Is it worth it to buy a violin in Cremona?
I am soon finishing high school and planning to study the violin at university and I need to upgrade my violin. We could probably afford a violin of 2000-6000 euros and I wonder:
1)If it is worth it to visit Cremona to buy a violin in that price range?
2)If there is a place in Europe where I can buy a good but not very expensive violin near me (I live in Greece)?
3)Are violins in Greece cheaper that those in other European countries or in Russia?
4) Will a violin in that price range be enough for a music university in Europe(ex. Germany)?
Thanks a lot,
All the violins in Cremona in that price range were actually made somewhere else. I'd be surprised to see a bench-made Cremonese violin for under US$10,000, but maybe there are younger/lesser makers who offer their violins at those prices. I've heard there are good violins being made in Romania, southern Poland, etc.
Nikoleta, I can't tell you about Cremona, but I'd guess Paul is dead right.
Paul is right about Polish instruments. Polish instruments are really good for the money and can be real works of art if you find the right maker. You can find a real gem for the price of 6000 euros, especially if you get it directly from the source. €6000 equates to 42 shy of 27,000 in the polish currency. With that kind of money, you could get a really good violin from a Polish maker who works out of Poland. One that comes to mind is Jan Pawlikowski. I'm not sure how expensive his instruments can get, but I had a friend who asked about commissioning a viola from and it was going to only cost him around 4000 US dollars which is around 14,500 in the Polish currency.
If you want to travel to Cremona and buy a nice handcrafted violin add another zero to your budget. Otherwise get a decent workshop violin from Eastern Europe.
Find a local luthier who has restored/reconditioned 19th/early 20th century German (Austro-Hungarian/Bohemian) or French violins for sale and play them all. For 6000 euros you will find something excellent. But these things can take a little time - you may need to start looking now if you want to find one by September. You'll have to get your teacher to recommend a luthier.
@Nuuska, there is no such thing as a "Cremona bonus" charge. The reality is that there is no other city of 70K people that has well over 100 registered violin makers in business, almost all of whom have studied at the Stradivari Institute.
I got a violin from Cremona. My parents bought it directly from a maker, Morassi. Back then 40 years ago it cost the equivalent of about 10'000USD. Now at Tarisio the highest price payed for a Morassi was 60'000USD. Not sure if mine is worth that much but I'm pretty happy with it.
GioBatta Morassi was my teacher at the violin making school. Since he passed away, the value of his instruments has shot up dramatically.
Dimitri wrote, "The reality is that there is no other city of 70K people that has well over 100 registered violin makers in business, almost all of whom have studied at the Stradivari Institute."
@Paul, well most alumni of the Stradivari Institute - founded in 1938 - have indeed ventured elsewhere to set up their workshops. Otherwise there would be literally thousands of shops here!
(Edit to delete a controversial statement)
@Nuuska, living in Cremona and being a member of one of the craftspersons guilds, I have no knowledge of violins being purchased in Romania (or elsewere) and finished in Cremona as "real Cremonese". If you do, please do elaborate, with sources and names.
The only rational answer is that one must compare various violins and buy based on sound, playability, and price. If you travel to any specific place, including Cremona, you would have to also take with you several violins from different makers and compare them in different settings.
Dimitri, I'm far from being an expert on Cremonese contemporary makers, and although I never intended to generalize, in fact my informations related only to one (or two?) persons / companies which I would consider some kind of free riders.
Cremona has the history and pedigree of violin making like nowhere else in the world. But I personally prefer contemporary American over Cremonese violins. I hate to generalize but that has just been my experience.
Scott Cole "The only rational answer is that one must compare various violins and buy based on sound, playability, and price."
Dimitri, the point of hundreds vs. thousands is well taken. I didn't think of that.
@Nuuska, I'll save you the trouble. In the early 2000s The Strad published an article by a certain Laurinel Owen, where she quoted a violin maker (based in California) serenely stating "Cremona imports containerloads of violins in the white" to be finished as bonafide Cremonese.
I suspect the problem of finishing imported violins in the white and passing them off as self made is more of a problem in America than Cremona.
I was of the impression that there are luthiers and dealers in Cremona who import factory instruments in the white, finish and brand them as their own in order to offer a cheap alternative to customers. Perhaps they are transparent about the practice and not selling them as bonafide Cremonese. Of course this happens in the US as well. Sellers don’t usually advertise these facts and labels never disclose the original country of origin. Perhaps finishing and set-up provides a loophole in that regard?
Dimitri, If I recall correctly it was my SF bay-area luthier (in Berkeley at the time and now in El Cerrito, CA) whom she quoted for that remark.
There are questionable practices going on all over the world. Why would Cremona be an exception, not very far away from the home of the Mafia? Does one need to jump through hoops to set up shop space there? Not as far as I have been able to determine.
When the pandemic is over or at least "safer" to travel to the EU, one of the places I want to go to is Cremona. I even intend to get a violin "from" Cremona. But to be honest, it is more as a souvenir for me. I'm not necessarily looking for "the" violin. And truth be told, I will not be shelling out 30,000 euros either.
Plenty of people have made good money investing in violins. At least, isn't that what dealers do by trade?
It might be that you need to get another violin for your budget right now. But going to Cremona could be a fun adventure and certainly you could find great violins there and learn a lot about violins and violin-making at the same time.
Dimitri, it was more recently including names, but as I said...
buying anything that's fungible is easy- the internet, wholesale stores, discount stores, aliexpress, etc. are all good for that. If the goods are all identical, then all you have to do is find the lowest price and most convenient location or shipping. No brainer, but anyone who tries to buy a violin this way has no brains.
The actual history of Cremona violin making had a gradual decline after Antonio Stradivari died in 1937. His death was celebrated in Cremona 200 years later (1937) with much fanfare and visits by at least 40 Cremona-made violins to festivities that also launched the International School of Violin Making in Cremona that has led to well over 100 violin making businesses in the city today. But there was a big gap in that trade for two centuries between those two events.
You can easily eat that budget in travel alone. If that's your budget it would be far better to go to a major city near you. You're still primarily looking at Chinese or Eastern European workshop violins in that range, and you can get those anywhere.
@Andrew, you are correct. @Nuuska, these articles come out periodically and are usually examples of journalistic sensationalism. Here are two facts to dwell over: