Antonio Stradivari: The Best Works of the Master

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One cannot deny the facts and the importance of Stradivari’s work!

Antonio Stradivari, born in 1644 in Cremona, is known as the greatest violin maker of all time. For 71 years, he crafted violins, violas, and cellos, a lengthy career for someone living in the 17th and 18th centuries. He understood how sound resonated, studied how precisely to shape wood, and searched for the elusive ingredients to encourage it to resonate freely.

Although he was not born into a family of violin makers, he began an apprenticeship with the notable citizen Nicola Amati in Cremona when he was young. The master developed his skills and deepened his knowledge, and then became the great luthier as we know him today. Now, in this blog, we want to bring you some of his best masterpieces that you need to know!

Betts, 1704

One of the most legendary violins crafted by Stradivari, this instrument perfectly represents the golden period. Produced in 1704, it has been owned by the French maker Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume and London fine instrument dealers W.E. Hill & Sons. Still intact after hundreds of years and various owners, today the Betts is owned by the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

The ‘Gibson, Huberman,’ 1713

This violin was stolen twice in its lifetime. The first time it was returned to its owner, however the second time it was stolen from Israeli violinist Bronislaw Huberman and wasn’t recovered until fifty years later after a deathbed confession from Julian Altman. Joshua Bell then acquired it in 2001 and played it until he sold the instrument to Norbert Brainin.

Soil, 1714

The ‘Soil’ violin was crafted by Antonio Stradivari during the peak of his Golden period, at a time when he was using the finest materials and working with impeccable precision. Itzhak Perlman acquired the instrument in 1986 after it had been passed down through several owners. He has described the instrument as being “the best sounding instrument ever made by Antonio Stradivari.”

The Harrison, 1693 

The Harrison, dubbed the greatest concert violin pre-1700 and one of very few violins to survive with its original neck, was named after 19th-century English solicitor and amateur musician Richard Harrison. Today it belongs to the National Music Museum.


The Lord Aylesford, 1696

This 1715 Stradivari cello has a rich red varnish and is one of only fifty instruments that have survived to the present day. It was originally owned by Lord Aylesford; an amateur cellist, he kept it for around one hundred years before passing it on to a number of subsequent owners from all over the world.

One of the owners, cellist Gregor Pitiagorsky, was also a Russian-American. He played on the Domenico Montagnana’ Sleeping Beauty’ cello, which is now owned by the Nippon Music Foundation and loaned to Pablo Ferrández.

The Molitor, 1697

 ‘The Molitor’ was named after a young general in Napoleon’s army, Gabriel-Jean-Joseph Molitor. Molitor was a distinguished soldier and 19th-century musician who was also an avid violin lover. Another one of ‘The Molitor’s’ many owners was American violinist Elmar Oliveira, who is now a client of Amorim Fine Violins, owning a ‘del Gesù’ copy by Luiz Amorim.

The Clisbee, 1669

Stradivari may not have had enough money during his early years of making stringed instruments to buy the best wood, so his early violins were made of wood that was not as pretty as the wood used in his later violins. However, ‘The Clisbee’ was exquisitely varnished with a yellow-brown coat.

Owned by Mrs. Clisbee, a pupil of Andreas Moser, this violin was also used by the Joachim Quartet. In 2003, it was donated to the town of Cremona and is now being exhibited at Museo del Violino.

Hellier, 1679

Stradivari’s second inlaid violin, the ‘Hellier’, shows he was not limited to carving wood. This violin’s size is more prominent than those from the same period. The ‘Hellier’ was consigned to the Stradivari Foundation in Cremona as part of its ‘Friends of Stradivari’ project, where it was displayed at the Museo del Violino. Now, it is back with its owner in Switzerland.