Several centuries ago, it was common for violin makers to print their names in Latin on the paper labels they glued in their instruments. That’s what the great Italian violin maker Antonio Stradivari did, and that’s why an instrument made by Stradivari is known as a Stradivarius.
Stradivari was born around 1644, and he died ninety-three years later, in 1737. He learned his craft as an apprentice to Nicolò Amati, and it was Amati’s grandfather, Andrea Amati, working back in the 1500's, who’s thought to have perfected the form of the modern violin. Stradivari is certainly known best for his violins—he probably made at least a thousand of them, and about six hundred fifty have survived—but there are still somewhere around 55 Stradivarius cellos in existence, and 11 or 12 violas. Stradivari also made mandolins and guitars—two of his guitars have survived—and probably harps and lutes, as well.
This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.