This year’s prize is a violin made by Januarius (Gennaro) Gagliano in 1756. The prize winner will have the use of it for a number of years.
Cremona, Brescia, Milan, Venice… the names of the cities of northern Italy have, of course, a particularly magical ring for violinists and other connoisseurs of history’s finest stringed instruments. But since the early 18th century there has also been a strong tradition of making outstanding stringed instrument a little further south in Italy. This is associated particularly with the Gagliano family. The least-known member of the family is probably the founder, Alessandro. After having worked for the masters Amati and Stradivari in Cremona, he brought his expertise back to his home city of Naples. Alessandro’s second son Januarius (in Italian: Gennaro) was active from about 1740 to 1780, and fewer of his instruments have survived. Those that do exist, however, are real connoisseurs’ instruments. They are normally have reddish orange- or reddish brown-coloured varnish, setting them apart from the lighter golden-yellow colour that became common among the Gagliano family’s violins in the later 18th century.