Cremona is a city of 75,000 in the Northern (Lombardy) area of Italy. The city has a long and storied history. It is known for many things but it is famous for one — violins. Beginning in the 16th Century, Cremona was home to three legendary luthier families: Amati, Stradivari and Guarneri. While many associate the names Guarneri and Amati with fine violins, everyone knows the name Stradivarius.
When I was young, I read a lot about treasure — the Lost Dutchman Mine, the Oak Island Mystery, the San Saba River treasure, Padre Island doubloons and so on. I avidly read books like Frank Dobie’s classic Coronado’s Children. And I always longed to one day go hunting for these treasures or rarities like a Gutenberg Bible (post of 8/18/11) or a Stradivarius violin. I’ve come close to a Gutenberg (another story) but the Stradivarius has escaped me.
During his lifetime, Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) made about 1,100 instruments. A few hundred survive and those that do are rare and valuable. Why? Because the sound is near perfection. Antonio created his works of musical art with spruce tops, willow blocks and maple backs, ribs and neck. The technique has been duplicated but the sound never replicated. There is thought that the coatings on the wood made the difference. So far, the exact recipe remains a mystery.
I still think of taking a sabbatical someday — and heading off in search of a Gutenberg Bible or a Stradivarius violin. Or maybe the Lost Dutchman Mine. . . . .