History of Violin

Violin is a stringed instrument having four stringed wires usually tuned in perfect fifths. It is a highest-pitched member of string instruments’ family, also including viola and cello.

The latest European violin developed from different bow shaped stringed instruments received as legacy of the Middle East and the Byzantine Empire. Most probably the original crafters of violins seem to have borrowed from three kinds of present day instruments such as the rebec, the Byzantine lyra and the Arabic rebab.

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One of the ancient vivid details of the apparatus, with its tuning included, was in the Epitome musical by Jambe de Fer, published in Lyon in 1556. Till such time, the violin had been popularised in Europe.

The oldest recorded violin having four strings, as the modern violin, is considered to have been originated  by 1555 by Andrea Amati. The violin rapidly got popularized, both in street musicians and the aristocracy, evidenced by the fact that the French monarch Charles IX instructed Amati to craft 24 violins for him in 1560.

The most sophisticated violin in the world carved and emballished during Renaissance is the Gasparo da Salò (1574 c.) that belonged to Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria and later, from 1841, the Norwegian virtuoso Ole Bull, who used it for about forty years later and of course, thousands of concerts, because his tones resembled to those of a Guarneri.

Salo is now in the Vestlandske Kustindustrimuseum in Bergen (Norway). “The Messiah”, also known as the “Salabue”, constructed by Antonio Stradivari in 1716 remains, however, pristine, now located in the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford.


Remarkable modification took place in the fabrication of the violin during the 18th century, especially in its length and the bending angle of the neck, vis-a-vis a heavier bass bar. A lot of old instruments have been done these improvizations, and hence are in a substantially different condition than when they their makers finished them, no doubt, with variations in sound and result. However, these instruments in their present form hold the yardstick for sophistication in violin construction and sound generation.

Today, musical strings from the so-called Golden Age of violin fabrication, particularly those made by Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesù, are one of the most sought-after instruments both by collectors of antiques and the performers. The current record making sum paid for a Stradivari violin was USD:3,544,000.00 during a bidding on May 16, 2006. All Stradivarius violins have unique nomenclatures; the said record making one is known as the Hammer, alluding to its original owner, Christian Hammer. It was constructed in 1707.