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A Stradivarius
Stradivarius
is one of the violins, violas, cellos and other string instruments built by members of the Italian family Stradivari, particularly Antonio Stradivari
Antonio Stradivari
(Latin: Antonius Stradivarius), during the 17th and 18th centuries. According to their reputation, the quality of their sound has defied attempts to explain or equal it, though this belief is disputed.[1][2] The fame of Stradivarius instruments is widespread, appearing in numerous works of fiction.

Contents

1 Construction 2 Market value 3 Comparisons in sound quality 4 Theories and reproduction attempts 5 Violins bearing the Stradivari label 6 Stradivari instruments 7 Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 8 References 9 Further reading 10 External links

Construction[edit] The wood used included spruce for the top, willow for the internal blocks and linings, and maple for the back, ribs, and neck. There has been conjecture that this wood was treated with several types of minerals, including potassium borate (borax), sodium and potassium silicate, and vernice bianca, a varnish composed of gum arabic, honey, and egg white. Stradivari made his instruments using an inner form, unlike the French copyists, such as Vuillaume, who employed an outer form. It is clear from the number of forms throughout his career that he experimented with some of the dimensions of his instruments.[3] A comparative study published in PLOS ONE
PLOS ONE
in 2008[4] found no significant differences in median densities between modern and classical violins, or between classical violins from different origins; instead the survey of several modern and classical examples of violins highlighted a notable distinction when comparing density differentials. These results suggest that differences in density differentials in the material may have played a significant role in the sound production of classical violins. A later survey, focused on comparing median densities in both classical and modern violin examples, questioned the role available materials may have played in sound production differences, though it made no comment on variations in density differentials.[5] The content of copper and aluminium is higher than current instruments.[6][7] Market value[edit]

Antonio Stradivari
Antonio Stradivari
violin of 1703 on exhibit, behind glass, at the Musikinstrumentenmuseum (Berlin Musical Instrument Museum), 2006

