Nicola Bergonzi, Cremona, 1781
Labeled, "Nicolaus Bergonzi / Cremonenfis faciebat / Anno 1781."
Length of back: 41 cm
Notes:Count Cozio's notes, July 5, 1816: "Description of the viola sent from Serafino Trivella, violin Professor in Brescia. Label with large printing saying: Nicolaus Bergonzi Cremonensis faciebat anno 1781. This label seems to be genuine, even if it is a bit too white.
Description: it is intact, except for the two lower sides. Four-piece good maple back, but with uneven grain. Similarly sides and neck which are made of Venetian wood. The top is made in two pieces in the upper part and in four pieces in the lower part. The F-holes are close to the C-bouts, and they are short for this viola. The lower eye [of the Fholes] is quite large and turned-up too much, so that the F-holes look like[they were] made in the German manner. The F-hole on the bass side is more upraised and more proportional; they do not resemble the ones made by Carlo Bergonzi. The back arching seems higher than the top's ones. However, both of them are large and end at the edges. In the back it seems particularly [...] in the upper part.
The edges are well raised and round, but low. So the purfling is passed by the lining. The corners are medium, and they still turn-up quite fine in the C-bouts. The purfling is thin and black, still well done. The linings are thick, low and white, they are not well joined to the blocks. The sides are quite low. The scroll of the neck is of good work, however it does not look like Carlo Bergonzi's, but it resembles Andrea Guarneri's. The transparent red-light yellow varnish on the back, sides and neck is in good condition; the top is missing varnish in many places, and it is possible to see the bare wood. Perhaps it happened during the polishing process. It seems to me that the top has been remade new, however both purfling and corners are very similar to the top ones. Spirit varnish. All together it is well polished, and it has a pleasant look. However, it does not have a great voice, quite crude and badly arranged. Very large model . . .
If we look at the back, sides, and neck of this viola, it looks much older than having been made in 1781, as it is written in its label. It was shown to Mr. Francesco Mantegazza who, after having examined it, did not recognise its maker; however, he believes that the top was made by the same maker who made the [rest of the] instrument. He had never heard of Nicola Bergonzi as being a superb maker, nor had he [ever] seen any other similar instrument. On the other hand, Professor Zanoboni, who saw the viola, believes it to have been made by Nicola Bergonzi […] because of its very long C-bouts. He also affirms to have seen at the elder Carlo Bergonzi's two used violins that he offered to him. These violins had some similarities [with the viola] and he took the responsibility [offered] - once he returned to Cremona in a month time - to check whether a certain Nicola Bergonzi existed, whether he was a relative of the old violin maker, when he died and where he worked." (pp. 251-2)
Memoirs of a Violin Collector: Count Ignazio Alessandro Cozio di Salabue, Memoirs of a Violin Collector: Count Ignazio Alessandro Cozio di Salabue, Baltimore
|in 1816||Serafino Trivella|
|until 1997||John & Arthur Beare|
|in 1997||Cora Witten|
|from 1997||Shrine to Music, National Music Museum, South Dakota|
- Bergonzi viola; Shrine to Music Museum
- Memoirs of a Violin Collector: Count Ignazio Alessandro Cozio di Salabue, Brandon Frazier, Baltimore