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A dictionary of music and musicians (A.D. 1450-1889) by eminent writers, English and foreign : with illustrations and woodcuts (Volume 4) online

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by fifths, nnd a violin scroll, to convert it into a
Tenor of the early type.

Another very important member of the Violin I
family is the Vjoloncello, which, though its
name (little Violone) would seem to derive it
from the Double Bass, is really a bass Violin,

J Wasielewski. Die Violine im xrii. Jabrhundert, p. 8. The dates are
stated as 1511. 1517. and 1519.

» B-sides Gaspar we hear of Magnus. Wendelin. Leonhard. Leopold
and Uldrich Tieff-nbrucker. Shignus was a lute-maker at Venice.
IGOT. Wasielewski. Geschichte, etc., p. -SI.

< A Nicolas Dolinet. joueur de tiuste et violon du diet sieur. la
somme de 50 livres toumois pour luy donner mojen dachepter uii
violon de Cremone pour le service du diet sieur. Archives curieuses
de THistoire de France, vol. viii. p. .loo.



ai



i



VIOLIN.

.more)^ a different model from the Violone. It
Violjjjg jjj jtaly ea.ly in the 17th century,
iolinjj.g^ used exclujively as a fundamental
^^ 'Sue concerted music of the church, and it is
^""-Lil a century later that it appears to have
' its place as a secular and solo instrument,
'where during the 17th century and a con-
|rable part of the i8th, the Viol Bass (Viola
^amba) was almost exclusively in use as a
5 instrument. The first English violoncellos
3 from about the Restoration. The oldest one
wn to the writer is undoubtedly the work of
vard Pamphilon. It is of a very primitive
tern, being extremely hombe in the back and
y, the arching starting straight from the
fling, which is double. The writer has also
1 a Violoncello by Eayman, another of the
toration fiddlemakers. Barak Norman's Vio-
;ellos are not uncommon, though far fewer
1 his innumerabl-e Bass Viols. The earlier
loncellos in England therefore date not long
r those of Italy; the French and German
3 somewhat later. The Violoncello must have
n kept out of general use by its irrational
ering ; for being tuned by fifths, and the
:ers of the performer being only able to
itch a major third, the hand has great difB-
;y in commanding the scales : and it was not
il the middle of the last century that its
iculties were sufficiently overcome to enable
practically supplant tlie Viola da Gamba in
orchestra. [See Gamba, vol. i. p. 579.]
?he adoption of four strings, tuned by fifths,
the Violin in its three sizes, really marks the
mcipation of bowed instruments from the
lination oi the Lute. Such impediments to
gress as complicated and various tunings,
;s, and tablature music were thus removed,
most respects this change facilitated musical
gress. The diminished numl>€r of strings
oured resonance ; for in six-stringed instru-
ats there is an excessive pressure on the
Ige which checks vibration and increases re-
ance to the bow. By the change the finger-
was simplified, though in the larger instru-
ats it was rendered more laborious to the
cutant. Composers, though still obliged to
ard the limited capacities of stringed instru-
nts, were able to employ them with less
erve. Music, however, cannot be said to have
t nothing by the abandonment of the Viol.'
e Violin affords fewer facilities for harmonic
[ibinations and suspensions, in the form of
irdi and arpeggios. Bowed instruments tended
re and more to become merely melodic, like
id instruments. Effect soon came to be sought by
reasing the length of the scales, and employing
! higher and less agreeable notes, the frequent
i of which, as in modem music, would have
)cked the ears of our forefathers. It is often
■>posed that early violinists were not suffi-
ntly masters of their instrument to com-
.nd the higher positions. Nothing can be

Fchubert's Sonata for the Tianoforte and Arpeggione (a reTived
of the Viola da ciambai is in fact a Ir.bute to the musical cata-
ties of the Viol, [see AaPEGOIONE.l



VIOLIN.



