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Alas, the End of Cremona Violin Making is official


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1 hour ago, uncle duke said:

What if Bergonzi actually did meet with Storioni?  Then the line still lives thru Davide. 

I retraced the tree some time ago and got stumped when I got back to the time period of Lorenzo. 

From the top of my head Michelangelo betgonzi died at the early age of 37 in the 1750s a time.when storioni didn’t need pampers any more. (Need to look up the corrrect dates again)

But no matter how I look on it, storioni was a self trained maker, called himself a professional only after the observing guild system in Cremona collapsed, and all his instruments testify to reconstructing something rather than learning from a well trained instructor. 

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1 hour ago, uncle duke said:

What if Bergonzi actually did meet with Storioni?  Then the line still lives thru Davide. 

I retraced the tree some time ago and got stumped when I got back to the time period of Lorenzo. 

You may have been stumped because you were chasing a red herring, ehm, sturgeon. 

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1 hour ago, jacobsaunders said:

I wonder where he actually came from:)

I think Groucho Marx gives the best answer on this:

’You know my grandmother came from Germany, actually she was born in the capital of Germany, Salzburg.’

Stradivari was born in a country which belonged to Spain and died as a sort of Austrian citizen, but maybe his ancestors came from Stratford (upon Avon?) in which country was this again ?? And the immigration officer couldn’t pronounce Stratford and quickly decided to correct it to Stradivari.

(who can pronounce Gfriller?)

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3 hours ago, Violinjon said:

It is a newspaper trying to do its best. It is not copy and pasting from official propaganda. Yet.

Saying this comes from "The Chinese Government" is false. Full stop.

One would think that the recent shut-down of the Apple Daily sends a message that if you run a private media company and want to keep operating, publishing good things about China will help, and you'd better not do the opposite.

So although the content may come from elsewhere, deciding which content gets repeated is likely getting a slight nudge from the political environment, although not directly from the government

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17 minutes ago, Dimitri Musafia said:

You may have been stumped because you were chasing a red herring, ehm, sturgeon. 

We have a few of those swimming here - not very big though.

So, one day just out of boredom, I started with Sora and started retracing backwards to his teacher, and then the teacher before he and after a while {over a century} I could get no farther back in time than Storioni.   Others mentioned a Bergonzi meeting up with a Guadanini or Storioni but I could find nothing about that.

Around here at Maestronet it is usually the majority who has the say so that day back then it was two or three against me - though no problem for me after all was said and done, just no proof of anything before Storioni other than words from others which are just like words from me.   

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17 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

So although the content may come from elsewhere, deciding which content gets repeated is likely getting a slight nudge from the political environment, although not directly from the government

Don, I believe you have it nailed. But maybe it's just me, yet I find that "gloating" pretty typical of the government. 

I was once (early 2000s) at a luncheon where the Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. was guest speaker. Present were Buffett and Paul Allen, at the table beside mine, just to give you an idea of who was there. Anyway, at the podium, the guest speaker did not beat around the bush. He said basically said, the last century was yours, this century is ours and you're gonna have to live with it. 

We were all looking at each other saying "did he really say that??" and a few people (not many) even walked out. reminded me of one of those military parades with the missiles and the tanks.  

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27 minutes ago, Don Noon said:

So although the content may come from elsewhere, deciding which content gets repeated is likely getting a slight nudge from the political environment, although not directly from the government

Yes, correct. It has been a few yrs since I was in China but a friend of mine there was a reporter and a party member. Quite liberal I think but he knew what side of the bread was buttered. So he reported 'correctly'.

Interesting video to me of 'hand crafted mass production' of student violins. Does all the constant repetition of one task make one an expert of bored or something in between?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SvfNhMlnBE&t=1s&ab_channel=Stentorstringedinstruments

 

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1 hour ago, Andreas Preuss said:

But no matter how I look on it, storioni was a self trained maker, called himself a professional only after the observing guild system in Cremona collapsed, and all his instruments testify to reconstructing something rather than learning from a well trained instructor. 

Did any of his work, just one in the shop for repair for example, have anything in common with a Stradivari or Strad school instrument? 

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Guys, I really don't see how you all see this as some kind of pro-China conspiracy. The video uses words like "churned" to describe Chinese-made violins while highlighting the craftmanship and "authenticity" of Italian-made instruments.

