The Violin Hunter by William Alexander Silverman ; with a foreword by Josef Gingold
New York: The John Day Company, 1957. First Edition; First Printing. Hardcover. 256 pages ; 21 cm. A very good copy with firm binding, clean pages and no writing within the book.
THE VIOLIN HUNTER
by William Alexander Silverman
But for an obscure Italian whose life story is here told for the first time, the finest violins ever made—more than a thousand masterpieces by Stradivari and his contemporaries, including most of the instruments treasured by today's great artists—would have remained lost to the world of music.
Luigi Tarisio was the greatest col-lector of stringed instruments who has ever lived. Musicians know his name, but little else about him. It has taken years of research for William Alexan-der Silverman to piece his story together.
By the year 1750 most of the im-mortal violinmakers of Cremona-Stradivari, Guarneri, Bergonzi, and others—had died. The value of their creations was not understood in Italy at the time, and by 1800 most of them had disappeared and were gathering dust in attics, monasteries, and neg-lected villas. Then Luigi Tarisio, who had hoped to be a violinist but was handicapped by injured fingers, vowed to bring these masterpieces back from oblivion. He searched until he had two sacks full of them, then went to Paris-afoot all the way and looking like a scarecrow—to sell them. He knew that they would be appreciated in that cultural capital even if not in Italy. His arrival practically turned upside down the world of the Paris collectors. And from then on, for nearly twenty-seven years, a golden stream of Cremona violins poured through Tarisio's hands: almost every instrument Stradivari had made, the instruments that would later be played by performers from Paganini to Elman, Kreisler, Francescatti, Nathan Milstein, and Heifetz, even the historic "Le Messie" which was played once in 1855 for the first time since Stradivari made it in 1716, and never thereafter—a grand total worth more than fifteen million dollars by today's values.
Again truth outdoes fiction, in a story that will fascinate laymen and musicians alike. This is the first new work on the romance and history of the violin to appear in almost fifty years.
FROM THE FOREWORD TO THE VIOLIN HUNTER
What is it that makes the violins of old Cremona so wonderful?
It is an intriguing question, and it has defied all men except possibly one, for more than two hundred years. His name was Luigi Tarisio. Invariably, when the topic comes up, Tarisio's name is mentioned.... Had it not been for this mysterious man, few if any of us would today have the pleasure of performing upon the instruments created during the golden age of the violin —the days of Stradivari, Amati, Guarneri, and Bergonzi.
A few months ago, my friend William A. Silverman brought me his manuscript on Tarisio. It fascinated me from the first. .. . Mr. Silverman has done a tremendous amount of research to gather all of the factual data which made it possible to bring Tarisio to life again. He has used this material with care and has recaptured the period, the place, and events so that Tarisio seems to take the reader along on his journeys. Together they experience the thrill of collecting these widely scattered treasures.
This book will be cherished by anyone who has ever played upon a stringed instrument and, because of the wonderful way in which the author has treated a truly fabulous character, will be fascinating to any reader who enjoys a good story.
May it bring as much pleasure to its readers as it has to...
JOSEF GINGOLD Concertmaster, Cleveland Symphony Orchestra
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