Watch the World’s Oldest Violin in Action: Marco Rizzi Performs Schumann’s Sonata No. 2 on a 1566 Amati Violin

Most of us are acquainted with the sorrowful sound of the world’s smallest violin, but what of the world’s oldest?

The instrument in the video above dates back to 1566.

Meaning, if it were the patriarch of a human family, siring musical sons every 20 to 25 years, it would take more than 10 generations to get to composer Robert Schumann, born in 1810.

And then another 31 years for Schumann to compose Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano in D minor, Op . 121, the piece violinist Marco Rizzi–age unknown–coaxes from this lovely piece of wood.




Were you to peek at the back, you’d see traces of King Charles IX of France’s coat of arms. The Latin motto Pietate et Justitia–piety and justice–still lingers on its rib.

It was constructed by the master creator, Andrea Amati, as part of a large set of stringed instruments, of which it is one of four survivors of its size and class.

After leaving Charles’ court, the violin spent time in the Henry Hottinger collection, which was eventually acquired by the Wurlitzer Company in New York. In 1966, it was donated to Cremona, Italy, Amati’s birthplace and home to an international school of violin making.

Venerable unto the point of pricelessness, from time to time it is taken out and played–to wondrous effect–by world class violinists. It’s tempting to keep anthropomorphizing, so as to wonder if it might not prefer a forever home with a gifted young musician who would take it out and play it every day. I know what a children's author would say on that subject.

You can view Amati’s Charles IX violin in more detail here, but why stop there, when you can also like it on Facebook!

Related Content:

What Makes the Stradivarius Special? It Was Designed to Sound Like a Female Soprano Voice, With Notes Sounding Like Vowels, Says Researcher

Why Violins Have F-Holes: The Science & History of a Remarkable Renaissance Design

Watch the Making of a Hand-Crafted Violin, from Start to Finish, in a Beautifully-Shot Documentary

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine - issue 58 is hot off the press. Follow her @AyunHalliday.


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  • petergk says:

    Come on guys. It has all metal strings. You need to know the whole instrument is probably rebuilt at least once. It would not bear the forces….

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