The strong violin making tradition of Naples, initiated by Alessandro Gagliano early in the 18th century, flourished until the second half of the 19th century. At this point the city's deteriorating economy and the political instability surrounding the Risorgimento (Italian unification) caused a mass exodus of its working class, hoping for a better life in the USA. Curiously, no Neapolitan violin maker of any consequence seems to have boarded the vessels for Ellis Island, suggesting that the profession somehow remained viable in Naples despite the rampant hardships.
Vincenzo Sannino, born in 1879, turned to the profession when Italian political disturbances had subsided and the country's violin making was reviving. He was also the only significant violin maker from Naples to leave his home territory and, as we shall see, in time he also strayed from the purely Neapolitan style of violin making.
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