Giovanni Battista Guadagnini

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Giovanni Battista Guadagnini
Guadagnini Family tree.gif
Background information
Also known as G. B. Guadagnini
Giambattista Guadagnini
Born (1711-06-23)23 June 1711
Bilegno in Val Tidone, Italy
Died 18 September 1786(1786-09-18) (aged 75)
Turin, Italy
Occupation(s) Luthier, pedagogue
Years active 1729–1786

Giovanni Battista Guadagnini (or "G. B. Guadagnini"); (23 June 1711 – 18 September 1786) was an Italian luthier, regarded as one of the finest craftsmen of string instruments in history.[1] He is widely considered the third greatest maker after Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri "del Gesù".


Giovanni Battista Guadagnini, aka Johannes Baptista Guadagnini, was born while both Stradivari and Guarneri were at the zenith of their production years, roughly 40 minutes away from the City of Cremona on June 23, 1711 at Borgonovo Val Tidone of Piacenza.

Recent research has shed light as to the influence of both Casa Stradivari and Casa Guarneri of Cremona on the lines of symmetry of instruments by Guadagnini, hence J.B. Guadagnini was still a youth while his father Lorenzo, both in Bilegno and Piacenza, was a contributing maker of instruments for Stradivari's workshop, the leading violin shop in the first half of the 18th century.

Antonio Stradivari died at age 92 in 1737 while J.B. Guadagnini was 26 years old, and Bartolomeo Guarneri del Gesu at 46 in 1744 while Guadagnini was 33. Hence, a logical nexus could be made whereby the young J.B. Guadagnini may have learned the rudiments of the trade in Cremona as he used the internal form with linings and blocks set in the Cremonese style, a method of construction he would use for the rest of his life.

It was the normative use of trade in 18th-century Italy for a young person to start as an apprentice in a master's workshop around age m12, to be allowed to practice a given trade afterward. Guild shops, either in consortium or under one roof, were headed by a master who provided journeymen papers for successful apprentices. Trade guilds, providing career opportunities for skilled tradesmen including musical instrument makers, were a mercantile arrangement in Europe since medieval times, including in Italy. Guilds were a pre-capitalist industrial organization under ducal oversight which regulated trade practice, quality of articles produced, and pricing policies.

The fact that J.B. Guadagnini was a skilled luthier as well as violin maker possibly before his Piacenza period attests to thorough guild training and graduation from journeyman status. Likewise, the fact that violin makers in Piacenza and surrounding cities, including Gasparo Lorenzini, Joseph Nadotti and Felice Berreta, already called themselves “alumni” of the Guadagninis attests to formal guild status attained by Guadagnini's workshop. His work is divided into four main periods corresponding to, and named after, Piacenza, Milan, Parma and Turin, the four cities in Italy where he lived and worked. Appreciation by both connoisseurs and musicians alike attest to the fact that J.B. Guadagnini may possibly be considered the last of the great master violin makers in the second half of the so-called "golden age," while Italy was under Bourbon rule.

J.B. Guadagnini died in Turin in 1786.

Performers with Guadagnini instruments[edit]

