Sarie and I have been to Cremona twice during the past month. If you know stringed instruments, you may easily guess why we went: Cremona is the epicenter of violin-making. The Stradivari, Guarneri and Amati families were legendary Cremonese luthiers whose best surviving instruments are now held in trust for the world’s top soloists. But there are still plenty of good well-preserved, reconstructed and newly-crafted stringed instruments available for anyone who wants a good violin. I recently counted 64 luthiers in a the city.
We were to Cremona to try out Baroque violins. By definition, any modern violin from the 18th C. was once a Baroque violin, but almost all of them have had modifications to enhance their range and sound output, including a longer fingerboard, more slender neck and bridge, and metal strings. The violin we bought this week had been updated, but the luthier restored it back to Baroque fittings in everything but the neck, which didn’t affect the sound. As a historically-accurate performer of Renaissance through Classical music, this violin will be Sarie’s primary professional instrument. It will also require two bows, a Baroque and a Classical one, to play music from this wide a period. Sarie and Alberto (who plays Baroque oboe and other wind instruments) are now performing in professional historically accurate ensembles, so she badly needed the instrument.
Meanwhile, I simply enjoy hearing the music and visiting the various Italian towns. Sarie and I joke that “Cream-ona,” with its frequent use of pastel yellow stucco, lives up to its name. I also associate this city on a plain near the Po with bicycles, ice cream, and in the winter, fog. Here are a few photos, happily all from sunny days.