About the maker
Perhaps one of the most enigmatic makers, Tommaso Balestrieri ranks among the finest of Mantua’s classical violin luthiers. His exact origin remains unestablished, but the dictionaries tell us he worked as a maker in Mantua between 1750 and 1780.
It remains unclear from whom he acquired his craft, although his early work was delicate and in line with the Amati tradition.
The history of Mantua is illustrious, with Balestrieri just one of many classical makers to perfect their craft in the city. After Camillo Camilli’s death in 1754, Balestrieri appeared on the scene, registering as a violin maker in 1758.
His early work bears the hallmark of the traditional Mantuan maker, with particular features reminiscent of Guarneri and Nicolo Amati.
Balestrieri’s style evolved from Amati-esque delicate features towards a much more muscular and robust design. This transformation reflects the rugged and powerful appearance of other makers of this period, such as Storioni and Guadagnini.
Stradivari was another to have an influence on Balestrieri’s violinmaking, with the form becoming squarer with strong outlines, fully rounded archings, and slender F’s, suggestive to late Stradivari work.
The materials Balestrieri used have indicated he focused on performance over appearance. His instruments are frequently characterised as strong, powerful concert instruments due to their full sound and commanding appearance. Although not the most refined of violins, they rival the finest instruments in terms of performance and are highly sought-after by soloists.
From the delicacy of Amati and Camilli, to the ruggedly built and robust models, Balestrieri is one of the most important post-Stradivarian makers.