Traditional violin craftsmanship in Cremona

Inscribed in 2012 (7.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

1.1 Description of the element

Cremonese violin craftsmanship is highly renowned for its traditional process of fashioning and restoring violins, violas, cellos and contrabasses. Violin-makers attend a specialized school, based on a close teacher-pupil relationship, before being apprenticed in a local workshop, where they continue to master and perfect their techniques – a never-ending process. Each violin-maker constructs from three to six instruments per year, shaping and assembling more than 70 pieces of wood around an inner mould by hand, according to the different acoustic response of each piece. No two violins are alike. Every part of the instrument is made with a specific wood, carefully selected and naturally well seasoned. No semi-industrial or industrial materials are used.
Craftsmanship requires a high level of creativity: the craftsperson has to adapt general rules and personal knowledge to every instrument. Cremonese violin-makers are deeply convinced that sharing their knowledge is fundamental to the growth of their craftsmanship, and dialogue with musicians is deemed essential so as to understand their needs. Traditional violin-making is promoted by two violin-makers’ associations, ‘Consorzio Liutai Antonio Stradivari’ and ‘Associazione Liutaria Italiana’, and is considered fundamental to the identity of Cremona, its citizens, and plays a fundamental role in its social and cultural practices, rituals and events.

1.2 Geographical location and Range of the element:

The element is mostly present in Cremona. The city is on the Po river – west Po Valley, situated between the regions Lombardy and Emilia Romagna. Besides the violin-makers’ shops, there are in Cremona many institutions that promote and safeguard the element.Violin-making is strictly connected to the urban reality, in fact both shops and institutions are distributed in the historical centre of Cremona.Other shops in the vicinity (for instance in the villages of Pescarolo ed Uniti, Corte de’ Frati, Pieve D’Olmi, Castelleone, Malagnino, Crema, Casalbuttano ed Uniti, Casalmaggiore, Persico Dosimo, Casaletto Ceredano, Ostiano, Sesto ed Uniti, Spino d’Adda, Rivarolo del re ed Uniti, Sesto ed Uniti, Sospiro, Derovere, Pieve San Giacomo) are all near Cremona (10-15 kilometres).

1.3 Domain(s) of the element:

Domain(s) of the element as intangible cultural heritage identified according to the Article 2.2 of the Convention:

  • Performing arts
  • Social practices, rituals and festive events
  • Traditional craftsmanship

Evaluation Body Decision
Decision 7.COM 11.18

The Committee,
1.Takes note that Italy has nominated traditional violin craftsmanship in Cremona for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:
2.Decides that, from the information provided in file 00719, the nomination satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List, as follows:
R.1:Traditional craftsmanship for violin-making has been transmitted from generation to generation, both through apprenticeship and through formal education, playing an important role in the everyday life of people in Cremona and giving them a sense of identity.
R.2:Given the high degree of skills and manual inventiveness of the internationally known traditional violin craftsmanship, its inscription on the Representative List could testify to human creativity, while contributing to intercultural dialogue and to the visibility of the intangible cultural heritage as a whole.
R.3:Past and current efforts to safeguard the craftsmanship enjoy the participation and support of diverse stakeholders including the municipality and national government, local institutions as well as violin-makers’ workshops and associations.
R.4:Violin-makers and their associations, together with local institutions and representatives of the town of Cremona, participated in the nomination process and gave their free, prior and informed consent.R.5:The element is included in the national inventory of cultural heritage maintained by the Ministry of Cultural Properties and Activities; the Archive of Ethnography and Social History of Lombardy Region also included the element in its Register of Intangible Heritage of Lombardy Region.