This is not good propaganda. In fact, the Mainland would probably view this as anti-China. 

 

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12 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

Where are all these instruments going? At what point will the demand totally collapse? The difference between a 10k and a 40k instrument is becoming less significant except to discerning players.

It makes me sad.

Philip, I don't see prices collapsing in the long term except for student-level (IE mass produced Chinese) violins. Prices for well regarded makers of the past half century certainly haven't crashed. 

Keep in mind that the majority of people in the world live outside of the States and Europe, and are a lot poorer. Especially in Asia (where I live and am familiar with), music is seen as an important part of one's education for those who can afford it. As these educated people grow older, they might invest in an expensive instrument, even if not professional. I see this happening a lot over here.

There are still a lot of poor people in China, not to mention other countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia that are getting richer. I think demand for expensive quality instruments will only get stronger. Even "the usual" mass produced instruments from 100 years ago fetch a premium here...

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1 hour ago, Andreas Preuss said:

From the top of my head Michelangelo betgonzi died at the early age of 37 in the 1750s a time.when storioni didn’t need pampers any more. (Need to look up the corrrect dates again)

But no matter how I look on it, storioni was a self trained maker, called himself a professional only after the observing guild system in Cremona collapsed, and all his instruments testify to reconstructing something rather than learning from a well trained instructor. 

If one takes a step back. Pre-1700, if you wanted a good violin, you had little choice other than Amati or his workers. By 1700, people were making good violins almost everywhere (except America) such that Cremona lost it’s monopoly. Considering Michelangelo Bergonzi to be a representative of this Amati school is pretty charitable. Seen such, the Cremonese “tradition” had more or less come to an end in the 18th C. and they had to compete with everywhere else. With the case in point, since the Chinese apparently make one and a half million violins a year (if that's true) the comparison seems a little pointless.

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6 hours ago, Shelbow said:

The Swiss watch industry is an example of how to weather the storm of international competition and come out on top.

Well, I would not hold the Swiss watch industry as an example. It has continued to decline for decades. Sales of the Apple Watch alone outsold the entire Swiss Watch industry in 2020.

Quote

In 2015, the year the Apple Watch was launched, LVMH watch division president and Tag Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver said the Swiss industry was not afraid of Apple’s new product, because it could not be repaired in a thousand years or eighty years, nor inherited by children, nor would it ever become a status symbol. As is always the case when disruption occurs in an industry, traditional competitors are not able to see the threat, and continue to try to analyze it according to the variables that were important yesterday.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/enriquedans/2020/02/07/how-apple-killed-the-swiss-watchindustry/?sh=56d038eb60ce

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Yeah but you need to compare like for like, high end mechanical watches against other high end mechanical watches, not a digital watch that is multifunctional. Not many people really use a Swiss watch for anything apart from a status symbol / accessory, most probably don't even use it to tell the time.

Fine watches are somewhat of a collectors field these days like art, this is not the case with an Apple watch which is just another device that will become redundant as soon as the next generation is out.

The issue for the Swiss watch companies is that they missed the boat on the wearable tech market and failed to diversify their business when they had opportunity to. Ever since the smart phone watches as time keeping devices have been on the down turn anyway.

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23 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

Well, I would not hold the Swiss watch industry as an example. It has continued to decline for decades. Sales of the Apple Watch alone outsold the entire Swiss Watch industry in 2020.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/enriquedans/2020/02/07/how-apple-killed-the-swiss-watchindustry/?sh=56d038eb60ce

Respectfully, the Swiss watch industry has been purveyors of luxury goods now for many decades. So what if the Apple Watch outsold Rolex, Breitling, Baume et Mercier, and all those firms put together by unit? 

I'm sure that if instead of units sold one looked at turnover, the picture may be different. Do you now how many Apple watches can be purchased for the price of a Franck Mueller? And ten years from now, what will be the Apple watches resale value?

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The point is that the Swiss Watch industry used to lead the world watch market, now it has become mostly a niche industry for status symbol luxury watches, which I suppose is fine for the players in that industry, but most of the Swiss Watch industry is long gone. As @Shelbow points out they missed the boat on the wearable tech market, but long before that they missed the boat on digital technology as inexpensive Japanese-made digital watches killed the sales of Swiss-made mechanical watches.

