Michelangelo Bergonzi


Michele Angelo – the given name in the baptism register – was born in the parish of San Luca in 1721. No records of his apprenticeship are available, but he is likely to have apprenticed to his father Carlo. After marrying Barbara Berselli in 1745, Michelangelo, his wife and his father moved to the Casa Stradivari, where Antonio Stradivari had died in 1737. The period around 1740 was a turning point for violinmaking in Cremona: Stradivari – who had dominated the craft for 50 years – was no longer alive; his sons were also getting on in years. Omobono died in 1742, his brother Francesco a year later. Finally, Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù – the last Guarneri family member left in Cremona – died in 1744. Thereafter, Carlo and Michelangelo Bergonzi were the last representatives of the grand tradition of violinmaking in Cremona. Moving to the Casa Stradivari is likely to have been a practical option for the two master craftsmen, but it also had symbolic meaning. Carlo Bergonzi would spend only a few months in the new home, though – he died in February 1747. Michelangelo, his wife and their four children remained at the Casa Stradivari. There is no archival evidence of Michelangelo’s activities as an instrument maker in the years before his untimely death in 1758.

Michelangelo Bergonzi continued his father’s tradition but could not always reach the same level of artisanship; above all, the quality of the varnish was not as high. Still, their sound quality makes his instruments highly sought after for concert settings.