A Stradivarius
Stradivarius
made in the 1680s, or during Stradivari's "Long Pattern" period from 1690 to 1700, could be worth hundreds of thousands to several million U.S. dollars at today's prices.[8] The 1697 "Molitor"[9] Stradivarius, once rumored to have belonged to Napoleon
Napoleon
(it did belong to a general in his army, Count Gabriel Jean Joseph Molitor), sold in 2010 at Tarisio Auctions
Tarisio Auctions
to violinist Anne Akiko Meyers for $3,600,000, at the time a world record.[10][11] Depending on condition, instruments made during Stradivari's "golden period" from 1700 to about 1725[12] can be worth millions of dollars. In 2011, his "Lady Blunt" violin from 1721, which is in pristine condition, was sold in London for $15.9 million (it is named after Lord Byron's granddaughter Lady Anne Blunt, who owned it for 30 years). It was sold by the Nippon Music Foundation in aid of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami appeal.[13] In Spring 2014 the "Macdonald" viola was put up for auction through the musical instrument auction house Ingles & Hayday in conjunction with Sotheby's
Sotheby's
via silent auction with a minimum bid of $45 million.[14] The auction failed to reach its minimum bid by 25 June 2014,[15] and the viola was not sold. Vice magazine reported in May 2013 that "in recent years, Stradivarius investment funds have started to appear, pushing already astronomical prices even higher".[16] Stradivarius
Stradivarius
instruments are at risk of theft. Stolen instruments are often recovered, however, even after being missing for many years. They are difficult to sell illicitly as dealers will typically call the police if approached by a seller with a Stradivarius
Stradivarius
known to have been stolen.[17] In recent years, the General Kyd Stradivarius was stolen in 2004. It was returned three weeks later by a woman who 'found it' and handed it over to the police.[18][19][20] The Sinsheimer/Iselin was stolen in Hanover, Germany
Hanover, Germany
in 2008 and recovered in 2009.[21] the Lipinski Stradivarius was stolen in an armed robbery on 27 January 2014[22] and subsequently recovered.[23] The Ames Stradivarius
Stradivarius
was stolen in 1981 and recovered in 2015.[17] A number of stolen instruments remain missing, such as the Davidoff-Morini, stolen in 1995,[24] the Le Maurien, stolen in 2002,[25] and the Karpilowsky, stolen in 1953.[26] Comparisons in sound quality[edit] Above all, these instruments are famous for the quality of sound they produce. However, the many blind experiments from 1817[27][28] to the present (as of 2014[1][29]) have never found any difference in sound between Stradivari's violins and high-quality violins in comparable style of other makers and periods, nor has acoustic analysis.[30][31] In a particularly famous test on a BBC Radio 3
BBC Radio 3
programme in 1977, the violinists Isaac Stern
Isaac Stern
and Pinchas Zukerman and the violin expert and dealer Charles Beare tried to distinguish between the "Chaconne" Stradivarius, a 1739 Guarneri del Gesú, an 1846 Vuillaume, and a 1976 British violin played behind a screen by a professional soloist. The two violinists were allowed to play all the instruments first. None of the listeners identified more than two of the four instruments. Two of the listeners identified the 20th-century violin as the Stradivarius.[32] Violinists and others have criticized these tests on various grounds such as that they are not double-blind (in most cases), the judges are often not experts, and the sounds of violins are hard to evaluate objectively and reproducibly.[31][33] In a test in 2009, the British violinist Matthew Trusler played his 1711 Stradivarius, said to be worth two million U.S. dollars, and four modern violins made by the Swiss violin-maker Michael Rhonheimer (de). One of Rhonheimer's violins, made with wood that the Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology) researcher Francis Schwarze had treated with fungi, received 90 of the 180 votes for the best tone, while the Stradivarius came second with 39 votes. The majority (113) of the listeners misidentified the winning violin as the Stradivarius.[34][35][36] In a double-blind test in 2012[37][38] published in the study "Player preferences among new and old violins",[29] expert players could not distinguish old from new instruments by playing them for a short time in a small room.[39] In an additional test, performed in a concert hall, one of the Stradivarius
Stradivarius
violins placed first, but one of the participants stated that "the audience in the concert hall were essentially equivocal on which instruments were better in each of the pair-wise instrument comparisons" and "I could tell slight differences in the instruments...but overall they were all great. None of them sounded substantially weaker than the others" [37] While many world-class soloists play violins by Antonio Stradivari, there are notable exceptions. For example, Christian Tetzlaff formerly played "a quite famous Strad", but switched to a violin made in 2002 by Stefan-Peter Greiner. He states that the listener cannot tell that his instrument is modern, and he regards it as excellent for Bach and better than a Stradivarius
Stradivarius
for "the big Romantic and 20th-century concertos."[40] Theories and reproduction attempts[edit] Some maintain that the very best Stradivari have unique superiorities.[41] Various attempts at explaining these supposed qualities have been undertaken, most results being unsuccessful or inconclusive. Over the centuries, numerous theories have been presented – and debunked – including an assertion that the wood was salvaged from old cathedrals. Dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating, has proved this false. A more modern theory attributes tree growth during a time of global cold temperatures during the Little Ice Age
Little Ice Age
associated with unusually low solar activity of the Maunder Minimum, circa 1645 to 1750, during which cooler temperatures throughout Europe are believed to have caused stunted and slowed tree growth, resulting in unusually dense wood.[42] Further evidence for this " Little Ice Age
Little Ice Age
theory" comes from a simple examination of the dense growth rings in the wood used in Stradivari's instruments.[43] Two researchers – University of Tennessee tree-ring scientist Henri Grissino-Mayer and Lloyd Burckle, a Columbia University climatologist – published their conclusions supporting the theory on increased wood density in the journal Dendrochronologia.[44] In 2008, researchers from the Leiden University Medical Center
Leiden University Medical Center
in the Netherlands, announced further evidence that wood density caused the claimed high quality of these instruments. After examining the violins with X-rays, the researchers found that these violins all have extremely consistent density, with relatively low variation in the apparent growth patterns of the trees that produced this wood.[4] Yet another possible explanation is that the wood was sourced from the forests of northern Croatia.[45] This maple wood is known for its extreme density resulting from the slow growth caused by harsh Croatian winters. Croatian wood was traded by Venetian merchants of the era, and is still used today by local luthiers and craftsfolk for musical instruments. Some research points to wood preservatives used in that day as contributing to the resonant qualities. Joseph Nagyvary[46][47] reveals that he has always held the belief that there are a wide range of chemicals that will improve the violin's sound. In a 2009 study co-authored with Renald Guillemette and Clifford Spiegelman, Nagyvary obtained shavings from a Stradivarius
Stradivarius
violin and examined them, and analysis indicated they contained "borax, fluorides, chromium and iron salts."[48] He also found that the wood had decayed a little, to the extent that the filter plates in the pores between the wood's component tracheids had rotted away, perhaps while the wood was stored in or under water in the Venice
Venice
lagoon before Stradivarius
Stradivarius
used it. Steven Sirr, a radiologist, worked with researchers to perform a CT scan of a Stradivari known as the "Betts." Data regarding the differing densities of woods used were then used to create a reproduction instrument.[49] Violins bearing the Stradivari label[edit] While only about 650 original Stradivari instruments (harps, guitars, violas, cellos, violins) survive, thousands of violins have been made in tribute to Stradivari, copying his model and bearing labels that read "Stradivarius" on them. The presence of a Stradivarius
Stradivarius
label does not confirm that the instrument is a genuine work of Stradivari.[50]

