Read Stradivari's Genius: Five Violins, One Cello, and Three Centuries of Enduring Perfection by Toby Faber Online


Antonio Stradivari (1644—1737) was a perfectionist whose single-minded pursuit of excellence changed the world of music. In the course of his long career in the northern Italian city of Cremona, he created more than a thousand stringed instruments; approximately six hundred survive, their quality unequalled by any subsequent violin-maker. In this fascinating book, Toby FabAntonio Stradivari (1644—1737) was a perfectionist whose single-minded pursuit of excellence changed the world of music. In the course of his long career in the northern Italian city of Cremona, he created more than a thousand stringed instruments; approximately six hundred survive, their quality unequalled by any subsequent violin-maker. In this fascinating book, Toby Faber traces the rich, multilayered stories of six of these peerless creations–five violins and a cello–and the one towering artist who brought them into being. Blending history, biography, meticulous detective work, and an abiding passion for music, Faber takes us from the salons of Vienna to the concert halls of New York, and from the breakthroughs of Beethoven’s last quartets to the first phonographic recordings. This magnificent narrative invites us to share the life, the intrigue, and the incomparable beauty of the world’s most marvelous stringed instruments....

Title : Stradivari's Genius: Five Violins, One Cello, and Three Centuries of Enduring Perfection
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780375760853
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Stradivari's Genius: Five Violins, One Cello, and Three Centuries of Enduring Perfection Reviews

  • Richard Derus
    2019-04-19 00:08

    Pearl Ruled:: STRADIVARI'S GENIUS by TOBY FABER (p59)I just don't care. Stradivarius is dead on p59, buried next to his wife and across the street from their house, and I simply do not care.I'm interested in the eighteenth century, and I like microhistory, and all things Italian make me smile. What is it about this book that fails to ignite my very congruent interest? I wish I knew. The writing's okay, not world-beating but not leaden or inept. The idea of tracing famous instrument-maker Stradivarius's creations through time and space is appealing, too.But this book could not grab me and did not entice me. I might pick it up again one day, but I don't know what would make me do so. *shrug*

  • Jose
    2019-04-10 03:05

    This book/thesis could be compared in a way to a violin, and the author, to a violin player. Faber, as an experienced violinist, identified the right moment to put tension on the violin strings, enough as to grasp the audience into the narrative. The author's topics of choice, and their specific longevity, are managed in a masterly fashion, making the reader enjoy the book just as one would with a movement divided symphony. At the beginning I could have thought that this would be an over-the-top praise to Stradivari instead of an accurate statement of facts; such was my delight to find that the book is perfectly balanced and gives Stradivari just the right amount of applause. More than just Stradivari, this book will take the reader to the world of string music from the XVIII century to the date. Following a simple but perfectly structured narration line,the author provides an immeasurable amount of interesting facts that proves the quality of the research and the merit of the prose.

  • Caroline
    2019-03-26 23:18

    Stradivarius violins are reknown for their beauty and powerful voices. This book traces Antonio Stradivari's life, that of his children, and more importantly, the journeys made by 5 violins and 1 cello made by him. The Lipinski, the Viotti, the Messiah (which almost never was played), the Paganini and the Khevenhuller are the violins and their owners are followed and described in this book, and the Davidov, the cello currently owned and played on by YoYo Ma.Having worked from violin designs from Nicolo Amati, another famous Cremona luthier, research provides descriptions of the adjustments that Stradivari made in the structure of his violins over time, perfecting the sounds can be coaxed from the more than 1000 instruments that were made in his workshop.The secrets that Stradivari took to his grave continue to confound makers of violins, cellos and violas today. Despite all that technology allows today, there are no instruments that produce the beautiful depth of sound as beautifully as a Stradivari.

  • Beccy
    2019-04-02 02:17

    To those who love strings music or play a string instrument, this book will be fascinating! Well-researched, anecdotal, historically rich. The author explores most of the recent theories about Stradivari's mysterious and legendary superiority as a luthier and details the creation, ownership and colorful characters associated with Stradivari's most famous instruments. Did you know that Yo-Yo Ma now owns the beloved Davidov cello? After reading the book, I found out why the Messiah violin is so named. This violin is like the Messiah of the Jews, "because one always waits for him but he never appears." Bequeathed to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England, it can never be played (a condition in the will of the former owner). It remains unplayed and is almost in its original state as when it was made in 1716. Because of this, it one of the most valuable of all the Stradivari instruments.I gave it 4 out of 5 stars because it will only appeal to those who love both music and history.

