Dmitry Gindin: Expert and consultant in fine stringed instruments


Raffaele and Giuseppe Fiorini

Much of Emilia-Romagna, of which Bologna is the largest city, was ruled by the Vatican's Papal states from the early 16th century until the unification of Italy in around 1860. This beautiful city largely thrived through the medieval to the early Baroque periods. Despite economic decline during the later 17th and 18th centuries, it boasted a large population and by 1790 this had reached 72,000, making it second only to Rome among the Papal states of the period. It enjoyed a lively music scene and therefore the presence of several fine violin makers. The pinnacle of its classical violin making was achieved in the work of Giovanni and Carlo Annibale Tononi (active in Bologna c. 1690-1717). As was common among the best 17th-century Italian luthiers, the Tononis drew their knowledge and inspiration from Cremona, throughout their lives improvising on the models of the Amatis.

Giovanni Tononi died in 1713 and a few years later Carlo Annibale left Bologna for Venice. Though his contribution was greatly missed, the city's violin making tradition was continued in the capable hands of the Tononis' stylistic descendants, the Guidanti family, as well as Don Nicola Marchioni ('Don Nicolo Amati') and later G.A. Marchi. Throughout the 18th century Stainer's influence began to pervade the Bolognese style, in line with the period's violin making outside of Cremona. The flourish of the early Bolognese violin making school and its traditions ceased by around 1820, when its final exponent, Giovanni Varotti stopped his activity.

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