed the
proper qualifications for his purpose. Swiss pine of course! obtained
from the lower parts of the forests of the Alps, is an immediate loud
response, and cut only from the south or sunniest side of the particular
tree when found of course.

This idea was started in the early part of this century in books on the
violin, professing to tell the reader all about it or nearly so, and he
had only to go, get the stuff, and make Stradivari violins, in fact with
the addition of the amount of scientific knowledge of the subject
peculiar to modern imitators, he would make "old Strad" "take a back
seat." This has been often tried by would-be "Strads," "Guarneris," or
"Bergonzis," and full of specious promises that if you will but purchase
their wares you be rewarded for your pains by being possessor of
everything good that they could endow the instrument with. Keep it,
persevere, and the precious qualities will come; some were daring enough
to assert that they were already there, if even your mental vision was
so obtuse as not to perceive it, absurd prejudice was the cause of this
they said, oblivious to the fact that the best musicians of Stradivari's
time used the violins fresh from the atelier of the master perfectly
new, expressing their unbounded admiration for their beautiful acoustic
properties or "pleasurable sounds."

Is the like said of new violins at the present time? These imitators,
some of them might be with perfect truth termed forgers, are legion, as
in the case of everything that is of a high standard of excellence and
which makes acquisition desirable. These artificers had their day, so
far as forcing their imitations upon the credulous and unwary could be
accomplished, and others have replaced them, yet there aloft still sits
the grand master upon his high eminence, unapproached, with the whole
world clamouring and struggling for the possession of what in the
earnestness of his purpose was only his everyday work.

Before leaving the imitators and forgers, for they are distinct one from
the other, the first simply taken being honest, the other not, it may be
as well to refer as briefly as possible to the general aspect as
afforded by such specimens of Stradivari's art that remain with us after
fairly constant usage during the generations that have passed since his
decease. Most connoisseurs and dealers are well acquainted with the
appearance of a "Strad" of fine model, work and varnish that has done
its duty in former times, and is yet able and willing to answer all
requirements of the present day and many to come. If the instrument has
not been hidden and forgotten in the cabinet of some deceased collector,
but has been handed down from one player to another, kept in healthy
exercise, not meddled with, muddled, and maddened by the numerous
would-be improvers, bridge regulators, sound post agitators and varnish
vivifiers, then--it will probably present an appearance of what is
called handsome wear, or as a writer has termed it, "adorned, not
injured, by a century's fair wear."

Striking the eye first will be the varnish that has been chipped off
from the back chiefly, often from a large space of a rough triangular
form; the front being usually more smoothly denuded of its lustrous
envelope. This chipping away of the varnish from the maple has been
effected a long time ago, and is the result of a custom in olden times
of hanging the instrument after use on a peg attached to the wall, or
may be the interior of a cabinet. Fiddle-cases seem to have been used
almost solely for travelling purposes. They are now in general use as
the best means of preservation against damage and a good resting place
at all times. During the last century there were scores and scores of
makers in Italy who were ready, willing to, and did turn out excellent
instruments with fine, artistical and acoustical properties, but the
race has died out and their remaining works are of daily increasing
value, and consequently much under lock and key, out of harm's way as
much as possible. This old habit of hanging up violins not wanted for
the moment was, as a matter of course, effected with a slight bang or
two each time, and a corresponding cost, small or large, according to
the blow to the top layer of varnish most highly charged with colour.
Each instrument used in this way will declare to the sufficiently acute
observer, its course of handling and even the peculiarities to some
extent of the owner; for it will be seen that the chippings give
indication of different degrees of energy or hurry, when the violin has
come in contact with the more or less hard surface of the wall.

It must be borne in mind that the times referred to were prior to the
introduction of wall-papers; the good, old-fashioned panelling of oak or
hard wood, often of bold design, shattered or nicked away much of the
old, delicate and precious varnish used for enveloping the works of the
Italian masters. All these constantly recurring slight collisions by
degrees brought about the results that have been defined by some as
picturesque wear or accidental adornment, if such a thing be reasonable.
Besides this there was going on the wear caused by handling by one or
another of players, rough or mild, contact with the garments, especially
the sleeves, all being larger and looser than are fashionable at the
present time. The action of these would be more gentle if more
continuous. It is noticeable at the lower end of the back of the violin,
which is often worn away much below the penetration of the varnish, the
corners being rounded down and if rather protuberant, even losing their
original character. The upper table of pine being incapable of equal
resistance to the destroying influence, wears away sooner, also the
border at the lower end and at both sides of the tail-piece--for the old
performers placed their chins on the contrary side to what is thought
best now--and the right upper shoulder where the palm of the hand and
part of the wrist is apt to work, too often, against the edge. We thus
see when a handsome, fairly worn specimen of Stradivari's work comes
under our notice, the different pieces of tell-tale evidence, varying of
course in degree with each instrument. Now all this must have been going
on during the time the master's works were being sent out to parts of
Italy and to other countries. It had been progressing and was showing
the onward march of Father Time in the instruments left by the Brescian
makers a century before.

As before observed, the varnish of Stradivari has, often as not, been
worn, chipped or cracked off in, as some fanciers still call it, a
picturesque manner or adornment, although from the highest prices being
given for those specimens that have the least of it, the taste seems to
be growing healthily in favour of perfection of preservation as far as
is possible.

It would be out of reason to suppose that full consideration of the
subject was omitted by a genius with such far reaching mental vision as
Stradivari. That he gave all the necessary study and forethought to the
effects of ordinary wear and such as was occasionally going on within
his knowledge, there is evidence enough. He saw how the delicate work of
his master, Nicolas Amati, was rapidly disappearing under sometimes
rough and too often ruffianly usage. It was not in his power to prevent
or interfere with this by any peculiarity of construction or quality of
the varnish used by him. But this he doubtless knew--that the generally
substantial work and total absence of any weak point of detail in design
and execution was all that an artist could do. This strength shown over
all of Stradivari's designs, even from the commencement, shows that in
his grasp of the highest scale of requirement he was also anticipatory
and in this wise, that he followed up the self evident principle in art,
that the best combination of forms, proportions and masses will answer
best for their permanence.

The numismatist knows full well how, on the coins used in various
countries, the masters of basso-relievo had concentrated their skill on
the subject. The balance of projection and depression for good and
proper effect under different situations of light and shade, or even
independently of them on occasion--is of paramount importance in all
branches of art in their widest range. The omission of proper thoughtful
attention in this direction is one of the obstacles to success among
copyists in any direction of art. In architecture the imitator or
restorer of some early English mouldings has often made ignominious
failures from the non-application of knowledge of this kind: just a
trifling variation from the original while in progress being deemed of
little consequence, but when finished and left for exhibition under the
truth testing rays of the sun, the qualities that should have been there
are, as the saying is, "conspicuous by their absence." In full view of
the above and with an intelligence unsurpassable, Antonio Stradivari so
arranged his forms and masses in construction that under fair usage and
wearing down of the projecting parts, the original beauty of the whole
should be retained as long as possible. A fine Stradivari much worn
still retains its air of distinction, and very much of its material must
have disappeared under bad treatment to make it beyond recognition
almost at a glance.

There can be very little question of there being more than mere
admiration for the appearance. Simply viewed, there is the spice of
romance in connection with it, the history is written in language more
or less intelligible of the knocks and bruises inflicted, unwillingly in
most instances, but not invariably so. And here attention may perhaps be
appropriately drawn in these pages to what has been asserted by a few,
very few, dealers and others, whose general intelligence should have
been a guarantee against the dissemination of utter nonsense and which
has even been in print! that--just think of this--Antonio Stradivari,
the acknowledged master liutaro of Cremona in his own day, and of whose
growing fame no one can foretell the limits--actually imitated wear and
tear of varnish on his violins. I have not the print at hand, and so
cannot give the exact words in which this scum from the boilings of a
distorted imagination was conveyed; nor point to the first unfortunate
who let it flow abroad. In all probability it came from the same old
source, a desire to lift up to a high level worthless imitations of the
master, confuse the public mind so as to make it more and more difficult
to tell "t'other from which."

A fine specimen, and well known, of Stradivari's art was once lying on a
table before me. An amateur of considerable attainments and honesty of
purpose then present was dilating upon its many beauties and fine
preservation; he, I soon found, had by some means become infected with
the absurd notion of the varnish having been artistically pecked away by
the original maker! Just fancy this--Raphael slitting a hole in his
chef-d'oeuvre to make it look old--Michael Angelo chipping some bits
from the ceiling of the Sistine just before the scaffolding was removed,
or Phidias snapping off a limb and browning the raw surface to please
future connoisseurs.

They might all have done this with an equal deficiency of reason and
consistency if we allow for one moment any possibility of the genius of
such a stamp as that of Antonio Stradivari descending to such depravity.
Those who have lent themselves to this incongruous notion, hastily
generalising from insufficient particulars, have strangely overlooked
the fact that the same kind of chipping is seen on the violins of other
masters, Joseph Guarnerius, Carlo Bergonzi, and others of the Cremonese
and Venetian School, besides--going far back--the older ones of Brescia
and Pesaro, any number in fact over all Italy.



We will now resume our consideration of the handiwork of the Cremonese
master as regards other details. We left him steadily working through
his so-called "Grand epoch" or, more strictly speaking, his period of
finely settled designs in outline and modelling. He had arrived at the
goal of his ambition and produced works of excellence which--taking them
as a whole--it seemed impossible to improve upon. He was henceforth
content to put into them such slight modifications as would prevent too
great similarity. Thus we find some were flatter in the arching, others
a little shorter, being a trifle under the usual fourteen inches, others
again were over it, but there was the same general contour, his now
well-known accentuated design, complete as possible in all its details.

