Italy's violin-makers struggle to hit profitable note

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Italy's violin makers
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Italy's violin-makers struggle to hit profitable note
Japanese student Yuma Murata, 26, poses for a photograph with the violin he is working on inside a chapel at the Antonio Stradivari institute of higher education in Cremona, Italy, April 22, 2016. Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy. Cremona, in northern Italy, has more than 100 workshops making violins and other stringed instruments for musicians worldwide, following in the tradition of its great violin-makers which have included Antonio Stradivari and Nicolo Amati. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini SEARCH "VIOLINS CREMONA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A palette with a violin paint is seen at the Antonio Stradivari institute of higher education in Cremona, Italy, April 22, 2016. Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy. Cremona, in northern Italy, has more than 100 workshops making violins and other stringed instruments for musicians worldwide, following in the tradition of its great violin-makers which have included Antonio Stradivari and Nicolo Amati. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini SEARCH "VIOLINS CREMONA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Japanese student Yuma Murata, 26, works on a violin at the Antonio Stradivari institute of higher education in Cremona, Italy, April 22, 2016. Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy. Cremona, in northern Italy, has more than 100 workshops making violins and other stringed instruments for musicians worldwide, following in the tradition of its great violin-makers which have included Antonio Stradivari and Nicolo Amati. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini SEARCH "VIOLINS CREMONA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Vera, 30, a student from Argentina, works on a violin at the Antonio Stradivari institute of higher education in Cremona, Italy, April 22, 2016. Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy. Cremona, in northern Italy, has more than 100 workshops making violins and other stringed instruments for musicians worldwide, following in the tradition of its great violin-makers which have included Antonio Stradivari and Nicolo Amati. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini SEARCH "VIOLINS CREMONA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Edgar Russ, a master violinmaker, works on a violin at his workshop in Cremona, Italy, March 10, 2016. Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy. Cremona, in northern Italy, has more than 100 workshops making violins and other stringed instruments for musicians worldwide, following in the tradition of its great violin-makers which have included Antonio Stradivari and Nicolo Amati. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini SEARCH "VIOLINS CREMONA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Violins are seen at Edgar Russ' workshop in Cremona, Italy, March 10, 2016. Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy. Cremona, in northern Italy, has more than 100 workshops making violins and other stringed instruments for musicians worldwide, following in the tradition of its great violin-makers which have included Antonio Stradivari and Nicolo Amati. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini SEARCH "VIOLINS CREMONA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A technical drawing of a violin is seen at a workshop at the Antonio Stradivari institute of higher education in Cremona, Italy, April 22, 2016. Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy. Cremona, in northern Italy, has more than 100 workshops making violins and other stringed instruments for musicians worldwide, following in the tradition of its great violin-makers which have included Antonio Stradivari and Nicolo Amati. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini SEARCH "VIOLINS CREMONA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A violin is seen at Edgar Russ' workshop in Cremona, Italy, March 10, 2016. Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy. Cremona, in northern Italy, has more than 100 workshops making violins and other stringed instruments for musicians worldwide, following in the tradition of its great violin-makers which have included Antonio Stradivari and Nicolo Amati. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini SEARCH "VIOLINS CREMONA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Violins made by students hang to dry at a laboratory of the Antonio Stradivari institute of higher education in Cremona, Italy, April 22, 2016. Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy. Cremona, in northern Italy, has more than 100 workshops making violins and other stringed instruments for musicians worldwide, following in the tradition of its great violin-makers which have included Antonio Stradivari and Nicolo Amati. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini SEARCH "VIOLINS CREMONA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Stefano Trabucchi, a master violinmaker, works on a violin at his workshop in Cremona, Italy, March 11, 2016. Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy. Cremona, in northern Italy, has more than 100 workshops making violins and other stringed instruments for musicians worldwide, following in the tradition of its great violin-makers which have included Antonio Stradivari and Nicolo Amati. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini SEARCH "VIOLINS CREMONA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Mario Capelli, a violinmaker, works on a violin at Trabucchi's workshop in Cremona, Italy, March 11, 2016. Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy. Cremona, in northern Italy, has more than 100 workshops making violins and other stringed instruments for musicians worldwide, following in the tradition of its great violin-makers which have included Antonio Stradivari and Nicolo Amati. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini SEARCH "VIOLINS CREMONA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
A violin is seen at the Consorzio Liutai "Antonio Stradivari" workshop in Cremona, Italy, March 11, 2016. Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy. Cremona, in northern Italy, has more than 100 workshops making violins and other stringed instruments for musicians worldwide, following in the tradition of its great violin-makers which have included Antonio Stradivari and Nicolo Amati. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini SEARCH "VIOLINS CREMONA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Fausto Solci, a cellist, plays at night at Duomo Square in Cremona, Italy, April 21, 2016. Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy. Cremona, in northern Italy, has more than 100 workshops making violins and other stringed instruments for musicians worldwide, following in the tradition of its great violin-makers which have included Antonio Stradivari and Nicolo Amati. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini SEARCH "VIOLINS CREMONA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Daniele Scolari, a violinmaker and a teacher, checks a work of a student at the Antonio Stradivari institute of higher education in Cremona, Italy, April 22, 2016. Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy. Cremona, in northern Italy, has more than 100 workshops making violins and other stringed instruments for musicians worldwide, following in the tradition of its great violin-makers which have included Antonio Stradivari and Nicolo Amati. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini SEARCH "VIOLINS CREMONA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Gabriele Rossi, 25, a student from Italy, works on a violin at the Antonio Stradivari institute of higher education in Cremona, Italy, April 22, 2016. Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy. Cremona, in northern Italy, has more than 100 workshops making violins and other stringed instruments for musicians worldwide, following in the tradition of its great violin-makers which have included Antonio Stradivari and Nicolo Amati. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini SEARCH "VIOLINS CREMONA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Stefano Trabucchi, a master violinmaker, works on a violin at his workshop in Cremona, Italy, March 11, 2016. Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy. Cremona, in northern Italy, has more than 100 workshops making violins and other stringed instruments for musicians worldwide, following in the tradition of its great violin-makers which have included Antonio Stradivari and Nicolo Amati. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini SEARCH "VIOLINS CREMONA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
Violins are seen at Edgar Russ' workshop in Cremona, Italy, March 10, 2016. Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy. Cremona, in northern Italy, has more than 100 workshops making violins and other stringed instruments for musicians worldwide, following in the tradition of its great violin-makers which have included Antonio Stradivari and Nicolo Amati. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini SEARCH "VIOLINS CREMONA" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "THE WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES
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CREMONA, Italy, May 12 (Reuters) - Making violins is a passion in Cremona, the ancient Italian town that has been producing them since the 16th century, but turning passion into profits has not been easy.

Cremona, in northern Italy, has more than 100 workshops making violins and other stringed instruments for musicians worldwide, following in the tradition of its great violin-makers which have included Antonio Stradivari and Nicolò Amati.

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Many of the town's "liutaia" specialize exclusively in master instruments in the tradition of Stradivari, each taking months to produce and costing around 20,000 euros each. Some liutaia make as few as six or seven violins a year.

Edgar Russ, an Austrian who came to Cremona in 1984, says it is tough to make a living by crafting only master instruments and that the town's violin-makers need to change.

"At the end of the day, you work for free," he says.

Russ offers various levels of craftsmanship, a model he says does not sit well with Cremona's traditionalists. But he believes it is a way of prospering and ensuring it remains a thriving center of violin-making in the long-term.

His workshop makes violins for beginners as well as his "Linea Macchi" line for professionals who cannot afford a master violin. He also makes a handful of master instruments each year.

Only the masters are made by his hands alone.

"The real energy comes from the passion for this kind of work. It makes me happy to create something which does not have any straight lines. Even if you don't play, you love to hold it in your hand. It's beautiful to look at, it shows all your personality and your ability and your craftsmanship.

"And it makes a beautiful sound."

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