Antonio Stradivari was a master with classical instruments of the time. He alone made over over 1,100 instruments in his lifetime with only 650 still around today. His earliest piece known was created in 1666, a beautifully crafted violin. His history is not well known and is often speculated on by historians.
What was known of this genius instrument crafter, was he made exquisite pieces that many claim the sound is impossible to describe. He rose above the craftsmanship of many other violin makers in the era, including Hellier. And by the 1680s, he was able to break from other styles of violins and create his own unique pieces.
His best known work was the early 1700s with his perfected skills. Stradivari was the one to set standards for other instruments in this era, pushing others to try and rival his resonating instruments. He continued to craft well into his 80s, even passing with his own violin at his side.
Today, there stands no Stradivari factories or companies. In a way this shows just how unique the instruments were, making them impossible to replicate completely. Though others have tried, none shall ever live up to the legacy the Stradivarius instruments have held themselves to.
Uniquely Rare Violins
Many of the Stradivarius violins are held in museums or private collections around the world. Though two known violins were never sold or gifted away. They were the 1715 Lipinski and the 1716 Messiah. The Messiah was known to stay with Stradivari until his death in 1737 along with other instruments he held dear from his craft.
There are currently three violins with the original Stradivarius label rested in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. There is the beautiful Gould violin of 1693, the 1694 Francesca, and the 1711 Antonius. There is not many documented cases of violins within other museums, however a Stradivarius cello is held at the Smithsonian on display.
There are quite a few known violinists that are able to play such a magnificent instrument in today’s times. Weather on loan from a museum or collector or completely owned by the artist, there are very few Stradivarius instruments left, let alone violins.
There are many more violinists with a Stradivarius on loan than to own it for themselves. Among this list are Alexandre Da Costa, Elina Vähälä, Rainer Schmidt, Sejong, Bogdan Bozovic, Swang Lin, Maristella Patuzzi, and many many others. Most are brokered by the Stradivarius society or loaned by collectors so the instrument may be played instead of gathering dust.
The handful of artists able to call a Stradivarius instrument their own are extremely lucky. The owners are as such; André Rieu with a 1667 ex-Captain Saville, Miles Franklin Yount with a 1681 and a 1727, Philip Greenberg with a 1684 ex-Elphinstone, Clio Gould with a 1694 Rutson, Dima Bilan with a 1697 Paganini, Arnold Belnick with a 1700 Jupiter, Rony Rogoff with a 1704 Liebig, Rudolf Koelman with a 1720 Woolhouse, and a handful of others.
Since the Stradivarius instruments are so rare and sought after, there is a compiled list online of all the known locations of each one including their last known location. It would be an honor to own such a magnificent piece, and I would go so far as to suggest finding an artist that has played it for recording just to experience the mesmerizing tones