The stradivarius, a remarkable violin, is believed by many musicians to be the best ever made. They say the tone and craftsmanship of a stradivarius have never been equaled.
Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) was born in Cremona, Italy. He was apprenticed to Niccolo Amati, who was regarded as the best maker of violins at that time. When Amati died in 1684, Stradivari began experimenting with the size and shape of violins and eventually came up with one that produced more breadth of resonance and power of tone. His violins, shorter than others, with a broadening and arching of the instrument, were of unsurpassed symmetry and beauty.
Stradivari attained worldwide recognition and received commissions from several heads of state, including James II of England and Charles III of Spain. He produced more than 1,000 violins and violoncellos, and some 600 are believed to be still extant. Those violins that were
given names — Alard, Betts, Viotti, and Messiah — are particularly famous.
Stradivari died without disclosing the secrets of his craft, so no one knows why a Stradivarius sounds better than other violins. Was it the varnish he used, the way he cut the F-holes, the aging of the wood? The term strad is a shortened form of the word and denotes the tops in a field.