Antonio Stradivari (1644 – December 18, 1737) was an Italian luthier, a crafter of stringed instruments such as violins, cellos, guitars, violas, and harps. Stradivari is generally considered the most significant artisan in this field. The Latinized form of his surname, Stradivarius, as well as the colloquial, "Strad", is often used to refer to his instruments.
Family background and early life
Stradivari's ancestry consisted of notable citizens of Cremona, going back to at least the 12th or 13th century. The earliest mention of the family name, or a variation upon it, is in a land grant dating from 1188. The origin of the name itself has several possible explanations: some sources say it is the plural of Stradivare, essentially meaning 'toll-man' in a Lombard variety of Italian, while others say that the form 'de Strataverta' derives from 'Strada averta', which, in a Cremonese dialect of Italian, means 'open road'.
Antonio's parents were Alessandro Stradivari, son of Giulio Cesare Stradivari, and Anna Moroni, daughter of Leonardo Moroni. They married on August 30, 1622, and had at least 3 children between 1623 and 1628: Giuseppe Giulio Cesare, Carlo Felice, and Giovanni Battista. The baptismal records of the Parish of S. Prospero then stop, and it is unknown whether they had any children from 1628 to 1644. This blank in the records may be due to the family leaving Cremona in response to war, famine, and plague in the city from 1628 to 1630, or the records may have been lost due to clerical reforms imposed byJoseph II of Austria in 1788. The latter explanation is supported by the word Cremonesis (of Cremona) on many of Stradivari's labels, which suggests that he was born in the city instead of merely moving back there to work. Antonio was born in 1644, a fact deducible from later violins. However, there are no records or information available on his early childhood, and the first evidence of his presence in Cremona is the label of his oldest surviving violin from 1666.
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