French Violin Makers, German Violin Makers, English Violin Makers, Antonio Stradivari
Italian Violin Makers
These remarks, however, must not be considered to suggest that comparison can fairly be made between these two makers in point of merit, but merely to point out a general rough resemblance in the character of their works. The absence of finish in the instruments of Tommaso Balestrieri is in a measure compensated by the presence of a style full of vigour. The wood which he used varies very much. A few Violins are handsome, but the majority are decidedly plain. The bellies were evidently selected with judgment, and have the necessary qualities for the production of good tone. The varnish seems to have been of two kinds, one resembling that of Guadagnini, the other softer and richer in colour. The tone may be described as large and very telling, and when the instrument has had much use there is a richness by no means common. It is singular that these instruments are more valued in Italy than they are either in England or France.
BALESTRIERI, Pietro, Cremona, about 1725.
BASSIANO, Rome. Lute-maker. 1666.
BENEDETTI. See Rinaldi.
BELLOSIO, Anselmo, Venice, 18th century. About 1788. Similar to Santo Serafino in pattern, but the workmanship is inferior; neat purfling; rather opaque varnish.
BENTE, Matteo, Brescia, latter part of the 16th century. M. Fétis mentions, in his "Biographie Universelle des Musiciens," a Lute by this maker, richly ornamented.
Anno 17— Carlo Bergonzi, fece
BERGONZI, Carlo, Cremona, 1716-47. Pupil of Antonio Stradivari. That he was educated in Violin-making by the greatest master of his art is evidenced beyond doubt. In his instruments may be clearly traced the teachings of Stradivari. The model, the thicknesses, and the scroll, together with the general treatment, all agree in betokening that master's influence. Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù here stands in strong contrast with Bergonzi. All writers on the subject of Violins assume that Guarneri was instructed by Stradivari, a statement based upon no reasons (for none have ever been adduced), and apparently a mere repetition of some one's first guess or error. As before remarked, Carlo Bergonzi, in his work, and in the way in which he carries out his ideas, satisfactorily shows the source whence his early instructions were derived, and may be said to have inscribed the name of his great master, not in print, but in the entire body of every instrument which he made. This cannot be said of Giuseppe Guarneri. On the contrary, there is not a point throughout his work that can be said to bear any resemblance to the sign manual of Stradivari. As this interesting subject is considered at length in the notice of Giuseppe Guarneri, it is unnecessary to make further comment in this place.
The instruments of Carlo Bergonzi are justly celebrated both for beauty of form and tone, and are rapidly gaining the appreciation of artistes and amateurs. Commercially, no instruments have risen more rapidly than those of this maker; their value has continuously increased within recent years, more particularly in England, where their merits were earliest acknowledged—a fact which certainly reflects much credit upon our connoisseurs. In France they had a good character years ago, and have been gaining rapidly upon their old reputation, and now our neighbours regard them with as much favour as we do.
They possess tone of rare quality, are for the most part extremely handsome, and, last and most important of all, their massive construction has helped them, by fair usage and age, to become instruments of the first order. The model of Bergonzi's Violins is generally flat, and the outline of his early efforts is of the Stradivari type; but later in life, he, in common with other great Italian makers, marked out a pattern for himself from which to construct. The essential difference between these two forms lies in the angularity of the latter. It would be very difficult to describe accurately the several points of deviation unless the reader could handle the specimens for himself and have ocular demonstration; the upper portion from the curve of the centre bouts is increased, and, in consequence, the sound-holes are placed slightly lower than in the Stradivari model. Bergonzi was peculiar in this arrangement, and he seldom deviated from it. Again, increased breadth is given to the lower portion of the instrument, and in consequence the centre bouts are set at a greater angle than is customary. The sound-hole may be described as an adaptation of the characteristics of both Stradivari and Guarneri, inclining certainly more to those of the former. As a further peculiarity, it is to be