From the great number of finished works that were turned out one after
another, it is quite reasonable to assume that there would be
occasionally some little evidence of extra pressure of business and
consequently less time spent over minor details. That this actually
occurred at times there is no doubt and can be perceived clearly when
looked for. One instance occurs to me in which the purfling had been cut
off a trifle short at the corners and did not quite fill up and make a
good mitreing, otherwise all along the border the easy, swift, yet
powerful stroke was maintained up to his usual standard of accuracy. In
other instances the point or "bee-sting," as it is sometimes called, is
not so sharply defined perhaps in two corners, while the others were the
perfection of minute finish.

It seems fairly certain that the great Cremonese was not at the time
thinking of the almost microscopical scrutiny of critics certain to
occur one hundred and eighty or so years in the future. These little
differences in accuracy of unimportant detail or accidents of work may
be taken as evidence that Stradivari was labouring day by day to meet
the requirements of patrons different in disposition and perhaps
patience. When at the same period he has been allowed to put his full
time and attention to his work, then we find the four corners of equal
unsurpassable finish, and other minute details over the whole structure
so intently studied that nothing could possibly go beyond. These should
really and appropriately be termed his "grand pattern." There is present
in those instances the combined excellences in the highest degree of
mechanical precision, beautiful proportion and drawing, such as no
master designer of the Renaissance could surpass, the choicest
materials, including splendid varnish, the whole united and capped with
that essential, a beautiful tone.

A few words about the interior of Stradivari's instruments; one kind of
work is perceptible in all of them. There is not, as we may see in the
works of other masters, that off-handed, or even slovenly want of finish
inside while the whole attention of the maker has been concentrated on
the exterior. With Stradivari all is well done, the blocks, end and
corner ones are carefully faced and have little, if any can be seen, of
the tool marks left upon them. The linings let into the corners are in
every instance done with minute exactness. The wood of these and the
blocks is a kind of Italian poplar, sometimes called willow and by the
French sallow; it is light and has no threads like pine to cause
difficulty in the manipulation. Too much importance has been attached by
critics to the presence of this wood in Stradivari's violins. That it
had nothing whatever to do with the excellence of tone quality is clear
from the fact of makers of inferior skill and less renown for tone
having used it in the same parts. The most likely reason is--as most
repairers have concluded--the absence of thread, its lightness,
pliability and evenness of texture, being thereby adapted for the
necessary long strips for fitting round the curves. Some makers used it
invariably, while others did so occasionally, perhaps not always having
a stock on hand. When for some reasons, such as being worm eaten or
badly fractured, it has been found compulsory to remove them and
substitute others in their place and of other wood, there has been no
perceptible deterioration in the tone either as regards quality or
quantity. Not only so, but there is the fact that many of the Italian
masters and their numerous pupils, to say nothing of makers of a lower
order, as often as not sent forth their violins without linings, some
even without corner blocks. In most of these instances, however, the
ribs were left very stout in substance in order to retain a sufficient
holding surface for the glue. The subtle curvings of the ribs of an
Amati, and more so of a Stradivari, almost precluded the use of a very
thick material, especially so when the curl or figure was bold and
elaborate. In consonance with this, we find with Stradivari that the
thin plate or veneer from which the ribs have been cut is not thick, but
of accurate and equal measurement along its course. The linings being
equally true and fitting in the closest manner to the ribs, are in their
original state somewhat stouter, the middle or waist ones parting
slightly on approaching the corner blocks each way and thus giving a
gradually increasing area of attachment (diag. _h_). All of the four
blocks are well trimmed off and their surfaces levelled, being quite
regular in their form and size and trimmed to proper measurement. The
end blocks serving to sustain the greatest amount of strain
longitudinally, are also found well finished, in contrast with so many
seen in instruments by makers of eminence that are simply hacked roughly
into size and shape. They were carefully estimated in their proportion
for strength sufficient to resist the strain caused by the size, length,
and pull of the strings in use at the time of Stradivari, and with
something to spare, so that even now, under the enormous strain of the
modern high pitch, when in perfect and original condition they are equal
to their task. In a number of instances, when much repairing, good or
bad has been done, the end, and often the corner blocks, have been
replaced by modern ones. There is, of course, under these circumstances
less of Stradivari present, but it has often been a case of painful
necessity or question of expense as to the choice between two steps for
restoration to health and particularly for strength. The form viewed
vertically adopted by Stradivari was that of a parallelogram with two
rounded corners (diag. _i_.). The upper block was left a little thicker,
the junction or root of the neck necessitating this. The renewal of one
or both of these has also been caused incidentally by the deep insertion
of the modern and longer neck, thus lessening much of the grip or
purchase of the block on both upper and lower table. The same may be
said of the nut over which the tail string passes, this being--owing
also to the rise of the modern tone pitch and increase of tension--much
larger than in Stradivari's day, and he may in a sense be said to have
had to buckle to modern requirements.

[Illustration: DIAGRAM _h_.]

[Illustration: DIAGRAM _i_.]

While the seat as it were of our criticism is at the present moment in
the interior portion of the admirable structures bequeathed to us by the
great Cremonese, we may consider further the surface work of this part.
Everyone knows that the interior of a violin is left unvarnished by
violin makers. Stradivari was in no way anxious to become an exception
to this rule. The reasons for its adoption were, and are, still
obviously wise, although not necessitous. He knew that his work, in
common with that of other craftsman, would be liable to fracture, and
that in the process of restoration the surfaces and junction of parts
must be laid bare, and varnish where not obviously necessary would be an

For the satisfaction of the anxious inquirer it may be stated that
varnishing the interior has, to my knowledge, been tried by an excellent
modern workman as an experiment and did not bring any adequate reward
by perceptible improvement in tone quality. In another instance, to
prevent the encroachment of the collector's arch-enemy, the worm, the
innovation seemed to have proved ineffectual. Stradivari may have tried
this and perhaps, for once at least, met with failure. The bar--there is
but one--ofttimes erroneously called sound-bar or bass-bar--is, in
common with all the violins of the old Italian school, quite inadequate
for modern requirement, that of supporting the upper table on the fourth
string side against the pressure caused by the tension of the third and
fourth, the heaviest strings.

That the length, thickness and disposition of the bar has much to do
with the good going order of every violin there is no disputing.
Stradivari did not live long enough to make acquaintance with the
numberless proposals for acquiring his quality by making this part
longer, shorter, thicker, or thinner, besides various modes of
attachment. That some of them would have raised a smile on the features
of the veteran Cremonese, we may be quite sure. That he was quite
content with the size of the bar in general use during his life-time
there can be no doubt, as there is no record or evidence of any
experiments having been made by him, fair argument that none were
considered necessary; the instruments finished, the ordinary bar of the
period was inserted and there was an end. The whole of the interior
indicates an absence of any question of improvement on what had been
done before by his master Nicolas Amati and his predecessors, apart from
good finish.

A few words as to the thickness of the upper and lower tables. Of this
much has been written, an extremely small portion being from actual
observation, and most of the other parts being reiterated assertions
started many years back by people whose supposed knowledge rested solely
upon simple conviction, without an iota of _bona fide_ evidence in
support. To them the fact, well known to everyone engaged in the
manufacture of sound-boards of musical instruments, that a very thick
sound-board produces different results to that of a very thin one, was
sufficient, therefore the secret of Stradivari with regard to his tone,
was "the adjustment of the thicknesses," whatever that may mean. The
assertion seeming perhaps rather bare, and wanting some sort of support,
was bolstered up with another no less instructive, that if you "pinged,"
or tapped the separated upper and lower tables of a Stradivari so that
they each gave out a note there would be found the difference of a tone
between them! Here was something for the "babes and sucklings" of the
craft of violin making to swallow. It was stated also which table would
give the higher tone. Unfortunately for some would-be Stradivaris, the
particulars of the tonal difference were copied loosely and reversed and
so came "confusion worse confounded."

  The illustrations of sound holes, or _f f_ commonly so called, will,
  it is hoped, be interesting as showing the modification or
  development from those of Nicolas Amati to the latter part of the
  period of Stradivari's career, called "the grand." They are all
  reproduced from fine specimens of the great Cremonese masters, and
  are the exact size of the originals. The first (_a_) shows the _f_
  of a violin of the Nicolas Amati's late period, 1663, unaffected--at
  least in this detail--by the individuality of his hereafter eminent
  pupil. (_b_) While still going under the name of Nicolas Amati,
  1678, the _f_ shows the actual interference of Stradivari, it is
  more vertical, but the peculiarities of the upper and lower wings
  are retained. (_c_) 1684. The design is quite changed, there is some
  return to the flow or inclination of Amati, but the whole thing is
  more extended, is slender, and the upper and lower wings are
  widened, this modification was retained for a permanency. (_d_)
  1690. There is some return to the vertical design, but the width of
  the wings is retained, while the lower part of the design is of
  larger proportions. (_e_) 1700. The design is more equalised and is
  more substantial. (_f_) 1715. The same proportions are kept with an
  increase of gracefulness. It will be perceived the lower wing
  approaches at its lowest part the opposing curve more closely, the
  upper one likewise; in some specimens of this period it is still
  closer. (_g_) 1725. While the upper part is very like the preceding,
  the lower part is more contracted and curled up. There is a somewhat
  heavier expression about the upper part in consequence.

[Illustration: _a_ _b_ _c_ SEE PAGE 48.]

[Illustration: _d_ _e_ _f_ _g_ SEE PAGE 48.]

