Dmitry Gindin: Expert and consultant in fine stringed instruments

 

Oddone, Fagnola and Guerra

The status of Turin's violin making at the end of the 19th century in some ways echoed that of the early part of the century, when a large number of French and Italian makers moved to the city to capitalise on their considerable skills. These included Alessandro D'Espine, Giovanni Francesco Pressenda and Giuseppe Rocca, who were among the finest 19th-century makers, but by the mid-century their fortunes had soured and all three died in poverty. By contrast, the surge in demand seen in post-Risorgimento Turin at the end of the century ensured the new generation of makers a far longer-lasting success.

After Rocca's final departure in 1863, Turin's violin making remained in the hands of Antonio Guadagnini and Benedetto Gioffredo 'Rinaldi', both of whom produced relatively few instruments and were evidently primarily engaged in dealing and repairing. When Antonio died in 1881, his son Francesco initially continued in his footsteps as a dealer, but by 1888 he was in direct competition with Gioffredo's descendant Romano Marengo 'Rinaldi' and Enrico Marchetti. During the early 1890s Marengo also turned to building new instruments and from then on produced them in large numbers, progressively developing more commercial means of production. This seemed to be consistent with the approach of most industries of the period, with well-established brand names able to turn larger profits through improved communication and trade with other countries. Employment of less skilled but cheaper labor facilitated such expansion.

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