Stradivari instruments[edit] Main article: List of Stradivarius
Stradivarius
instruments Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York[edit]

"Gould" violin (1693)

"Francesca" violin (1694)

"Antonius" violin (1711)

References[edit]

^ a b Belluck, Pam (April 7, 2014). "A Strad? Violinists Can't Tell". The New York Times. Retrieved April 9, 2014.  ^ Christopher Joyce (2012). "Double-Blind Violin
Violin
Test: Can You Pick The Strad?". NPR. Retrieved 2012-01-02.  ^ The Violin
Violin
Forms of Antonio Stradivari
Antonio Stradivari
by Stewart Pollens, Biddulph (1992) ISBN 0-9520109-0-9. ^ a b Stoel, Berend C.; Borman, Terry M (2008). Grama, Ananth, ed. "A Comparison of Wood Density between Classical Cremonese and Modern Violins". PLoS ONE. 3 (7): e2554. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002554. PMC 2438473 . PMID 18596937. Retrieved 2008-07-04.  ^ Wood Densitometry in 17th and 18th Century Dutch, German, Austrian and French Violins, Compared to Classical Cremonese and Modern Violins, Stoel, Borman, DeJohng. October 10, 2012 ^ Tai, Hwan-Ching et al (2016). Chemical distinctions between Stradivari’s maple and modern tonewood. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. vol. 114, no. 1. pp 27-32 ^ Yin, Steph (December 20, 2016). The Brilliance of a Stradivari Violin
Violin
Might Rest Within Its Wood. NY Times.] ^ " Stradivarius
Stradivarius
Violin
Violin
Price". Retrieved 2017-06-13.  ^ "Cozio.com: violin by Antonio Stradivari, 1697 (Molitor)". cozio.com. 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-17.  ^ Jeanne Claire van Ryzin (2010). "Austin violinist Anne Akiko Meyers buys rare Stradivarius
Stradivarius
for record-setting $3.6 million". Austin360. Retrieved 2010-10-17.  ^ "Tarisio, October 2010 (New York) – Lot 467". Tarisio. 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-17.  ^ Hart, George (1875). The violin: its famous makers and their imitators. London: Dulau. pp. 130, 135. Retrieved 2011-08-05.  ^ Yoree Koh (June 21, 2011). " Stradivarius
Stradivarius
Nets $16M for Japan Quake Relief". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2011-06-29.  ^ https://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/27/us-auction-viola-idUSBREA2Q19520140327 ^ Business Week: "The World's Most Expensive Instrument Just Got Slightly Cheaper" ^ Justin Rohrlich (May 9, 2014). "The $5 Million Violin
Violin
and the Telltale Taser: Inside an Epically Stupid Crime". Vice magazine.  ^ a b Nuckols, Ben (6 August 2015). "Roman Totenberg: Violinist who claimed rival musician stole his Stradivarius
Stradivarius
is vindicated three years after his death". The Independent. Retrieved 7 August 2015.  ^ "Rare cello escapes CD rack fate". BBC News. 15 May 2004. Retrieved 2008-02-09.  ^ Kevin Roderick (18 May 2004). " Cello
Cello
returned with damage". LA Observed. Retrieved 2008-02-10.  ^ " Cello
Cello
by Antonio Stradivari, 1684 (General Kyd; ex-Leo Stern)". Cozio.com. Retrieved 2008-02-09.  ^ " Violin
Violin
by Antonio Stradivari, 1721 (Sinsheimer; Iselin)". Cozio.com. Retrieved 2009-03-12.  ^ Colleen Henry (2014-01-28). "Multi-million dollar violin stolen from Milwaukee Symphony performer". WISN News. Retrieved 2014-01-28.  ^ Ashley Luthern (2014-02-06). "Stolen Stradivarius
Stradivarius
violin found in suitcase in Milwaukee attic". Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2014-02-18.  ^ "Theft Notices & Recoveries". FBI Art Theft Program. Archived from the original on 2007-04-02. Retrieved 2007-04-07.  ^ " Violin
Violin
by Antonio Stradivari, 1714 (Le Maurien)". Cozio.com.  ^ " Violin
Violin