History does not relate which of those parties who may have practically
followed up the experiments were successful in arriving at the goal of
their ambition; they may even still be continuing the struggle for
supremacy with their master.

We have not to look far for ascertaining whether these assertions have
borne fruit. There has been time enough for works built upon these
so-called discoveries of fixed principles to have settled down, and the
popular verdict now is--that those which guided Antonio Stradivari have
yet to be discovered. The numbers of announcements of fresh
discoveries--repeated _ad nauseam_--are in themselves some evidence that
what has gone before was founded on deceptive evidence, and therefore to
begin anew was the only course left.

The illustrations of scrolls by Nicolas Amati and Antonio Stradivari,
being from good specimens by the masters, will be interesting as showing
the progression of the modification in detail under the hands of the
latter. In fig. _a_, Nicolas Amati, c. 1670, it will be seen that the
first or smallest turn after leaving the axis or "eye" is kept for some
distance rather close. Every effort seems to have been made for keeping
the turns or winding from being too circular, there being a general dip
downward and forward. The gouging is deep from the commencement. The aim
of the artist in the whole design appears to have been towards
perfection of gracefulness.

Fig. _b_. Antonio Stradivari, 1683, the openness and bold swing of the
first turn at once on leaving the "eye" is very striking, it also
commences higher up, there is almost an absence of flow or downward
tendency. The throat underneath the volute is very massive, although all
the edges are finished off with the utmost delicacy and sharp tooling.
All the details of scroll carving by Stradivari at this period are
marvels of mechanical dexterity of handling. The different depths of the
gouging are carefully calculated for solidity of effect, each portion
being deep in proportion to its width, the smaller turns thus having
less depth than the larger. With the Amatis there seemed to be a
striving after attainment of the greatest depth possible in the smaller
gougings, those nearest the axis reaching frequently to almost the same
depth of level as the outer or broadest one. In no part of his work does
Stradivari show more clearly the result of careful calculation after
closely studying the work of his master and others that had gone before.

[Illustration: FIG. _a_. SEE PAGE 49.]

[Illustration: FIG. _b_. SEE PAGE 49.]

Fig. _c_. The period 1715 shows the result of further calculation for
general effect and a consequent modification in respect of minor
details; there is present, as always, the sufficiently bold swing of the
first turn from the axis. In choice specimens the point of commencement
is as sharply and clearly defined as the mitreing of the purfling at the
four corners of the body of the violin and which it seems impossible to
excel. The throat, with the whole of the peg-box, is reduced slightly
but consistently with strength and beauty of appearance. The public
verdict has remained unshaken with regard to these scrolls being in
respect of the combination of excellencies the best carvings of the
great artist. They are in the most trifling degree smaller than those
carved before the period of 1700. Among those cut about the 1710-15
period, or even later, are a few that seem to have been intentionally
both smaller and more upright. Although having all the essential
excellencies of detail they can scarcely be considered as coming up to
the standard of the others in respect of refined grandeur. This type may
be said to be mixed up and continued with more or less persistency to
the last, and of this Fig. _d_ gives a good representation. There is
frequently a more emphatic or energetic gouging at the commencement of
the turns, a more developed "ear" as it is often termed. It is gouged
with quite as much care as the rest. Speculation has been rife as to the
possible influence or even personal help of Joseph Guarneri at this
point, but there is no solid foundation for surmising the presence of
one or the other. If the gouging of this part may be said to bear any
sort of resemblance to the emphatic or impetuous touch of Joseph, it is
confined strictly to this portion; other essentials are wanting that
would be absolutely necessary for crediting artists of distinctly
opposite tendencies with--it might be almost rightly termed--tampering
with each other's designs.

[Illustration: FIG. _c_. SEE PAGE 50.]

[Illustration: FIG. _d_. SEE PAGE 50.]

But if the name of Carlo Bergonzi is brought into the field of
speculation--granting for a moment that Stradivari was not very likely
to step aside occasionally from his accustomed groove--then we have much
more of a possibility or even probability in the matter. It has always
been asserted, and I believe never contradicted, that Carlo Bergonzi was
for a time actually working in the atelier of Stradivari--whether as
pupil or only assistant matters not--but we have in the fact of his
presence a distinct factor in any of the supposed anomalies of the later
periods of the grand Cremonese master. To this, however, we may put some
consideration further on. There is further in these later scrolls a
modification, alteration, or supposed attempt at improvement in the
edging of the turns, these being left a trifle stouter than at the
commencement of Stradivari's career.

This is continued along over the top and down the back of the scroll to
the shell, which seems to be a little less elongated than the early
specimens. It may be more apparent than real in most instances in
consequence of the bolder edging. The hollowing of the "shell" is
seemingly less delicate, but this may be taken as a natural result of
the foregoing. Further on these details will come in again for review.

To continue our remarks on the question of "thicknesses and their
adjustment" with each other. This is a department of the luthier's art,
to which perhaps much more attention has been directed by theorisers
than by practical workers. The latter class have no doubt been
influenced by the former to a considerable extent, oftentimes having
their views expressly carried out under their personal supervision. By
musical amateurs it is found to be a good theme for conversation when
the excellencies of the works of various masters are dilated upon. That
the richness of quality in a "Joseph" is the result of his having left
"his wood" thick in certain parts and not so much in others, and that
this, combined with the flat modelling, was the secret, and that it was
written that some of the Josephs were too thick in the back, and
therefore the freedom of the vibration was checked and the tone to some
degree stifled and deficient in penetrative power.

Among my early musical acquaintances, I remember an amateur violinist
who would "wax eloquent" on the power of his Strad, asserting that it
was owing in a great measure to its having been "left thick by the
maker" all round near the border. This, no doubt, many other amateurs,
acquainted with what used to be in print on the subject, will recognise
as being in opposition to what had been accepted as being the rule
generally observed by Stradivari, that the arching in its thickness
gently decreased towards the border where it was about a third less than
at the centre. This gentle gradation was said to be the cause of the
beautiful "silky" and "sympathetic" quality so prominently
characteristic of his instruments. The explanation of "the thing in
action," as mechanicians would term it, was thus--the greatest thickness
being at the part all round by the feet of the bridge, was able to
sustain the vibration, or the successive shocks caused by the bow, which
were transmitted through the wood of the upper table and were gradually
lessened in intensity as the thickness decreased toward the border,
where they subsided, or were lost.

I do not know what explanation was given, if any, of the "system" of
thickness adopted much by some of the Milanese school, which was that of
hewing away the wood until it was thinnest at the part all round by the
feet of the bridge and thickest by the lower wings of the sound holes.
Judging by the before mentioned assertions as to the association of
power of energetic vibration with the thickest wood under the bridge,
these Milanese makers were acting very wrongly, but, strange to say,
many instruments of very great power were made by them under these

Many years ago I was conversing on the subject of thicknesses with an
English maker of experience and who seemed to believe in certain
"thicknesses," and having then as yet made no practical experiments
myself in the matter, I put the following to him. There are many violins
to be met with that through ill-usage and pressure on the bridge have
depressions instead of the level wood at the part we should expect it to
be, and yet the tone is considered fine, how is this? The answer was
remarkable, and not unworthy of the class of makers to which he
belonged--that although the wood had become thinner from pressure, "the
original amount was all there," it was only squeezed closer together.
The instruments were, no doubt, "rightly gauged" in the first instance.
"Now there," he said, pointing to a 'cello hanging up almost out of
reach and looking in rather a woe-begone condition, is a bass that
"never would go well because it was badly gauged when first made." Age
and usage were to be of no avail in bringing this wretched piece of
workmanship up to the standard of the average.

This last assertion might have been of considerable weight had the maker
been a personal pupil of Stradivari, but the public verdict has been
that there was a great gulf between the two, and that the first had not
been initiated into the secret of the others. Foreign as well as English
makers have announced in the most impressive manner at their command
that their instruments were identical in all respects, including the
system of thicknesses in the originals, buy them, use them, and be
convinced that in time they would be just as good as the real thing.

The foregoing is perhaps enough to indicate whether or not the secret of
Stradivari, or indeed any of the other Italian masters, great or small,
had been discovered by caliper measurement. It is strange that the
impression has held sway so strongly that the genius of the great
master lay in his manner of distribution of the thick and thin parts of
the upper and lower table. The first thought in this direction would be
that if the theory was good, its practical application with ordinary
skill and care would be sure to bring about the desired result. But more
than this has been done in experimenting on originals and copies from
time to time. We have within a mile of Charing Cross no lack of workmen
capable of gauging and copying with sufficient exactness the thicknesses
of any Stradivari brought to them, if that were all, or the principal
means necessary for reproducing the famous qualities of the great
Cremonese. It seems to be forgotten that hundreds of clever workmen have
lived since his time, in his own as well as other countries, who have
given the most assiduous application to the making of exact copies and
with a like result--that of total failure. For a moment let us turn our
thoughts to the nature of the materials comprised in the sum total of
the structure known as a violin. We have for the upper table, or front,
a thin slab of wood known as pine, from a species of tree that grows all
over the world. The varieties are, however, innumerable and the purposes
to which they are put, equally so. For the lower table, or back, a more
dense and tough wood is used. That the particular kind used in the
construction of the famous instruments of the great masters, and mostly
that known as curled maple or "hare wood," was chiefly on account of its
beauty, is evident from the fact that all the best Italian makers had
recourse at times to other and less showy wood. Beech was occasionally
used by Carlo Bergonzi. Other tough woods grown in Italy, even poplar,
have been used by some makers, seemingly when the supply of better
looking material ran short. That there are extant some "Strads" with
backs of some plain wood other than maple is more than likely. We have,
then, for the upper table of the violin a wood of soft but elastic
consistency, the strength of which lies mainly in the threads running
lengthwise, and which, when the wood is cut in the manner usual with
all violin makers since its invention, serve the purpose of small joists
running from end to end of the upper table. The soft material lying
between these is very susceptible to damp, especially when fresh cut.
Thus, if a piece of pine be cut ever so smooth with a sharp gouge or
chisel, a slightly wetted brush drawn along the surface will at once
cause the softer parts to swell and so leave a ribbed or "corduroy"
appearance when it is dry. This will serve to show how far this wood is
suitable for regulating by such very minute differences as would be
necessary when the thicknesses theory is confided in and efforts made to
reduce it to practice. The exactness reasonably expected of such a
master of quality as Stradivari would be upset in an instant by the
application of a little moisture, and which either by accident or during
the process of repairing would be fairly certain to occur some time or
other to every violin that left the hands of its maker.



