Posted by: Frederick Cornwell Sanders | 2013/11/25

“November 25, 1666” by Rick Sanders

English: A Guarneri-type chinrest.

English: A Guarneri-type chinrest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1666, Giuseppe Giovanni Battista Guarneri, the Italian violin maker is born. He lives until 1740. From Wikipedia we read:

Giuseppe Guarneri (1666-1739/40), also known as “Joseph Guarnerius, filius Andreæ” was a violin maker in Cremona. He was the younger son of Andrea Guarneri. Giuseppe’s older brother, Pietro Giovanni Guarneri, was a musician as well as a violin maker, and seems to have had a falling-out with their father; by 1683, Pietro had moved to Mantua, leaving Giuseppe to work in their father’s shop. By 1685, Giuseppe’s workmanship had surpassed their father’s, and when Andrea died in 1698 Giuseppe took over the shop.

Giuseppe’s designs incorporated some of the stylistic refinements of his older brother (Peter of Mantua); the outline tended to be more narrow waisted, the f-holes were lower and more elegant, and he used a richer, more Brescian varnish. He and Stradivari (whose workshop was right down the street) competed to develop the finest instruments, aided by emerging makers such as Carlo Bergonzi. This pursuit of excellence continued into the next generation.

Giuseppe’s elder son Pietro (1695–1762), left Cremona and established his own workshop in Venice about 1718, becoming known as Pietro di Venezia (Peter of Venice).

Giuseppe’s younger son, Bartolomeo Giuseppe (1698–1744), became the most celebrated member of the dynasty. Because he used the letters I.H.S. on his labels, he became known as ‘del Gesù’. He was one of the greatest makers ever; many feel his instruments are better than Stradivari’s. Del Gesù violins are renowned for their rich, powerful tone, and have been favoured by virtuosos from Paganini to Pinchas Zukerman.


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