Giovanni Battista Ceruti
Giovanni Battista Ceruti (1756–1817) was an influential Italian violin maker, and is considered a direct link to the grand tradition of the Cremonese master violin makers/ Luthiers of the 18th century.
Born a generation after Stradivarius and Guarnerius, with no direct link to the great tradition, violin making made an unlikely comeback in Cremona in the person of Lorenzo Storioni and his two followers, Giovanni Rota and Giovanni Battista Ceruti.
Along with Giovanni Rota, G.B. Ceruti was a follower of Lorenzo Storioni. He was born just outside Cremona and did not take up violin making until about age 40. It is said that he was probably self-taught, and his change of profession may have come through his colleagues in the textile trade, Bergonzi brothers, Nicola and Carlo II nephews of Michel Angelo Bergonzi, who did make a few violins.
Ceruti’s work is cleaner than Storioni’s, and more prolific than Rota’s. Philip Kass states that Ceruti was sponsored by a nobleman, to the displeasure of the famous dealer and collector Count Cozio, who was promoting other makers, including Giovanni Battista Guadagnini and Giacomo Rivolta of Milan. Ceruti’s son Giuseppe and grandson Enrico carried on as the premier violin makers of Cremona until Enrico’s death in 1883. Ceruti Dynasty carried on the tradition from the times of Storioni.
Italy endured many wars, and finding materials for makers, at times was very difficult. "Decades of war, “reforms,” and repeated conquering by the French and Austrians dismantled the social and economic structure of Cremona, as Duane Rosengard explains in a 1991 paper published in the Journal of the Violin Society of America. In the 1770s, just as Storioni emerged, the guilds that had governed the skilled crafts since the Middle Ages were abolished by the conquering Austrians. The Jesuit fathers, whose educational institutions were major patrons of the violin makers, were suppressed by the Pope; and the lay corporations, who conducted commerce on behalf of Cremona’s religious orders, were abolished. The church and nobility—primary patrons of the violin makers—lost power and money as the French and Austrians taxed and requisitioned treasure out of Italy to pay for the wars."
In 1802 he left Cremona and at some point took over Storioni's workshop. He died in 1817 most likely from typhus (as there was a typhus outbreak in Cremona that year).
"If rough work and poor wood characterized the Storioni-Rota-Ceruti school, they still find favor with musicians. “They were not the tidy boys, but they’re all acoustically rock solid,” says Boston violin maker Marilyn Wallin, who enjoys working on them for this reason. “As a group, they didn’t have the best wood, but they did know what to do with it.”
"Ceruti Dynasty carried on the tradition from the times of Storioni - (Giovanni Battista Ceruti was a pupil of Lorenzo Storioni) and became the direct link to the 20th century makers. Gaetano Antoniazzi (who learned his craft in the Ceruti workshop), along with his sons Riccardo and Romeo trained Leandro Bisiach, and together with the Antoniazzis, Bisiach influenced the creation of a workshop environment that was to dominate early to middle 20th Century Italian violinmaking."
"Thanks to the efforts of many of those great makers (which began with Gaetano Antoniazzi) and later with support of people like Simone Fernando Sacconi, the glory of Cremona was re-established with the opening of the School of Violin Making (officially in 1938, Cremona)."
"Ceruti's work is rather cleaner and more precise than Storioni's, but his choice of wood was often somewhat plain. His main contribution to the history of violin making was the rekindling of the Cremonese tradition, and over three generations the Ceruti family were the principal makers in Cremona." - Tim Ingles
- The Late Cremonese - by Erin Shrader STRINGS magazine
- Four Centuries of Violin Making - Tim Ingles
- The Late Cremonese Makers - Dmitry Gindin
- Vannes, Rene (1985) . 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.
- Walter Hamma, Meister Italienischer Geigenbaukunst, Wilhelmshaven 1993, ISBN 3-7959-0537-0