Renzo Bacchetta, a legend in the making

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Renzo Bacchetta’s wide-ranging influence on Cremona’s violin making culture and the promotion of Stradivari cannot be overstated, but as Luca Bastiani reveals, there is a darker side to the story, centring around Italy’s National Fascist Party

Renzo Bacchetta’s 1937 book Stradivari non è nato nel 1644 begins with the fascinating account of ‘How Cremona Came into Possession of the Relics of Stradivari’, in which the writer chronicles the events that master violin maker Giuseppe Fiorini endured leading ultimately to the donation of his collection of Stradivari’s tools and models to that city. An extract reads:

In June 1925, Cavaliere Giuseppe Fiorini, desiring to visit the home of Stradivari, travelled to Cremona to offer the mayor of the city, Alfonso Mandelli, his collection of the luthier’s tools, models, forms and measurements. While appreciating the sentiment, Mandelli did not accept the offer owing to the impossibility of satisfying Fiorini’s request in its entirety. While in Cremona, Fiorini also made the acquaintance of Cavaliere Pietro Anelli (a well-known piano maker who was passionately enthusiastic about keeping the great luthier’s memory alive), and the two men became firm friends. Having returned home to Rome, he wrote to Anelli on 30 September 1925, reminding him of their meeting and affirming that if before the European war his idea to ‘found a violin making school in Italy failed, one must attribute it to more than the circumstances of the war, but also to the malicious intentions of the violin makers, who believe their interests threatened’.

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