History is sprinkled with artists whose legacies have become household names. Every school child has heard of Mozart and Beethoven and no one can deny the talent of Michelangelo or Van Gogh.
So it is unique, rare even, that a craftsman produces work so distinctive that his name lives among the classical greats. The Stradivari family achieved this status in the 17th and 18th century, building string instruments with such clarity of sound that they are counted among the most prized instruments on Earth.
Its for this reason we're very much looking forward to Stradivarius: Origins and Legacy of the Greatest Violin Maker, an exhibition hosted exclusively by the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix.
Scheduled to open January 16th it presents the storied history of the Stradivari family and other early violin makers; many of whom originated in one unassuming Italian city: Cremona. Here the Amati, Guarneri and Stradivari families shaped the tone of global music as they worked to perfect the look and sound of stringed instruments.
MIM is offering a rare opportunity to admire five historic instruments and hear recordings of the remarkable music produced by these unmatched, hand-crafted violins. Five modern examples of the craft are also part of the exhibit, allowing visitors a unique chance to compare the look and sound of violins across the ages.
Stars of the show
Carlo IX: The Carlo IX c 1566 violin by Andrea Amati. Courtesy of Museo del Violino
Included in the display is one of only 20 surviving instruments built by Andrea Amati, a craftsman referred to as the father of the violin. The “Carlo IX” violin (pictured above) was built in 1566 for the son of Catherine de’ Medici, King Charles IX of France.
Artot-Alard: The Artôt-Alard c. 1728 violin by Antonio Stradivari. Courtesy of Endre Balogh, EndresArt.com
The 1728 violin known as “Artot-Alard” built by Antonio Stradivari - arguably the most well-known and talented of the Stradivari family - is as beautiful to see as it is to hear. The instrument represents the craftsman at the height of his career. Artot-Alard glows with deep color tones that highlight the graceful curves of the violin.
del Gesu: The Prince Doria c. 1734 violin by Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù. Courtesy of Museo del Violino
Known as “del Gesu”, Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri crafted instruments that are as highly sought after as those built by Stradivari. Around 200 of his instruments still survive. The “Prince Doria” violin (shown above) is a stunning example of his work from the early 1700s.
A fascinating fact relating to the craft is that the violins were in turn, fashioned with tools also made by hand. Included in the exhibition is a selection of such tools from the workshop of Antonio Stradivari. They are artifacts rarely displayed anywhere except Cremona.
The exhibition “Stradivarius: Origins and Legacy of the Greatest Violin Maker” is a partnership between MIM, Museo del Violino and the Friends of Stradivari, two organizations based in Cremona.
The Musical Instrument Museum is the world’s only museum dedicated to musical instruments. The permanent exhibitions cover all aspects of instruments including a miniature symphony orchestra printed in 3-D. The remarkable figurines were created by photographing musicians, many from the London City Orchestra, then rendering a 1/12 scale “twin” using a 3-D printer.
Equally fascinating is the selection of instruments created from trash gathered at the landfill in Cateura, Paraguay. The trash is used to craft instruments for children that otherwise would never be able to afford to learn to play music. The Recycled Orchestra members can express themselves through music, inspiring themselves and others to overcome the silence of poverty. The Recycled Orchestra was covered by a 60 Minutes segment in late 2014 - click here to see why you need to visit the exhibition.
Plan your visit
Address: 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix, AZ
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Weekday mornings are the busiest; plan at least four hours for your visit.
Children 13 – 19: $15
Children 4-12: $10
Members and children under 3: free
Cost: $10 for Stradivarius Exhibition only; $7 when purchased with general museum admission
Dates: January 16th through June 5, 2016
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