Map of the Violin-Making Centres in Europe

Here it is: a map of the historic violin-making centres in Europe. For a long time I have wanted to have a map of all the famous places that violins were made. I could not find such a map anywhere on the internet, so I have made one myself and named the violin-making towns and cities in BLUE! Enjoy:

Europe Violin making-blue names

In future posts, I will add more information about the significance of these violin-making centres. Here is a summary organised by country and famous violinmakers who are also called luthiers: 1. Italy; 2. France; 3. Germany; 4. Bohemia-Czech Republic; 5. Tyrol-Austria.

1. FIRST OF ALL, in ITALY violin making began. It is also the country where many famous violin makers originated. Here is a list of some of the famous Italian violin makers: Gasparo Da Salo, Maggini, Amati, Stradivari, Guarneri, Bergonzi, Gagliano, Guadagnini,  Ruggeri, Testore, and numerous others.

Below is a map of the violin centres in Italy:

Venice and Northern Italy 1600–1800 smaller

The violin originated in Brescia where from 1530 onwards, the word violin appeared. Brescian master makers of string instruments dominated the violin market until the 1630’s, when a plague resulted in the death of Brescian masters. Cremonese makers gained influence after 1630. In BRESCIA, GASPARO DA SALO (1542-1609) was an important early luthier of the violin family. Da Salo apprenticed: his son Francesco, a helper named Battista, Alexander of Marsiglia, Giacomo Lafranchini and GIOVANNI PAOLO MAGGINI (1580-1630) who inherited da Salò’s business in Brescia. In 1620 Maggini moved to Florence.

In CREMONA, foremost is Andrea AMATI (1505-1577) in the mid 16th century. Some credit Amati with the violin’s “invention.” His legacy is the greatest due to the longevity of the influence of his descendants in Cremona till the 18th century: Andrea Amati: his son Antonio Amati (1540–1607), and his other son Girolamo Amati or Hieronymus (1561-1630). His grandson Nicolò Amati (1596–1684), apprenticed Antonio STRADIVARI (probably) (1644-1737), Andrea GUARNERI (1626–1698), Bartolomeo CRISTOFORI (1655–1731), Jacob RAILICH, Giovanni Battista ROGERI (1642–1710), Matthias Klotz and possibly Jacob Stainer. Carlo BERGONZI (1683-1747) was Stradivari’s greatest pupil and also worked for Amati and Guarneri. The Bergonzi family of luthiers continued till 1796. After the middle of the 18th century, only the Cerutis remained in Cremona.

In MILAN, in the mid 17th century was Giovanni GRANCINO (1637–1709), Carlo Giuseppe TESTORE (1665–1716), and his sons Carlo and Paolo. In Milan, in the early 18th century was Carlo Ferdinando LANDOLFI (1714–1787). Leandro BISIACH (1864-1945) in Milan, was as influential in the 1900’s as Vuillaume was in the 1800’s. The following instrument makers worked in Bisiach’s laboratory: Riccardo and Romeo ANTONIAZZI, Gaetano SGARABOTTO, Giuseppe ORNATI, Ferdinando GARIMBERTI, Igino SDERCI, Rocchi SESTO, Cipriano BRIANI, Camillo MANDELLI, Ferriccio VARAGNOLO, Camillo COLOMBO, Vincenzo CAVANI, Pietro PARAVICINI, Albert MOGLIE, Andrea BISIACH, Carlo BISIACH, Pietro BORGHI, Mirco TARASCONI, Leandro Jr. & Giacomo BISIACH, Iginio SIEGA and Carlo FERRARIO.

In VENICE in the mid 17th century were Matteo GOFFRILLER (1659–1742), Domenico MONTAGNANA (1686–1750), Sanctus SERAPHIN (1699–1776) and Carlo Annibale TONONI (1675–1730) who began in Bologna.

In ROME was David Tecchler (1666–1748) who was Austrian born.

In NAPLES, in the early 18th century, Alessandro GAGLIANO (1700-1735) worked in the shops of Amati and Stradivari. After returning to Naples from Cremona, he became the founder of the Neapolitan school which continued through his son Nicolo and then his grandson Ferdinando.

In the early 18th century was Giovanni Battista GUADAGNINI (1711–1786) who roamed throughout Italy during his lifetime.