by Antonio Stradivari, 1712 (Karpilowsky)". Cozio.com.  ^ A guitar-like violin made by the naval engineer François Chanot, a member of a family of luthiers. A committee of scientists and musicians, listening to the violins played in an adjacent room, judged Chanot's violin to be at least as good as the Stradivarius, but apparently Chanot's instruments quickly lost their good qualities. Fétis, François-Joseph (1868). Biographie Universelle des Musiciens et Bibliographie Générale de la Musique, Tome 1 (Second ed.). Paris: Firmin Didot Frères, Fils, et Cie. p. 249. Retrieved 2011-07-21.  ^ Dubourg, George (1852). The Violin: Some Account of That Leading Instrument and its Most Eminent Professors... (Fourth ed.). London: Robert Cocks and Co. pp. 356–357. Retrieved 2011-07-21.  ^ a b Fritz, Claudia; Joseph Curtin; Jacques Poitevineau; Palmer Morrel-Samuels; Fan-Chia Tao (3 January 2012). "Player preferences among new and old violin". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 109: 760–763. doi:10.1073/pnas.1114999109. PMC 3271912 . PMID 22215592.  ^ Beamen, John (2000). The Violin
Violin
Explained: Components, Mechanism, and Sound. Oxford University Press. pp. 89–90. ISBN 0-19-816739-3. Retrieved 2009-01-23.  ^ a b Coggins, Alan (Feb 2007). "Blind Listening Tests". The Strad: 52–55. Retrieved 2011-03-14.  ^ Marchese, John (2008). The Violin
Violin
Maker: A Search for the Secrets of Craftsmanship, Sound, and Stradivari. Harper Perennial. pp. 133–134. ISBN 978-0-06-001268-7.  ^ http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/04/03/1323367111 ^ "Fungus-Treated Violin
Violin
Outdoes Stradivarius". Science Daily. 14 September 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-22.  ^ Analysis of the treated wood revealed a reduction in density, accompanied by relatively little change in the speed of sound. According to this analysis, treatment improves the sound radiation ratio to the level of cold-climate wood considered to have superior resonance ^ Francis W. M. R. Schwarze, Melanie Spycher and Siegfried Fink (24 April 2008). "Superior wood for violins – wood decay fungi as a substitute for cold climate". Wiley Interscience. Retrieved 2010-01-22.  ^ a b "Violinists can't tell the difference between Stradivarius violins and new ones". Retrieved January 3, 2012.  ^ "Double-Blind Violin
Violin
Test: Can You Pick The Strad?". Retrieved January 3, 2012.  ^ Nicholas Wade
Nicholas Wade
(January 2, 2012). "In Classic vs. Modern Violins, Beauty Is in Ear of the Beholder". The New York Times. Retrieved January 2, 2012. [Carlyss] likened the test to trying to compare a Ford and a Ferrari in a Walmart parking lot.  ^ Norris, Geoffrey (2005-02-10). "Debunking the Stradivarius
Stradivarius
Myth". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-08-08.  ^ Inskeep, Steve; Hoffman, Miles (2004-06-24). "The Sweet Sound of a Stradivarius". National Public Radio (U.S.). Retrieved 2009-01-23.  ^ Associated Press (8 December 2003). "Cool weather may be Stradivarius' secret". CNN. Archived from the original on 2007-05-13. Retrieved 2007-06-24.  ^ John Pickrell (7 January 2004). "Did "Little Ice Age" Create Stradivarius
Stradivarius
Violins' Famous Tone?". National Geographic News. Retrieved 2007-06-24.  ^ Rachelle Oblack (10 March 2008). "10 Non-Military Historical Events Drastically Changed by the Weather". About.com. Retrieved 2008-06-11.  ^ Hill, W.H.; Hill, A.F.; Hill, A.E. (1963). Antonio Stradivari: His Life and Work. New York: Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-20425-1. Retrieved 2008-07-03.  ^ Paul Marks (29 November 2006). "Why do Stradivari's violins sound sublime?". New Scientist. Accessed 2008-05-25.  ^ Charles Choi (10 June 2002). "Secrets of the Stradivarius: An Interview with Joseph Nagyvary". Scientific American. Retrieved 2008-05-25.  ^ Texas A&M University. "Secrets Of Stradivarius' Unique Violin Sound Revealed, Professor Says", Science Daily 25 January 2009. ^ RSNA (28 November 2011). "Researchers Use CT to Recreate Stradivarius
Stradivarius
Violin". Retrieved 2011-11-28.  ^ Stradivarius
Stradivarius
Violins – Encyclopedia Smithsonian. Retrieved 26 June 2013.