It is doubtful that Cremonese makers are going to ever compete successfully in the low-priced quality mass-produced instrument space, so they will have to establish their individual brands as niche producers of high-end premium-quality violins, and then they will be competing against each other and other international makers. It remains to be seen if the cachet of a "Cremonese violin" alone will continue to command premium market value in the future, particularly if the quality is highly variable.

When you buy an authentic Rolex, you know what you're buying, but not so much with a "Cremonese violin."

@Dimitri Musafia

There are many many things that remain valuable, in-demand, and have high resale values long after the original sale by the firm that made them, but that does not help keep a firm in business if the marketplace stopped buying their new products. 

On the bright side for violin makers, I don't think that we can expect to see an Apple violin anytime soon.

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2 hours ago, Violinjon said:

Philip, I don't see prices collapsing in the long term except for student-level (IE mass produced Chinese) violins. Prices for well regarded makers of the past half century certainly haven't crashed. 

Keep in mind that the majority of people in the world live outside of the States and Europe, and are a lot poorer. Especially in Asia (where I live and am familiar with), music is seen as an important part of one's education for those who can afford it. As these educated people grow older, they might invest in an expensive instrument, even if not professional. I see this happening a lot over here.

There are still a lot of poor people in China, not to mention other countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia that are getting richer. I think demand for expensive quality instruments will only get stronger. Even "the usual" mass produced instruments from 100 years ago fetch a premium here...

I appreciate your reply, but you’re missing my point, which is that the factory instruments, made to a specific price point, are good enough in quality that it decreases the need for a higher priced instrument. All of my own students go to schools where they are supplied with carbon fiber bows. They are never educated about Good equipment, and most teachers find it to their benefit to continue that ignorance because it makes it much easier to upsell the student for the benefit of the teacher and not for the benefit of the student.

Why spend 50 when you can get away with spending five, and no one has made any effort to educate you about why the 50 is so much better. That’s one category.

Another category is the competent musician who feels that he can accomplish his goal with a 10 rather than a 50. Why bother spending the money, If the audience doesn’t appreciate the difference? 
A quite famous college professor has a very boring mass produced instrument made by a local shop. I went to a recital he gave recently, and was astonished at how monochromatic his cello was. He’s a world-class player, but he’s not playing a world-class instrument. I spoke to several other educated players in the audience who had the same reaction, but overall the recital was a success. Anyone would’ve noticed the difference between the mediocre instrument he was playing and an instrument that was more worthy of him, but nobody cared.

If he doesn’t care, why should the parent of an aspiring conservatory student?

And instruments Get more desirable with age, provided they are kept in excellent condition. How many Matsuda cellos are available? Why bother spending the new price when you can buy one used?

there is a serious need for quality education of the aesthetics of instruments, and that is not happening. If it does not happen soon, the market for good quality instruments well go away.

 

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1 hour ago, Michael_Molnar said:

I don’t think that any country or culture has a monopoly on quality violins nowadays.

As for the video, I suspect it is trying to slow Chinese luthiers from opening shops in Cremona to gather some of the town’s historical cachet. 

Reminds me for some reason when a Chinese restaurant opened up for business out west of here and really had nothing for business customer wise.

Things got better when a sign put in the window said "country fried steak and mashed potatoes & gravy $4.95.

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13 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

The point is that the Swiss Watch industry used to lead the world watch market

GeorgeH, I'm curious, and you seem to be in the know. So let me ask, did the Swiss actually lead the market for lower and middle-priced watches as well? 

I can think of long defunct American brands like Gruen, Elgin, Hamilton, Bulova, and Timex (well, the latter two still exist but are now foreign-owned and no longer manufacture in the U.S.), weren't they at the lower end of the marketing spectrum and the Swiss always at the top? 

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19 hours ago, Dimitri Musafia said:

"Since the change of ownership in 2016, [SCMP] has been alleged to be on a mission to promote China's soft power abroad. According to critics, it is moving away from independent journalism and pioneering a new form of "propaganda".[9][11] (Wikipedia)

I gently remind you who is running HK these days.

The SCMP is owned by Alibaba group which while “private” is not “independent”, loyalty is pledged to a higher power in Zhongnanhai. This story seems to fit with the aggressive wolf warrior style that pleases those masters.

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