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 Stradivarius and Del Gesu were in the cuspid of their production years. J.B. Guadagnini was born roughly 40 minutes away from the City of Cremona on June 23 of 1711 at Borgonovo Val Tidone of Piacenza.

Recent research shed light as to the influence of both Casa Stradivarius and Casa Guarneri of Cremona on the lines of symmetry of instruments by Guadagnini. J.B. Hence J.B. Guadagnini was still a youth while his father Lorenzo Guadagnini both in Bilegno and Piacenza possibly was a contributing maker of instruments for the Stradivarius Workshop which was the commanding violin shop from the beginning to the first half of the 18th century in Italy.

Antonio Stradivarius died at age 92 in 1737 while J.B. Guadagnini was 26 years old, and Bartolomeo Del Gesu died at 46 in 1744 while J.B. Guadagnini was 33. Hence, a logical nexus could be made whereas 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 creation which he would use throughout his lifetime.

It was the normative use of trade in the 18th Century Italy for a young person to start in a Master's Workshop around the age of 12 on their apprenticeship, in order to later on be allowed to practice a given trade career. Guild shops either in consortium or under one roof included a Master whom provided Journeymen papers and the Apprentices. Trade guilds, which provided such career opportunities including Musical Instrument Makers, was a mercantile arrangement since Medieval times practiced in Europe including Italy. Guilds were a pre-capitalist industrial organization under Ducal oversight which regulated the practice of trade, quality of the articles produced, and pricing practices.

The fact that J.B. Guadagnini practiced the trade of a Luthier of violins possibly before his Piacenza period attests to thorough guild training and graduation as a Journeyman. Likewise, the fact that violin makers in Piacenza and surrounding cities, including Gasparo Lorenzini, Joseph Nadotti, and Felice Berreta among others, already called themselves “alumnus” of the Guadagninis attests to formal guild status attained by shop Guadagnini. 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 possibly may be considered as the last Master Violin Maker during the 2nd half of the Golden Period while Italy was under Bourbon Rule.

J.B. Guadagnini died in the City of Turin, Italy in 1786.

Performers who have used or are using Guadagnini instruments[edit]

Violinist Date & place of manufacture Instrument name Comments Reference
Mayumi Seiler Circa 1740, Piacenza
Jascha Heifetz 1741, Piacenza Ex-Heifetz Provenance - by Rembert Wurlitzer in 1946 and Dario D'Attili in 1991 [5]
Riccardo Brengola 1747, Piacenza "Contessa Crespi" [6]
Goran Končar 1753, Milan [7]
Michał Kowalkowski 1753 "Gucio"
Adolf Brodsky 1751, Milan ex-Brodsky [8]
Amaury Coeytaux 1773 [9]
Roman Simovic 1752 on loan from Jonathan Moulds [10]
Manfred Leverkus 1752 ex-Kneisel missing since 2006
Zakhar Bron 1757, Milan [11]
Andrew Dawes 1770, Parma [12]
Julia Fischer 1742 [13]
Felix Ayo 1744 [14]
David Halen 1753 [15]
Carl Flesch ex-Henri Vieuxtemps [16]
Min-Jeong Koh ca. 1767 [17]
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. [18]
Arthur Grumiaux ex-Grumiaux [19]
Willy Hess 1740s [20]
Marlene Hemmer 1784 [21]
Joseph Joachim 1767, Parma ex-Joachim [22]
Ida Kavafian 1751 [23]
David Kim 1757 on loan from The Philadelphia Orchestra [24]
Manfred Leverkus 1752 ex-Kneisel stolen in 2006
Mikhail Kopelman 1773 [25]
Jan Kubelik 1750 ex-Kubelik [26]
Pekka Kuusisto 1752 on loan from the Finnish Cultural Foundation [27]
Wayne Lin 1779, Turin [28]
Tasmin Little 1757 [29]
Haldon Martinson 1750 Being used in the Boston Symphony Orchestra [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]


  • 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. ^ [1]
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ [3]
  8. ^ Natalie Clein
  9. ^ Aitchison Mnatzaganian cello makers, restorers and dealers
  10. ^ Maxine Neuman's biography
  11. ^ [4]

External links[edit]