Carlo Bisiach

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Carlo Bisiach, sketch portrait, in his atelier

Carlo Bisiach (1892 – 1968) was a violin maker born in Milan Italy. Bisiach’s work contributed to the rebirth of violin making in the region after the difficult times of World War I and World War II. After working with his father Leandro in Milan, Carlo established himself at Florence in 1926. The most talented of Leandro’s sons, Carlo went on to develop his own style quite separate from the Antoniazzi-derived work of his father and brothers.


Carlo Bisiach was born in Milan on 9 March 1892 and died on 23 April 1968.

The son and student of Leandro Bisiach,[1] descendant of the Cremonese school, he began studying the art of stringed-instrument making in the early years of his life. In 1922, after marrying Daria Guidi in Sienna, he moved to Florence. They first lived in via della Spada; later they moved to via San Zanobi, and in 1929 to via Puccinotti. Here Bisiach lived for the rest of his life.

As a young man, Carlo studied cello with Giovanni Buti and for a time seriously considered a career as a performer. At the outbreak of World War I, lived most of that time abroad (away from Italy). It is during this time that he studied the art of bowmaking in the Paris workshop of Eugene Sartory, working side by side with Andre Vigneron (1881–1924) who was to become one of the outstanding bowmakers of his time.

His instruments, though few in number, are constructed of top quality material and have perfect sound. After completing the construction of the instrument, he would leave it for up to two years before going on to the varnishing. This precision made him famous worldwide. He is particularly well known for the quality of his varnish and the technique used to apply it onto the instruments.

"Unlike many modern makers, Carlo did not attempt to develop his own model. He was convinced that the classical masters of the 17th & 18th centuries had brought the violin to the peak of its formal and sonorous beauty and he was content to emulate them in so far as it was possible for him to do so. Among the makers whose works he copied were of course Stradivari, often the early Strad Amatise types, Guarneri Del Gesu, G.B. Guadagnini, Januarius Gagliano, Mantegazza, Tommaso Balestrieri, Andrea Guarneri, Pietro Guarneri of Mantua, Camillo Camilli as well as Gabrielli. But the model he admired most, both for its designing and tonal characteristics was that of Pietro Guarneri."[2]

According to top experts, he is considered the best of the Bisiach family.

Among his awards is a Gold Medal at XIII Exhibition, Padua. Represented with four violins at the prestigious exhibition-competition of modern violin making held in Cremona in 1937 on the occasion of Stradivari's bicentenary, in 1949 he won the diploma of honour at the exhibitions mounted at The Hague and in Cremona. Subsequently he received numerous other prizes and recognitions.[3]

His instruments are distinguished by the care taken in the selection of wood and their elegance of form. "A number of his instruments were made of maple cut from near the root of the tree. Wood from this area is often unpredictable in its marking and occasionally has a unique figure of extraordinary beauty."[4]

'Among the artists who have owned C. Bisiach instruments are Franz von Vecsey (copy of his Strad), Maestro Saito cellist of the Quartet of Tokyo, Louis Kaufman (G.B. Guadagnini model) to name a few"[2]

New World Record: Tarisio London 24 June 2013 Carlo Bisiach violin Florence 1922 £39,000 (US$60,240)

Other recent auction results: Christie's NY #97 Apr-2008 Bisiach, Carlo Violin Florence, 1923 $51,400


"Though an accomplished restorer and expert, violin making was his great love, and for this skill his fame is secure. " - The Bisiach Family 1983, Philip J. Kass

"Carlo Bisiach did not (like most modern violin makers) try to, develop his own designs. He was convinced that the masters of the classic Cremonese school of the XVII and XVIII centuries had reached the height of perfection, in terms of elegance of form and fullness and softness of sound. He chose to be inspired by the masters, principally by Stradivarius during his «Amatise» period, but also by Guarnieri del Gesu, G.B. Guadagnini, and Gennaro Gagliano. However his preferred model was that of Pietro Guarnieri of Mantua. " - Pardo Fornaciari

