The Origin Of The Violin

June 4, 2017, 6:58 PM · I was surprised to recently read an article that claimed it was highly possible the violin was developed by the Jews. It was one of those quick read overs I intended to come back to in more detail. I can get sources if you want them.

The article didn't necessarily insist this was the case, it was more of an educated conjecture based on where the Jewish people had migrated to and the correlation with historical violin development which seemed to follow them.

I maybe falsely assumed the violin was mostly an Italian or French invention.Or much like the bouzouki, it might have originated in the middle east and seen various revisions as it went to different cultures.

It can't be argued that the Jewish people have fallen in love with the violin as one of their predominant instruments.

I'm sure I could use Wikipedia to find some answers, yet Wikipedia isn't always a reliable source since almost anyone can add to it.

Thoughts?

Replies (67)

June 4, 2017, 8:16 PM · Cite your source, please.
June 4, 2017, 8:23 PM · Almost nothing is "invented" completely new, virtually everything "invented" grows out of earlier forms, especially in technology, which includes musical instruments. There would be no violin had there not first been a vielle, etc. It is interesting to trace the developments but fruitless to think you'll identify a single inventor or even a single cultural source of the violin or virtually any other instrument played today. Remember the lira da braccio? Some say it was a precursor to the violin, but surely it too grew out of the vielle, which no doubt had precursors.
June 4, 2017, 8:37 PM · Unless it was invented by Jews from northern Italy, I'd have to say it's far fetched.
Edited: June 4, 2017, 10:07 PM · Unlike the saxophone which was invented by a man named Sax, or the piano, whose stages of development were pretty clearly demarcated, the violin's origins are much more misty. There's a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing going on here: at what point do we decide that a fretless, bowed, instrument placed on the shoulder is finally a violin and not something else?

That said, just by coincidence the other day I was looking through some old issues of the VSA (Violin Society of America) Journal and pulled out vol.xx, no.1 where there is an article by the violin maker, David Rivinius on this very subject. It's difficult to summarize but it indeed credits a significant Jewish role in the early promulgation of the violin.

June 4, 2017, 9:47 PM · Well, the Brescian maker Seraphim was possibly Jewish, and the spike fiddle as precursor to the violin is from the 11th century Middle East, which had Jews residing there, so possible influence, but more likely slow development led to the original losing the spike and being held up for increased playability and taste of changing times (because the baroque violin did a similar thing-started at mid-chest level, going higher up as music became more challenging).

Perhaps one day we will have a violin that floats at shoulder-level, no longer requiring the hassle of holding it to get in the way of music. :D

June 4, 2017, 9:48 PM · Probably should think of the "history of the bow" without which there is no violin......

The Ravanastrom and Omeri of ancient India and any number of bowed ancient asian instruments come to mind.... Evolution is real and most things come from a predecessor.

June 4, 2017, 10:05 PM · More likely its of Arabic origin!!
June 4, 2017, 10:23 PM · Rebec, renaissance fiddle, and the lira da braccio are the direct ancestors to the violin. David Boyden has a great book about this. If you want to talk about the first 'true' violin, you need to look in northern Italy in the first two decades of the 16th century. If you want to talk semantics, and 'this is a violin or that is a violin', then you can look to any of a number of countries where bowed stringed instruments existed for a thousand years prior.
Edited: June 5, 2017, 4:51 AM · Almost all historians agree that the violin was invented by Andrea Amati (1505-1577). It was developed from the renaissance vielle, which in turn may have been derived from the rebec.

The first painting representing a modern violin (i.e. violin shape and size, arched plates, scroll, pegs mounted horizontally) is a fresco in the Santa Maria dei Miracoli cathedral in Saronno (about 130 km north-west of Cremona), by Gaudenzio Ferrari, dated about 1535.

The really cool thing is that Amati was likely illiterate, yet he came up with a design that was perfect from the start - the violin is in fact virtually unchanged since it was invented, a half-millennium ago.

Edited: June 4, 2017, 11:26 PM · Then you've got the guy in Israel that claims any cheap Czech production violin with an inlay resembling a star of David is a priceless "holocaust fiddle".
June 5, 2017, 3:33 AM · Amati was illiterate but the commissioner of the violin could have designs made for the instrument, that was very common. Benvenuto Cellini, (1500 - 1571) made a design for a compass, many objects as candelabra, salt cellars, furniture, jewells, etc. Cellini always made a point to his patros that he needed no designer since he was able to make them.
Edited: June 5, 2017, 4:17 AM · Dimitri - my understanding is that Andrea Amati is credited with being the first master maker of what is no doubt recognized as a violin but that the road to the violin was too gradual for us to say that upon the midnight hour of a certain year we now had the violin.

Lyndon - why don't you cite your sources - if you can. If you're referring by any chance to the noted violin maker, Amnon Weinstein and the "Violins of Hope" I suggest that you tread carefully on a subject that he has done extensive and painstaking research about. This is a serious subject of deep emotional meaning to many people and the modest cash value of these violins is completely irrelevant. For anyone who might be interested - www.violinsofhopecle.org/about/the-founde

Edited: June 5, 2017, 4:52 AM · Yes the "violins of Hope" are nothing but very cheap Schoenbach boxes from well before the holocaust. I would imagine most Jewish people horribly caught up in the holocaust would have much better taste in instruments.
Edited: June 5, 2017, 6:23 AM · Here is the source I read.

http://www.jpost.com/Magazine/Features/Did-Jews-invent-the-violin


Edited: June 5, 2017, 6:01 AM · Well, Sephardic Jews also settled in Bosnia (the Ottoman province) after Reconquest, but no one in their right mind claims that they invented burek!
I have to admit that I have no time to read an article after 10 repetitions of "seems to have", "likely", "most likely"..... a lots of circumstantial evidence, but no solid historic proof.
There "seems to be" a lot of pseudo-science these days, with dubious agenda behind. There is a huge difference between correlation and causation.
As an old adage in statistics says "if there is a high and positive correlation between the number of storks and the numbers of new-borns, it does not prove that babies are brought by storks!"
Edited: June 5, 2017, 11:06 AM · Is there any hard evidence that Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) influenced the development of the violin as we know it?

It is just that it would be surprising to me if that outstanding polymath, not to say genius, of the age didn't meet one or more of the luthiers immediately preceding Amati and perhaps discussed with them ideas for the design of the violin, in particular the underpinning mathematical geometry of the design; ideas which would have been thought about, discussed and experimented with, culminating in Amati's first real violin some years later.

What is suspicious is how the Amati violin seemingly appeared out of the blue in all its perfection, with no obvious close predecessor (known to survive, at any rate).

All speculation of course, but possible material for working into the plot of a well-known thriller writer's next outrageous block buster (not that lack of hard evidence seems to have ever bothered him!)

June 5, 2017, 6:50 AM · I agree Rocky. It is a roundabout. For me it's interesting.

Of course we could err on the other side by saying that any source that doesn't use "possibly" or "maybe" or "likely" is a sure thing. At least they are being honest here.

Columbus wasn't the first one to discover America, yet it stands as fact in history books. The Wright Brothers weren't the first to fly an airplane, on it goes.

June 5, 2017, 12:04 PM · Lyndon - I would suggest that Amnon Weinstein's extensive and pains-taking research into this most emotionally scarred subject trumps your glib and insensitive speculation.
June 5, 2017, 12:08 PM · Amnon Weinstein is a fraud that profits over way marking up cheap violins with no legitimate claim to actually being anything to do with the holocaust, he's been exposed multiple times on other forums.
June 5, 2017, 1:07 PM · Mr. Weinstein's premise is that Jewish musicians were primarily attracted to cheap crappy Schoenbach violins just because they had crudely inlaid 6 pointed stars inlayed in the back that resembled the star of David. I'm the one that gives Jewish musicians much more credit than that, not Mr. Weinstein.
June 5, 2017, 1:17 PM · Trevor, Leonardo's instrument of choice was the lira da braccio:

http://musicologynow.ams-net.org/2015/06/leonardos-lira.html

June 6, 2017, 4:20 AM · Well, Lyndon, that's quite a serious charge. I don't know Mr. Weinstein personally but I just did a quick Google search and found innumerable references to him and his project - and not one charge of fraud or anything else at all negative about him. If you want me to go back and cite them, I will. Otherwise, I'm curious about your citations.

You mention that "he's been exposed multiple times on other forums." Well, "multiple times" sounds like quite a lot. How about citing just 4 or 5 such references, who was doing the exposing, what the exposers' credentials were, what their expertise is, etc. Is 4 or 5 from your "multiple times" too much? How about 3? Two? What are these other forums? Are they forums that have already ousted you?

June 6, 2017, 4:49 AM · Ethnomusicologist Frank Denyer claims that bowed strings originated among the nomadic people of Mongolia. Makes sense - they had the horses for the bows (originally horsehair strings too). They still play an instrument called the Morin Khuur with its horse head scroll (apparently the instruments were originally made from horse skulls). Frank Denyer also claims that the horse symbology remains: saddle, frog (part of a horse's hoof), tailpiece; even neck, belly and ribs allude to a creature.
Eventually bowed strings (and many other instruments) came to the west, I believe, through the Arabic culture. It was a long time before the instrument as we know it today was standardized.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morin_khuur#Origin

Edited: June 6, 2017, 7:04 AM · In her memoir "The End of Romance: A Memoir of Love, Sex, and the Mystery of the Violin" Norma Barzman described her 10-12 days of search in Cremona and Venice for the Jewish origins of the violin. Norma Barzman was one of the writers banned by the Unamerican Activities Committiee in the early 1950s. She and her husband, Ben Barzman, a famous screen writer moved to southern France where they continued to work their crafts, when they could.

Although this book is a memoir, it reads like a novel, in places like a rather seedy romance novel, but I found it interesting reading, although it did not solve the issue of Jewish origins of the violin. According to what we read, Jews were a welcomed people in early Muslim society and many came to southern Europe with the Muslim invasion. It makes sense that they and Arabs would have been involved with crafting, playing, and improving early bowed string instruments such as the rebec and lira da braccio.

Edited: June 6, 2017, 6:08 PM · Two experts, Jacob Saunders and Ben Hebbert comment on the "Violins of hope""

https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/327917-is-this-a-violin-of-hope/
https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/324121-posible-200k-violin-please-help/

Edited: June 6, 2017, 6:10 PM · As Ben Hebbert points out, Amnon Weinstein is collecting these "priceless" relics and then has the gaul to regraduate them because he considers them tonally deficient. Imagine that, good enough for the holocaust victim, but not good enough for Amnon Weinstein, so he mucks about with the thicknessing, to make a new violin sound never heard during the holocaust!!
June 7, 2017, 4:34 AM · Lyndon, I just checked out your "multiple" citations - that is to say, TWO citations - and only ONE of them is critical of Mr. Weinstein's work as such. It's mostly about someone who came across a violin on Ebay and is inquiring about it and its similarity to the "Violins of Hope".

I think that most people can agree that there are different kinds of criteria for value: there is the inherent quality of a well-made and good-sounding violin; there is the fact of it being, say an authentic Strad which will guarantee a good amount of value whether it sounds good or not. Then there is the association of the violin: if it is really associated with the Holocaust or say, the Titanic, that is a whole other kind of value. Possibly the most valuable violin in the world, which tics all of the above criteria is the Paganini del Gesu - "Ill Cannone". After being imprisoned behind glass for many years, it deteriorated and eventually got a good deal of restoration to make it healthier and more playable. Indeed they wisely left the thick graduation alone, which is more than we can say for many other del Gesus. But if these "Violins of Hope" are indeed mostly modest Schoenbach instruments, I don't see what's wrong with restoring them to playing condition, including re-graduation.

For the rest, to be fair, I have contacted both Mr. Weinstein and Mr. Rivinus to make them aware of this thread and they can decide whether they'd care to weigh in on any aspect of it.

June 7, 2017, 7:21 AM · Oh brother!!!!
June 7, 2017, 9:05 AM · If we assume the premise (I don't) that these violins are rare relics of the holocaust owned by Jewish musicians during the war, regraduating or altering them in any way would be a crime IMHO. Regraduation is the fodder of incompetent repairers the world over. The violins themselves ARE historical relics, though maybe not of the holocaust, they deserve to be set up and played just as they were during their early life. No need to improve on a historical relic, if you want to improve something, try to build a better violin yourself, don't be a cheat and try to glory of some other workman's effort.
Edited: June 7, 2017, 9:52 AM · I appreciate the views expressed.

If Amati was Jewish as the article suggests was a real possibility. All bets are off.

We could say he wasn't because of the name, yet the name is also referenced in Jewish in other forms according to that article. Amati could have been the Italian approximation of his real name.

June 7, 2017, 9:59 AM · By that logic the pope could be Jewish too!!
Edited: June 7, 2017, 11:57 AM · Perhaps we could all agree that violin is a result of common history of mankind, not a particular tribe, religion or nation?
Even if the Jews contributed in some mysterious ways to its design and creation, why such a fuss about it?
I mean, who invented the ruler, arabic numbers, algebra? Who excelled in math and geometry which are the fundamentals in instrument making?
Who studied the laws of physic and applied acoustic?
Who developed the tools for wood-carving? Who improved varnish components? Who used the Golden ratio in architecture and art?

Let it rest, or I will start bragging about Tesla, who was a member of my own tribe.


Edited: June 7, 2017, 12:23 PM · If you all look back enough, we're all Jewish.

And what would violin history be like today without the contributions of Jews like Kreisler (I know, he later became a Catholic), Heifetz, Oistrakh, Rabin, Hassid, Gitlis, Perlman and many more....

June 7, 2017, 1:15 PM · I thought we were all African?????
June 7, 2017, 3:35 PM · Lyndon: lol
June 7, 2017, 11:04 PM · A couple of things to think about:

1) In Italian language (the violin was invented in Italy) "violino" means "small viola", suggesting that the viola came first.

2) The old existing instrument of the violin family is actually a cello, dated 1538; the oldest violin dates instead to 1559.

June 8, 2017, 5:55 AM · Lyndon said "altering them in any way would be a crime IMHO. Regraduation is the fodder of incompetent repairers the world over."

I agree that re-graduation is a major step that should not be undertaken lightly. But if Lyndon feels that any kind of alteration is wrong, then any kind of restoration is also wrong - which almost no Strad or del Gesu has escaped. Where does "any kind of alteration" begin and end? What about careful cleaning, repairing cracks, changing strings, bridges and soundposts? Part of the "Violins of Hope" project is to have some of these violins played throughout the world and I'm sure that Mr. Weinstein, a respected maker, which Lyndon is not, was very careful about his restorative work.

Again, I don't know Mr. Weinstein personally and don't feel a need to speak for him anymore. (So if I don't post here after this it should not be taken as any kind of acquiescence to a contrary view). It's just that Lyndon - who first brought up the subject in a very snide way - has impugned the reputation of someone who has dome some very valuable work and has presented a very skewed opinion of a respected maker that he is entitled to but which does not even come close to representing most opinions.

For anyone who might be at all interested in the "Violins of Hope" project, please do a Google search as I just did. I found an un-ending flow of positive views. I stopped looking after 10 pages and it was still going strong.

June 8, 2017, 6:00 AM · @Raphael: to be fair, the masses being happy about something isn't saying much... they tend to be very ignorant/misinformed, so I see no problem if Lyndon links to other knowledgeable luthiers and uses his own experience in stating that the person behind an idea is bunk.

I agree that it would wrong to not do so in the interest of honesty, barring whatever else said individual may or may not have done prioir to/after. :)

Edited: June 8, 2017, 8:15 AM · Last time I checked, I was a respected maker, of clavichords. I don't know if Mr. Weinstein is a maker.

Repairing a crack etc IS putting the violin back in to the condition it was in new, regraduation is completely the opposite.

June 8, 2017, 10:12 AM · How many Holocaust violins has Mr. Weinstein (allegedly) repaired, improved, restored, regraduated, rescued, or in any way worked on? Just curious. In the hundreds... or thousands? Does he then sell them?
June 8, 2017, 12:07 PM · Lyndon I like you, but you're being a bit snarky here :)

How does this tie into the Jewish contributions to the origin. Were the holocaust violins made differently?

I appreciate that you are convinced there is something less than honest underway and wanted to make us aware of it.The subject of the holocaust is a serious one and worthy of another thread in a different forum. If true, these violins would have a special meaning over and above performance or actual antique retail value.

I don't think you can say there weren't violins played by Jewish people during the holocaust. I don't believe we can say there aren't some around today.

IMHO It probably makes more sense to show how the violins are frauds as opposed to attacking a mans character. He is called a luthier on several websites, so I'm under the impression he knows something about the violin.
I don't have any dogs in this fight. All I'm after is information on the origins of the instrument and I thought the article made a lot of claims that I wanted to see if there was more of a foundation to pin the claims on.

June 8, 2017, 12:43 PM · Were they allegedly played right in concentration camps?
Edited: June 8, 2017, 1:44 PM · From what we have been able to gather, Weinstein has nothing to link the violins to the Holocaust other than they have a 6 pointed star inlayed on the back. We know from our studies of Inlayed Czech and German violins that these were the cheapest grade produced roughly around 1900. It is my understanding that Jewish musicians would have been just like any other and had violin of a quality appropriate to their playing level and pocketbook. While some poorer Jewish musicians may have been attracted to cheap violins with 6 pointed stars, these would have been the exception rather than the rule IMHO. Most of these inlayed violins were made for the American market anyway. You see them in the Sears and other catalogues from the time period, priced at the bottom end of the spectrum.
June 8, 2017, 4:02 PM · Well that six star inlay design is all over the backgammon sets in the Middle East. I got one from the bazaar in Istanbul, and later discovered it was not real inlay but a fake sheet glued on plywood. Once I saw thousands of those sets in big boxes in the back of a store, I realized they were not made in the Middle East but the Far East. Do a search for "Syria backgammon inlay" and you'll see the six star design/pattern/sun everywhere. Even in furniture and tea tables. It's not a jewish but gypsy and Middle Eastern thing
June 8, 2017, 5:29 PM · Dexter, as a Turkish guy who lived there for 7 years, you are absolutely correct. :)
June 8, 2017, 6:26 PM · I'm pretty sure though that Amati and Stradivarius, quite entrepreneurial for their time, were descendants of meditarrenean (Italo-Spanish) Jews.
June 8, 2017, 7:28 PM · Also, Jewish interpreters of recent have done more for the violin than any other race...
and the small Jewish community on Earth (not the sizable Australian population), continues to take most of the Nobel prizes awarded every year in physics, math, medicine, etc
June 8, 2017, 7:28 PM · And further...
Edited: June 9, 2017, 5:40 AM · Of all people, I think Jewish ones would be especially concerned when someone starts talking about a "master race".
June 9, 2017, 5:15 AM · In my humble opinion, it was a bad choice to name a group of instruments after a terrible set of events.
One of my preschool music teacher survived the concentration camp by playing music. In Europe, the shadow of recent history is long and many, many people were personally affected by WWII.
I agree that the subject should not be discussed here.
June 9, 2017, 6:45 AM · Agree with Rocky, and it is a terrible idea to name possible heirlooms after tragic events...

I mean, they might be passed down one day, and I don't think the point of an heirloom is to crush the spirit, they are meant to rather bring up fuzzy warm melancholy for times past in smiles and joy. :)

June 9, 2017, 7:01 AM · The Titanic was a terrible set of mistakes and events
June 9, 2017, 9:34 AM · Dexter you asked if the violins were played in the camps. I don't think they would have allowed that. There were Jews who entertained the Nazis and so they might have been allowed to have them. Other than that there were the walled cites where they lived until they were "resettled". They may have played them there.

I agree with those who don't see the point in having a Jewish star on their instrument. They knew they were Jewish. There's really no need to advertise that to the world. I see most of those violins as a way to profit profit off of the emotional pain and tragedy of that time. How low can you go?

Unless it could be proven that these violins were issued by the Nazis to the Jews, the only reason I can think of that they would be inferior instruments is because someone wanted to make money off of a subject instead of selling a good violin.

Call it my inner guide. Even without any comments from Lyndon I would have looked the other way on these violins. Lyndon's comments would further confirm it. Even if the instrument was valid I wouldn't want it for the reasons A.O. mentioned. No doubt there are legitimate violins well made and played by Jewish masters, but like almost everything else concerning legitimate antique instruments made by gifted luthiers the water get clouded fast by fakes.

Lyndon I don't believe there is a master race. There are probably conditions in Israel right now that are fostering one of the biggest growth spurts in history in terms of technology and advancement. It can't be denied they are excelling where other nations are falling behind.You don't read about it in the west so much, but it's happening.

June 9, 2017, 10:05 AM · I don't believe there is a master race, either. People are people. Races that have historically done better than other races invariably did so by oppressing other races.
Edited: June 9, 2017, 11:24 AM · I read that the viola was depicted in the Glory of Angels (1534-1535) fresco in the Duomo of the Santa Maria dei Miracoli Saronno.

Saronno incidentally is not far from Cremona.

Is the viola older than the violin? Was the violin designed after the viola?

June 9, 2017, 11:56 AM · It's hard to pinpoint the origin of the violin. The same goes for the spoon.
June 9, 2017, 1:24 PM · The viola might be older than the violin. In a museum in Vienna I saw a viola dated before 1550. The date would be the museum's opinion. A saw that it had the all-important sound-post, which is a major difference between the violin and viol family. I couldn't tell if it had a bass bar. If we restrict ourselves to the actual surviving instruments, the violin,viola and cello appear simultaneously in the middle 1500's, the first makers of record being Andrea Amati and Gaspar da Salo. Everything else is entertaining conjecture. I think it is an interesting clue that the Gaspar da Salo Violas are still some of the best ever made.
Edited: June 9, 2017, 4:29 PM · @Joel: I would argue that Gasparo and Maggini made some of the best violins too with their phenominal response and dark sonority, but nobody plays them anymore because the modern soloist standard is one of treble clarity versus the viola-like thrum of the Brescian makers.
June 10, 2017, 9:48 AM · Italy. Andrea Amati. Fact.

Cheers Carlo

June 10, 2017, 10:47 AM · I thought there were German violins as old as Andrea Amati???
June 11, 2017, 12:33 PM · I had the privilege to play on a Gaspar da Salo last month at Bein&Fushi. It is mind-boggling that such very very old violins can be so powerful.
June 11, 2017, 1:11 PM · I agree about the Gaspar da Salo violin. I have a copy of a violin comparison recording done by Ricci; Strads, del Jesu's, Amati's, and one da Salo. My favorites were; Nicolo Amati, with a sweet, beautiful,"feminine" sound and Da Salo, with a very different, "masculine", woody, dark, with just the right amount of nasal edge. Ease of playing and projection are something else; can't tell that from just a recording ~jq
June 11, 2017, 3:39 PM · I also love the roar of Brescian makers, my pretty ideal tone being the ex-Piozzi Maggini here:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=INy3vrobv-U

Edited: June 27, 2017, 4:30 PM · Hmmm hello everyone.

There's a bit of a confusion in this thread, which needs to be ironed out. In the most part, I merely offer observations, not answers per se.

1) Andrea Amati effectively invented the violin in it's "essentially modern form" - the Cremonese tradition stems directly from that.

2) Although Brescia was a recognised centre of instrument making long before Cremona, of the violin family instruments that survive, it is clear that they had seen Andrea Amati's designs and adopted his principles. This even extends to Gaspar da Salo who was born before Andrea Amati.

3) Andrea Amati actually signs his name AMADI, and it is not until his sons that AMATI or AMATUS labels appear. You can debate the significance of that yourselves.

4) Although Amati invents the violin as we know it, the concept of the violin and the use of the word to describe a monophonic bowed stringed instrument used for dance music goes all the way back to the court of Isabella d'Este. It originates around the same time in the 1490s that Shephardic Jews sought sanctuary in Italy after their expulsion from Spain, and at a time where musicologically speaking we see a huge amount of innovation caused by the mixing of Spanish and Italian, Christian and Jewish music. This is all referential to a high-cultural setting, as in a ducal or royal court, playing composed notated music. Of course the idea that people had been bowing out dance tunes for millennia, and that this was deep rooted in various cultures already should also be considered.

I think the mixing of Shephardic Jewish culture with Christian Northern Italian culture obviously plays a huge part in the conceptual development of both the violin and the viol. I don't think it makes sense to automatically credit these as Jewish inventions, although arguably the whole course of early Renaissance music in Northern Italy including the development of the violin would be completely different had it not been for the Spanish expulsion of non-christians and the cultural contributions that they were able to make when they arrived as communities in Northern Italy (and elsewhere).

If these instruments were inherently Jewish after their invention, it would be harder to justify their use within a Christian religious setting in the sixteenth century. For that reason I question an explicitly Jewish association with the early violin - Catherine of Aragon, a Spanish princess brought a group of Minstrels to England who played 'for disports and dancing' on what are essentially early violins around 1509 when she came to England to marry Prince Arthur (after his death she married Henry VIII), I can't see the daughter of the Kings who expelled Jews from Spain representing herself with a troupe of musicians playing Jewish music.

There is a letter from Isabella d'Este to Lorenzo da Pavia, her agent for musical instruments asking for instruments made in Brescia around 1510 or so. It expressly commands them to make "in the Spanish manner, showing nothing of the Italian", if we read this to infer Spanish Shephardic Jewish manner, it suggests that established (Christian) Bresican makers were being required to explore the new Jewish influences in Italy in order to make their instruments.

Ian Woodfield's Early History of the Viol, or the introductory chapter of Peter Holman's Four and Twenty Fiddlers provide a good starting point if you want sources and want to read further. As I say, these are observations, I do not think we can make an absolute statement of fact.

June 27, 2017, 10:59 PM · thank you Ben for such a quality contribution to this thread.
June 28, 2017, 4:19 AM · Very nice post Ben! Interesting to know that Isabella d'Este asks varnish from an instrument maker to be used by the painter Mantegna.
June 28, 2017, 7:22 AM · Ditto Ben. Excellent.

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