How sweet the sound: Stradivari’s forgotten instrument

Centuries after his death, Antonio Stradivari’s violins still define excellence in the musical world.

What about the instrument he never made?

Sifting through some papers at the Stradivari museum in Cremona about three years ago, professor Andrea Mosconi came across the maestro’s sketches for a viol (aka viola da gamba), unlike any of the ones Stradivari crafted.

Intrigued by the design, Mosconi took the sketch to local master lute makers who brought to life the instrument Stradivari left on the drawing board.

This “elongated guitar,” as one expert dubbed it, surprised those who expected shallow but clean, sharp tones with an unexpectedly powerful sound.

No word on whether it’s now gone silent or will be used for future concerts.

It’s amazing what can be found in Italy by rooting around. That’s how they found painter Giotto’s remains and what they now think was Leonardo’s laboratory. Scratch the surface and treasures appear.