Simone Sacconi (1895–1973) was an outstanding copyist and violin expert, also famed for his repair and restoration work. He devoted this life to the study of Stradivari and in 1972 published I segreti di Stradivari (The Secrets of Stradivari), containing his observations on the Cremonese master’s working methods. 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 joined the workshop of Giuseppe Rossi in Rome aged just 12. 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 already renowned. Despite the outbreak of the First World War, in which he was wounded twice, his fame spread around Europe. The Busch Quartet all owned Sacconi instruments and the cellist Gaspar Cassado played a 1917 Sacconi copy of the ‘Piatti’ Stradivari. In 1931 the violin dealer Emil Hermann persuaded him to move to New York and join his workshop. He worked for Rembert Wurlitzer from 1951 and remained in the US for the rest of his life.
Sacconi set new standards for skill and integrity as a restorer, but the demand for his talent meant that he made relatively few of his own instruments. Despite this, his work demonstrates an extraordinarily deep understanding of classical Cremonese technique. Even as a youngster in Rome Sacconi infuriated Rossi by producing a Stradivari copy so faithful to the original that it showed nothing of his master’s influence.
Sacconi made this violin in New York in 1940. It is not a copy of a specific instrument but was made ‘as new’, based on Stradivari’s best period. The workmanship demonstrates how profoundly Sacconi had grasped the methods of violin making as Stradivari had intended.
Tarisio sold this fine Sacconi violin in 2012.
Read more about Sacconi in Dmitry Gindin’s account of his life.