G.B Guadagnini’s 1773 ‘Cozio’ viola: The only constant is change


The commercial relationship between G.B. Guadagnini and Count Cozio di Salabue allowed the luthier greater freedom to experiment. Alberto Giordano and Barthelemy Garnier examine a 1773 viola to show how the 62-year-old maker continued to adopt new methods and ways of working in this period

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This article appeared in the January 2022 issue of The Strad

In 1816, the famed collector Count Ignazio Alessandro Cozio di Salabue entrusted a number of his instruments to his friend Carlo Carli, a Milanese banker, for him to sell. In the inventory he wrote: ‘the best viola of mine made by Giambattista Guadagnini [in] 1773; joined back with light flames, fine front of one piece, the beautiful f-holes with almond [oval] holes, the bold scroll.’ More than 40 years after purchasing it, the Count was still fond of this viola, one of the two made for him by Guadagnini and among the very first batch of instruments acquired by the Count. The agreement between the young aristocrat and the violin maker was signed on 28 December 1773, but the collaboration had started earlier: the six violins and two violas were a significant part of Guadagnini’s production for that year. They were made during the mourning period for the death of Charles Emmanuel III of Savoy, King of Sardinia, during which any theatrical or musical performance was prohibited…

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