We may now refer to actual observation or close examination of
Stradivari's work with reference to the question of system, whether
there is evidence of its presence and how followed by him. That his
violins should have been from time to time well measured by the very
numerous army of identical imitators, fair copyists, and all sorts of
connoisseurs and theorists during the present century will be at once
admitted, and the results may be summed up in a few words. Stradivari
did not leave clearly defined any evidence of a system of gauging which
he strictly followed, at any rate in such a manner as to enable the
least approach by such to be made by any followers in his steps with any
measure of success. In short, he was guided by the exigencies of the
moment as to the amount of wood left in his ordinary or choicer

It has been stated before that his quality of tone was one, not several,
and for these his patrons flocked to him, as his admirers have also more
and more earnestly sought for him since the supply has ceased. But it
was not desirable that the greatest possible power should be given to
instruments that were in many cases to simply charm a small family
circle of friends in an apartment of modest dimensions. He would,
therefore, naturally enough vary the amount of wood left. This would be
quite in accordance with what is perfectly well known to all makers and
repairers of experience--that with a violin if very "thickly timbered,"
the tone is less easy of emission, or actually weak. On the other hand,
if too thin the emission is comparatively easy, but lacks intensity and
is termed "hollow." Under these circumstances we should expect to find a
variation in the thicknesses of different violins of Stradivari, which
is in accordance with fact.

Some connoisseurs have been in their enthusiasm too hasty in their
reference of general principles from a few particular instances and
their researches--as time thereafter showed--did not bear the fruit so
anxiously looked forward to.

An instance comes to mind of two well known dealers, one British, the
other foreign, meeting together one day and opening some half-a-dozen
Strads, that appeared up to that moment to have had their interiors
undisturbed, or perhaps it might be said untampered with. What a
meeting! and what a parting! let us hope that each table, upper or
lower, that had so long been working in harmony, eventually became again
properly mated and gave no cause for lawyers to "put their fingers in
the pie." The results of the examination is related thus:--"In no two of
the instruments were thicknesses alike; some had thick places and thin
places; some were thicker on one side than the other; all were thicker
in the centre of the upper table and all had these as three to five for
the back."

Another is that of a well known continental repairer in his day,
relating how he had repaired a very large number of real Strads and
found the upper tables to be of the same thickness, two and a half m's.
all over, but that the backs varied in thickness. Some discrepancies
here seemingly. To add to this, a correspondent says the Strads he has
measured "have certainly not been thickest in the centre of the upper

My own observations as to thicknesses I am afraid will not afford much
comfort to those who have been hopeful at any time that the calipers
would drag forth the precious secret. I recollect many years back seeing
a very fresh Strad, and a hasty measurement possible at the time
revealed too much wood, that is judging according to our modern ideas of

One instance of a Strad, once my own property, comes to my mind. It had
something wrong with the interior that necessitated opening. The violin
was of good reputation for its tone of fine quality, quantity and ease
of emission. There was no help for it; much against my inclination the
separation of the upper table from the ribs would have to take place,
either by my own hands, or those of some other person, the rectification
being impossible from the exterior as it sometimes may be. With all
necessary care, guided by past experience, the opening was safely
accomplished, and after a very interesting examination of the interior,
which to an ordinary observer would have seemed but peering into a dirty
old wooden box, having nothing perceptibly different from any other, was
in what would be called a fair state of preservation. I took the
calipers in hand, expecting to learn something, but found all the
original thicknesses had been lost under the hands of numerous

The supposed system or rule followed by Stradivari--that is, according
to what critics and writers have declared was his habit--was certainly
not demonstrated in this instance: in fact the eyesight alone was
sufficient to perceive that whatever theory the master had believed in
as necessary for the production of his inimitable quality, or whatever
rule as to gauging should be followed in order to obtain enough power
and freedom of emission were, in the present instance, we will not say
ignored, but quite imperceptible; and why? because the fiddle at one
time had been what we moderns--with our ideas of regulation and
fitting--would term "too thick in the wood." The instrument had
undergone much affliction from various physicians, but, judging from
various little details of evidence, been at almost all times highly
prized. Here and there were the studs or buttons of various kinds of
pine stuck by repairers of different nationalities and degrees of skill,
some placed with apparent good intention, others without reason at all,
while several parts bore indications of studs having at one time rested
there and been afterwards removed by succeeding repairers. Now all these
men had a thought of doing their work properly, and in finishing off
their studs with gouge or glass-paper, had whipped off around each spot
some of the precious wood of Stradivari, with a general result of a
series of hollows and gentle prominences not at all pleasing to the eye
of the believer in the thickness theory, but nevertheless instructive.

Other instances in which the master's work--while still good and
serviceable, with much evidence of unskilful repair, or want of proper
attention at the time of accident, have come under my notice, enough,
long ago, to have, as the saying is, "knocked into a cocked hat," all
that has been put forth regarding the mathematical precision of the
thicknesses over the different parts of a violin by Antonio Stradivari.
One or two further remarks may be interesting on this part of our
subject. The fact must not be lost sight of that the pupils of the now
well established master of his art in Cremona were working either at
that place likewise, or in the large cities of Italy, and had become
famous, or were soon to be so and themselves surrounded by learners of
the art. All these had been initiated in the secrets, if any, of their
craft and in the particulars which distinguished them from others, or we
may say, they were of the Stradivari school, showing in a more or less
degree the same species of tone which the master had brought to
maturity, and which he retained with consistency and never swerved from
to his latest day.

It is quite a reasonable supposition that most, if not all, of the
personal pupils were taught by the master, or had the way pointed out to
them by which they might, with the right ear for discrimination of tone
quality and enough of industry, impart to their works the identical
qualities of those of their teacher. But what are the facts left for our
consideration in connection with caliper measurement? the pupils
admittedly of his teaching, among whom we may mention Lorenzo
Guadagnini, his son Joannes Battista, Alexandri Gagliano, one or two of
his sons and Carlo Bergonzi, as the best known, each adopted their own,
or shall we say, left no more evidence for us of having a set rule for
thicknesses than their master. The nearest approach to the asserted
system of Stradivari, that of a gentle declination of substance in the
wood down to the edge, was made by Lorenzo Guadagnini in his extra sized
violins; but then the tone, wonderfully fine, is not Stradivari, but
Guadagnini. Carlo Bergonzi's system, if we may for a moment call it, was
quite unlike Stradivari, and yet connoisseurs have frequently credited
him with having got "the same beautiful quality of tone." From these few
references it will be sufficiently plain that the grand secret of tone
quality must not be sought for with the aid of calipers, so we will
dismiss this part of our subject and proceed to other considerations.

Besides those who have pinned their faith to the thicknesses, there are
those who take up with the "air mass" theory. I am afraid the arguments
in favour of this last will not bear even so much knocking about as
those just considered.

We have in the first place to take into account the fact of the larger
modern bar taking up more room than the old obsolete one of, not only
Stradivari, but all the other masters of his time and before. The upper
and lower end blocks have been enlarged in many instances to obtain a
better hold on the upper and lower table. These alterations have been
each of necessity, not of ignorance or mere whim, and moreover have
proved efficacious for the end in view. The restorers, or regulators who
have performed these operations must--according to the "air mass"
theory--have been acting quite "in the teeth" of it and Stradivari's
regulation, further there is not one fiddle in a hundred--perhaps not
that--which has been in use for a generation but what shows a sinking
one side or the other, or, when the modelling is full, a depression in
the middle of the upper table, and very frequently a greater fulness at
the back where the sound post touches and presses from the inside. These
alterations, individually or collectively, alter the "air mass" of the
interior, and the violin thus, according to the theory, contains within
itself the elements of its own early dissolution, so far as fine quality
is concerned. Facts, however, go to prove the contrary, and with the
modern regulator's efforts to obtain the best amount of a good thing
known to be present, it is quite probable that Stradivari himself never
heard his instruments to such advantage as they may be now,
notwithstanding the unreasonably high pitch to which violinists are
obliged to conform their tuning.

There was another theory promulgated many years back by certain people
of some degree of eminence in their own walk in life. A grand discovery
was announced, that the excellence of the violins of Stradivari
consisted in the tonal difference between the upper and lower tables
peculiar no doubt to that master. This sort of committee of scientific
experimenter, violin dealer and author, did not--while centralising
their efforts on the violins of one master--say whether the same
relationship existed between the back and front of a Nicola Amati,
Maggini or Gasparo de Salo, they made something of a slip when they
mentioned the violins of the great Joseph Guarnerius as showing the same
tonal difference.

It would have been very interesting to have heard of results after
further trials by the same experimenters upon upper or lower tables of
violins by now not very much less celebrated makers, who, although of
the same class or school, were living--for those times--far away from
the central luminary of the Cremonese art. What would have been said of
Montagnana of Venice? a star of the first magnitude, curiously near in
quality and quantity to the great centre to which he was willing to pay
obeisance and throw out a reflected light; of Gobetti, perhaps more
"Straddy" than any other Italian, Gofrilleri, Seraphino, two or three of
the Tononis, besides other lights of lesser magnitude, with exceedingly
fine qualities, but perhaps open to the charge of intermittency.
Further, several of the Milanese school,--offshoots of the Amati and
Stradivari,--of Lorenzo Guadagnini, a master of his art in all its
details, if ever there was one, his son Joannes Battista, steadier in
his working, but more uncertain in his results--shifting from place to
place, may have had some connection with this--and the occasionally fine
artificers of the same place, Landolfi, the Grancinos and Testores and
later on Balestrieri of Mantua and Storioni of Cremona. These men,
always good, and when circumstances were favourable, great in their art,
often grand in their individuality and power, were, by these modern
scientific interrogators placed aside or quietly ignored, apparently
either as unworthy of their recognition, or of such inferior renown as
not to come within the scope of their investigations.

A close and searching inquiry into the causes that enabled different
masters of their art to bring about the desirable end of their labours,
that of imparting a distinct quality and individuality of tone, might
have enabled them to get at least a hint as to the means whereby
Stradivari gratified the tastes of his patrons at the time and
connoisseurs in general of the present day. As indicated before, the
Venetian masters were--probably by the same means--able to put before
their patrons that kind of tone most in agreement with the luxurious
surroundings of the Venetian nobility, or offered and found acceptable
to the musical public generally there.

A prolonged, earnest examination of the peculiarities of tone attached
to the violins of the makers of the chief seats of violin making, has
led to the inference that the difference in kind or degree was not from
individual choice, but chiefly owing to outside influence.

What is known as the old Brescian type of tone was doubtless suitable
to the tastes of musical circles, among whom the then new style of
musical instrument was introduced in Brescia. When settled down, the
Amati family, a group of thorough artists, proved themselves alive to
the requirements of the fresh district that was henceforth to be the
scene of their labours for generations. The Brescian quality had either
been found by them, or was known beforehand, to be too ponderous or
insufficiently endowed with the more feminine quality desirable in the
minds of the Cremonese. The Amatis seem to have been in full possession
of the means necessary for producing the kind of violin in demand and
supplied it.

As time went on, musical compositions changed in style, advancing by
degrees towards the culminating point of nearly a century later. The
simple, oft-times wondrously sweet, yet quaint effusions of the early
composers for the violin, were gradually giving more and stronger
indication of what was possible and likely to follow soon and in its
turn, like all other things, become antiquated and old-fashioned.
Undoubtedly, it was this progressive condition of the music of the
period that induced Stradivari, early in his career, if not at the time
he was with Nicolo Amati, to take up the study of tone calibre as a
matter of essential importance, in order not only to keep pace with the
times, but if possible, anticipate further advances in musical

It was daily becoming more evident that the qualities of refinement and
sympathy would not in themselves be sufficient in an instrument with
such a future as the violin seemed to have. Melodic forms were being
modified, while harmony was becoming more varied and divided.

The art of appropriate phrasing was also being studied, while practical
musicians were bowing to the necessity of leaving old stereotyped forms
for those having more emotional qualities. In short, the violin wanted
in Cremona was one of substantial power and suitable for more dramatic
expression on the part of the performer. To bring forth a violin of this
desirable type, Stradivari directed his energies. With what measure of
success, the whole musical world up to the present day have emphatically

Now, we may ask, was the difference of tone between the violins of
Stradivari and those of the other makers of the Brescian, Cremonese,
Venetian, Milanese, or Neapolitan school, in consequence of the tonal
difference between the upper and lower table, as supposed to have been
discovered by the modern Parisian investigator? was it resulting from
the correct air mass inside? the relative thickness of the tables, or we
may as well include the straight and fine grain theorists, the amber
varnish in the wood theorists, the wood of great age theorists, and the
generations of use theorists, and lastly those who mix them altogether.
If Stradivari practically worked upon one, some or all of these
theories, there is still more mystery concerning the close proximity at
which his pupils or assistants arrived, several of whom we might
conclude were possessed of all necessary means of acquiring to the full
their master's excellencies.

Just for a moment or two we may turn aside and notice the kind of
variation or the distinguishing difference between the tone in the
general acceptation of the term--of Antonio Stradivari and other makers,
or, as time has proved, masters of their art, if not on an equal
standing with him. There is frequently among musicians a disposition to
set down as inferior any tone that may seem to differ in degree or kind
with that of Stradivari; that is the ideal type, it must be Stradivari
and no other; some have even gone so far as to say, "there is only one
quality," that of Stradivari, and when other masters did not produce it,
they were unable to do so; this is more than a hint at condemnation of
the head of the Cremona school as having been very lax in the proper and
thoughtful training of his number of pupils; this latter an almost
necessary consequence of eminent rank, taken apart from the usual
assistance found to be obligatory from pressure of work. If we glance
over the Italian schools taken one after another, the facts, if
acknowledged, will be seen to point in other directions. Taking for
instance the Milanese master, Lorenzo Guadagnini, who tells us himself
that he learnt his art under Antonio Stradivari, we find distinct traces
of it in his tone, the general calibre is the same and most of the fine,
distinguishing features noticed in the tone produced by his master; the
difference, however, is that which is peculiar to the master makers of
Milan, that of a slightly less reedy emission of sound. Some have called
it harder, which is not a correct description. Chords are produced with
it as easily and roundly as with any other, the individual notes blend
beautifully and give an impression of homogeneousness in no wise
inferior to anything produced in Italy. There was no apparent difficulty
in the way of Milan acquiring and cultivating the variety of Italian
tone known as the Cremonese had they been so disposed; we are therefore
led to infer that each place with its musical world held its own
opinions as to the most satisfactory quality of tone for its purpose and
considered it the best. Milan is situated in Lombardy, north-west of
Cremona, and distant from it between forty and fifty miles; not a very
long way at any time, but quite sufficient for each place to cultivate
or indulge in any artistic or musical fancies or whims independently of
the other. We find maker after maker in Milan keeping within certain
limits as regards the quality of tone produced there; I do not know of
one whose instruments emitted other than the Milanese quality.

We may, I think, safely assume that so far from loosely and
superficially instructing his pupils, Stradivari's tuition was of a
deeper, far-reaching kind than has ever been suspected. If the tone of
Lorenzo Guadagnini is compared with that of the makers who were working
in Milan when he arrived, it will not be difficult to perceive that the
Milanese type is still retained, although much enlarged and matured, in
fact become freshly developed, throwing out the additional qualities for
the obtaining of which the great master of Cremona had carefully
trained his gifted pupil. All this is not in the least interfered with
by the fact of Joannes Battista Guadagnini's tone differing in some
respects--and more at times--with that of his father, but rather helped
by it; both assert on their tickets that they were instructed by
Stradivari, and both show the results of their training in that
largeness and impressiveness which is so much beloved of violinists and
which without doubt came from their great teacher. Josef, the son of
Joannes Battista Guadagnini, appears also to have either been instructed
by Stradivari or to have assisted under his personal supervision--which
would amount to much the same thing. We may perceive in the tone of this
maker also the influence of the great master in the same directions as
are manifested in the works of his father and grandfather, they are all
of the Stradivarian school.

Let us now turn in another direction. Alexandri Gagliano of Naples tells
us that he too was a pupil of Stradivari, and looking at his work there
is nothing about it inconsistent with his statement; his typical design
is formed upon that of Stradivari, and many of his details of
workmanship are such as can only have been carried out as the result of
either a lengthy study, or from being under the immediate supervision of
the master.

The quality of tone produced by the Neapolitans is as distinct as
possible from that of Milan, it is clear, lively, suggestive of a sunny
clime, and free in its emission, but leaves an impression on the ear of
a lack of sufficient profundity, nearly the opposite in fact of the
early Brescian school. Here the best of the Gaglianos--for it is not at
all certain that there were not more than two of them assisting at
different times in Stradivari's atelier--brought the same kind of
improvement to Naples as the Guadagninis did to Milan, the scale was
better regulated so as to give greater breadth of effect,
notwithstanding the general quality--seemingly native to the
place--being uninterfered with. Here then was the influence of
Stradivari having taught his pupils the means whereby the particular
tone quality most appreciated in the locality could be brought forward
in its most developed, or mature condition.

Carlo Bergonzi we shall have to consider more fully further on, and for
the present only refer to him as a pupil or assistant much more in
immediate connection with the atelier of Stradivari than any maker known
to us. Irregular workman as he was, swayed about this way and that by
matters unknown to us, he kept steadfast to the Stradivarian lines to
the end. The rest of his family were either his own pupils, or they may
have even been at times with his master, as they all--so far as I am
acquainted with them--are of the same school. These particulars all
point in one direction--that Stradivari was not anxious and made no
special efforts at introducing any new kind of tone--development of that
already in existence was his aim, and on this line he appears to have
led his immediate or personal pupils.

There is great probability that some very clever workmen whose names are
lost to us, were with Stradivari for a time, long or short, and were
able to imbibe the valuable precepts enjoined similarly on the other
disciples. It is not at present known whether the sons of Stradivari had
pupils or assistants, the rarity of their work seems to point to the
contrary; their father having been so successful from the commercial
point of view, apart from the higher aspect of his career, there may
have been--we might say--the usual disposition amongst sons of
successful fathers to take life more easily and repose among the laurels
won for them, requiring only a little caretaking. There is some
possibility of Thomas Balestrieri, of Mantua, having worked for a time
under Stradivari, but not as a pupil; there is much in his work
suggestive of this theory. His tone quality does not belong to the Amati
school, in which tradition has it he was trained. He may have gone as
help to Stradivari--for loose as was his general tendency, he could work
finely when the fit was on him. Whether he went or not, there remains
tone quality evidence of the strong influence of Stradivari, besides
the throwing aside of the Amati traditions concerning proportions,
curves and archings.