"Dario II Vettori - for the construction of his instruments he uses the moulds and models from his family’s workshop, most of them originally belonging to Carlo Bisiach’s collection, once owned by Igino Sderci. The wide variety of models employed in the Vettori’s workshop is consisting of Guarneri “del Gesù”, Pietro Guarneri da Mantova, Stradivari, Carlo Bergonzi, Camillo Camilli, Balestrieri, Nicolò Gagliano, Francesco Mantegazza, Domenico Montagna, Giuseppe Guarneri “filius Andreae” and many others." - Vettori family

"Resplended workmanship , often handsome slab backs and very fine grain for breasts , orange-red varnish. Gold medalist at various exhibitions" - Universal Dictionary by William Henley

According to top experts, he is considered to be the best of the Bisiach family.


After working with his father Leandro in Milan, Carlo established himself at Florence in 1926. The most talented of Leandro’s sons, Carlo went on to develop his own style quite separate from the Antoniazzi-derived work of his father and brothers.[5]

View a fine example of Carlo Bisiach violin Firenze circa 1939:

Carlo Bisiach violin top Firenze 1939

External sources[edit]


  • Cacciatori,, Fausto (2004). Liuteria in Toscana I liutai del Novecento. Cremona: Cremonabooks. ISBN 88-8359-055-4. 
  • The Strad - June 1973: p. 70-79. Mell, Albert Carlo Bisiach (1892–1968)
  • The Strad - July 1973: p. 135-145. Mell, Albert Carlo Bisiach (1892–1968)
  • The Art of Violin Making in Italy : Arnaldo Bonaventura (from Arte Liutaria by Carlo Vettori)
  • A WORTHY INHERITOR OF HIS FATHER'S ART: CARLO BISIACH : Pardo Fornaciari (from Arte Liutaria by Carlo Vettori)
  • I Maestri Del Novicento - Carlo Vettori
  • La Liuteria Lombarda del '900 - Roberto Codazzi, Cinzia Manfredini 2002
  • Dictionary of 20th Century Italian Violin Makers - Marlin Brinser 1978
  • Vannes, Rene (1985) [1951]. Dictionnaire Universel del Luthiers (vol.3). Bruxelles: Les Amis de la musique. OCLC 53749830. 
  • William, Henley (1969). Universal Dictionary of Violin & Bow Makers. Brighton; England: Amati. ISBN 0-901424-00-5. 
  • G.B. Guadagnini e Gli Interpreti Del Novicento / Guadagnini and those he inspired in the twentieth century published by Edizioni Il Salabue
  • The Legend of Italian Violins: Brescian and Cremonese Violin Makers 1550-1950, Chi Mei Culture Foundation, Wen-Lo Shi, Taiwan, 2009.
  • Liuteria Italiana in Cafaggiolo, Florence, in 1989
  • Great Italian Violinmaking, Artemio Versari, Edizioni Novecento, Cremona, 2009
  • Meister Italienischer Geigenbaukunst - Walter Hamma 1964
  • Italian & French Violin Makers - Jost Thoene 2006
  • Liuteria Parmense


  1. ^ a b Philip J. Kass (1983). "Bisiach Family" (PDF). William Moening & Sons Ltd. Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  2. ^ a b The Strad - June 1973: p.70-79. Mell, Albert Carlo Bisiach (1892 - 1968)
  3. ^ Liuteria Parmense
  4. ^ The Strad - July 1973: p.70-79. Mell, Albert Carlo Bisiach (1892 - 1968)
  5. ^ Blot, Eric (1994). "Lombardia e Veneto II". Un secolo di liuteria italiana, 1860-1960 - A century of Italian violin making. Cremona: Turris. ISBN 88-7929-008-8. 
  6. ^ Philip J. Kass (1982). "Selected World of Strings Newsletters". William Moening & Sons Ltd. Retrieved 2007-04-05.