Stradivarius

From Academic Kids

For the Stradivarius brand of brass instruments, see Vincent Bach Corporation.
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PalacioReal_Stradivarius1.jpg
One of the violins in the Stradivarius collection of the Royal Palace, Madrid, Spain.

A Stradivarius (or "Strad") is a stringed instrument built by members of the Stradivari family, especially by Antonio Stradivari.

The playable instruments are highly prized by world-class musicians, and others who can afford them. Their individual qualities are considered worth distinguishing, and a Strad is often identified by the name of someone (often a famous musician) who formerly owned it, or regularly performed on it.

A Stradivarius made in the 1680s or during Stradivari's Brescian period (1690-1700) could be worth several hundred thousand dollars or more at today's prices in auction. If it was made during Stradivari's "golden period" (1700 to 1720), depending on condition, the instrument can be worth several million. They rarely come up for sale and the highest price paid for a Stradivarius at public auction was 'The Lady Tennant', made in 1699 which sold for US$2,032,000 in 2005. It is believed that private sales of Stradivari instruments may have exceeded this price.

The world's only complete set of Stradivarius instruments (string quartet) belongs to the Spanish Government and consists of two violins, two cellos, and a viola. They are exhibited in the Music Museum at the Royal Palace (Palacio Real) of Madrid. Another important collection is the collection of the Royal Academy of Music (York Gate Collections) in London.

Many people find violins labeled or branded as "Stradivarius," and believe them to be genuine. It is believed that there are fewer than 700 genuine Strads left in existence, very few of which are unaccounted for.

These instruments are famous for the quality of their sound and there have been many attempts to reproduce the sound quality. Recent studies indicate that Antonio Stradivari may have used wood from an old cathedral for its construction which might be a reason for its sound quality. The fame of Stradivarius Violins is not a modern phenomenon; the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes is supposed to have owned one. Another famous story is about a Stradivarius Cello, known as the "Duport" which has the spur marks of Emperor Napoleon, who scratched the cello when he tried to play it.

The reputation of the Stradivarius is such that its name is frequently invoked as a standard of excellence in other, unrelated fields (such as ships and cars).


Contents

Named Strads and their Namesakes

Violins

Violas

Cellos

Antonio Stradivari built between 70 and 80 cellos in his lifetime, about 50 of which are extant.

Guitars

There are two complete Stradivari guitars in existence, as well as several fragments of guitars. Both guitars have ten (doubled) strings.

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