I have played my violin for twenty years. It is a magnificent and consummate work. Fashioned in Cremona in northern Italy, it bears the label of its creator.
Nicolaus Amatus Cremonen. Hieronymi. Fil. ac Antonij Nepos Fecit 1659 - Link to photo gallery

Amati side view
Thus it has already had a 350-year life, which renders my few years with it as a mere flirtation.

If I should live to a reasonable age, I could perhaps hope to feature in a quarter of her life; that, of course discounts her unfathomable future. My end is certain; hers is not. Barring a complete a complete mangling or crushing in whatever freak accidents, her life is, in theory infinite. There have been violins carried out to sea in floods, crushed under car wheels; these have continued their lives.

Characteristically narrow waisted and bearing the fine proportions of Nicolo's "Grand Pattern", the back, head and ribs possess a delicate but complex curl. These are not the tiger stripes of some of Stradivari's most illustrious violins but something mellower and gentler.

These traits are in a way matched by the instrument's response and tone. The sound does not reach my ears with that deafening and heart stopping lazer of the 1709 "Viotti" Strad I once borrowed for a few weeks; rather it gently surrounds me with a depth and multi-dimensional quality that is at once rich and beguiling. When I have heard others playing the instrument in a large hall, I have been amazed at the way in which the sound seems to glow. The colours in Italian renaissance painting can do this. I remember staring at a painting of Bellini's in Venice astonished by the blue of the Madonna's dress. Defying the two dimensions in which it was captured, the whole thing glowed and seemed to float with a radiant luminescence. So it is with this sound. It vaporizes around the violin, casting a halo of sound. 

This is alchemy indeed! The great and mysterious triumph of medieval and renaissance technology. Knowledge that is at once artistic and scientific.
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