Of the other places to which personal pupils of the master went, we may
take a passing glance at Genoa, a city not replete with makers of
refinement, or numerous, but nevertheless with some sterling qualities.
Among them and the most "Straddy" is Bernardus Calcanius; his earliest
dates, if we can rely upon them, and they may prove at any moment to
have been earlier than hitherto known, almost preclude the possibility
of his having worked under Stradivari except as a youth. The influence
of the master is, however, decidedly paramount in his work and no other
tendency being noticeable, if not an immediate pupil, he took all
possible pains to acquire the excellencies that were to his knowledge
peculiar to Stradivari alone.

Among the Venetian makers there does not seem to be one that can--from
his style and workmanship--be picked out as showing all necessary
evidence of his having qualified under the great Cremonese as a personal
pupil. Nevertheless there is much indication, and such as cannot be
passed over, of the influence of Stradivari among the aristocracy of the
business there. This was not, as in the instances of the other schools
of violin making outside Cremona, in the first ten years of the century,
but after the different individuals of the group of eminent Venetians
must have been well known and of established reputation. In this there
is some apparent indication of one if not more of the party having taken
a trip to Cremona and brought back a few hints of no inconsiderable
value, perhaps received personally from the master. On the other hand,
if this was not the case, his works must have been brought into Venice
and their merits artistically as well as acoustically well thought over.
The outcome was a change, the Amati genius hitherto presiding
uninterfered with, seemingly immutable, had to give way to that which
was pronounced an improvement or a step higher in the progress of the
liutaro's art. As in Cremona, the Amati characteristics were too deeply
rooted in the affections of the Venetians to be eradicated, and we
consequently find in the designs of a few of the prominent makers the
strong influence of Stradivari in conflict with that of Nicolas Amati,
and the two swaying in balance with the settled convictions of the
followers of Jacobus Stainer.

Having now taken a glance round at the chief centres of violin making
that had during Stradivari's lifetime been strongly influenced by him,
directly by means of his pupils or indirectly by the arrival there of
his works, we may note that his qualities artistically or acoustically
considered, while giving him a commanding position, did not reach so far
as to annihilate, during competition, those of the Amatis, especially
where the latter had been of long standing and followed earnestly in
detail, they kept side by side as in Cremona. The influence of
Stradivari beyond the borders of Italy had yet to receive its due
acknowledgment from the crowds of imitators which have now become known
or have pushed themselves in front of the public gaze.



We can now return back to Cremona, where we left the master in what
might almost be termed the heydey of success, as he seems to have had
full obeisance as the reigning chief among liutaros. The amount of work
put forward--estimating carefully by what remains to us after the lapse
of some hundred and eighty years or more--must have been possibly larger
than is suspected and now might appear incredible if it were catalogued
in detail, were it not for the extreme probability that minor or mere
mechanical parts of the many instruments other than violins, violas, or
violoncellos were effectively carried out under the supervision of
Antonio Stradivari, his sons and assistants, of these probably what
under the circumstances might even be termed a numerous staff.

The period 1700 to 1725 has been referred to by some writers as "the
golden period" of Stradivari, not inaptly if we are to understand it in
a pecuniary sense, as his income at the time was no doubt of a very
satisfactory nature, but if taken from the standpoint of artistic
elegance and finish in detail the master himself seems to have had some
slight misgivings, as there are well-known indications in his latter
days of having used some of his early patterns, as if a desire had
arisen in his mind to return to his old love.

That some signs of advancing age should not be apparent in Stradivari's
work during the period of 1715 to 1725 would scarcely be expected. It is
just at this time, however, that he gives the strongest evidence of
being the extraordinary man that he was. In 1715 and thereabouts, a time
of all others, some critics might put it, when his most magnificent gems
of art were sent out into the world, he was a veteran seventy-one years,
a time of life that few people would look forward to as being
appropriate for executing unrivalled masterpieces, but rather as having
for some time retired for final rest after a full complement of working
days; here, however, was a peerless artist actually in his prime! and as
busy, possibly so, as at any early times.

At 1720 to 1725 a close student of his work of hand may discern some
signs of what was to follow, it might be said naturally. In the first
place the purfling gradually assumes a heavier aspect, it is a trifle
bolder or thicker in substance, although sent round the borders of the
instrument with apparently the same masterly handling and iron
nervousness of the preceding years. The edging is also a degree stouter.
Occasionally the corners are made to a more obtuse angle, adding to the
whole design a more stolid look, as if mere elegance was about to be
thrown aside and more simplicity and grandeur were being sought for.
This was not continued, the master seemed afraid of going too far
towards heaviness, he therefore cautiously withdrew to his own old
lines. Sometimes--possibly taking up and constructing upon some of his
old and early moulds--the corners are brought out more prominently, but
with more substance than in his early days; the result is delightful for
the connoisseur's eye. Accompanying these minute modifications there
will be noticed an increase slight and gradual in the expression of
heaviness in the sound holes. If possible there is more freedom from
mere symmetrical proportion, they are placed less accurately level, one
being a trifle higher than the other, this by the bye was common with
him at all times, although usually with a subtlety that left them
unnoticed by an ordinary observer. This slight irregularity has been
sometimes misinterpreted as one of the little secrets of the master
whereby he obtained his excellent sonority; "discovered" was the
exclamation, and a new rule laid down on Stradivari's lines--never place
your sound holes on the same level, always one a trifle higher and you
will get what the master was so famous for. The result, so far, has been
a disappointment which laid bare some evidence that these over zealous
enthusiasts were not sufficiently acquainted with the canons of Italian
art. There was another peculiarity creeping on with regard to these
sound holes--that of an enlargement of the curve opposing the lower
wing, at first it gave a more staid aspect to the part, there was less
sprightliness and youth about it, nevertheless it was fine at times,
even magnificent, there being still the same determination of purpose,
that of combining maturity of elegance with strength. Afterwards, the
change--and if all the works of these later years could be seen, saved
from the destructive ravages of time and wear, it would be pronounced
scarcely perceptible in its progressive degrees--came creeping on, old
age gradually insinuating itself in the mechanical part of the design.

From 1725 to 1737 was a time forming a proportion of Stradivari's career
during which, if he arouses less enthusiasm among his admirers for the
"work of hand," he outbalances it by far in exciting our astonishment at
the man himself. In the year 1725, he was then eighty-one years of age,
and his work, regarded from the standpoint of "periods" as given, or
arbitrarily laid down by critics of the first half of the present
century, was what is now known as just past the "golden" or "grand"
period; that is, some signs of decadence in the finish of the
instruments which he sent forth were for the first time becoming
apparent. It is generally believed that Stradivari was still
industriously engaged in constructing instruments of different kinds
and sizes as before, and that his time was occupied to the full in
producing works in rapid succession, as in an uninterrupted stream. That
the first part of this was probably quite true we can readily agree to,
also that the out-put was continuous. Both, however, will need a little
qualification when the surrounding circumstances are carefully weighed.
Allowing the master possession of unusual mental and physical powers,
with zeal unabated at the period included within the dates 1725 and
1735, it would be too much for us to believe him capable of working with
the certainty and celerity of former years; with all his extraordinary
abilities he would now be a less prolific worker.

This is in agreement with the number of works that have come down to us,
and as the time advanced it became less and less until a veritable
specimen of his latest period is extremely rare.

It has before been referred to that the sons of Stradivari worked with
him for many years. They must have, from continual practice, been able
to fit their own workmanship on to the designs of their father to a
nicety that could not be surpassed. Their own individual designs are
very seldom seen, consequent, no doubt, on so much of their time being
devoted to helping their father, and until his death they must have
rarely made on their own account.

There were other assistants who lent a helping hand in different
branches of the work, among whom we will not omit mention of Carlo
Bergonzi, a great master himself, but little inferior to Stradivari, and
a good deal better than either of the sons.

The circumstances under which Carlo Bergonzi worked in the Stradivari
establishment are not known; it is by no means certain that he received
his early tuition in the place, but that he became an influence of
considerable weight admits of no question. Whether he worked on the
premises, or--his own being at one time or other next door--was an
outside help no data is to hand that we can rely on, certain it is that
his talent must have been fully recognised by the younger Stradivaris as
their work declares.

Many years back there was some discussion about concerning the extent to
which Carlo Bergonzi helped, or what part he undertook, if it were
admitted that some of the Stradivari violins of the latest period were
not entirely the work of the master. There was much said for and against
the possibility or probability of there being any of Carlo Bergonzi's
handiwork to be seen on any of the late Strads. No one seems to have
questioned the presence of the influence of Bergonzi's style in the work
of Franciscus Stradivari, the eldest of the sons, who, after labouring
for many years on his father's moulds and patterns, might have
reasonably been tempted to take a "leaf from the book" of such a master
in designing as his friend and fellow-assistant, Carlo Bergonzi.