Violinist Date & place of manufacture Instrument name Comments Reference
William E. Pynchon 1779, Turin Purchased March 26, 1957. Played in San Francisco Opera until 1998
Mayumi Seiler c. 1740, Piacenza
Jascha Heifetz 1741, Piacenza ex-Heifetz Provenance - by Rembert Wurlitzer in 1946 and Dario D'Attili in 1991 [4]
Riccardo Brengola 1747, Piacenza "Contessa Crespi" [5]
Goran Končar 1753, Milan [6]
Michał Kowalkowski 1753 "Gucio"
Adolf Brodsky 1751, Milan ex-Brodsky [7]
Amaury Coeytaux 1773 [8]
Roman Simovic 1752 on loan from Jonathan Moulds [9]
Zakhar Bron 1757, Milan [10]
Andrew Dawes 1770, Parma [11]
Julia Fischer 1742 [12]
Felix Ayo 1744 [13]
David Halen 1753 [14]
Carl Flesch ex-Henri Vieuxtemps [15]
Min-Jeong Koh c. 1767 [16]
David Garrett 1772 In December 2007, Garrett fell after a performance and smashed his Guadagnini, which he had purchased four years earlier for US$1 million.[2] He now uses it for mainly his outdoor crossover performances.[3]
David Greed 1757 Owned by the Yorkshire Guadagini 1757 Syndicate. [17]
Arthur Grumiaux ex-Grumiaux [18]
Willy Hess 1740s [19]
Marlene Hemmer 1784 [20]
Joseph Joachim 1767, Parma ex-Joachim [21]
Ida Kavafian 1751 [22]
David Kim 1757 on loan from The Philadelphia Orchestra [23]
Manfred Leverkus 1752 ex-Kneisel stolen in 2006
Mikhail Kopelman 1773 [24]
Jan Kubelik 1750 ex-Kubelik [25]
Pekka Kuusisto 1752 on loan from the Finnish Cultural Foundation [26]
Wayne Lin 1779, Turin [27]
Tasmin Little 1757 [28]
Haldon Martinson 1750 Being used in the Boston Symphony Orchestra [29]
Stefan Milenkovich c. 1780, Turin [30]
Viktoria Mullova 1750 [31]
Ginette Neveu Purchased early spring, 1949. Involved in a plane crash later that year, in which Neveu died. Scroll later apparently appeared in Paris, having changed hands several times. [32]
Linda Rosenthal 1772, Turin [33]
Leon Sametini ex-Sametini [34]
Mari Silje Samuelsen 1773, Turin On loan from ASAF (Anders Sveeas Charitable Foundation, Oslo). [35][36]
Yvonne Smeulers 1785 [37]
Lara St. John 1779 Salabue called "the Resurrection" by St. John [38]
Henri Temianka 1752 Built on the Petro Guarnerius model. [Certificate of Joseph Vedral, violinmaker, Holland, 28 September 1929]
Stephanie Sant’Ambrogio 1757 [39]
Lyndon Johnston Taylor 1777 [40]
Vanessa-Mae 1761 "Gizmo" [41]
Henri Vieuxtemps ex-Henri Vieuxtemps [42]
Henryk Wieniawski 1750 ex-Wieniawski [43]
Eugène Ysaÿe 1774 ex-Eugène Ysaÿe [44]
Sini-Maaria Simonen 1760 on loan from the Finnish Cultural Foundation [45]
Bob Wills 1784 Described as 157 years old when bought in 1941 for $3,000.00, Wills later claimed in an interview that he gave it away "to a friend of mine in Tayxas" and bought another for $5,000.00. [4]
Jack Liebeck 1785 ex-Wilhelmj [46]
Li Chuan Yun 1784 on loan from the Stradivari Society [47]
Simone Porter 1745 on loan from The Mandell Collection of Southern California [48]
Richard Deakin NK English chamber musician and soloist, currently teaching at RAM in London, was using one in 1980s and likely still is [5]


  • Guadagnini
  • G B Guadagnini
  • E.N. Doring: The Guadagnini Family of Violin Makers (Chicago,1949)
  • A.H. König, ed.: Die Geigenbauer der Guadagnini-Familie. Die Turiner Schule (Frankfurt, 1981)
  • G. Fiori: ‘Documenti biografici di artisti e personaggi piacentini dal ’600 all’ ’800 nell’Archivo Vescovile di Piacenza’, Strenna piacentina (1994), 67–111
  • P.J. Kass: Violin Makers of the Piedmontese School
  • 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. 
  • Walter Hamma, Meister Italienischer Geigenbaukunst, Wilhelmshaven 1993, ISBN 3-7959-0537-0
  • Duane Rosengard: G.B. Guadagnini - The life and achievement of a master maker, Carteggio Media, 2000


  1. ^ Ernest N. Doring. The Guadagnini Family of Violin Makers Lewis and Sons, Chicago, 1949. Reprint with new introduction by Stewart Pollins, Dover, 2012. ISBN 978048649796-9
  2. ^ Wagner, Thomas (2008-02-14). "Violinist: Fall Fractures $1M Fiddle". The Associated Press. Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-02-15. 
  3. ^ David Garrett - livestream in NY, 8 June 2012. By David Garrett. YouTube. YouTube, 7 Apr. 2013. Web. 24 July 2013. <>.
  4. ^ San Antonio Rose: The Life And Music Of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois. p. 230. ISBN 0-252-00470-1
  5. ^
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2][permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 July 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  9. ^ Natalie Clein
  10. ^ Aitchison Mnatzaganian cello makers, restorers and dealers Archived 2 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Maxine Neuman's biography
  12. ^ [3]
  13. ^ ASQ Instruments, Australian String Quartet, accessed 2017-02-12

External links[edit]