Perhaps the only 'chicken and egg' story in violin making history was recounted to me by Mario Gadda, son of Gaetano: the great Mantuan maker Stefano Scarampella was supplied with his chickens and eggs by the teenage Gaetano, who would pedal the 15 km from his native village of Sorgà to Mantua to deliver them. Scarampella, having refused all other aspiring apprentices, recognised Gadda's genuine interest in and aptitude for violin making, and offered to take him on as his sole pupil (see our previous feature on Scarampella).
Gadda (1900-1956) quit his father's farm and moved to Mantua to study full time with Scarampella in 1919. He made remarkable progress, soon graduating from being an apprentice to making instruments in collaboration with Scarampella. Indeed, it does not appear that Scarampella made instruments on his own after 1920. In 1924 Scarampella signed a formal document stating that Gadda would acquire his tools and moulds in exchange for completing one violin per month for his master until the end of the old man's life. Alas, the contract was short-lived, as Scarampella died less than a year later. In the same year Gadda married Dora Balzarelli, with whom he had two sons: Gianfranco, who died aged 14, and Mario (1931-2008), whom he trained in violin making from a young age.
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