Andrea Amati

Andrea Amati

Andrea Amati (1505- December 20, 1577) designed and created the violin, viola and cello known as the “violin family”. he standardized the basic shape, size, measurement, materials, and construction methods. Andrea Amati in Cremona, Italy, gave the violin family its definitive and modern form.

The first violin was ordered by Lorenzo de Medici in 1555. The letter dedicated to Amati said that the instrument should be “made of the highest quality materials, but easy to play.” It is not known with what materials the violin was made. Several of his instruments survived for some time, dating between 1538 (Amati made the first cello called “The King” in 1538) and 1574. The largest number of instruments built were 1560, an ensemble for a full orchestra of 38 ordered by Catherine de Medici, the Queen Regent of France and with French royal decorations hand painted in gold, including the motto and coat of arms of her son Charles IX of France. Of these 38 ordered instruments, Amati created two-size violins, two-size violas, and oversized cellos. They were in use until the French Revolution of 1789, and only 14 of these instruments survived. His work is marked by the selection of the best materials, great elegance in execution, soft and clear amber, soft translucent varnish and a deep use of acoustic and geometric principles in the design.


Antonio and Girolamo Amati

Andrea Amati was succeeded by his sons Antonio Amati (c. 1537-1607) and Girolamo Amati (c. 1551-1630). The Amati brothers, “as they were known, implemented far-reaching innovations in design, including perfecting the shape of the f-shaped holes. They are also believed to have pioneered the modern alto format of the viola. , in contrast to the older tenor violas, but the widely held belief that they were the first to do so is incorrect given that Gasparo da Salò made violas that ranged from heights of 39 cm to tenors of 44.7 cm.

Nicolas Amati
Nicolás Amati (December 3, 1596 – April 12, 1684) was the son of Girolamo Amati. He was the most eminent of the family. He improved on the model adopted by the rest of the Amatis and produced instruments capable of producing greater power of tone. His pattern was unusually small, but he also made a larger model now known as the “Grand Amati”, which have become his most sought-after violins.

Of his students, the most famous were Antonio Stradivari and Andrea Guarneri, the first of the Guarneri family of violin makers. (There is much controversy regarding Antonio Stradivari’s apprenticeship. While the label of Stradivari’s first known violin says that he was Amati’s student, the validity of his statement is questioned.)

Girolamo Amati (Jerome II)
The last creator of the family was the son of Nicolás, Girolamo Amati, known as Jerónimo II (February 26, 1649 – February 21, 1740). He improved the bow of his father’s instruments.

Amati instruments in stock

Instruments in the UK include violins by Andrea Amati, given to Charles IX of France in 1564.

Amati Instruments in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Andrea Amati
Violin, 1564 (former French royal collection)
Amati Instruments at the Royal Academy of Music Museum, London
Amati instrument at the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle
Andrea Amati
Violin, 1564 (former French royal collection)
In popular culture
Patrick O’Brian’s fictional British captain Jack Aubrey is described as the owner of a “violin far above his position, no less than an Amati.”
In the short story Bosepukure Khoonkharapi by Satyajit Ray, the fictional detective Feluda deduces that a character was killed because he had an Amati violin.
In the manga and anime series Gunslinger Girl, Henrietta wears an Amati violin case. She contains a P90 when she is on a mission, otherwise she contains a real violin.
On the radio show, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, the January 1956 episode “The Ricardo Amerigo Matter” focused on a stolen Amati violin.