Maggini, Giovanni Paolo

(Magino or Magicino)



Italian fiddle-maker, called the father of the violin, because he was the first to create that instrument as a distinct type. He was born at the little military town of Brescia. Nothing is known of his early boyhood, but a legal document dated 1602 proves that he was then the apprentice of Gasparo da Salo, a famous old maker of doublebasses and violas. In 1615 he had started his business, with the aid of an apprentice, Jacopo de Lanfranchini. He manufactured citharas, violoncellos, violas and violins, and seems to have been very successful, for in 1626 he bought another house, and also a residence and lands in the hill country. The date of his death is unknown, but it is very probable that Maggini was a victim of the plague in 1632. Naturally his first work was much like that of his master, Gasparo. His violins were of large size, resembling small viols, were rather roughly made, and had the wood cut across the grain and the dark varnish of Gasparo. After Gasparo's death his pupil began using the wood the straight way of the grain, and cutting the sound-holes more delicately and beveled inwards. He used the best of material, produced beautiful purfling, gave up Gaspare's dark brown varnish for a rich orange and golden color, and greatly reduced the amount of ornamentation which had hitherto decorated similar instruments to the disadvantage of their tone. His violoncellos were in general rather small. The tone of his instrument is full, melodious, and plaintive. They are not dated and only about fifty violins and half that number of cellos and tenors are known to exist at present.