The history of the violin is a bit like the evolution of a migratory species. It didn't come about all in one place or all at one time; various factors influenced it's changes over centuries, and in many ways we are still writing the violin's history today, all over the world. Still, there are pivotal moments in the history of the way violins are made. One very important time and place in the influence of almost every instrument made today was 19th-Century France. Knowing a bit about violin-making in France might help you to know a bit more about your own instrument, and will certainly help anyone interested in buying a fine violin, viola, or cello to understand the wide variety in age, style, sound, and price of what's on the market.
Pick a handful of random violins out of the world today, and the sheer diversity of origin of those instruments would be unlike anything you would find 100 years ago. You would find some modern high-end instruments made by individual luthiers living all over the globe. You'd also find instruments made in those sames places that were assembled by a number of craftspeople in a workshop - some apprentices, some experts. There would undoubtedly be a number of beginner-level instruments (including some "Violin-Shaped-Objects") assembled with such economy that the average working American can buy one with less than a day's wages!
Among the finest instruments in the bunch are those made from 100 to 300 years ago in various areas of France, Italy, and Germany. Those instruments were just about all there was 100 years ago, before violin makers and their techniques really began to spread the globe due to World Wars, cultural and economic globalism, and even the internet. The French Violin-Making tradition produced the most unique and influential methods and makers as violin-making entered the industrial age.
Knowing the history of your violin can induce a nostalgia that connects you more closely to the instrument and the way you play it, making practicing and performing more meaningful. Perhaps you own a French or "Mirecourt" instrument, but don't know much about it. Maybe you are looking to buy a professional violin and may find a special connection with French instruments and their history. Even if you may never own a French instrument, the methods of French makers and workshops has undoubtedly influenced how your instrument was made. You will certainly benefit by following the link below and learning more about the history of violin-making in France!
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