281



more absurd. In addition to what has been
stated under the head Shift, it may be observed
that many existing compositions for the Viola da
Gamba prove that very complicated music was
played on that instrument across the strings in
the higher positions, and the transfer of this
method of execution to the violin obviously rested
with individual players and composers. Bach's
Violin Solos represent it in the hands of one of
transcendant genius; but Bach, with unfailing
good taste, usually confines the player to the
lower registers of the instrument. The tuning
of the principal stringed instruments thus be-
come what it is at the present moment and is
probably destined to remain.

Violin. Tenor. Bass.



$



W



The strings indicated by solid notes are 'spun'
or 'covered' strings — that is, they are closely en-
veloped in fine copper or silver wire. The others
are of plain gut, usually called ' cat-gut,' and
perhaps at one time derived from the cat, but now
manufactured out of the entrails of the sheep.
The Tenor and Violoncello, it will be observed, are
octaves to each other. A smaller Bass, inter-
mediate between the Tenor and the Violoncello,
and in compass an octave below the Violin,
whence the name ' Octave Fiddle,' sometimes
a]iplied to it, was in use in the last century, but
has long been abandoned. A Violoncello of
smaller dimensions, but of identical pitch with
the ordinary Violoncello, and chiefly used for
solo playing, appears to be the same instrument
which L. Mozart, in his Violin School, calls the
'Hand-bassel,'^ andEoccherini the 'Alto Violon-
cello.' Boccherini intimates on the title-page of
his Quintets that the first Violoncello part, which
extends over the whole compass of the ordinary in-
strument, may be played on the Alto Violoncello.

The ' Violino piccolo ' of Bach, which Leopold
Mozart (1756) describes as obsolete in his time,
was a three-quarter Violin (Quartgeige), tuned
a minor third above the Violin.

The invention of a smaller Vio- (<') -^
lonceUo with five strings, tuned rq; %~^

as at (a), and thus combining ^

the scales of the Violoncello and :^

the Octave Fiddle, is ascribed
to J. S. Bach. It was called Viola Pomposa, but
never came Into general use. It appears, in fact,
to have been merely a reproduction of an old form
of the Violoncello, which is mentioned by L.
Mozart as obsolete. [See p. 267 b.]

The musical development which followed
closely on the general employment of the Violin
family throughout Europe is treated in other
articles. [See Violin-plating.] Extraordinary
as this development has been, it has produced

2 In Austrian dialect ' Bassel ' became ' Bassetl,' and evpn ' Tasedel.'
?ee Nohl's Beethoven, iii. note 244. So too ' Biatsche ' was corrupted
into rratschel. (Engel. ' Musical Myths,' i. 160.)



282



VIOLIN.



no constructive changes in the instrument, and
only the slightest modifications. The increased
use of the upper shifts has indeed necessitated a
trifling increase in the length of the handle,
■while the sound-post, bridge and bass-bar are
larger and more substantial than those formerly
in use. It might probably be further sliown
that the strings were smaller and less tense, and
lay closer to the finger-board, and that the tone
of the fiddle was consequently somewhat feebler,
thinner, and more easily yielded. In other re-
spects the fiddle family remain very much as
they came from the hands of their fiist makers
tliree centuries ago.

The reason of the concentration of fiddle-
making at Cremona is not at first sight apparent.
The explanation is that Cremona was in the
1 6th century a famous musical centre. This
is partly due to tlie fact that the Cremonese
is the richest agricultural district of Lombardy,
and was mainly in tiie hands of the monasteries
of the city and neighbourhood. These wealth}-
foundations vied with each other in the splendour
of their churches and d.iily services, and fur-
nished constant employment to painters, com-
posers, and instrument-makers. The celebrity
of Cremona as a school of music and painting was
shared with Bologna ; but its principal rival in
fiddle-making was Brescia, where Gaspar di Salo,
the two Zanettos, Giovita Kodiani, and IMaggini,
made instruments from about 1580 to 1640. The
characteristics of these makers, who compose
what is sometimes called the Brescian School,
are in fact shared by Andreas Amati, the earliest
known maker of Cremona. To speak of a ' Bres-
cian School ' is misleading : it would be more
correct to class their fiddles generally as early
Italian. The model of these early Italian violins
is generally high, though the pattern is atten-
uated : the middle bouts are shallow ; the
/-holes are narrow and set high, and terminate
abruptly in a circle like that of the crescent
soundhole. (See Fig. 6, vol. iii. p. 641.) The
scroll is long, straight, and ungraceful. The
violins are generally too small ; the tenors are
always too large, though their tone is deep and
powerful. Violoncellos of this school are not
met with. The substantial excellence of the
makers of Brescia is proved by the fact that
the larger violins of Maggini, and the Double
Basses of Gaspar di Salo are still valued for
practical use. De Beriot played on a Maggini
Violin : and Vuillaume's copies of this maker
once enjoyed a high reputation among French
orchestra players for their rich and powerful
tone.

The reputation of the Cremona violins is
mainly due to the brothers Antonio and Girola-
mo Amati' (Antonius et Hieronymus), who were
sons of Andrew Amati, and contemporaries of
Maggini. [See Amati.] The idea of treating the
violin as a work of art as well as a tone-producing
machine existed before their time : but so far the

' Amalus is originally a Christian name, identical with Aimi.
which in the teminine furm survives in French and English (Aimee,
Anijv. The coirecl lamil; name is ' de' Amati' (De Amatis;.



FlO. 13.




VIOLIN.

artistic impulse had produced only superficial
decoration in the form of painting or inlaying.
The brothers Amati, following unconsciously the
fundamental law of art-manufacture that de-
coration should be founded on construction,
reduced the outlines and surfaces of the instru-
ment to regular and harmonious curves, and
rendered the latter more acceptable to the eye
by a varnish developing and deepening the
natural beauty of the material. Nor did they
neglect those mechanical conditions of sonority
which are the soul of the work. Their wood is
of fine quality, and the dis-
position of the tliicknesses,
blocks, and linings, leavirs
little to be desired. Th <.
who came after them, Nic:Mi-
las Amati, Stradivari. ;iiii
Joseph Guarnieri (del Gesu),
augmented the tone of t'
instrument. But for m©
sweetness of tone, and artisi
beauty of design, the brothel
Antonius and Hieronym'
even yet remain unsurpassed. Tlie illustrati
(Fig. 13), shows the soundholes, bouts, ai
corners of the most famous maker of the famil;
Nicholas Amati, the son of Hieronymus (159
1684). He began by copying most accurate]
the works of his father and uncle ; his earl
violins are barely distinguishable from theii
Between 1640 and 1650 his style develops
unconsciously into that which is associated wi
his own name. His violins become larger, tl
thickness is increased in the middle, the blocl
are more massive and prominent, and the souni
holes assume a diSerent character. But th
changes are minute, and tell only in the gene)
effect. And the same love of perfectly curv^
outlines and surfaces rules tlie general desig
During a very long life Nicholas Amati van
from his own standard perhaps less than ai
maker who ever lived. After his time t
Cremona violin was carried to its utmost p^
fection by his pupil Antonio Stradivari (1641
^737)' [}iee Stradivari ; and for some acco
of other makers see Albani, Amati, Gaglian^
Grancixo, Gdadagmxi, GcARNiERi, Landolw
Serafin.]

Fic. 14. The principal varieties in tb

design of violins of the classics
period will be illustrated by 1
comparison of Figs. 13, 14 am
15. Fig. 14 is from a violin b
Stainer; Fig. 15, from a Tenojk
by Joseph Guarnerius. [Fo
an illustration of a violin b
Stradivari, see vol. iii. p. 728.
After Cremona, Venice amonj
Italian to\vns produced the best fiddle-makers
then come Milan and Naples. The pupils an
imitators of Stradivari maintained the reputatio
of the Italian Violins during the first half of til
last century: but after 1760 the style of Italia
violin-making shows a general decline. This
partly attributable to the fact that the music!




