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Stradivari, Antonio

STRADIVARI, ANTONIO

Foremost among violin makers; b. Cremona?, Italy, 1644?; d. Cremona, Dec. 18, 1737. A violin dated 1666 contains his name and states that he was a student of Nicola Amati. Later he inscribed his age on the violin labels, and from this the year 1644 is generally accepted as the date of his birth. He went through several more or less well-defined phases in the construction of his violins: 1666 to 1684, years when the Amati influence was predominant; 1684 to 1700, years of progress toward perfection through experiments in form, length, and balance. In 1690 there first appeared the "Long Strad," which was capable of producing more forceful tones. The finest instruments date from 1700; the average length of the instruments of this period was 14 inches, as opposed to the 14 3/16 inches of the "Long Strad." He made also guitars, lutes, viols, and mandolins. With the collaboration of two of his 11 children, Francesco and Omobono, he is estimated to have produced 1,116 instruments, of which 540 authentic violins, 50 violoncellos, and 12 violas are extant. Five of the finest were given to the Library of Congress by the Gertrude Clarke Whittall Foundation and are used by the resident chamber players during their weekly public concerts.

Bibliography: w. h. hill et al., Antonio Stradivari (London 1902; repr. New York 1963). e. n. doring, How Many Strads? (Chicago 1945). c. beare, "Antonio Stradivari" in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. s. sadie (New York 1980). g. gianpaolo, La chitarra Giustiniani Antonio Stradivari (1681) (Cremona 1998). s. pollens, The Violin Forms of Antonio Stradivari (London 1992). d. m. randel, ed., The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music (Cambridge 1996). n. slonimsky, ed., Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (New York 1992).

[f. j. guentner]

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