Stradivarius is the Latinized last name of Antonio Stradivari, often regarded as history’s greatest violin maker. Stradivari was Italian, but on the paper labels he glued inside his violins he gave his name as Antonius Stradivarius.
Over the course of a very long lifetime, Stradivari made upwards of a thousand violins, of which about 650 survive – and he also made cellos, violas, guitars, and other stringed instruments. A Stradivarius today can cost a fortune: some of his instruments bring prices in the millions of dollars.
Why are these instruments so highly prized? And why were they in demand all over Europe during Stradivari’s own lifetime? The most important reason by far is their sound, which in the best cases combines extraordinary beauty, purity, and power. I say “in the best cases” because no two Stradivariuses sound exactly alike, and some are actually far better than others. The greatest Strads, as they’re called, may be unsurpassed, but not every Strad sounds better than the best violins of less famous makers.
A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina ETV Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.