Fiii. 15.




baux
iwed

CERS.



VIOLIN.

i was by this time amply provided with

uments of the best class, and that the de-

i for them declined in consequence. Good

uments, however, were

; by some of the second-
makers of the latter
of the century. One

16 best of the Italian

ers, Pressenda, worked

irin in the present cen-

6 violin-makers of South
aany form a distinct
)1 , of w hich some account
be found under Klotz and Stainer. Mu-
Vienna, Salzburg, and Xuremberg, produced
y fiddle-makers. The makers of France and
Low Countries more or less followed Italian
jls, and during the past century there have
many excellent Fiench copyists of Stradi-
and Guarnieri ; two of the best are noticed
T LuPuT and Vuillaume : besides these
i have been Aldr c, G. Chanot the elder,
jstre, Maucotel, Mennegand, Henry, and
The numerous English makers are
under the head London Violin
The oldest English school, repre-
3d by such makers as Urquhart and Pam-
m, had much quaintness and beauty of
! ; but the fame of the Stainer and Cremona
sms soon efifaced it. The only English
ers of any note now living in London, are
3er and the Hills.

le trade of making viols and violins was en-
ted on the profession of the lute-maker, and
iis (iay the Italian and French languages
ess 'violin-maker' by Luthier and Liutaro,
gh lute-making has long been obsolete.
Cremona and some other Italian towns,
cipally Venice and Milan, the demand
;he violin produced workmen who devoted
iselves primarily to making bowed instru-
ts, and to whom the lute tribe formed a
idary employment : but the earlier violins
ermany, France and England were produced
nen whose primary employment was lute-
ing. Hence the uncertainty and inferiority
beir models, though their workmanship is
1 praiseworthy and always interesting. But
lie Cremona violin spread all over Europe,
Lute-makers of other countries at first uncon-
isly, afterwards of set purpose, made it an
ct of imitation. The original violin models of
land, Germany, and France, were thus gra-
ly extinguished; andsinceaboutthemiddle of
last century scarcely any other models have
I followed than those of the Cremona makers,
'as about this time that a change, from an
tic point of view disastrous, swept over the
of violin-making. This change seems to
i been the result of a demand for more and
•per fiddles, and it originated in Italy itself.
know from Bagatella's singular brochure on
Amati model, that ' trade fiddles ' (violini
inali'), cheap instruments of coarse construe-
probably made by German workmen, were



VIOLIN".- 283

sold by the dozen in Italy in the last century.
Such fitldles were soon produced in far greater
numbers in Germany and France. In Ger-
many the manufacture of ' trade fiddles ' was
first carried on at IMittenwald, in Bavaria,
where it originated witli the family of Klotz ; it
afterwards extended to Groslitz : early in the last
century Mirecourt in French Lorraine became
a seat of the tiade ; and in recent times Mark-
Neukirchen in the kingdom of Snxony has risen
to importance. These towns still supply nine-
tenths of the violins that are now made. ' Trade '
or common violins can be bought for fabulously
low sums. The following is the estimate of
M. Thibouville-Lamy, of Mirecourt, Paris, and
London, the principal fiddle-maker of our time,
of the cost of one of his cheapest violins : —

s. d.

Wood for back 2

„ belly 2

„ neck 1

Workmanship in neck .... 2

Blackened fingerboard .... 2

Workmanship of back and belly . . a

Cutting out by saw ]A

Shaping back and belly by machinery . 1

Varnish Id

ritting-up, strings, bridge and tail-piece !'^

6 per cent for general expenses . . 3

3 10
15 per cent profit 8

~ 4 6

Ludicrously low as this estimate is, it is certain
that one of these fiddles, if carefully set up, can
be made to discourse very tolerable music. Vast
numbers of instruments of better quality, but
still far below the best, costing from £i to
£2 los., are now sold all over the world.
Mirecourt and Markneukirchen mainly produce
them: of late years the latter place has taken
the lead in quantity, the German commercial
travellers being apparently more pushing than
the French ; but the Mirecourt fiddles have de-
cidedly the advantage in quality, having regard
to the price.

