An Overview to the History of the Violin By Stephanie Marie Tropepe The History of the Violin The history of the violin is very hard to trace. Over the years, before its development as the “new violin” in the 1600’s, the violin’s predecessors were numerous and varied in size, shape, the number of strings it used, and how it was played. It is best to think that the violin was derived by taking and combining the best qualities of all the early string instruments. Some people believe that the Egyptian Kithara is the first string instrument. This string instrument, and others that followed, were plucked. Some believe that the first string instrument that was played using a bow came from India. This instrument is called a ravanastron. This is a chart that shows the transition of different stringed instruments that led to the development of the “new violin.” The Violin of Today The violin, as we know it today, was created in the 1600’s. It is unknown who the first person was who “created” the violin, but there are a few men who deserve credit and recognition. Gasparo da Salo Gasparo da Salo is usually credited with being the first to create the violin. He did not make many violins, but he is attributed as being the one for setting the path for the Italian style of violin making. He had one pupil that we know of who carried on his work, Paolo Maggini. Gaspar Duiffoprugcar Gaspar Duiffoprugcar is also attributed to being the first violin creator. Little is known about him. His original name was Tieffenbrucker, but he changed it so people would recognize his name more easily. Six of his violins still exist today, one of them dating back to 1510. Pablo Maggini (1579-1630?) Pablo Maggini was a pupil of Gasparo da Salo. His main focus was making violins. He was the founder of the Brescian School of violin making. Some of his violins still exist today. Amati Family At the same time as Pablo Maggini, there was the famous Cremonese School that was run by the Amati family. Andreas Amati, born around 1520, was also one of the first to work on and create the violin. None of his violins are still around, so his work cannot be compared to Maggini’s. Based on violins that are still around and were made by Amati’s sons, Jerome and Anthony, it is believed that his violins were smaller than Maggini’s and that they had daintier outlines and had a sweet and mellow tone. Nicolo Amati (1596-1684) The Amati family's fame was best made known by Jerome’s son, Nicola Amati. Nicola Amati is considered to have been the greatest master of the art of violin making. He was the teacher of Antonio Stradivari and Andreas Guarneri (Joseph Guarneri’s grandfather). Compared to his predecessors, Nicola used a larger pattern for making his violins. Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) Antonio Stradivari is the most famous violin maker that ever lived. He was apprenticed until he was 24 years old and then he opened up a violin shop of his own. At the age of 56, after much experimenting, he developed the design that made his Stradivarious violins well-known and desired. Giuseppe (Joseph) Guarneri (1698-1744) Giuseppe Guarneri, more commonly known as Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu, was also one of the finest violin makers ever. He learned the art of violin making from his father. His violins are known as “del Gesu” (of Christ) because he marked his labels with a cross and the letters IHS (Jesus, savior of mankind). A lot of his violins are no longer around. Conclusion Despite the complicated process that the violin has gone through to become what we know it as today, it has arrived in a perfect state of creation. There have been many violin makers since, but not one of them has been able to improve on it. The violin is the result of simplicity. It has remained in the same form of construction over the last 400 years or so.