To take any sort of hint from that wonderful, although fitful genius,
Giuseppe Guarneri, working within earshot, was not to be entertained for
a moment, as the style of workmanship, the calibre and quality of tone
belonging to his manner, was quite opposed to Stradivarian teaching, and
besides which there are no records or traditions indicating even usual
social intercourse. We are therefore thrown upon our own resources in
estimating any connection of Carlo Bergonzi with the late work of
Antonio Stradivari. The instruments themselves will be the only guide
and, without doubt, in the face of other evidence, had it been present,
the best. Stradivari's work during the last ten or more years of his
life was showing exactly what we should expect of the man when working
at a patriarchal age. The stamp of the veteran handicraftsman may be
traced not unfrequently on the works of other eminent makers of Cremona,
including Andreas, Hieronymus, Nicolas, and his son Hieronymus and
others down to the latest period of Cremonese art, when Laurentius
Storioni was proving that if in its last struggles it was not quite

The distinguishing characteristics of old age work may be briefly
summed up in a few words--heaviness in design and uncertainty of
execution. Good, even brilliant, conceptions may be started on new work,
but the execution of them shows weakness, or even inability to carry
them out well. We will apply this as a kind of test when overlooking the
specimens handed down to us as being the production of the great
Cremonese master at the age of between eighty and ninety-three years of
age. If doing this simply from the connoisseur's point of view, without
admitting any such influences as present or past monetary value, former
ownership, in short, thrusting aside all considerations of pedigree, we
shall soon have to divide them into two sections, one of which will be
acknowledged by all connoisseurs to be really representative of the true
Stradivarian manner adhered to strictly through a long working career,
but with the only fault of not quite so well being said of it. Thus the
sound holes, as before referred to in the tracings, were becoming
heavier at the lower part and with a tendency in other details towards
ruggedness. The varnish has a thicker and less dainty aspect, although
of excellent quality still, but there is an impression of heaviness. In
the carving of the scroll the same character prevails, the edges of the
turns are stouter and at the back the grooves down to the shell are less
refined in their execution. All these little specialities of touch, but
no modifications, are the natural manifestation of the peculiar physical
condition of the master at a very advanced age.

Let us now turn to the other section, that over some of which there is
excellent reason for disputation, over others none.

It will be readily acceded that Stradivari at no time during his career
ever favoured any exaggeration of curve in the design of his sound
holes, there was always present the indication of a desire for a fine
balance of parts, in fact, his ideal seems always to have been that of
increasing, if possible, the elegance of the Amati sound holes while
adding to its substantial aspect.

In some of what we have called the second section we find a lively, fine
and rich transparent varnish such as Carlo Bergonzi was particularly an
adept at; on the same instrument will be sound holes, that a moment's
consideration will remove any hesitation as to the design being other
than Carlo Bergonzi. As this remarkable artist had several types of
sound holes, and no one knows how many subtypes, at his finger ends, a
little knowledge of his two most opposite ones will bring at once to
mind that he must have had a hand in no inconsiderable portion of what
is called Stradivari's late work, as here is found the inclining inwards
of his sound holes with the smaller upper part and heavier lower end.
This will be found accompanied by the square looking upper part of the
waist curve, the two things being alone almost sufficient to stamp the
whole as being by Carlo Bergonzi, but here pedigree has stepped in and
it was always called a Stradivari.

This is the one type of sound holes which has to be placed aside for a
moment; the other type is of an opposite kind and very often to be seen
accompanying the longer looking pattern of Carlo Bergonzi: it is free in
design, having the upper and lower wings fully developed, that is, the
straight cut of the wing is of full length, this individuality coming
from Stradivari.

It is this portion of the details of the design that has led so many
Students of the works of the Cremonese masters astray, they see the
Stradivarian design, or we may call it peculiarity, and too hastily
conclude as to its being the actual work of hand of the master. A little
further consideration of the adjoining portions of the sound holes would
bring to mind how little Stradivari was disposed towards any thinness of
the opening out of the part leading from the wing to the nicks: if he
had a tendency one way or the other, it would be towards more fulness,
but his ideal being a beautiful equilibrium of all parts, this is
clearly a point telling against the work as coming from his hand
entirely. There is another part, too, that Stradivari seems to have most
earnestly avoided, that of making the top portion of the sound hole
design reach over towards the centre, somewhat after the tendency of
Andrea Guarneri, this causes the lower part to seem turned up more
suddenly, it is, however, only by contrast between the two parts that
this is so. Carlo Bergonzi's sound holes are more sprightly and
vertical, and with their more mature style should not be confused with
those of the preceding maker. Here, then, are two distinct types of
sound holes independently of those referred to of earlier periods, to be
seen attached to violins that have perhaps through several generations
of owners been attributed to Antonio Stradivari, and in consequence been
sold again and again for large sums. Here is evidence of there being
something in a name. Had these instruments been carefully and properly
analysed, with a strict regard to the habit of the master in respect of
intention in design and execution at early and later periods, the
mistake would not have occurred. The conclusions rushed at seem to have
been that there was the proper age of the instrument, the varnish was of
fine Cremonese type, the pattern and sound holes thought to be
"Straddy," therefore it must be a Stradivari.

On the other hand, there is no obtainable evidence that these violins
did not issue in new condition from Stradivari's atelier; we have in
previous pages considered the amount of help at his elbow, and that this
would be more and more called into requisition is but a reasonable
conjecture: that it was actually the case is helped by the fact of
violins being extant in which the age of the master is stated on the
ticket--presumably written by himself. Possibly he felt some degree of
pride in having accomplished, at the patriarchal age of about ninety
years, work generally associated with the time and vigour of middle age.
The existence of these violins, there may have been several more made
than are known, has much significance, for the fact of his age being
inserted may be fairly taken as indirect evidence not to be lightly put
aside, that they were by himself looked upon as an accomplished work
quite out of his usual way. Had he been constantly putting forth
instruments made by his own hands, there would not have been anything
unusual about them, but these, with date and age marked, seem to be a
declaration of the master--see--I have made a violin at the age here
stated! In these there is present exactly what would be expected in such
work--indication of insufficiency of the physical powers for carrying
into execution the dictates of the mental. The intellect of this wonder
of humanity appears to have remained unclouded to the last.

The other violins of about the same epoch, and going under the master's
name, have a manner of work that ought to have been perceived as being
also distinct. Mere hastiness or slovenliness of work is not identical
with the effect of inability to achieve mechanical neatness. It is this
slovenliness of handiwork which Carlo Bergonzi gave way to so
frequently; he could, when in the humour, work beautifully; this, with
his fine perception of elegance of line, was possibly the secret of his
being admitted into the atelier of Stradivari and of his influence over
the sons. There may have been other special particulars regarding him
that helped in the matter of which there does not appear to be any



Returning to the analysis of the individuality of the mechanical work on
the violins of the latest epoch of Stradivari, one or two further
details are worth consideration. The size, style and tool work of the
scroll have always been admitted to take up a large share in the
estimation of evidence present for identification of authorship. In some
of the late specimens of Stradivari we can see at once that the hand has
become less firm, the bold turns seem to have lost much of their former
vigorous expression, and although thick enough in edge are closer, and
impress the connoisseur of the inability of the artificer to spend more
time and attention than was absolutely necessary. The groove down the
back to the shell is less refined than previously, besides being more
heavily gouged at the termination. Almost in contrast with these parts
there are seen on other "very late Strads" a neatly cut shell widening
out a trifle and minus the thick edging; an examination of the turns of
the scroll will reveal the fact of its having been gouged in quite a
different manner, the declevity being more concave, the result of
running the gouge along the course instead of towards the centre which
was the manner of the Amatis. This hollowing out of the turns was so
frequently done by Carlo Bergonzi that it might be called his most
natural mode of treatment; we can here see what evidence there is of
this maker's probable help in the work of his master. If we admit the
possibility of these being entirely Antonio Stradivari's handiwork, then
there were more phenomenal aspects of the master's working powers left
for our consideration than he had hitherto given the slightest hint of
during his extraordinarily long career.


Taking therefore all the facts at our command in connection with the
circumstances of the time, and the artist himself with his extended
life, sifting these carefully we find the residue left is,--that his
working powers gradually lessened in a perfectly natural way and that
such entire work as left his hands during the last few, say six or seven
years was, taken at the best, small in quantity; they came forth as from
the last flickering embers of a decaying power whose influence,
bequeathed to the world at large, was destined to increase indefinitely
and whose secrets were left unrevealed, to be sought for earnestly, but
in vain, by generation after generation.

Time, he with his hour glass, passing by the home of Antonio Stradivari
in Cremona, found him full of years and honour among his own little
world of friends and acquaintances, for beyond the borders of his
country his name could have been known to few, and those only
recognising him as a clever and successful practitioner in perhaps their
own craft; his world wide fame had as yet received but a slight impetus
when it became known that no more of the unapproachable gems of art were
to issue from the unassuming house in the square of S. Domenico,

Antonio Stradivari died in his 94th year at Cremona on the 18th of
December, 1737, and was buried in the chapel of the Rosary in the Church
of San Domenico. This church was situated exactly opposite his house,
where, standing at his door--as he must have done many a time--the tomb
which was to be his final resting-place came directly on the line of
vision in front of him, but within the third recess or chapel past
the intervening wall. So far as our scanty knowledge goes, there were no
circumstances connected with his death that called for any special
notice at the time. Possibly little more was remarked by the neighbours
than that the aged musical instrument maker of the Piazza di San
Domenico had died, and his two sons were to carry on the business.
Perhaps none of them gave a thought to the immensely enhanced value of
each of his works of art--or as they may have described them--the goods
that he sold--that might be remaining two centuries forward.

