If you’d like to observe Labor Day by learning more about the Marikana miners ‘ strike in South Africa, a very good source is The Daily Maverick.
But I’m celebrating Nicolo Amati today, the man who survived the plague that swept through Cremona and lived to create what is basically the modern violin.
He was a third-generation luthier – fabulous word, no? – but improved on the family design by making smaller, more graceful instruments, their curves calculated mathematically to create ‘the height of elegance in violinmaking.’
The MMA has a fine example of an Amati – see it here.
Amati (1596 – 1684) was also apparently an excellent teacher and the first important Guarneri – Andreas – was one of his students. Andreas founded his own line of talented luthiers. It’s possible that Antonio Stradavari was also a student, but his claim may just have been a kind of extreme compliment.
In any event, British violinist Thomas Bowes has an Amati and in this clip from a rehearsal with the Malmo Symphony it looks as if he’s playing it – and it may be an optical illusion, but it looks a bit smaller than the instrument played by the first violin. It certainly is very sweet.