Bergonzi used plain maple for the ribs but opted for a beech scroll with widely projected eyes

1750c Michelangelo Bergonzi violin

The Strad’s 2022 Calendar celebrates the work of the Dutch Musical Instruments Foundation, which in the past three decades has helped around 2,500 musicians gain access to a top-quality instrument. At any one time, more than 400 musicians play on an instrument (and/or a bow) from the foundation on a long-term loan. Some of the rare instruments featured in this year’s Calendar include Antonio Stradivari’s c.1716 ‘Paul Godwin’ violin, made in the master luthier’s ‘golden period’; a c.1736 Guarneri ‘del Gesù‘, valued at €3.5 million; and the ‘ex-Navarra’ Guarneri ‘filius Andreae’ cello of 1715, formerly owned by the virtuoso André Navarra.

Michele Angelo Bergonzi violin c.1750

This violin has a one-piece beech back with the alignment pins placed well inside the purfling. The use of beech is often looked on as an economical choice but it has been selected by some of the best classical makers such as ‘del Gesù’, Rugeri, Testore and the Dutch maker Rombouts. Although the back is plain, the medullary rays cause the appearance to change dramatically in the light. Bergonzi used plain maple for the ribs but opted for a beech scroll with widely projected eyes, a feature made famous by his father Carlo. This violin echoes the work of his father’s ‘Sandler’ and the 1744 ‘Eddy Brown’ as well. The front is made by his nephew Carlo Bergonzi II, and dates from c.1790. The widely spaced f-holes with open stems and small triangular nicks are less refined than you’d see in previous Bergonzi generations. For 53 years this violin was played by Herman Krebbers, concertmaster of the Concertgebouw when he decided to part ways with the violin. His wish was to keep the violin in the Netherlands and to not ‘see it disappear somewhere internationally’. The Foundation considers itself very fortunate to have been able to add this to its collection.

The Strad Calendar 2022 is now available at The Strad Shop

Photos: Cathy Levesque