Stainer, Jacob (or Jakob)

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Stainer, Jacob (or Jakob)

Stainer, Jacob (or Jakob), esteemed Austrian violin maker; b. Absam, near Hall, Tirol, july 14, 1617?; d. there, Oct. or Nov. 1683. He was trained as a chorister, then apprenticed to a German violin maker who lived in Italy. After traveling to Salzburg, Munich, Venice, and other cities to sell his instruments, he settled in Absam. He was named archprince’s servant (purveyor to the court) by Ferdinand Karl, prince of Tirol, in 1656. His fortunes suffered an adverse turn when, in 1669, he was accused of Lutheran leanings, and spent several months in prison; was stricken with bouts of mental instability from 1675, although he continued to make instruments during periods of remission. His instruments were made between 1638 and 1682. He also made alto and tenor viols, cellos, and double basses. His violins were especially admired for their expert craftsmanship and beauty of tone. He was no relation to Markus (Marcus) Stainer (b. Hallein, Salzburg, c. 1633; d. Laufen, Upper Bavaria, Nov. 27, 1693), who was also a fine Austrian violin maker. The latter Stainer settled in Laufen, where he was made a citizen in 1656; his instruments are highly prized.


S. Ruf, Der Geigenmacher Jacobus S. von Absam im Tirol (Innsbruck, 1872; second ed., 1892); F. Lentner, J. S.s Lebenslauf im Lichte archivarischer Forschung (Leipzig, 1898); Princess de la Tour et Taxis, Le Violon de J. S.(Paris, 1910); W. Senn, J. S., der Geigenmacher zu Absam: Die Lebesgeschichte nach urkundlichen Quellen (Innsbruck, 1951); W. Salmen, ed., J. S. und seine Zeit: Bericht ber die J.- S.-Tagung Innsbruck 1983 (Innsbruck, 1984); W. Senn and K. Roy, J. S.: Leben und Werk des Tiroler Meisters, 1617–1683 (Frankfurt am Main, 1986).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire