yet another question for Roger Hargrave....


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Dear Roger,

in the most recent issue of the Strad you write Stradivari may have possibly been involved in the tuition of Guarneri del Gesu.

Could you elaborate a bit more on this?

Looking at the Strad 1734 'Habeneck' which points towards del Gesus later work, not only look but also soundwise (oops, a generalized sound statement, no but it really sounds more like a typical del Gesu than a typical Strad...) I also think your thesis has somehting but what facts do you base your statement on?

Thanks, Hans

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Dear Roger,

in the most recent issue of the Strad you write Stradivari may have possibly been involved in the tuition of Guarneri del Gesu.

Could you elaborate a bit more on this?

Looking at the Strad 1734 'Habeneck' which points towards del Gesus later work, not only look but also soundwise (oops, a generalized sound statement, no but it really sounds more like a typical del Gesu than a typical Strad...) I also think your thesis has somehting but what facts do you base your statement on?

Thanks, Hans

Good Morning Hans,

There are very many reasons why I think that Del Gesu 'might' have worked for the Strad family and these 'might' include such details as archings sound-holes and even a number of historical possibilities. But I am not going down that road about sound. You have surely read what I have already unequivocally said on this site on this subject. And still there are those that wish to say that I am somehow indicating that instruments can be identified in some small way, by their sound. THEY CANNOT.

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If I had a top maker living just around the corner, I would find his or hers weak spot, say a sweet tooth or two, or a pension for cappuccino, and be supplying it just to see "What's on Your Bench", which I think is no accident that CT's thread has got to be the most popular thread here at Maestronet of all time!

Some might reason that there was enough material in the family to 'keep a kid on the farm' but you know how independent those troublesome free thinking teens can be, never listening to anything Dad says! :angry::lol:

BTW I like the Habeneck violin a lot, and think it would make a real nice poster. Wild pair of F-holes! :blink:

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Good Morning Hans,

There are very many reasons why I think that Del Gesu 'might' have worked for the Strad family and these 'might' include such details as archings sound-holes and even a number of historical possibilities. But I am not going down that road about sound. You have surely read what I have already unequivocally said on this site on this subject. And still there are those that wish to say that I am somehow indicating that instruments can be identified in some small way, by their sound. THEY CANNOT.

Hi Roger, thanks for your reply.

I said this about sound a little tongue in cheek. I also don't claim I can identify violins by sound. But I have played around 25 to 30 Strads and maybe at least 6 or 7 del Gesus myself. And I think it is true that there are some tendencies and differences, although there was at least one del Gesu that I remember that felt very much like a Strad. I know this might sound stupid because there are many different individual instruments and it is difficult to generalize but a typical del Gesu can take a lot more bow pressure than a typcial Strad, which seems very sensitive to small changes and is not actually that easy to play. By the way it took me quite a while to appreciate how a Strad should be played and to find it's qualities. But who am I telling, this just to continue to what I said in another thread that I can feel more differences in sound than actually hear them because as has been said often here it depends who plays them.....

But back to the original question: so what would the number of historical possibilities in more concrete terms be?

Thanks, Hans

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Roger, I really appreciate your notion that you can't tell them apart. My expertise (or lack of expertise) is not in the same league, but I'm still itching to tell this story.

I was looking for a violin, and one fairly prominent dealer had an interesting sales method. They presented me with a bunch of violins, some of which I liked, and some I didn't, naturally. The next step was to have me play two, which happened to be well above my price range, and choose between those two. The idea was that one had a "Strad sound" and one had a "Guarneri sound". They needed to find out which sound I preferred, and then they would produce the perfect violin for me in my price range. The trouble was, I didn't like either one. I like the Becker Sr. they had. I guess they couldn't produce one of those, even though they talked that one down as being no good in its current condition (it was excellent, actually). :)

Needless to say, that visit didn't really go anywhere, but I wanted to ask, "You mean this violin sounds like a Strad? And this one sounds like a Guarneri?" (I doubt that either did, really.)

P.S. Carl Becker had lots of violins that I liked. He sold me the first violin he handed me. He didn't tell me it sounded like a Strad, though. :)

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Hi Roger,

let's not talk about sound on this one. It is really too iffy! Just if you could talk more about why you think dG could have worked for Strad.....

thanks, Hans

Hans, This is a long haul question and you will need to give me time, I have to do some real work. I will get back to you, but if I have not answered by next week buzz me with an e-mail.

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I will get back to you, but if I have not answered by next week buzz me with an e-mail.

Ah! Not fair! sad.gif

The Strad-GdG connection, and the Stainer-Amati connection have been pondered for a hundred years or so...

Since the paper trail is cold, analysis of working methods or technique is the only hope of proving a connection. And who else would write about this but Mr. Hargrave?

I hope you will honor us with an online reply. After all, those slings and arrows that people assail you with are only virtual projectiles on the web. wink.gif

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  • 9 months later...

Hans, This is a long haul question and you will need to give me time, I have to do some real work. I will get back to you, but if I have not answered by next week buzz me with an e-mail.

Hi Roger, it has been a while.....

thanks for the nice interview with Maxim Vengerov published in the recent issue of the Strad.

I heard Maxim first when he was about 13 and I 15 (in 1987 or so) and he has been an inspiration for my violin making from the very start. So I am glad to hear he is coming back to playing the violin in public again.

You mention again your theory that del Gesu might have worked in Strad's shop, can you give us more background on your thoughts?

Best regards, Hans

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I do find it amusing that people either pretend that Strad didn’t know GdG worked around the corner (and vice versa), or that GdG had to have “worked” for Strad, with no fuzzy space between those opinions.

I’m not dismissing Roger’s hypothesis... I doubt he would just pull that out of a hat... but the general attitude is amusing. smile.gif

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I do find it amusing that people either pretend that Strad didn’t know GdG worked around the corner (and vice versa), or that GdG had to have “worked” for Strad, with no fuzzy space between those opinions.

I’m not dismissing Roger’s hypothesis... I doubt he would just pull that out of a hat... but the general attitude is amusing. smile.gif

I don´t quite know what you find amusing about this. Of course, they lived in the same city, so for sure knew each other´s work very well, but it is a completely different question if one of them worked in the other´s workshop or not.

Hans

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I don´t quite know what you find amusing about this. Of course, they lived in the same city, so for sure knew each other´s work very well, but it is a completely different question if one of them worked in the other´s workshop or not.

Hans

I wonder if either of them would have known how to distract Roger from his game of golf to answer you`re question.

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I don´t quite know what you find amusing about this. Of course, they lived in the same city, so for sure knew each other´s work very well, but it is a completely different question if one of them worked in the other´s workshop or not.

Hans

Well, then, how would you distinguish, by looking at a violin, “hanging out in Strad’s shops, and picking up a few tips over coffee” from “worked in Strad’s shop, and picked up a few tips?”

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Well, then, how would you distinguish, by looking at a violin, “hanging out in Strad’s shops, and picking up a few tips over coffee” from “worked in Strad’s shop, and picked up a few tips?”

Don't even know where to start with this question. Working in somebody's shop for 10 years, incorporating their style, not being able to tell the differnece between who made it and picking up some tips over coffee? You tell me!

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Let me speak as an income tax return preparer, and yes there could be a relationship to the question. I may from time to time exchange some knowledge or pose a question on a related forum, but I have never attended a symposium on tax preparation techniques, sat in another tax preparer's office comparing notes, or exchanged general ideas about taxation in person with another tax professional. I "know" I am the best and I have "known" this since I started in the business over 40 years ago. It would not be in my best interest to elevate another tax preparer to my skill level to be direct competition for the same customers. The closer the competition is, the more guarded I become. The exception is retirement age. Pass along the skills and hopefully gain some pension money in the process.

I think this is human nature. If I were DG, I would poo poo those fancy dandy fiddles flying out of the door at Tony's fiddle shop down the road, knowing in my heart that future greats would choose my instruments first.

Just like I scoff at those blockheads at H&R. laugh.gif

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Dear Roger,

in the most recent issue of the Strad you write Stradivari may have possibly been involved in the tuition of Guarneri del Gesu.

