Stradivari, Guarneri, Amati. The Legendary Italian String Instruments
For the first time a unique collection of old string instruments is visiting Latvia and an opportunity to see them will be truly historic event.

Instruments of the famous Italian masters Antonio Stradivari, Giuseppe Guarneri, Antonio and Girolamo Amati have been treasured for centuries. The ones made in Italy during the 17th and 18th century was commissioned to the most part by the nobility. The sound of the instruments filled the halls of the "Royal Courts" across Europe.

They were played by the greatest masters - Niccolo Paganini, Fritz Kreisler, Mstislav Rostropovich, Itzhak Perlman at the world's top venues like La Scala in Milan, Carnegie Hall in New York, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, as well as in Musikverein Vienna.


In the exhibition is displayed Antonio Stradivari cello “Archinto” which ranks among the top 5 cellos in the world. Its state of preservation is second to none and its provenance is complete and absolutely unique. It is one of the most well documented instruments by Antonio Stradivari accompanied by 12 certificates of the authenticity. Its sister cello the “Medici” is displayed in the museum of Florence. The “Archinto” is fascinating for its remarkable beauty and extraordinary sound. Unquestionably this is one of the finest instruments ever made.


One of the best violins made after 1700 (so called “The Golden Period”) is violin “Markees” which is one of the 6 Stradivari violins that have been preserved with the original varnish. The first owner we have been able to link to this magnificent Stradivarius violin was a Professor Karl Markees – (1865–1926) who was a Swiss violinist that studied under the famous Hungarian soloist Joseph Joachim. Violin “Markees” is one of the 66 instruments selected for international exhibition in Cremona in 1987 which was dedicated to the 250 anniversary of the death of Stradivari.


In the exhibition there is displayed a violin of Giuseppe Guarneri (1666–1739/40), also known as "Joseph Guarnerius, filius Andreæ".  He was the youngest son of Andrea Guarneri. By 1685, Giuseppe's workmanship had surpassed his father's, and when Andrea died in 1698 Giuseppe took over the shop. He competed with Stradivari (whose workshop was right down the street) to develop the finest instruments and this rivalry continued in next generation.


Giuseppe's younger son, Bartolomeo Giuseppe (1698–1744), became the most celebrated member of the dynasty. Because he used the letters I.H.S. on his labels, he became known as “del Gesù”. Bartolomeo Giuseppe was one of the greatest makers ever; many feel his instruments are better than Stradivari's. “Del Gesù” violins are renowned for their rich, powerful tone, and have been favoured by virtuosos from Paganini to Pinchas Zukerman. “Del Gesu” violin “David-Midori” is outstanding example which is made in Cremona around 1735. There are only about 135 surviving Guarneri instruments left in the world, all of which are violins except for one cello. By comparison there are approximately 655 surviving Stradivari instruments (mostly violins). This exceptional violin is not only a beautiful and well-preserved example by the maker, but also a superb player’s instrument, having been favoured by some of the foremost virtuoso violinists in history, including the celebrated Japanese virtuoso soloist Midori, and the renowned nineteenth century virtuoso soloist and composer Ferdinand David, by whose names the instrument is now known.


The oldest instrument of the exhibition is cello made by Antonio Amati (1537–1607) and Girolamo Amati (1551–1630). Antonio and Girolamo Amati were the sons of Andrea Amati, the craftsman who is regarded as the inventor of the violin as we know it today. This master craftsman and pioneer started a dynasty of violinmakers in Cremona, Italy, which would influence violinmaking in Europe and around the world for over 500 years.  Without the influence of Amati family there would be no Stradivaris, Guarneris, Ruggieris, Bergonzis, Stainers Rogeris, Seraphis, Montagnanas etc. and the violin as we know it today would not exist.


This year, in 2017, "Fine Violins Vienna" in collaboration with the Latvian cellist Maxim Beitan and support of Foundation “Baltic Musical Seasons” has decided to choose Latvia as an exhibition destination and is delighted to welcome you to the exhibition – “Stradivari, Guarneri, Amati. The Legendary Italian String Instruments” in the Art Museum RIGA BOURSE and to the Grand Opening Concert in Dzintari Concert Hall on 3rd June where the collection of the instruments will be played by the Luigi Cherubini Memorial Orchestra under the legendary Italian conductor Riccardo Muti.



Baiba Uburģe, Collection Manager of the Art Museum RIGA BOURSE