The Stati D'Anime of S. Faustino in Cremona: Tracing the Amati Family 1641-1686

Philip J. Kass

Ever since I began searching for information on the makers of the Italian School, I have found that the most difficult phase of research has been in locating their whereabouts with enough accuracy so that actual birth and death records can be discovered. While the mercantile British, in whose archives my previous work has been conducted, have excellent directories and spotty church records, the Italians have often wonderful church records and very sparse business records. It was during a visit in 1990 that I first encountered one of the most interesting and informative records kept by the Church in Italy, the Stati d'Anime.

The Stati d'Anime, also called a family registry, was essentially an annual census conducted by the parish priest on the Monday following Easter, a day which is still a holiday in Italy. Through it the church could keep close account of its parishioners and maintain political and financial authority over seventeenth century society. This record keeping was one of the many rules arising from the Council of Trent in 1563 and, after a slow start, became a custom maintained up to the nineteenth century, continuing in many places even after the arrival of Napoleon and the establishment of civil registers.


Classical Edgework

Roger Hargrave
Monday, November 7, 1988, 3:30 p. m.

My talk this afternoon is a kind of continuation of my lecture this on morning on the Cremonese method of construction. I am often asked why I spend so much time making precise copies of classical instruments, trying to reproduce every wobble, bulge and tool mark exactly as the master did, even when they appear to be a slip of the hand. The stock-in-trade answer is that Raphael copied the works of Michelangelo Buonarroti in order to achieve a better understanding of them, and I copy the works of the great violin makers for the same reason.

But then comes the retort: Why is it necessary to artificially wear the instruments if this is your only consideration? I must confess that I have always found this particular question difficult. Naturally, I do have good reasons, but they are complex and sometimes seem, even to me, irrational and unreasonable. Moreover, until recently, it has always been a problem to pinpoint the precise knowledge which I have gained from such actions.


Service Award For Hans Tausig

Albert Mell

When Hans Tausig was elected president of the Violin Society of America in 1984, he already enjoyed a reputation for his pro bono work on behalf of other organizations. This record augured well for his success as head of the VSA. But neither Hans nor the membership realized at that time that his tenure as President would extend to five full terms, covering a span of ten years. Members of the society are aware that perhaps the most important of the president's activities is the planning and running of the annual conventions. But every other year, the conventions are also the occasion of international competitions for new instruments and bows. It is hard to believe that the Oakland meeting is the eleventh of these competitions, and a large measure of the credit for the success of the last five is due to Hans: his organizational skills, problem-solving abilities, unflagging energy and patience. Five convention/ competitions have taken place during his administration: Portland in 1986; Minneapolis in 1988; Albuquerque in 1990; Carlisle in 1992; and finally, Oakland in 1994. What a signal record of achievement. However, Hans's achievements go far beyond the usual expected activities of a VSA president. For many years the society had wanted to purchase the violin library of Herbert Goodkind, but lacked the financial resources to do so. In 1986 the Goodkind estate placed that library on the market.


Vahakn Y. Nigogosian
VSA Gold Medal Award For Exemplary Service

Hans E. Tausig

Vahakn Y. Nigogosian ("Nigo," as he is known throughout the violin world) is a world-renowned luthier, string instrument restorer, and expert on bow repair. He is a member of the Entente International des Maitres Lutiers et Archetiers DArt, the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers, Inc., a Director of the Violin Society of America, and is the Director of the Oberlin College String Restoration Workshop given each Summer at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.

Nigo was born in 1910, in Istanbul, Turkey, where he made his first violin at the age of 15 under the direction of Karekin Kurkdajian. He moved to Paris in 1929 and studied violin making there with Marcel Vatelot. He immigrated to the United States in 1958 and worked in the Rembert Wurlitzer shop in New York City for ten years; he assisted Simone Sacconi there from 1964 to 1968. In 1969 he opened his own shop (Stradivarius Studios) in New York City. He became semi-retired in 1984 and continues to minister to the instruments and bows of his worldwide clientele from his shop, which is now located in his home in Bayside, New York.

This cursorily tells us something about Nigo but there is much, much more. Nigo stems from a tradition of teaching best exemplified by his father, who was a pedagogue and imbued Nigo with the tradition that one is obligated to pass on to others knowledge which one has received from others and aided to during one's lifetime. In short, learning and scholarship are very dear to Nigo's heart, and when this is combined with his unending love and respect for string instruments and their bows-we see just how much of a "teacher" Nigo has been all of his life and how keenly he feels the need to pass on what he knows to future generations.