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Although stringed instruments were in use before Christian times, we know that these had nothing in common with the violin, or that at any rate the bow was not then known. It is therefore presumed that its invention and use in connection with stringed instruments occurred in the first century of the Christian era. Many are, notwithstanding, of the opinion that the use of the bow was known in pre-Christian times, in India and in Persia. Pictures of Indian and Persian bowed instruments exist, but the period when they were employed is not exactly known.

See Fig.

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The oldest violins known are those of the Tyrolese Lute maker Gaspard Duiffopruggar Tieffenbrucker , made in the i6 th century. A few of these instruments remain to the present day, and are noticeable on account of their fine, clear tone, as well as for the neatness and elegance of their work- manship. Development of the violin. After Duiffopmggar the following makers were those who chiefly laboured to perfect the violin: Gaspard da Salo middle of the iy th century , Giovanni Paolo Maggini , Andreas Amati , his sons Antonius and Hieronymus Amati, the son of the latter, Nicolas Amati , the pupils of the a.

Rabab Arabian bowed instrument of Persian origin. Raba Indian violin.

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Of the Amati violins, those of Nicolas Amati are the best; the most perfect specimens of violin-making, at present unsurpassed, were made by Stradivarius. In his instruments everything is perfected, tone, model, varnish, etc. After Stradivarius the finest violins are those of his pupil Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu , and there are many of them which rank with those of Stradivarius.

The names Stradivarius and Joseph Guarnerius mark the highest achievement of violin making, and to the present day none have succeeded in surpassing them. Of other Italian violin makers who have furnished us with good instruments may be mentioned Alessandro Gagliano , Carlo Bergonzi , Laurentius Guadagnini close of the 17 th and beginning of the i8 th century , Joh. Ruggeri, and Peter Jacob Ruggeri beginning of the i8 th century.

Mozart - 12 Horn Duos for 2 Violins K. 487

In France, good violins were made by Lupot i8 th century , Gand, Bernardel i9 th century and Vuillaume In Germany, besides Stainer and his pupil Albani of Botzen, Klotz, father and son 17 th and i8 th century in Mittenwalde; Witthalm i8 th century, Nuremburg ; Bausch father and son, Leipsic, and , Jacob Diehl Hamburg. In England, B. Banks, Salis- bury :, R.

Duke, London ; Jacob Fendt and C. Harris early part of the present century , and Matthew Hardie Edinburgh , have left many good violins. Prominent makers of the present day. Withers, and Boullangier, London; W. May son, Manchester; F. Devoney, Blackpool; J. Monk, Merton, Surrey; and others. These have all produced service- able instruments. Ability to judge properly the merits of a violin, whether new or old, comes only with experience; beginners should therefore before purchasing consult a player or teacher possessing the necessary knowledge.

Many attempts have been made at improving the violin by altering its form and proportions, and by using other kinds of wood: metal, glass, and porcelain violins have also been constructed. Experiments have been made with the bass bar, bridge, sound-post, etc. The most remarkable attempted alteration of latter days proceeds from the piano maker Hagspiel in Dresden, and consists in bending or arching the upper table of the violin instead of working it out, the sound-holes appearing as round openings in the ribs instead of in the upper surface. The tone of these violins is of surprising power and volume, but they demand a peculiar, and somewhat firm bowing; a heavier bow is also needed.

The maker proceeds on the assumption that there exists, in modern orchestras a tonal gap between the string and the brass instrument. The tone of the stringed instruments is often quite overpowered by the predominating force of the wind instruments. This is especially noticeable in opera orche- stras, where their space will seldom permit of more than 10 or 12 first violins, and the same number of second violins; for instance in the instrumentation of Wagner's Nibelungen Ring.

In its production the wind instruments need so much space in the orchestra, that instead of a corresponding increase in the number of the strings, they must often be lessened, naturally occasioning a want of balance. A selection of the instruments made by Herr Hagspiel, violins, violas, violoncelli and double basses, would probably tend to lessen this disproportion, as one of them yields at least as much tone as two of the ordi- nary instruments.

