Associate Professor (retired), Department of Music, University of Nottingham, England
Four years of meticulous research in the museums and libraries of Oxford, London, Paris, Milan, and Cremona has resulted in the first entirely document-based factual analysis of the historical and physical reality of the Messiah violin, thus supplanting the oft-repeated mythology.
Click here to read a detailed revision of the provenance for two Stradivari violins dated 1722, both of which were associated with Joseph Joachim. One of the violins is known today as the Laurie, the other is the Elman violin.
Click here to read a detailed investigation into the documentary evidence which, from 1862 onwards, apparently defines the provenance of the Castelbarco violin and cello. The evidence is revealed to be contradictory and unreliable and the historical identity of the two instruments far from secure.
Click here to read a line-by-line transcription and translation of the 3-page text which Count Cozio wrote in May 1816 relating to the 1716 Stradivari violin which he owned (the violin which is thought by some to be the present-day Messiah violin but which, for the reasons presented in detail by the Count, cannot thus be identified).
Click here to read a comparative study of texts written by Count Cozio which were subsequently transcribed by Renzo Bacchetta (1950) and then translated into English by Brandon Frazier (2007). The evidence indicates that the only trustworthy texts are those written by the Count; translations which are based on modernised versions of Bacchetta’s transcriptions can be unreliable.
Click here to read an evidentially-supported argument that the 1724 Sarasate violin is the ‘red’ violin which Achille Paganini consigned to Vuillaume in 1846; information is also provided for the Boissier violin which Sarasate bought from Gand & Bernardel in 1888.
Click here to read a comprehensive examination of the inked and/or incised letters found on the Stradivari moulds which are archived at the Museo del Violino in Cremona. The article questions whether some of the indications of authorship which are presented in the publication Antonio Stradivari: disegni, modelli, forme are plausible.
Click here to read a study of the multiple violins owned by, or thought to have been associated with, the Belgian violinist Alexandre Artôt (1815-1845). The study makes extensive use of the Gand/Bernardel/Caressa & Français business ledgers which are archived at the Musée de la Musique in Paris.
Click here to read a 34-page investigation into the possibility that, in 1851, Achille Paganini merely delivered to the Genoese authorities ‘a’ Guarneri del Gesù violin which may (or may not) have belonged to his father. Documentary evidence demonstrates that a 1744 del Gesù violin was sold by Luigi Tarisio to J-B Vuillaume (Tarisio having named the violin Il Cannone); Vuillaume then sold it to David Laurie. Laurie’s ‘Canon’ violin was eventually acquired by J T Carrodus; after the latter’s death the violin passed to Robert George Carrodus.
Click here to read an evidence-based investigation into the historical reality of the 1724 Stradivari violin which Il Conte Cozio di Salabue sold to Niccolò Paganini in July 1817. It is demonstrated that the violin which today is commonly identified as the Paganini was a 1727 Stradivari violin which had its label tampered with (most likely during the 1930s).
Click here to read the most detailed and comprehensive study of the four instruments – two violins, viola, cello – which are exhibited at the Palacio Real. Information is also provided for Stradivari’s other decorated instruments: the Sunrise, Hellier, Cipriani Potter, Spanish/Ole Bull, Greffulhe, and Rode violins.
Click here to read Count Cozio’s descriptions of his 1716 Stradivari violin and the information provided by the Count for a 1719 violin, this latter information confirming that his 1716 instrument had back-plate flames rising from the centre-joint; the back-plate flames on the Messiah violin descend from the centre-joint.
Click here to access a complete transcription and translation of the descriptive texts which comprise the Francais archive (Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA). Each descriptive item is accompanied by historical information about the instrument concerned and the individuals associated with that instrument. 323 pages.
Click here to read a review of this publication. The review reveals the publication’s deficiencies and, in particular, questions the information which supposedly relates to the inked letter ‘G’ which is found in the pegbox of the Messie violin.
February 2017 Click here to read a comprehensive study of the violins owned by J T Carrodus (1836-1895). The extensive evidence demonstrates that the 1743 Guarneri del Gesù violin which is usually identified today as the ‘Carrodus’ (i.e. the violin which is currently in Australia) has no connection with the nineteenth-century English violinist.
Click here to read an examination of the historical identity of the Habeneck violin. It is proposed that the violin was made by Francesco Stradivari and was originally label-dated ‘1742’. This article was published in the 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society, pp. 197-220, and is republished here by permission.
May 2016 (revised April 2019)
Click here to read a study of the documentary evidence relating to the neck/partial pegbox (Museo del Violino, Cremona) which, it is claimed, was an original part of Stradivari’s 1714 Soil violin. The documentary evidence provided by the firm of Caressa & Français in 1911 demonstrates that this claim cannot be sustained.
The Stradivari Chant du Cygne violin: a question of labelling
Published in the March 2017 issue of The Galpin Society journal (pp. 81-96).
The case of the missing mould
Published in The Strad, June 2018, pp. 54-58.