Blue violins, diamonds, gold and more: an interview with the luthier Stefano Trabucchi

Last February the newspapers talked about the luthier Stefano Trabucchi because of the original blue violin he made for the Conservatory of Bangkok, and at Cremona Musica 2019 he amazed the visitors with his violin with a pearl set in gold and diamonds. His work combines respect for the Cremonese tradition with creativity that makes him look for new solutions. Waiting to meet him at Cremona Musica 2019, we interviewed Stefano Trabucchi to talk about his work.


Mr. Trabucchi, how did you become a luthier?

The passion for lutherie started with a passion for the violin. My father was a doctor, but he was really into music and his sons inherited this passion. Consider that my brothers are teaching at the Conservatory. I started playing the violin early, at the age of 8, and when I was 14 I enrolled at the school of lutherie in Cremona.


What are the peculiarities of your instruments?

Each luthier has his own peculiarities. I think my instruments have some typical aesthetic features that make them quite recognizable, especially by an expert. It is a style I have been developing for years. My strong points are the selection of wood, that must have both sound and aesthetic features, and the varnish.


You are inspired by the Cremonese tradition, but you also craft really original instruments, such as the violin decorated with a pearl, gold, and diamonds presented at Cremona Musica 2018 or the blue violin for the Princess Galyani Vadhana Institute of Music of Bangkok. How do you combine tradition and innovation in your work?

I have always loved experimenting and looking for something new. Anyway, 90% of my instruments are traditional. Sometimes I like to make something different, and this is appreciated by my clients. I also think about the series for the anniversaries, with the golden initials. They are mounted in a part of the violin that does not affect the sound. Maybe some purists think it is nonsense, but I see that they are really appreciated. I do not have any of them in my workshop as I sold all of them. You always need to consider that the violin is a traditional instrument, so you must respect the tradition for the models, shapes, and sizes, also because musicians want a violin with those features.


The newspapers talked a lot about your blue violin. How was this instrument commissioned to you and what were the main difficulties?


I have a client in Thailand that helped me with this contact. I must say that the varnish was more difficult than I thought. The violin was crafted as usual, but to make it blue while saving the veining I had to use a transparent blue varnish. I had to make many attempts, with different solutions, but finally I succeeded. I was surprised by the media coverage. It was covered by the local press, then by social media, and finally by the national press… suddenly I found my violin in the magazine of Alitalia while I was flying on their plane. I received many compliments, and also some criticism, but that is normal.


Are you preparing something particular for Cremona Musica 2019?

Maybe this is going to be a “normal” year, but I am not sure… Last year I had the inspiration in July, so never say never.


What is the importance of Cremona Musica in your business?

It is certainly significant. I think Cremona Musica is a flagship of the city and the local luthiers, a business card of Cremona. This is why I never miss an edition and I always invite my colleagues to do the same.


You are among the most active luthiers on social media. What is your advice for your colleagues to exploit the modern means of communication?

Social media are a great opportunity, with a few moves you can reach thousands of people, something unthinkable just a few years ago. You must work on this, and it is not banal creating new interesting videos, but I think it is right to dedicate some time to this activity also because it costs you nothing. I do not know if you sell more, but it is fundamental to be there because it lets you reach countries that you did not believe you could reach. I realize this when I receive messages from South America or Iran…