Violins made by these men are valued to this day.Throughout history, names such as Amati and Stradivari have been associated with some of the finest violins ever made. To this day, these talented violin makers are considered the best – owning a rare violin made from these studios means you own a very valuable collectors piece. Here is a closer look at these famous violin makers.
Andrea Amati was one of the earliest violin makers who created the Amati family legacy: violin making that flourished from between 1550 and 1740. He always made violins in matched pairs, the most famous of these being a pair made during the 1560s and 1570s for the court of Charles IV of France. Very few Amati violins are in existence today; the few still intact are preserved carefully in museums.
Nicolo Amati followed his father's footsteps and continued the revered Amati family legacy. He taught students such as Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri. Nicolo is famous for improving the Amati violin by producing instruments capable of yielding greater power of tone.
For many years, Jacob Stainer was considered as talented at his craft as the Amati family. One of the only non-Italians included in this prestigious company, his violins are very rare and highly sought after. An interesting character, Stainer used hand-written labels and often made spelling mistakes. At the end of the 18th century, collectors valued a Jacob Stainer violin four times more than a Stradivarius.
Antonio Stradivari is a world-renowned violin maker who, as a child, served as an apprentice to Nicolo Amati, beginning his violin making career at the tender age of 11. He spent his early career crafting plucked instruments such as harps and guitars. He began putting his name on his works using the Latin version of his name, Stradivarius.
Two of his sons, Francesco and Omobono helped him make his violins. His first pupil was Giovanni Guadagnini, whose father Lorenzo became Stadivari's assistant. His golden era was 1714 to 1720 – it was during this time period that he did his best work, including the Betts, Alard and the Messiah. He died in 1737 in Cremona Italy at the age of 93.
Throughout his lifetime, he made over 1,000 instruments, 600 of these being violins (the remainders were guitars, violas, and cellos). There are approximately 450 of his violins in existence today. The value of a Stradivarius violin ranges from $25,000 to over $200,000. His instruments are considered by many to be the finest ever created. The highest price ever paid for a Stradivari violin (the Kreutzer Strad) was $1.6 million at an auction at Christie's in London in 1998.
Andre Guarneri was born in 1626 and was an apprentice in the Amati Company with Antonio Stradivari. Giuseppe Guarneri, Andre's second son, was one of the world's most famous violin makers. There are very few of his instruments in existence today.
Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu, son of Guiseppe, is considered the most illustrious member of this famous family. He deviated widely from tradition, creating instruments with a style all his own. Before Joseph, Guarneri violins followed the patterns and tradition of the Amati violins.
Of the approximately 250 violins made by Joseph, about 150 are still in existence. One of them recently sold for over one million dollars on the London market.
Amongst the many members of the Gagliano family that made violins, Alessandro is one of the most famous. He worked in the shops of Nicolo Amati and Antonio Stradivari in his youth. Nicolo I, the eldest son of Alessandro made violins so great in quality they were often mistaken for Stradivari's.
To this day, instruments from the golden age of violin making – especially those created by Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu – are the most sought after, causing collectors and performers to pay great sums of money for the chance to own one of the rare originals.