Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu
(b. 21st August,1698 ; d. 17th October, 1744)

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(Baptised: Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri) [Instrument lists: Hill | Metropolitan Museum ]

Married Caterina Roda (or Rota) c.1722-3 (no children)

Synopsis of contents of Chapters IV & V of The Violin Makers of the Guarneri family, Their Life and Work
Chapter IV
Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri, most illustrious member of the family. His work. Striking originality. Dogged perserverance. His life a brief one. Born to his calling. Indebtedness to his comtemporaries and predecessors. Made violins only (*). Who was this man known as Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu ? Hitherto accepted beliefs. Statement by Fetis. Doubtful origins of the information. Version recorded by Piccolellis. The real facts. The master's birth in 1698. His baptism. Census returns from 1699 to 1723. His probable marriage. The claims of those previously accepted by Fetis and Piccolellis. The master's separate existence after quitting the paternal home. His earliest dated instrument. The labels inserted. Explanation of the term 'del Gesu'. Search for home of the master. The contract of sale of the 'Casa Guarneri'. The master found living in the parish of S.Prospero. Census returns of his household. The master's wife. Documents confirming his identity. Absence of labels in certain of his violns. Had the master a dual calling ? Analysis of his work, form, dimensions and varnish. Some characteristic examples. Patrons of the master. His rise and zenith. Comparisons with Stradivari. The material used by the master. His method of working. Originality of treatment. His golden period. Comments on his household. Paucity of production and only violins (*). The craftsmanship in 1740 and onwards. Representative examples. The master's death in 1744. Legend concerning his imprisonment. Its origin. Similar legend concerning Paganini. Irregularity of the craftsmanship after 1740-The sound-holes, edges, heads and model. Probable reason. Tradition handed down by Bergonzi. The violin of Paganini. Critical examination. Extract from will of Paganini. Hitherto accepted record of the master's death incorrect. The burial certificate. Resume of the life-work of the master. Absence of children or pupils (**). Followers in later years. Rise in fame of the master's violins. N. Lupot makes reproductions. Discerning players use the violins of 'Del Gesu'. Number now existing. Their varying merit. Prices paid at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century. Gradual increase of price. Equality of value with violins of Stradivari attained. List of most notable examples now existing. Not all of equal money value. The master's intense originality. The passing of Cremonese School of violin-making. Work still continued in other Italian cities. Its relative inferiority.
Chapter V - Guarneri del Gesu Violins: The Tonal Aspect
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Tonal qualities of the violins submitted to judgement of skilled players and cultivated listeners. Seasoning of the fabric and maturing of the tone. The time required. Testimony drawn from records of Seventeenth Century. Early Italian players aided by the instruments made during this period. Violins used by Corelli. His skill as an orchestral leader. A Stradivari bought to London about 1700. Copies made by Daniel Parker. Viotti playing at Paris upon a Stradivari in 1782. Knowledge being acquired by the players as to the neccessary time for the maturing of tone. The views of Spohr. The early players who made use of 'Del Gesu' violins. Paganini, Jarnovick, Spagnoletti, Rode. Comments by the l'Abbe Sibire. His book. Paris at the beginning of Ninteenth Century. Rode, Kreutzer and Baillot. Their fine playing. An enthusiastic public. Paganini's playing. His introduction outside Italy in 1828. Del Gesu representing the third generation of his family as makers. His deductions from fellow workers. The trend of music and playing during the eighteenth century. Analysis of the tonal qualities of the master's violins. Resume concerning the famous players who made use of them. Tests of time and usage have permanently established their reputation.
© W.E. Hill & Sons, London, 1965

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