Exhibition | Stradivarius at the Ashmolean

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 18, 2013

From the Ashmolean Museum:

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 13 June — 11 August 2013

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Taken by Merlin Cooper, 2005.

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Photo by Merlin Cooper, 2005, Wikimedia Commons

Antonio Stradivari (c.1644–1737) – or Stradivarius as he is usually known – is the only maker of musical instruments whose name ranks alongside those of the great composers. For the first time will twenty of his instruments, from guitar to cello to violin, be on display together in the UK. While the details of his life are not as familiar as those of Vivaldi or Mozart, his name succeeds in evoking a creative genius in the popular imagination. The Ashmolean’s summer 2013 exhibition will feature twenty of the world’s most important musical instruments, some of which have never been shown in public, on loan from international collections: from the early Silvestre violin of 1666, to the Fountaine violino piccolo, the Boissier-Sarasate of 1713, to his later violins of the 1730s. It will also show a recreation of Stradivarius’s workshop where visitors will be able to follow the creation of a violin from a log of spruce through to the finished instrument.

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From ACC Distribution:

Charles Beare, Peter Beare and Jon Whiteley, Stradivarius (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2013), 200 pages, ISBN:
9781854442758, $40.

Screen shot 2013-03-16 at 3.09.11 PMAntonio Stradivari is, perhaps, the only maker of violins who ranks alongside Van Gogh and Turner as an artist. A household name to many, he is associated with secret formulae and mystical processes ensuring his instruments are sought after by the world’s greatest soloists. He excites controversy, although none of his violins have raised so much heated debate as the Ashmolean’s Messiah, making headline news some ten years ago when doubt was cast on its age. Stradivari’s birthplace is unknown, he may have been born in 1644, and even his apprenticeship to Nicola Amati is uncertain. He died rich and famous in Cremona in 1737. Since then his instruments have increased in fame and are now regarded as supreme examples of the violin-maker’s craft. Despite the great fame of Stradivari’s violins, there has never been a monographic exhibition of his work in the UK. It will include 30 instruments, representative of Stradivari’s range and output across the years, alongside exceedingly rare examples of stringed instruments other than those of the violin family.

The prize items to be featured in the exhibition are already in the Ashmolean: The Potter, The Messiah and the guitar of 1688, all works of the greatest rarity. The exhibition and the accompanying catalogue will allow the public to see the work of one of the greatest violin makers of all time. Stradivarius also presents the most recent research on Stradivarius’ instruments.

Contents: Introduction by James Ehnes; essay on Stradivarius by Charles Beare; essay on Stradivarius’ work including dendrachronology of the instruments; “The luthier’s perspective: How Stradivari violins are built and what makes them so good?” by Peter Beare; catalogue entries; technical information.

Charles and Peter Beare are directors at the successful violin dealers Beares. Peter is a qualified luthier. Jon Whiteley is the Senior Assistant Keeper in the Department of Western Art, specializing in paintings drawings and musical instruments.

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From Music at Oxford:

The Dawn of the Stradivarius with James Ehnes and La Serenissima
Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, 14 June 2013

StradIn association with The Ashmolean Museum’s extraordinary forthcoming exhibition of the world’s finest Stradivarius instruments, Music at Oxford is proud to present this collaborative concert. Canadian virtuoso and Stradivarius player James Ehnes will perform unaccompanied music by Bach and Paganini on a number of Stradivarius violins and discuss what’s unique about them and the sound they produce. This will be the first time one player has ever had the opportunity to do so in a concert setting. Award-winning period ensemble La Serenissima will follow this by performing a programme of music from the age of Stradivarius by Vivaldi, Valentini and their contemporaries.

This event will open the exhibition, a fascinating exploration of the master maker’s work featuring the largest collection of Stradivarius instruments ever assembled as well as audiovisual footage featuring James Ehnes. Don’t miss this exciting event, our 2012-13 season closer. Tickets are bound to be in great demand so please do book early.

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