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Violin Clisbee - Antonio Stradivari - 1669. Cremona, Museo del Violino. For five centuries, Cremona has been the capital of violin making.
The Museo del Violino, opened in September 2013, has
added a splendid new pages to this long-lasting history, offering
the international community a cultural centre which is at the
same time both an exhibition venue and auditorium, a research
laboratory and study centre. All the Cremonese violin making
collections, a heritage that has no equals in the world, are exhibited
here in one place. In the room - not by chance called
“The treasure box” - is displayed the violin “Clisbee” (1669) of
Antonio Stradivari.
Cremona, 1669. A few years earlier, Antonio Stradivari had married
Francesca Ferraboschi and the young couple was living in
Pescaroli’s house in the parish of S. Agata; the house can still
be seen today while the second one he bought in 1680 was
demolished in the 1930s.
The Clisbee is one of the first instruments made by the great
luthier when the town’s violin making scene was represented
by the experienced master Nicolò Amati as well as by Andrea
Guarneri and Francesco Rugeri. Stradivari’s debut completed
this undoubtedly new and extraordinary period for Cremonese
violin making: after the Amati’s workshop had been the only
one in town for more than a hundred years, other productive
craftsmen were now at work. This period of growth and blend
would continue until the early 18th century, when the situation
would slowly begin to change and lead to the difficult state of
affair marking the second half of the century.
The violin fully shows the influence of the Cremonese style
of those years: a narrow body, edge and corners suggesting
lightness as does the overall appearance of the instrument. The comparison with the Cremonese, built more than forty years
later, illustrates the innovative path of the great master, from
small-sized violins to the larger instruments he made in the 18th
century which show a broader soundbox, f-holes further apart
and a style conveying more strength and robustness.
The material selected for making the instrument is not the
beautiful maple he used at the peak of his career but a local
variety, a choice that also characterizes other instruments he
made in his earliest years. The Clisbee was named after Mrs
Clisbee - a pupil of Andreas Moser, second violin of the Joachim
Quartet - who bought it in 1899. After changing hands
several times, at the end of the last century it became part of
the collection owned by Evelyn and Herbert Axelrod who then
donated it to the town of Cremona in 2003.
Fausto Cacciatori
Curator Museo del Violino, Cremona

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