But violins of a superior class to the trade
fiddle, of good workmanship throughout, and in
every way excellent musical instruments, though
inferior to the best productions of the classical
age, have been and stiU are made, not only at
Mirecourt, but in the principal musical centres
of Europe. London, Paris, Vienna, and Munich,
have had a constant succession of violin-makers
for the past two centuries. Tiie English violin
manufacture suflfered a severe blow by the abo-
lition of duties on foreign instruments, and it
can hardly be said that the musical stimulus of
the last few years has caused it to revive. Those
makers who carry on their trade in England
are chiefly employed in rehabilitating and sell-
ing old instruments, and their own productions,
too few in number, are usually bespoken long
beforehand. At present, therefore, an intend-
ing purchaser will not find a stock of new in-
struments by the best English makers : but it is
to be hoped that, as the demand increases, they
will find means to increase the supply. Messrs.



284



VIOLIN.



Hill & Sons charge £15, Mr. Dancan of Glasgow
£12, ior their violins.

Those who wish to purchase a new violin of
the best quality readj' made, cannot do better
than resort to the French makers. Yuillaume,
now deceased, was a few j-ears ago at the head
of the list, and sold his violins lor £r4: they
are now worth considerably more. The sale
prices of instruments by some living Prench
makers are as follows : —

Tiolins. Tenors. cellos.

^ a d £ s d £ fi. (i.

Gand&Bemardel, Paris Hi id 13 4 ^^6 13 4

Miiemoni, Pars 13 f. S IB 24

C!h M-pitel, Paris 10 13 4 13 6 8 L'4
Thibc)uville-Lamy,Paris

and Loniion 800 800 IGOO
Gfrouiino Grandini, sen.

Mirecourt 4GS 4CS 8 13 4

M. Tiiibouville-Lainj^ has all tliese on sale ;
his own instruments are highly recommended.

Instruments of good quality' are mnde in this
countr}' by W. E. Hill & Sons, 72 Wardour
Street; Charles Boullangier, 16 Frith Street;
G. Chanot, 157 Wardour Street ; Szepessy Bela,
10 Gerrard Street; Furber, Euston Koad, all in
London : G. A, Chanot, of Manchester, and
George Duncan, of Glasgow, are also excellent
makers. Among foreign makers, the following
may be mentioned — in Vienna, Zach, i Karn-
thner Strasse ; Bittner, i Kiirntliner Strasse ;
Lembok, CanoVa Strasse ; Voigt, Spiegel Gasse ;
Guteimann, Maria-Hilf Strasse : Ranipftler,
Burggasse, Munich ; Sprenger. 34 Garten Strasse,
Stuttgart ; Hanimig, Leipzig ; Lenk, Pro-
menade Platz. Frankfort-on-the-Maine ; Liebich,
Breslau ; Mougenot, Brussels ; Hel, Lille ; Mar-
chetti, Milan; Guadagnini Brothers, Turin ; and
Ceruti, Cremona.

Old instruments, however, are generality pre-
ferred, by purchasers, especially those by the old
Italian makers. Among these, the best instru-
ments of Stradivari and Guarnieri del Gesvi form
a distinct first class ; their prices range from
£200 to £500. Inferior instruments by these
makers can be bought at from £100 to £200.
The very best instruments of second-class makers
often realise over £100: but ordinary instru-
ments by second and third-rate makers can
generally be bought at prices ranging from £20
to £50: while old Italian fiddles of the coiii-
mone.st description are considered to be worth
from £10 to £20. Fair instruments by old
French, German, and English makers can be
bought at still lower prices, ranging from £3 to
£ I o. Red instruments, other things being equal,
will generally fetch somewhat more than \-ellow
or brown ones. The principal English dealers
in old violins are Hill & Sons, G. Hart, G. Chanot,
and Withers.

