The Violin Museum, where the nightingales sing
The Giovanni Arvedi Auditorium, inside Cremona’s Violin Museum, has a small 85-square-meter stage almost at the center of the hall. Its designer – who created sinuous lines that echo sound waves propagating through the air – seems to have followed Friedrich Nietzsche’s aphorism, “One must know not only how to play well but also how to make oneself heard. A violin in the hand of the greatest master emits only a squeak if the hall is too big; there the master can be confused with any bungler.”
It would surely be embarrassing if the voice of the noble instrument croaked right here, in the “sanctuary” dedicated to some of the most beautiful works by luthiers of the Cremona area between the 17th and 20th century, including a few Strads from the collections of the Stradivari Museum, the Cremona Municipality, and the “Walter Stauffer” Foundation.
The exhibition tells the story of this wonderful musical instrument, invented in the 1500s, through the scents of wood and resin that fill the carefully recreated workshop of the luthier, as well as through the captivating music played in the listening room from historical recordings.
We run no risk of hearing the “squeaks” Nietzsche feared: as Niccolò Paganini once said, “Stradivari only used the wood of trees on which the nightingales sang.”