Fine Musical Instrument Expert and restorer
by Stewart Pollens
Cambridge University Press
"Stewart Pollens provides here a
long-overdue and worthy updating of the Hills' seminal work of
- The Strad, August 2010
latest book, Stradivari, was published in early
2010. Order online
Cambridge University Press, or from
Barnes and Noble at a special discount price.
For over 200 years,
Antonio Stradivari has been universally regarded as
the greatest violin maker who ever lived, yet it is
not widely known that he made virtually every kind
of bowed- and plucked-string instrument popular in
the Baroque period, including lutes, viols,
mandolins, guitars, and harps. Stradivari
provides a fascinating biography of this legendary
maker, based on newly discovered material in church
and civic archives, alongside technical descriptions
and analyses of many of the maker’s workshop
materials preserved in the Museo Stradivariano in
Cremona, particularly as they relate to extant and
lost instruments, baroque stringing and instrument
adjustment, and early performance practice. There
are separate chapters for each type of instrument,
allowing the reader to easily locate information.
The book contains tables of measurements of
Stradivari’s forms and patterns, over 100 black and
white photographs and drawings, and colour
photographs of 16 of Stradivari’s most important
violins, violas, and cellos.
• Highly illustrated,
the book contains over 100 black and white
photographs of Stradivari’s workshop materials, and colour photographs of 16 important Stradivari
instruments • Includes fascinating biographical and
historical information, and a step-by-step account
of how Stradivari made his violins, making it
appealing to enthusiasts as well as academics •
Chapters are divided by instrument types, making it
easy for the reader to locate information
article on the analysis of Stradivari's violin varnish
in the May 2009 issue of The Strad. A more detailed
discussion is found in Pollens' latest book, Stradivari.
was conducted in cooperation with the Department of Scientific
Research of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and McCrone
Associates, and was cited in
"What Exalts Stradivarius? Not Varnish, Study Says,"
published in The New York Times on December 4, 2009.
About Stewart Pollens
The world's foremost authority on musical instruments,
Stewart Pollens is the founder and director of
Violin Advisor, LLC, a consulting firm that advises musicians,
orchestras, conservatories, collectors, and investors on the acquisition of
fine violins and other stringed instruments.
represented the New Jersey Symphony
Orchestra in the
sale of thirty fine Italian stringed
instruments. Among these instruments are violins, violas and cellos by
Antonio Stradivarius, Giuseppe "Del Gesu" Guarnerius, Antonius and
Hieronymus Amati, Francesco Ruggieri, and Matteo Goffriller. The NJSO will
retain use of the instruments for at least five years.
Trained as a violin and
keyboard-instrument maker, Mr. Pollens served as the conservator of musical
instruments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1976-2006. His work there
included the restoration and maintenance of the museum's encyclopedic
collection of over 5000 instruments, as well as research, writing, and
lecturing on the collection. He is frequently interviewed regarding musical
instruments, including for "The
Talk of The Town" in The New Yorker.
Stewart Pollens has
written extensively on stringed and early keyboard instruments,
including The Violin Forms of Antonio Stradivari (London, 1992),
The Early Pianoforte
(Cambridge, 1995), Giuseppe Guarneri del Ges¨
(London, 1998), Franšois-Xavier Tourte: Bow Maker (New York,
2001), and The Cambridge Companion to the Guitar (Cambridge,
2003). He is a contributor to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and
Musicians and writes on a regular basis for The Strad.
Mr. Pollens's book The
Violin Forms of Antonio Stradivari has been hailed as "the standard
work on the evolution of Stradivarius's designs" (Giles Whittell, The
Times, October 27, 2000). This book contains life-size photographs
of all of the extant wood forms and patterns used by Stradivari in the
construction of his violins, violas, and cellos, and includes an
analysis of their geometry.
In The Early Pianoforte,
Stewart Pollens traces the history of the piano back to 1440, nearly
three-hundred years before the work of
Bartolomeo Cristofori, the harpsichord maker who is generally credited with
having invented the piano in Florence around 1700. In 1997, Mr.
Pollens received the American Musical Instrument Society's Nicholas
Bessaraboff Prize for this Cambridge University Press publication.
Tourte: Bow Maker, Stewart Pollens and co-author Henryk Kaston
provide a technical description of Tourte's working methods and reveal
new biographical facts based upon previously unpublished documents
discovered in French archives.
Giuseppe Guarneri del
Ges¨ features 200 life-size color photographs taken by Mr. Pollens and
complete technical documentation of the twenty-five Guarneri violins that
were displayed in the “Masterpieces of Giuseppe Guarneri del Ges¨”
exhibition held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1994. Containing newly
discovered biographical and historical information, this is the most
thorough study to date of this great maker and his work. Mr. Pollens
contributed the chapter on dendrochronology, a scientific procedure used to
determine the age of the wood used in making violins.
Tourte's workshop in
Paris, 1927, shortly before its demolition
In 1999, Mr. Pollens
challenged the authenticity of the world's most famous violin, the Ashmolean Museum's "Messiah," in a series of articles
published in the Journal of the Violin Society of America. The
controversy initiated by these articles and presentations at the Violin
Society of America and the American Federation of Violin Makers was widely
reported in major newspapers and magazines throughout the world, including
The Wall Street Journal (March 11, 1999), The Times (London)
(March 15, 1999; October 27, 2000; November 11, 2001; November 26, 2001),
Le Figaro (December 7, 2000), La Stampa (March 28, 1999),
The Strad (August, 2001), Attache (September, 1999),
Money (June, 2002), Forbes.com (April 22, 2002)
and Metropulse.com (February 17, 2001.
Profiles of Stewart Pollens have appeared in Sinfonica (March,
1999), City Journal (Spring, 1995), Continuo (April, 1989),
and American Lutherie 20 (Winter, 1989). In 2002, Mr. Pollens was
featured playing the world's oldest surviving piano, the Cristofori piano
of 1720, on the WNET television arts program entitled Egg.
Mr. Pollens's book Stradivari
was published in February 2010 by Cambridge University Press. This book includes
new biographical information and
detailed analyses of Stradivari's workshop materials preserved in the Museo
Stradivariano in Cremona. His seminal book on the history of the piano,
The Early Pianoforte (Cambridge University Press), was republished in paperback in 2009.
In addition to his own
published writings, research conducted by
Stewart Pollens is credited in numerous scholarly
books about musical instruments
currently available for sale on Amazon.com and other sources.
Mr. Pollens is married to the concert violinist Stephanie Chase and resides in
New York City.
Stewart Pollens and Itzhak Perlman in the
Andre Mertens Gallery at
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1994, Jascha Heifetz's
Guarnerius del Gesu violin was on loan to the Museum and
used by Mr. Perlman in a concert there. He is seen trying
out the instrument.
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