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Mozart's violin

by Dmitry Badiarov

Two sound ideals

Mozart violin - construction of violins, violas and cellos at Mozart's time was different from what it is today. Most important was the difference in sound. Actually, there were two sound ideals: one was called "human voice" and another "silvery ". The first was considered the most appropriate for a concert violin, the second for an orchestral violin.

Sound ideals between middle of 18th century and till ca.1826

Existence of two kinds of violins is apparent from Wolfgang's letter to Leopold, which he wrote on the 6th October, 1777: "…when they *Dubreill - pupil of Tartini, and Carl - his youngest son] began to discuss violins for concerts and violins for orchestras, they reasoned very well, and they were always of the same opinion as I". Five years later, when Mozart was 26, in 1782, Paduan luthier Antonio Bagatella published a violinmaking treatise - "Memoir, or Rules for the construction of violins - violas - violoncellos - double basses". He instructed on how to obtain a "silvery voice" or a "human voice". Connoisseur of Mozart P.Lichtenthal mentioned two sound ideals of Mozart's time in his "Dictionary of Music", published in 1826. From the above documents it is apparent that two kinds of violins existed during a few decades, and it was still remembered in the beginning of the 19th century.

Beginning of transformations

Bagatella was one of the first and the most famous luthiers who made transformations of the old baroque violins into "classical" instruments. "I adapted proportions of many old violins, working more on old instruments than on instruments which I made myself". According to his Memoirs, he started making violins when he was about 19. On Christmas night, 1748, he discovered the rules, which became his method. This was probably the time, when the first violin modifications of "classical" character took place. It was just before Tartini and Geminiani published their treatises

Was it called "silvery" at Bagatella's time? Was it called "silvery" even in Paganini's hands? This may remain a question forever . in 1756. . Many of the “Strads” and other instruments had the tops with an equal thickness. 2. Small violin . Viola has lost its original size. to obtain a "human voice" the top of an instrument must have an even thickness. mozart violin Method The method of Bagatella is a proportional design. 1. Thus. Guarneri violin. He believed that things were not in harmony at HIS time. Attribution of all three instruments to Mozart's exproperty is too vague to be taken seriously. Same year Wolfgang Mozart was born. The violin has an original neck and an old fingerboard. A few years later. In both cases both outline and thicknesses were changed proportionally.original neck and other original parts are lost.on violin playing (1750 and 1751 respectively). which was in a possession of Paganini. To obtain a "silvery voice" the top must be somewhat thicker in the middle.one certain thing is that it was a concert violin for him. Probably the sound of such instruments was called "human". So when Bagatella was demanded to create a "human voice" he had to make the thickness of the top equal. and made thinner toward the ribs. in which all violin parts assembled together in a perfect Harmony. Viola and violin. but they were in harmony in the past and he “discovered” the rules. has a top thicker in the middle. Leopold Mozart published his treatise. tailpiece. fig. and bridge fig. It is furnished with modern fingerboard. Unknown criteria We can't know how they distinguished between "human" and "silvery" voices. When a "silvery voice" was demanded .the top had to be left thicker in the middle. Its original neck and fingerboard are modified in the end of the 18th or beginning of the 19th century. however the neck is thinned.

(fig. and "many others were made to order for Mr. He wrote: "I had the opportunity to work for Mr. Although there are no Mozarts..] upon request for Giuseppe Tartini". there are a few instruments of doubtful property and attribution preserved in different collections in Europe . (fig. Tartini was a famous motivator of the new sound esthetics. Tartini and I have no idea where he sent them to".with a false label "Jakobus Stainer. in Absam. furnished him with a few instruments. which Mozart used it until 1781. there is not enough evidence to assume that this violin ever belonged to Mozart. Originally "baroque". he was a famous man. (See fig.D.B. preserved in the Mozart Museum in Salzburg: •Child Violin (Kindergeige) . who took the greatest care about musical education of Wolfgang. it is possible that Leopold could be among them: "There are many foreigners. "I reduced many [violins . He had numerous pupils who were sent by Princes from all over Europe". Bagatella lists dozens of customer names in the Memoir. 1659. Mozart’s instruments Leopold. Mozart probably heard of Bagatella. According to some theories it is that violin. Tartini over the course of approximately thirty years. Apart from the above instruments. This violin was probably made in Mittenwald in the first half of the 18th century.2) •Viola. Dubreill should not have mentioned Bagatella.in a possession of Mozart Museum since 1896.161".1) •Violin .iouani Paolo Megini/a Brescia..2) Attribution and lack of evidence The problem with all these instruments is that there is not enough evidence to assume that these instruments indeed were in Mozart’s property. This is the list of instruments. Bagatella and Mozart In 1782. when Wolfgang discussed violins with him. labeled ". however. these instruments were modernized in the 2nd half of the 18th century. whose names I do not remember". It is unlikely that Mr. working both on his own violins as well as those of his students. / prope Oenipotum. when Bagatella was 49.Tartini. . It is modernized to such an extent that it has lost almost all historical interest.