Three centuries of violin-making: both its complexity and its extension make this long period of time difficult to sum up in a few words. We have chosen a different approach: we briefly introduce each century, while more information is given in the form of a “brush portrait” of each violin maker and each instrument.
THE 18th CENTURY
This was the golden age of violin making: the century during which the Cremona School grew to fame, becoming the absolute point of reference for the construction of stringed bowed instruments. It still remains at this apex today, at least in the eyes of the general public. The instruments made by the great maestros of this period are the most valuable, but also in consequence the have undergone the largest number of imitations.
THE 19th CENTURY
This century is the classical “intermediate period” it marked the end of the great era and the start of the inevitable crisis that followed. This is not to say that there were no significant protagonists: on the contrary, though many of them were isolated they succeeded in laying the foundations on wich the entire violin-making movement could be relaunched: a century that acted as the transition period towards a new renaissance. This period more than others is best undersood through its protagonists, through whom the perticular qualities and differences compared to the past transpire.
THE 20th CENTURY
For Italian violin making the 20th century was the time of a general renaissance. The foundations had already been laid by the best violin makers of the previous century, and now maestros appeared who were able to develop the teaching they had received withhout suffocating their own creativity. The result was extraordinary: during the 20th century, as different generations of violin makers succeeded one another, they showed that it was possible to build on the great traditions while making instruments with strong personality and exceptional acoustic characteristics, which could meet the demands of musicians, be they soloists, chamber musicians or members of an orchestra.
From Three centuries of Italian Violin Making by Artemio Versari