Could you elaborate a bit more on this?

In the most recent issue of The Strad magazine (April, 2012), Roger again makes reference to del Gesu having a working relationship with the Stradivari workshop.

As I read Roger's statements in the latest Strad (April, 2012, p 29) about del Gesu in relation to the Strad workshop, Roger doesn't state that Strad instructed del Gesu in violin making, but, rather, that del Gesu and Joseph filius Andrea might have worked in the Stradivari shop, perhaps, one might assume, as mature makers not needing substantial instruction.

In the April, 2012 article, an interview with Maxim Vengerov, Roger offers at least one reason for believing that del Gesu worked for Stradivari. Roger writes: "From 1722 to 1732 [del Gesu] and his father produced about ten instruments between them...." That's a very small number of instruments. One would expect that del Gesu and father together could make at least one instrument a month, even working rather casually. That would mean the two of them could have produced about 120 instruments in the 10 years, 1722 to 32. So, if del Gesu and father weren't making instruments for themselves, how did they make a living? A possible answer would be that they worked for the most productive and popular violin shop in Cremona at the time, the Stradivari shop.

There are, perhaps, a couple more reasons why one might assume that del Gesu and/or filius Andrea worked in the Stradivari shop between 1722 and 1732.

1. Per Toby Faber's book, Stradivari's Genius, Antonio Stradivari had another violin making son besides Francesco and Omobono. This third violin making son, Giovanni Battista, born 1703 and died at age 24 in 1727, was perhaps the most promising and talented violin maker of all of his sons. The loss of that son would have left a hole in the productivity capabilities of the Stradivari shop, and that hole would have occurred right in the middle of the 1722 - 32 period we're considering. Perhaps Stradivari needed to fill that hole in a hurry with a fully trained and talented violin maker who at the time was little employed and happy for the employment, namely del Gesu.

2. It's often stated that the del Gesu violins of the late 1720s and early 1730s have a Stradivarian influence. Looking at the Kreisler del Gesu of c 1730 (its outline and f holes) that seems to be true. If del Gesu worked for Stradivari in the period 1722 to 32, that might explain the Stradivarian influence of the del Gesus of that period.

My two points are just speculation, and maybe Roger can refine or correct them.

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  • 4 weeks later...

These "what if ..." type of questions are fun! As I understand it shop-made instruments usually went out with the shop-owner's name on the label. If, indeed, Guarneri del Gesu did work in the Stradivari shop wouldn't we expect to see some "Strads" with del Gesu workmanship fingerprints?

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These "what if ..." type of questions are fun! As I understand it shop-made instruments usually went out with the shop-owner's name on the label. If, indeed, Guarneri del Gesu did work in the Stradivari shop wouldn't we expect to see some "Strads" with del Gesu workmanship fingerprints?

My emphasis above.

Yes, and that is also something Roger hints at in the April 2012 The Strad issue, in which Roger is interviewing Maxim Vengerov.

Here's part of one of Roger's comments (page 29) to Vengerov, who bought the 1727 "Kreuzter" Stradivari instead of a del Gesu. Roger expected Vengerov would favor a del Gesu:

"...Stradivaris of that period are very like those of 'del Gesu'. It's quite possible that 'del Gesu' was working in Stradivari's workshop at that point anyway. From 1722 to 1732 he and his father produced about ten instruments between them and they were almost certainly working in Stradivari's workshop at that time, so it might have been the work of 'del Gesu' anyway. It has the full arching that you get later"

Roger thus gives two reasons for believing del Gesu worked for Stradivari:

1. Del Gesu and father made so very few fiddles identifiable as from the Guarneri shop between 1722 and 1732, that we might well suspect they were working elsewhere, namely for Stradivari.

2. In the Kreutzer Stradivari, as I interpret Roger's comment, Roger sees the full arching of the later del Gesus.

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del gesu made some incredible sounding violins but the craftsmanship, according to experts, is no where near in the same class as stradivari, what makes you think stradivari would consider del gesus work good enough to work for him, and why dont we see evidence of del gesus unsteady hand in stradivaris production.

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