2. SECONDLY FRANCE, in Paris and Mirecourt. In PARIS in 1815, Nicolas LUPOT  (1758–1824) was appointed violin maker to the king. Also in Paris was François CHANOT , who in 1818 employed Jean-Baptiste VUILLAUME (1798–1875). Vuillaume came to be widely regarded as the pre-eminent luthier of his day. Most 19th-century Parisian violin makers worked in his workshop, including Hippolyte Silvestre, Jean-Joseph Honoré Derazey, Charles Buthod, Charles-Adolphe Maucotel, Telesphore Barbe and Paul Bailly. MIRECOURT, is 100 miles from Paris and the centre of commercial violin manufacturing. Violin makers of Mirecourt in the early 19th century, were the famous Vuillaume family (Jean-Baptiste was born in Mirecourt and went to Paris at age 19). Also, in Mirecourt in the 19th Century were Charles Jean Baptiste Collin-Mezin, Charles Collin-Mezin Jr, and the Jérôme-Thibouville-Lamy (J.T.L) firm which moved to Mirecourt around 1760 and started making violins, guitars and mandolins.

3. THIRDLY GERMANY, in the area called “Vogtland,” which includes Bavaria, Saxony, Thuringia and into the Czech Republic in north-western Bohemia. The famous centres were Klingenthal and Markneukirchen in Saxony near the Czech border and Mittenwald in Bavaria near the Austrian border. In KLINGENTHAL in 1669, a Violin making guild was established with the Hopf family among others (Hobe was their family name). The Hopf family were religious exiles from Graslitz which was in Bohemia that is the Czech Republic. In Klingenthal, some famous makers were Dörffel, Glass, and Meisel. Around 1850 Klingenthal violin making suffered due to the American civil war, when North America stopped importing their violins. In the 1670’s, a Guild was established in MARKNEUKIRCHEN also. About seven million violin family instruments and basses, and far more bows, were shipped from Markneukirchen between 1880 and 1914.  Famous violin makers in Markneukirchen include Ernst Heinrich Roth, H. R. Pfretzschner, Albert Nürnberger-bowmaker, Heinrich Th. Heberlein Jr, the Knopf family, Arnold Voigt, and the Framus brand. MITTENWALD, near the Austrian border, was famous for violin making because of the Klotz family who have been making violins from the mid 1700’s till the present. Matthias KLOTZ (1653–1743) studied with Railich in Padua, Italy in the 1670’s and later with Stainer and Nicolo Amati.

4. FOURTHLY BOHEMIA, which is today called the CZECH Republic. Bohemia had famous centres called SCHONBACH (LUBY) which is 7 kilometres from the German town of Markneukirchen and GRASLITZ (KRASLICE) which is 5 km from the German town of Klingenthal. Please see the map below:


(From,12.3438899,11z)                               In the second half of the 1600’s Bohemian Protestant exiles moved to Klingenthal and Markneukirchen, Germany. In the 1700’s, there was much border crossing for the sale of Bohemian violins in southern Germany which was economically thriving. SCHONBACH (LUBY), Bohemia was one of the centres of the mass produced Bohemian/German violins of the late 1800’s which were exported all over the world. Many 19th and early 20th century instruments shipped from Saxony were in fact made in Bohemia, where the cost of living was less. Famous violin-makers in SCHONBACH (LUBY) were the PLACHTA family, SANDER, HOYER, and SCHUSTER families and John JUZEK.

Germany and Czech Republic (Bohemia) in the 19th and 20th centuries were responsible for numerous TRADE VIOLINS. They were called “Trade Violins” because they were made cheaply by semi-skilled workers, not by certified luthiers. In Germany and the Czech Republic these trade violins were made by farmers in their homes during winter when they had no other work. France was another country producing trade violins in Mirecourt where they used workers in assembly lines in violin factories such as those of J.T.L. The Tyrol which is now called Austria, also produced trade violins. Italy, however, never manufactured trade violins in factories as the Italians continued to have small workshops run by a master luthier and his apprentices.

5. FIFTHLY AUSTRIA, which was previously called TYROL, where Jacob STAINER (1617-1683) established his workshop in ABSAM/INNSBRUCK. His instruments were the most sought-after throughout Europe until the late 18th century, when orchestral music replaced chamber music as the dominant form. Stainer violins have a pronounced higher arching of the belly than the back; a broad lower back; some scrolls carved as heads of lions, angels, or women.

These are just some of the famous violin makers which I will no doubt add to in days to come.


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