was born in the year 1644 (by some sources also in 1649 or 1650) in Cremona, Italy to Alessandro Stradivari and Anna Moroni. A luthier by profession (maker of violins and other stringed instruments), he was to set a standard for the design of violins and cellos which has never subsequently been superseded.
From 1667 to 1679 he probably served as a pupil in Amati's workshop. In 1680 Stradivari set up for himself in the Piazza San Domenico, and his fame as a instrument-maker was soon established. He now began to show his originality, making alterations in Amati's model. The arching was improved, the various degrees of thickness in the wood were more exactly determined, the formation of the scroll altered, and the varnish more highly coloured. His instruments are recognized by their inscription in Latin: Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis Faciebat Anno [date] (Antonio Stradivari, Cremona, made in the year ...).
It is generally acknowledged that his finest instruments were manufactured from 1698 to 1725 (peaking around 1715), exceeding in quality those manufactured between 1725 and 1730. After 1730, some of the instruments are signed sub disciplina Stradivarii, and were probably made by his sons, Omobono and Francesco.
Apart from violins, Stradivari also made harps, guitars, violas, and cellos - more than 1,100 instruments in all, by current estimate. About 650 of these instruments survive today.
Antonio Stradivari died in Cremona, Italy on December 18, 1737 and is buried in the Basilica of San Domenico in Cremona. Stradivari's instruments are regarded as amongst the finest stringed instruments ever created, are highly prized, and played by professionals today. Only one other maker, Joseph Guarneri del Gesu, commands the same respect among violin makers.
Photo: Lawrence Meacock
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