As a violin-maker, I automatically think of the Gagliano family whenever I think of Naples, Italy. Beginning as far back as 1640 with Alessandro Gagliano and ending with Vincenzo Gagliano in the early 1900s, the family produced a remarkable number of fine violins, violas, and cellos. The most prominent personalities of the family, Alessandro, Nicolaus, and Gennaro, emerge in the more important works that bear the Gagliano label.
This Nicolaus Gagliano violin, sold on November 24, 2013 for $168,000, is especially important to me. I cared for this instrument for over 30 years. Each time the owner brought the violin into my shop, I paused to admire the beauty and design of the instrument. The varnish is soft and rich with strong red to purple colors over a golden ground, giving the instrument a silky-mellowness. When I put it under my chin, the violin was light and perfectly balanced. The proportions make the instrument a player’s dream; you can think about the music without any physical distractions.
Despite the soft and mellow look of this Gagliano violin, it has a strong and vibrant sound. The greater the distance between the performer and the listener, the more you realize how well this instrument carries.
Being in the presence of an instrument like this helps you realize the greatness of the famous makers, and this violin certainly deserved the $168,000 price realized at auction. We were very pleased with the result, especially considering that the proceeds of the sale will go to benefit a musical educational organization.
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