  • Jessica
    2019-04-25 00:10

    First, this review is from the perspective of a lay person. I'm not a musician and while I prefer the strings over any other music family, my primary exposure is through soundtracks and YouTube (Lindsey Stirling anyone?).I started reading this book back when it was published in 2005, found it very dry, set it on a shelf somewhere, and picked it up now 10 years later in an effort to complete a New Year's resolution to get through my old reading list.While I found it much more readable now than I did then, it was still a bit of a slog getting through it. There are too many gaps from a lack of historical records, too much informed speculation, too many varying and contradictory accounts, in short too little history for me to feel like I really learned anything by the time I finished the book. The lack of historical facts and prevalence of incorrect anecdotes and "popular" lore is not the author's fault. He repeatedly pointed out the inconsistencies and I believe included the self-proclaimed contradictory accounts as an example of why there are so many examples of "fake" Strads and faulty provenances. However, it did make me question why the book was published to begin with.Ultimately, I think the book was published for a violin and cello enthusiast and not for a lay person. I'd recommend mild enthusiasts and history dabblers give it a past.

  • Jerry Smith
    2019-03-28 06:02

    I really enjoy Faber's story telling prose style. Knowing nothing about classical music in general or violin making in particular this work about Stradivari and his instruments was most enlightening and seemed to be aimed at people like me. For the more knowledgeable it would probably be pitched too simplistically.Tells the story through 6 instruments and their history. THis is the bulk of the narrative, the life of the master himself given enough coverage but not the most important part of the book - I like the approach

  • Mattie
    2019-04-11 23:50

    I picked up this book after seeing in on a friend's Goodreads list. It sounded really interesting and I was right.Tony Faber examines the artistry of Antonio Stradivari as told by the stories of his own instruments, as they were made, as they traded hands and as they were played. Faber's narrative is quick moving and fun to read, as if he were inviting the reader along on the very journey he made in researching his subject rather than simply reporting back. A good read (indeed) for anyone interested in history, music or the business of the arts.

  • David Sabala
    2019-04-02 05:08

    I picked this book up on a whim. I am glad I did. For his first novel, the author does well to engage the reader in an historical journey that not only informs, but entertains. I learned so much about the chronology of the violin, and the fascinating characters in the history of music. This is a book for anyone who loves music, especially the violin.

  • David R.
    2019-04-04 06:14

    I was surprised how interested I became in the subject. Faber ably talks the reader through instrument manufacture, what made Stravarius such a genius, and how the music world responded to his creations.

  • John Benson
    2019-04-24 01:13

    I don't think I would have picked out this book for myself. I was given a copy as a gift-wrapped surprise when I bought several other books at the local independent bookstore, Zandbroz Variety in Fargo. When I opened the wrapping, I found an advanced copy of this book but it was missing the illustrations. I saw one of our local college libraries had a copy of the book, so I checked it out from there. I am not a musician, nor have I played or listened to much violin music, and am not that fascinated by their prices. Still, I hoped that the author might spark my interest in the topic. I found his section on the violin maker, Stradivari, somewhat interesting, but then got bored as he described these five violins, their owners and who played them over time, and their costs. I really hoped that he could make me excited about this new topic for me, but he didn't.

  • Kristin
    2019-04-25 06:09

    It was interesting at times and very dry at other times. If you play a violin, viola or cello, you will probably like it more than if you don't. If you are a historian, you will probably like it more than if you aren't. It's not the best thing I have ever written, but I enjoyed it. It ended on a kind of downer note, that Strads are possibly wearing out and may eventually all get "used up," so we need a new Master maker somewhere in the world. Bummer! Anyway, string players and European/Italian historians will like it and it will give them a jumping point to discovering more about the topics discussed in the book.

  • Becca
    2019-03-27 05:03

    Overall, I enjoyed the history that the book gave of violin making, but I thought the writing was a bit poor. It was incredibly dense in some places, and incredibly heterosexual in others. I definitely could have gone without the line "their eyes met over the music stand." Also, I'm not entirely sure why this guy wanted to write this book when he gave up violin in middle school... lol....

  • Joe Oaster
    2019-03-25 06:51

    I love the violin and cello and was always interested in what separated the good from the great ones. This book tracked 5 violins and 1 cello all from one creator. He gives and interesting biography of Stradivari, and of how much of a craftsman he truly is. As I read I began to hear the different tones of each of the instruments.

  • Allyson Myers
    2019-04-09 04:06

    I’m always down for a book about the crazy history of music. This one hits the mark. It comes with all the drama and ridiculous stories one would expect from luthiers, violinists, and collectors over the many years of the violin’s history. A great read that will make you both laugh and wonder at the genius of Stradivari.

  • Missy
    2019-04-17 04:07

    Having recently acquired my Great Grandpa's violin, I found this book very interesting. We took Gramps' violin to a little violin shop in St. Louis where Mr. Bearden told us who made it, when, and where. Amazing. But before he definitively told us the maker, he first said, "It's either an Amati or a Stainer." Knowing nothing about violins, I shrugged and said, "Is that good?" After reading this book, I have to seriously question if he was just toying with me or if he really thought it could be from one of those famous makers. Now I know that there was a time where Amati and Stainer violins were thought to be superior to Stradivarius violins. These makers would date the violin to the 18th century Italy. In the end, I learned that Gramps' violin is early 20th century, made in Germany. Still worth enough to insure, but definitely not the sought after Amati or Stainer, let alone a Stradivarius. Back to the book. If I were to take a college course on Antonio Stradivari, this would be the textbook. Seriously. It reads like a textbook, filled with names, dates, and places. The author follows 5 violins and a cello, all made by Stradivari, from their creation, to the present time where possible. Very interesting and filled with facts, but, like a textbook, slow reading. I'm glad I finished and I learned a lot, however, I am very grateful there will be no final exam. At the beginning of the book was this quote: "I have a violin that was born in 1713. It was alive long before me, and I hope it lives long after me. I don't consider it as my violin. Rather, I am perhaps its violinist; I am passing through its life." --Ivry Gitlis, The Art of Violin, 2000Love that!

  • Simmoril
    2019-04-02 04:18

    This book really came at the intersection of a few of my interests: I've long been an amateur fan of classical music, as well as an avid follower of those artisans who ruthlessly pursue perfection in their craft. This book seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn more about the man behind those legendary instruments.Faber's book follows the history of six of Stradivari's instruments, from the time of their creation to present day, delving into the history behind those individuals who have bought, sold, played, and even copied them. He opens with a brief history of Antonio Stradivari's life, which introduces us to the five violins and one cello which form the backbone for the rest of the book. The remaining chapters give a detailed history of various famous owners of the six Strads and give us insight into the reverence that audiences and players alike have for the master's works.Alas, as much as I wanted to like this book, it was just too disjointed for me to really get a lot out of it. When reading, I very much focus on the flow, the coherence of the book and its various sections, and Faber's book just felt like a litany of anecdotes with little holding them together. There were sections in which I enjoyed his deep dives into the relationship that various performers had with their instruments, but more often than not it was a hodgepodge of names that seemed to fill the rest of the space. It's entirely possible that someone with better knowledge of music history and Stradivari would enjoy this book more than I did, but as a first exposure, I wouldn't recommend it.

  • Bruce
    2019-04-14 02:14

    Probably worth a quick read for those very interested in classical music; others will likely want to skip. A brief initial section describes Stradivari's background and method of crafting instruments. This piece was moderately interesting. The remainder traces the histories of 5 or 6 (who's counting?) instruments. As these pass through the hands of various performers (e.g. Paganini), the book provides a bit of background regarding same. These meanders ranges from moderately interesting to a bit dry. A fair bit of the book is unfortunately a rather dull recitation of the "physics" of violin transfer: collector A sold violin Z to collector B, who then sold it to performer C.

  • Jeff
    2019-04-09 01:56

    This was the writers' first book, and to a violin professional, it shows.It doesn't have a plot or a purpose, and it doesn't make sense. And most of the information given out is available better elsewhere.I thought it was strange that for most of these "fabulous" violins, it came out that the owner didn't like it, didn't play it, and wanted to sell it. Must be a pretty fantastic violin at that rate.And what's with the final chapter? Again, doesn't make sense and doesn't go anywhere.Just a bunch of fluff.

