Stainer, Jacob



Renowned German violin-maker, who has been called the father of the German fiddle. He was born at Absam, in the Austrian Tyrol; the son of peasants, and spent his early youth as a shepherd boy. Stainer was exceedingly fond of music, and showed such  eagerness to learn that the parish priest had him taught the trade of organ-builder at Innsbruck. He found the work too hard and took up instead the manufacture of stringed instruments. Later he traveled to Italy and at Cremona found employment as apprentice to once of the Amatis, some say with Antonius, others say Nicholas, and there learned the secrets of the Cremona workers. He afterwards made his violins on Italian principles and was the first to introduce them into Germany. He worked in or near his native town all his life and was patronized by the Archbishop of Salzburg, the Archduke Ferdinand Charles, and was given in 1658 the title of violin-maker to the Imperial Court, but seems to have received most insignificent sums for his instruments, which are now highly prized. In 1677 Stainer was obliged to give up his work, and a few years later he died insane. The Stainer violins, of which there were a great number, are now chiefly valued as curiosities. Compared with the Amatis, they are high and narrow, and the tone is sharp an.d piercing, rather than mild and sweet.