By sufficient familiarity with the method of using them, the tone might be made to blend uni- formly with that of the other instruments in passages of a light and soft character. In any case the inventor has thrown out a suggestion, and made a beginning towards preparing the way for a correct balance of tone in the orchestra, and his idea therefore deserves consideration. C The author is not aware if practical experiment in the orchestra has been made with these instruments, but it should certainly give some advantageous result.

Another invention has been produced recently by Herr Christopher Scheinert in Berlin. It consists of a vibrating hammer or tongue for stringed instruments.


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This is a little instrument placed under the bridge of the violin, so that, it being furnished with a slender hammer , elastic metal tongues vibrate freely between the upper table and the strings. The vibrating hammer is set in motion through the strings by the bow, through which simultaneous movement the power of the instrument is increased, and the tone colour elicited. Experts have tested the contrivance, declaring it to be a happy idea.

Professor H. Ritter's invention of the normal three- footed bridge must also be mentioned. Assuming that the bridge in use for centuries, with its prescribed feet, does not fully convey the vibrations of the strings to the upper table, the two middle strings sounding feebler than the outer, Prof.

Ritter has made a middle point of contact between the bridge and the upper table. This inner support is intended to make the middle strings sound with the same intensity as the outer ones.

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In his pamphlet on the subject Wurzburg, G. For a long period violin making was restricted devi- ations such as the experiments explained above, notwith- standing to imitating the first Italian masters of the art, and endeavouring to equal them. But so conscientious and true in all their parts and contents is the workman- ship of the Italian instruments that this has not been attained. A very general opinion is, that certain secrets in instrument making were known to the Italian masters but have become lost, and many have made the attempt to re-discover these secrets.

A maker in Aix la Chapelle, named Niederheitmann, a violin amateur, possessing a collection rich in valuable old violins, believed the mystery to be discovered, and that it consisted in impregnating the wood. The substance used was a species of pine found in the vicinity of Cremona, or the instrument was mainly built of this wood. This pine balsam pine be- came quite decayed by the drying up of its resin, and thereby the key to the enigma why in spite of the closest imitation the old Italian tone was not arrived at, was found.

This pine exists no longer in Italy, and thus was to be explained the reason why notwithstanding the closest copying of existing instruments, the old Italian tone quality was not reproduced. Bonn, of Brading, Isle of Wight, has produced a four-footed bridge, which, upon the testimony of those who have tried it, has in some cases effected an improvement. Testimonials from great artists concerning these and other attempts at improving the violin frequently appear; meanwhile, the artists themselves are well content with the bridge and the instrument generally as left by Stradivarius.

One would not desire to deny the possibility of further improvements to the instrument, yet nearly two centuries of ceaseless experimenting have yielded no result that has been considered worthy of universal adoption. Herr Schradieck, who went later to America, knowing that the balsam pine still grew there, did not rest until he found this tree, believing that instruments made from it would again approach the old Italians.

Several violins were found already made with balsam pine wood, but the brilliant expectations that were cherished were not fulfilled.

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Concert Archive 1943-85

Points of note in the old Italian violins. Maggini violins. These instruments are of large outline.

The upper table is highly arched and the arching rises somewhat suddenly from the edges. The wood of the upper table is thick and very good. The back, compared to the upper table is less thick. The wood of the back is taken slab-wise the trunk of the tree being cut in layers across the whole breadth. The varnish is thin, transparent, and of a clear brown colour.


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  • The purfling is frequently doubled; and spread over the back in arabesques. The tone of the Maggini violins is full and heavy, resembling the viola quality. The ticket is as follows: Gio. Andreas AmatL These are mostly of small model. The upper table is of good, fairly thick wood, and very highly arched towards the middle. The back is cut on the slab. The varnish is brown and transparent. The tone is delicate and not powerful. Antonius and Hieronymus Amati.

    The violins issued as the work of the two brothers in partnership are much esteemed. More instruments of small than of large size were, however, produced by them. The wood of the back and of the ribs cut slab- wise. The varnish resembles that of Andreas Amati's violins. The tone is also small.