Simone Sacconi (1895–1973) was an exceptionally fine copyist and violin expert, who was also famed for his repair and restoration work. He made the study of Stradivari his life’s work and in 1972 published I segreti di Stradivari (The Secrets of Stradivari), his observations on the working methods of the Cremonese master. It is probably the most influential work ever published on violin making, involving the first proper analysis of Stradivari’s tools and templates, and it transformed the ideas of the upcoming generation.
Sacconi’s own life was one of legend: as a 12-year-old he joined the workshop of Giuseppe Rossi in Rome, where he swept the floors before school and returned in the evening to repair instruments. By 14 he had copied his first Stradivari and at 16 his skills were met with such acclaim that he visited Paris so that his work might be better known there. Though the First World War intervened, and military service saw him wounded twice, his fame spread around Europe. The Busch Quartet all owned instruments by him and the cellist Gaspar Cassado had a copy of the ‘Piatti’ made by him in 1917. In 1931 the violin dealer Emil Hermann persuaded him to come to New York and join his workshop. He worked for Rembert Wurlitzer from 1951 and remained in America for the rest of his life.
Sacconi’s achievements as a restorer set new standards for skill and integrity, but the heavy demand for his talents with older instruments meant that he made relatively few of his own. Rare though Sacconi’s instruments are, they demonstrate an extraordinarily high level of understanding for classical Cremonese technique. Even as a youngster in Rome he had infuriated Rossi by producing a Stradivari copy so faithful to the original that showed nothing of his master’s influence.
This violin was made in 1940 in New York. It is not a copy of a specific instrument but was made ‘as new’, representing Stradivari’s best period, and demonstrates how profoundly he had grasped the methods of violin making as Stradivari had intended.