Old violins may be divided into two classes,
those made on the ' high ' and the ' flat ' model
respectively. The latter, which is characteristic
of Stradivari and his school, including all the
best modem makers, is undoubtedly' the best.
The ' high ' model, of which Stainer is the best-



VIOLIN".

known type, was chiefly in use with the German
and English makers before the Cremona pattern •<
came to be generally followed in other countries. J
It is, in fact, a survival of the Viol, for which in- li
strument the high model is the best: even Stra- 11
divari used the hish model for the Double Bass
and the Viola da Gamba. But a high-modelled
violin, however handsome and perfect, is practi-
callv of little use. The tone, though easily ,:
yielded and agreeable to the player's ear, is defi-
cient in light and shade, and will not ' travel.'
The flatness of the model, howevei-, must not;
go bej'ond a certain point. Occasionally a violii
is met with, in which the belly is so flat as t
have almost no curvature at all. The tone c
such violins is invariably harsh and metallic.

The question is often asked, are old Italian'^
violins really worth the high prices which are
paid for thein, and are not the best modern in-
struments equallj' good ? In the writer's opinion .
the prices now paid for old Italian violins,
always excepting the very best, are high beyond
all proportion to their intrinsic excellence. The
superiority of the very best class indeed is proved l
bj' the fact that eminent professional players will r
generall}' possess themselves of a full-sized Str.v
divari or Giuseppe Guarnieri, and will play on :
nothing else. There can be no doubt that these
fine instruments are more responsive to the
]ilayer, and more effective in the musical result^
than any others ; and as their number, though
considerable, is not unlimited, the purchaser
must always expect to pay. over and above th^
intrinsic value, a variable sum in the nature ofi
bonus or bribe to the vendor for parting wit||
a rare article, and this necessarily converts thB
total amount paid into a 'fancy price.' BbI
when we come to inferior instruments by the
great makers, and the productions of makers ol
the second and third class, the case is wideljf
different. Such instruments are seldom in if>
quest by the best professional players, who, il
default of old instruments of the highest clnS
use the best class of comparatively modenii
violins ; and the prices they command are usH';
ally paid by amateurs, under a mistaken idei
of their intrinsic value. No one with any refli
idea of the use of a violin would pay £100 |gi
instruments by Montagnana, Serafin, or Petit
Guarnerius, when he could buy a good Vnil
laume, Pressenda, or Lupot for from £20 to £30
yet the writer has constantly known the first
named price realised for Italian instruments
decidedly inferior merit.

Though Tenors and Violoncellos of the highes
class are as valuable as Violins, Tenor and Vio
loncello players can usually procure moderatel
good instruments more cheaply than Violinist
Not only are the larger instruments less in de
mand, but while old English Violins are usele'
for modem purposes, the Tenors and Violoncello
which exist in large numbers, are generally f
very good quality, and many players use Bank
and Forster Tenors and Basses of these makei
by preference. Double Basses by the grea
makers are rare and not effective in the 01



I



VIOLIN.



VIOLIN.



285



estra : professional players usually choose old
iglish ones, or modern ones by such makers
Fendt and Lott, who made the Double Bass
speciality.

Fiddle-making is so little practised as a trade
this country, that a short explanation of the
ocess may be useful. The question is often
ked whether the belly and back of the fiddle
3 not ' bent ' to the required shape, and the
quirer hears with surpi-ise, that on the con-
iry, they are ' digged out of the plank,' to use
e words of Christopher Simpson, with infinite
DOur and care. The only parts of the Fiddle to
lich the bending process is applied are the ribs.
In construction, the violin, tenor, and violon-
llo may be said to be identical, the only
ference being in the size and in the circum-



Online LibraryGeorge GroveA dictionary of music and musicians (A.D. 1450-1889) by eminent writers, English and foreign : with illustrations and woodcuts (Volume 4) → online text (page 66 of 194)