The Antique Violin

"...And give voice to the human soul"

By: Carly Hill, Staff Writer • Apr 05, 2012 • 0 Comments


All that’s there is varnish and glue
On a box of wood and strings.
Yet with hairs on a stick, a select few
Manipulate these ordinary things,

For composers beyond compare
Both impelled by an inner goal
To pluck sounds from the air,
And give voice to the human soul.

Sandy Marcus


I’ll bet you’d never guess that one of the worlds most exquisite instruments has strings made of sheep intestine and a bow made of horse hair.  The violin came from a Middle-Eastern three-stringed instrument called a rebec.  The violin’s origins are not pinpointed, but its speculated that it evolved in Northern Italy sometime in the mid-16th century.  Andrea Amati was the patriarch of the Cremona school of violin making; and he may very well have created the first violins.  Over the next 150 years, the violin was perfected by others in Amati’s family and students such as Antonio Stradivari and Bartolomeo Giuseppe.  Over the next few centuries, violin making spread all over the world.  Even though many violins are now made in factories, the finest violins are still made my hand using the same method that came from the Cremona school in Italy.

A violin itself is usually made of maple wood, while the top is made of spruce.  The inside linings are usually made of spruce or willow (although many are lined with cardboard).  Other parts of the violin are made from ebony, and rosewood or boxwood.  Like most of the finer things, quality in production has plummeted in recent years.  Many of the most current violins are made of plastic and other synthetic materials.  There are also electric violins that are used in popular music today.  However, the traditional violin is still the musicians top choice for classical music.

The violin pictured above is a south German full sized violin made in Italy in 1688 that is available from Eron Johnson Antiques.  Just click here to make it yours.

Until Saturday, happy Latiquing