Early history of the violin. Strictly for those passionate about violins? Are You?
Now don't start reading this page about the history of the violin if you are going to glaze over. It isn't complusory but is for those passionate-about-violiners - like me who finds everything about violins completely exciting! If, after reading this page, you want to take this passion further, here is some fascinating reading we recommend.
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The Violin's origin
So who the devil was it who invented the violin? Like most early history - the history of the violin is all a bit clouded by the mists of time and it depends what we mean? Do we mean a stringed instrument with a sound box? Or do we mean the violin close to the form we know it now? With its beautiful curves and tone?
Many people believe that it all started in Italy and it was an Italian - probably Amati who developed the violin as we know it today. Cremona certainly became the centre of fantastic masterpieces.
But some say it was actually a German who made the first real violin. Interested? Read on.
Early history of the Violin - Was it Gaspard Duiffopruggar who made the first?
Until about the mid 16th century bowed instruments were only really used as an accompaniment to choirs, and then only the Viola da brazza, the violia da gamba and the Basso were used. People wanted a soprano sound too and so the search was on.
A chap called Caspar Tieffenbrucker had arrived in Bologna. In Italian he was called Gaspard Duiffopruggar. He was a famous maker of lutes, viols and basses. Seems he was probably born in about 1467.
The theory goes that it was him who made the first violin. Five violins by him may have been discovered from around 1510. One of them has a painting on the back - said to be probably by Leonardo da Vinci. So this guy must have been well connected! Another has an inscription "I lived once in the forest and was silent; now I am dead I sing sweetly". (And before you ask - not the man - the tree!!).
The best of his instruments was apparently the No 1 - which is apparently unequalled and is unique. Gaspard went to Lyons later in life and died there in 1530.
The Six Violin Schools
Whatever you think about the origins of the violin, everyone agrees that the art of violin making reached its height in Italy. Violin schools sprung up which led to a bit of a competition to produce the best instruments. It also led to the schools trying to distinguish themselves a little to make themselves stand out from the crowd.
So who have we got?
The Brescian school (1520-1620). This lot built on the foundations by Gaspard Duiffopruggar and was represented by Gaspard da Salo, whose direct pupil was Maggini!!
Next up is the mighty and most important school of Cremona (1550-1766(, with the Amati's, Stradivari, Guarneri, etc. These guys are so famous for their masterpieces you are bound to have heard of them if you like violins even a tiny bit...
Number three is the Neapolitan School (1680-1800) represented through the Milanese and Neapolitan masters. Families were Grancino, Testor, Gagliano and so on.
The Florentine School (1680-1760)included the Roman and Bolgna masters represented by folk like Gabrielli, Anselmo, Florentus etc.
The Venetian School (1690-1764) included people like Domenicus, Montagnana and Sanctus Seraphin. Seems that Domenicus might have been with the Cremona school beforehand and his work is in that tradition.
Lastly, the Tyrolese School (1640-1696) - not really Italian - but its masterpieces ranked with the Italians. It had some fantastic makers such as Jacolbus Stainer, Klotz and Albani.