a modern instrument?
With regard to the problem of the superiority of
antique instruments, I would like to dwell briefly on a few indisputable facts: almost all
of the instruments of the Classic period have undergone modifications (length
of neck, its inclination, the mortising in the body of the instrument) so as to be able to
play modern music; the great majority of antique instruments have been restored more or
less completely, especially with regard to the graduation of the thickness of the belly
and the back in some cases the alterations have been such that very often they have had a
fundamental effect on the acoustic performance; there is great interest in the market in
antique string instruments, sometimes even to the extent of attributing works of minor
craftsmen to more celebrated ones, to say nothing of forgeries and counterfeit reports.
Acknowledged experts are few and far between and they often
refuse to carry out scientific analyses (on varnish, wood, dendrochronology...), which
would certify indisputably that an instrument belonged to a specific period and a definite
school; the construction technique is substantially the same (internal mould for
Classic Italian violinmaking, external mould for the French style,
etc.); and the tools used by the violinmaker are also very similar, especially the most
Ultimately nobody at a concert or in an auditorium is able
to recognize whether a skilled performer is playing a violin of the Classic
period or a good modern instrument.
Having said that, I am convinced that there are splendid
antique instruments with a marvelous sound and superb timbre, but others of the same
period and the same school, which, for various reasons, have a dull, out-of-tune sound.
The same is true of modern instruments. There are pieces of
great interest and value, but there are many others with poor acoustic quality. This is
borne out by tests made in the laboratory of acoustic physics at the International School
of Violinmaking in Cremona.
The question is whether a splendid modern instrument, be it
from the point of view of aesthetics or acoustics, will still sound good hundreds of years
My firm conviction is that in two or three centuries modern
instruments Will play better than the Classic ones, which will be
finished by then, but the question cannot really be answered.
What must also be stressed is the importance of a skilled
violinmaker in acoustically improving an instrument, antique or modern, be it the correct
fitting, the positioning of the post, the inclination of the bridge, the correct position
of the fingerboard and its inclination, and many other details of essential importance.
As a historian of the art of violinmaking, I could not
possibly deny the importance of classical violinmaking, particularly in the various
Italian schools. This is certainly not the problem; there is no question about their value
and their importance; the same cannot be said of the financial value of many
pieces, which has risen out of all proportion, even for instruments which have no
particular significance with regard to their history, performance and acoustics, these
days there too many speculators and swindlers around.
.Gualtiero Nicolini, (Was teacher of the Cremona International School of
Violinmaking and President of the ANLAI)
I mostly play one of my two modern violin.
The glorification of antique violins and the
trenchant disdain for modern violins is a phenomenon which belong to the word of
supertitions and mysticism.
antique violin. An untoucheble fetish? of Giorgio Finale Montalbano Ed. Studio Stradivari