Further reading[edit]

Music portal

How Many Strads?, Ernest N. Doring, William Lewis & Son, Chicago, 1945 Hill, William Henry; Hill, Arthur F.; Hill, Alfred Ebsworth (1902). Antonio Stradivari, His Life and Work (1644–1737). London: W.E. Hill & Sons. OCLC 8179349.  Faber, Toby (2004). Stradivari's Genius: Five Violins, One Cello, and Three Centuries of Enduring Perfection. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-375-50848-1.  Vannes, Rene (1985) [1951]. Dictionnaire Universel del Luthiers (vol.3). Bruxelles: Les Amis de la musique. OCLC 53749830.  Henley, Wiliam (1969). Universal Dictionary of Violin
Violin
& Bow Makers. Brighton; England: Amati. ISBN 0-901424-00-5.  Walter Hamma, Meister Italienischer Geigenbaukunst, Wilhelmshaven 1993, ISBN 3-7959-0537-0 Violin
Violin
Iconography of Antonio Stradivari
Antonio Stradivari
1644–1737, Herbert K. Goodkind, Larchmont, New York, 1972. Kestenbaum, David, "Is A Stradivarius
Stradivarius
Just A Violin?", NPR, May 16, 2014 Millant, Roger (1972). J. B. Vuillaume: Sa Vie et son Oeuvre (in French). London: W. E. Hill. OCLC 865746.  David Schoenbaum (2012). The Violin: A Social History of the World's Most Versatile Instrument. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. OCLC 783162545.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Stradivarius.

A FourDoc (short on-line documentary) about a group of violin makers making a violin in the original spec of the maurin Stradivarius
Stradivarius
in just five days What makes a Stradivarius
Stradivarius
so Great? Carleen Hutchins obituary, today's master violin maker who tried to emulate Stradivarius
Stradivarius
Los Angeles Times, August 18, 2009 Cozio.com Online database of instruments by Antonio Stradivari. Instruments by Antonio Stradivari
Antonio Stradivari
on the MIMO online database, website mimo-international.com. Cheniston K. Roland, Discography (incomplete) of Stradivarius recordings Mark Levine, "Medici of the Meadowlands", The New York Times
The New York Times
3 August 2003 Herbert R. Axelrod's Stravarius collection. Chladni patterns for visualizing violin plate resonance patterns Stradivari Violin
Violin
Forms A detailed study of Stradivari's molds and drawings kept in the Cremona Museum.. How Stradivari and Guarneri got their music discusses the chemical techniques used to figure out what makes these instruments' unique sound. From the February 1, 2007 issue of Analytical Chemistry Gough, Colin (April 2000). "Science and the Stradivarius". Physics Web. Institute of Physics Publishing. Retrieved 2008-01-30.  Grovier, Kelly (22 August 2004). "Biography of Antonio Stradivari". The Observer. Retrieved 2008-01-30.  Hanscom, Michael (9 December 2003). "Stradivarius' Secret". Eclecticism. Retrieved 2008-01-30.  "The Case of the Missing Stradivarius," an annotated historical novel by author Emanuel E. Garcia which investigates the secrets of Stradivari violins and musical virtuosity. " The Violins of Stradivarius" by the Hill Family on the Amati website.

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