He had lived to an almost patriarchal age, over ninety-three years. It
is rare to find in the world's history a leading light among professors
of science or art completing such a career of almost incessant labour
both mental and physical. It is still more so to find the work of such a
genius, large as was the quantity, increasing in value by "leaps and
bounds" as time progressed after his decease. Most probably at the
present day--supposing there to be extant as much as one-eighth of what
he put forth--and that may be very much over the mark, the market value
of what is recognised as his handiwork would still be a very long way
above that of the whole of the work put forth throughout his life. It is
on record that when he died there were ninety violins remaining unsold.
There may be several good reasons for this; among them the fact that
Carlo Bergonzi and Joseph Guarneri were working in rivalry at the time,
and bidding for public favour less on account of fine workmanship than
force and magnificence of style and general aspect, and that public
attention was to some extent diverted in their direction; further, and
perhaps more cogent, the recognition of the great brilliancy and
largeness of Joseph Guarneri's tone, that must have seemed to the
musical cognoscenti of Cremona remarkably fresh and vigorous.

But when the master had departed it was not long before the loss was
seen to be irreparable. His work was sought for, there being none other
of the kind to supply its place; further and further as time advanced
it was becoming more and more evident that his like was not to be hoped
for, notwithstanding the favour with which the public viewed the two
rivals who were destined to work for a comparatively short period. When
these two at last disappeared, it was a signal for another rise in the
monetary value of Stradivari's work, and which was to continue
progressing indefinitely until such time when there may be signs of an
approaching renaissance.


[A] Our illustration of this house is from a photo. It will be noticed
that it has not an imposing exterior and not much indication of the more
spacious premises in the rear where the great master worked.



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  Its History, Manufacture and Use


  With Full Page Illustrations (exact size) by Photo Process.

  MONS. EMILE SAURET writes--"I have read it with great interest, and
  think that it supplies a real want in giving musicians such an
  excellent description of all matters referring to this important

  SIGNOR GUIDO PAPINI writes--"Thanks so much for your splendid and
  interesting book. You are quite successful and all the artists and
  amateurs are indebted to you for a so exact and correct '_Texte_' on
  the subject."

  ADOLF BRODSKY writes--"I am delighted with the book and find it very
  instructive, even for those who think to know everything about the
  bow. It is very original and at times very amusing. No violinist
  should miss the opportunity to buy it."

  THE TIMES.--"A useful treatise on the Bow, in which the history,
  manufacture and use of the bow are discussed with considerable
  technical knowledge."

  DAILY TELEGRAPH.--"To the student there is much of interest in the
  work, which has the advantage of being copiously illustrated."

  DAILY NEWS.--"This book seems practically to exhaust its subject."

  "STRAD" OFFICE, 3. Green Terrace, Rosebery Avenue, E.C.


  _Crown 8vo., Cloth 5/-, Post Free 5/4._


  _Translated from the German of_

  _And Edited with Notes and Additions by_



  "Those who love their fiddles better than their fellows, and who
  treasure up every detail that can be found and recorded about their
  favourite and cherished players will not fail to provide themselves
  with a copy of this book."--_Musical Opinion._

  "This book of 280 pages is a most interesting and valuable addition
  to the violinist's library. It contains 89 biographical sketches of
  well-known artists, ancient and modern, of all nations. This is not
  intended to be a perfect dictionary of violinists; the aim of the
  Editor of the present volume being merely to give a few more
  up-to-date details concerning some of the greatest of stringed
  instrument players, and we must concede that no name of the first
  importance has been omitted. Germany is represented by 21 names,
  Italy by 13, France by 10, England by 4, Bohemia by 8, Belgium by 7,
  and the fair sex by seven well-known ladies, such as Teresina Tua,
  Therèse and Marie Milanollo, Lady Hallé, Marie Soldat, Gabrielle
  Wietrowetz, and Arma Senkrah. Altogether this is most agreeable
  reading to the numerous army of violinists, both professionals and
  amateurs, and after careful examination we can find nothing but
  praise for this translation into English of a book well-known on the
  Continent."--_The Piano, Organ and Music Trades Journal._

  "STRAD" OFFICE, 3. Green Terrace, Rosebery Avenue, E.C.


  _Crown 8vo., Cloth 2/6, Post Free 2/9._




  _Copy of Letter received by the Author from the great 'cellist,

                              Cadenabbia, Lake of Como, March 9th, 1898.

  DEAR SIR,--I received the book you kindly sent me on "The Technics
  of Violoncello Playing," which I found excellent, particularly for
  beginners, which naturally was your scope. With many thanks for
  kindly remembering an old ex-violoncello player.

                                       Believe me, yours sincerely,
                                                          ALFRED PIATTI.

  _Copy of Letter received by the Author from the eminent 'cellist,

                                          Budapest, February 22nd, 1898.

  DEAR SIR,--In sending me your book on "The Technics of Violoncello
  Playing" you have given me a real and true pleasure. I know of no
  work, tutors and studies not excepted, which presents so much
  valuable material, so much that is absolutely to the point,
  avoiding--I might say, on principle--all that is superfluous and
  dispensable. Every earnest thinking violoncello student will in
  future make your book his own and thereby receive hints which will
  further and complete the instructions of his master.

  I congratulate you and ourselves most heartily on the new violoncello
  book. With kind regards,

                                             Yours most sincerely,
                                                           DAVID POPPER.

  "STRAD" OFFICE, 3. Green Terrace, Rosebery Avenue, E.C.


  _Crown 8vo., Cloth, 2/6, Post Free 2/9._




  INTRODUCTORY--Qualities indispensable to the ideal Violinist--Hints
  on the Choice of a Teacher--Some Tricks of pretending professors

  ON THE CHOICE OF A VIOLIN AND BOW--Advice regarding general
  adjustment and repairs.

  ON THE CHOICE OF STRINGS--Stringing the Instrument and keeping the
  Pegs in Order.

  ON THE GENERAL POSTURE--The manner of holding the Violin and Bow as
  accepted by the leading artists of the day.

  ON FINGERING GENERALLY--The various positions--Scales
  recommended--The Modern Orchestral "Principal" or (so-called)

  ON GLIDING--Special Characteristics of some of the most Eminent

  DOUBLE STOPPING--The main difficulty in Double Stopping--How to gain
  independence of Finger.

  BOWINGS--Smooth Bowings--Solid Staccato--Spiccato--Spring Bow--Mixed

  TONE PRODUCTION--Character of Tone--Rules and Conditions necessary
  to produce a good tone--Style and Expression.

  "STRAD" OFFICE, 3. Green Terrace, Rosebery Avenue, E.C.


  _Crown 8vo, Cloth, 2/6, Post Free 2/9._




  Preliminary remarks--'Cello Difficult to Master--Choice of a
  Teacher--Choice of an Instrument and Bow. How to Hold the
  Instrument--Attitude of the Player--Use of a Sliding Pin
  Recommended--Correct Way of Holding the Bow--Some Incorrect Sketches
  of Same. General Knowledge--Eccentricity not Necessarily a Mark of
  Genius--Musical Notation--Common Errors with Respect to the Actual
  Position of the Various Clefs--Tenor Clef Indispensable to the
  'Cellist. Early Attempts at 'Cello Playing--Firmness in
  Fingering--The Left Hand--Correct Method of Placing the Left Hand
  Fingers. General Remarks on Bowing--Useful Method of Combining
  Scale Practice with Study of Various Bowings--Smooth
  Bowings--Crescendo--Diminuendo--The Slur. Bowing
  Continued--Martelé--Detached Stroke--Mixed Bowings--The Various
  Divisions of the Bow. On "Staccato" Bowing-Spiccato--Slurred
  Springing-Bow--Varieties of Phrasing Occasioned by the Portion of
  Bow Used--Sautillé--Dotted Notes. On the Positions--The Individual
  Requirements of the Orchestral Player and Soloist--The Necessity of
  "Stretching" for the Intervals--Locality of the Neck Positions--The
  Enharmonic Difference of Sharp and Flat Keys--Absolute Pitch--How to
  Leap any Awkward Interval--The Positions not Determined by
  Mathematical Rules, but by the "Ear"--Shifting--"Economy of Motion"
  _v._ "Effect"--Choice of Positions. Portamento--The Various Uses of
  Gilding--Some Exaggerations Exposed--How to Leap Great Intervals
  without "Howling"--Combination of Glissando and Sforzando.
  Double-Stopping--Useful in Developing the Hand--How to Determine the
  Fingering of Various Intervals--Gliding in Double Stops--Chords--A
  Correct Manner of Playing Chords. Arpeggios--Their Evolution from
  Various Chords--The Bowing of Arpeggios. Graces and
  Embellishments--The Use of the Thumb--Extensions--Octaves.
  Scientific Basis of Harmonics--Some Peculiar Laws which Govern a
  Vibrating String--"Natural" and "Artificial" Harmonics--Manner of
  Bowing Harmonics--Special Effects--"Trick Staccato"--Various Methods
  of Producing Chromatic Scale Passages--"Sul Ponticello" Bowing and
  "Bowed" Harmonics--Flautando--Pizzicato Glide and Grace Notes!
  Delivery--Style--"Form" _v._ "Feeling"--Conception--Essentials of a
  "Fine" Delivery--Orchestral Playing.

  "STRAD" OFFICE, 3. Green Terrace, Rosebery Avenue, E.C.


  Passages in italics are indicated by _italics_.

  Passages in bold are indicated by =bold=.

  Inconsistencies in spelling and hypenation have been retained from the

  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected as follows:
    Page  3: "occured" changed to "occurred"
    Page 22: "be" changed to "he"
    Page 31: "connoissiers" changed to "connoisseurs"
    Page 39: "ignominous" changed to "ignominious"
    Page 60: "Guadaguini" changed to "Guadagnini"

  Page numbers in the "List of Plates" for the ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCROLLS
    have been retained, but illustrations have been moved to be next to
    the paragraph in which they are referred.

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