During my summer vacation, exploring Switzerland and Italy by rail, I had the chance to stop in Cremona, the beautiful city of violin-makers.
This northern Italian town is famous for its finely crafted violins, an artisan and musical tradition that dates back to the 16th century. The earliest and most famous violins were crafted by Andrea Amati, Giuseppe Guarneri “del Gesù”, and Antonio Stradivari.
A visit to Cremona has always been on my bucket list, so this opportunity was a dream come true!
When planning a visit to Cremona, you should keep in mind that the summer period isn’t your best bet: most lutherie schools are closed, guided tours are unavailable, and luthiers are away on vacation (I faced many locked doors with vacation notices.) However, simply walking through the city and seeing the old Stradivari house was very inspirational!
Cremona is full of hidden treasures
One of the most remarkable shops I came across was owned by luthier Andrea Schudtz. His instruments are built following the rules of the classical models of the Cremonese school, but with a personal touch. For instance, the various shapes of his scrolls are uniquely detailed and absolutely gorgeous. This luthier’s artisanship preserves the art form of violin-making.
Museo del Violino
The Museo del Violino (the Violin Museum) was one of the highlights of my visit to Cremona. It houses Lo Scrigno dei Tesori (the Treasure Chest), a gallery where violins, violas, and cellos built from the 16th to the 18th century are magnificently showcased. My jaw dropped when I came face-to-face with a 1715 Stradivari violin!
I was also able to study the design of various Amati violins, known for their perfect sound in chamber music. This was particularly interesting because I’m crafting an Amati violin!
Equally fascinating was the violin builders’ workshops that exhibit tools, molds, and wood types.
On display: the distinctive Stradivari embellishment which can be used on the neck, pegbox, or scroll. I was inspired to incorporate these designs once I build my own scroll!
Ever since my visit to Cremona, I’ve been inspired to continue working on my violin. I’ve built a small workshop back home, where I love spending my Saturday mornings crafting wood and savouring the sounds of Stingray Music’s Classical 4 Strings channel!
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