  • Linda Hunt
    2019-04-09 01:58

    I learned a lot of history, and I feel the author spent much time in research, but when I finished the book, I was tangled as to the time frames of each instrument and how they intersected. Although lots of information is provided, I felt it wasn't presented in a way that was clear. However, I will give the author another try. I have checked out his book, Faberge's Eggs, and will read that one. I really think he's a good author - just didn't quite put things in order so the facts were easy to understand and remember.

  • Sue
    2019-03-26 01:50

    This book was fascinating. You have to be interested in strings and history to appreciate it, but I found it totally absorbing. It was great to learn about string instrument construction and all the details of shape and varnish. The book follows the history of these six instruments and their owners and that was interesting walk through history. The cello is on loan to Yo-Yo Ma and we have several recordings of him, some on that instrument, so that was fun.

  • Ro
    2019-04-13 02:54

    I borrowed this book from the library on a whim to fill time waiting for another book about Leonardo da Vinci. What I was able to read of if before I had to return it was very detailed and fascinating, but a lot of the detail was sort of lost on me because I am not a violinist -- it was interesting, but would have been more meaningful, if I had more familiarity with any sort of stringed instrument. I did enjoy what I read, but have other books that are more pressing to read.

  • Holly
    2019-04-16 04:55

    2.5 stars, but I'm rounding up.I choose this one because I was trying out my new tablet reader and this book was immediately available for download at the library. It was interesting, but not really engaging. The format of the book was muddled and it was difficult to keep the different instruments straight, as he jumps back and forth between them. An appendix with an individual timeline for each instrument would have been helpful.

  • Blake
    2019-03-29 05:02

    This is another of those microhistories that I loved for about half of the book, at which point all of the detail and research that I had loved initially becomes incredibly boring and tedious and I just start skimming. Faber is a good writer and his biographical sketch of Stradivari is great, and a lot of the interwoven backstory of the six instruments featured in the story is fascinating.... until it's just not interesting anymore.

  • Dottie
    2019-04-04 03:06

    Much better experience this time around. Timing in when a book is picked up can make a great difference in the experience of it. And this one gained a star as a result. Anyone with even a passing or somewhat second removed connection to music and instruments might well find this of interest. Mrs. Wright might be amused at my pursual of this volume but I believe her influence may have come to bear on it as much as anything else. I owe thanks to her in part for my love of music.

  • Matt
    2019-04-23 05:09

    Purported to be both a ribald tale of the life history of some Strad instruments, as well as a semi-scientific investigation of what makes a Strad a Strad. Came up short on both counts. Next time, we want gas cromatograph results from the lacquer, and a story where one guy stabs another guy with one of the violins.

  • Liz
    2019-04-22 04:13

    Faber follows the history of six of Stradivari's instruments, from the workshop through multiple owners over the past few centuries. He also discusses of the many attempts (and failures) of violin makers over the years to match Stradivari's...well, genius. Overall an engaging story and an interesting look at a world I knew almost nothing about.

  • Joje
    2019-04-10 05:56

    I liked the half I read, and learned a lot more than I knew already on stringed instruments. We even saw one of them later on played in a concert at Pleyel! But then I just felt like fiction again. I'll get back to it, and have recommended it to Claude along with other non fiction as another way to do these things, along with the Left Bank shop that Jessica also lent us.

  • Elentarri
    2019-04-14 05:06

    Beautifully written book that follows the "lives" of five violins and one cello made by Antonio Stradivarius. Includes bits on violin manufacture, biographies of the famous luthiers and musicians, and the strange world of trading in old stringed instruments. An informative and enjoyable book.

  • Dominique
    2019-03-31 23:50

    This book is more a history of certain violins made by Antonio Stradivari than a biography of the luthier himself.I found this book to be a difficult read despite the interest that I have in the subject of violins.

  • Jane
    2019-03-25 02:02

    More than you could ever want to know about Stradivari and his violins. It was interesting to learn that despite using the most modern scientific investigative techniques, there is still no consensus on how Antonio Stradivari made his violins to have such a superior sound.