Born in Tuscany, but a lover of Cremonese lutherie, Fabrizio Di Pietrantonio approached lutherie by bringing together music and his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence. A union that led him to explore the work of Amati, Stradivari, and the other great masters with particular attention to decorated instruments. Later, he also crafted a cello with a bas-relief devoted to the Divina Commedia. While waiting to meet him at Cremona Musica 2022, we interviewed him.
Maestro, how did you start your activity?
I started when I was a teenager, and I was immediately fascinated by the sound of the violin, so I started studying it (with poor results). Then I decided to search for a Master with whom to start crafting violins. Something pushed me to go deeper, to discover the great Masters of lutherie, to investigate their secrets, and during this path I met Roberto Ignesti, with whom I satisfied many of my expectations. Roberto Ignesti was a pupil of Igino Sderci’s, so I had the opportunity to carry on the school that was developed by the Bisiach Family in Milan, and later with Sdenci and Carlo Bisiach in Florence.
You also studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, how did it help you in your business as a luthier?
These studies fed the part of me that has always paid attention to the harmony of drawing, sculpture, and painting. These are all disciplines that you can find in lutherie. So, I think it was easier for me to understand the violin and its shapes, its elegance and the differences between classic and modern luthiers. These studies also helped me to deal with the decorated copies of Amati, for instance, also producing some of the colours, to be more faithful to the techniques and to the final outcome.
Which are the peculiarities of your instruments, and who are your main models?
Respecting the tradition of my school, and also because I inherited many models that were used by Sderci, I had many models: Amati, Guarneri (all the members of the families) Balestrieri, Camilli, Guadagnini, Gragnani, but lately I’ve been working only on Guadagnini and Stradivari, simply because they are my favorite artists.
In the past you have also replicated an Amati quartet which was then exhibited in Cremona together with the original. Can you tell us about this work and this experience?
The Amati quartet that I built between 2006 and 2007 is a source of pride for me: in 2006 the commemoration of the Amati family began in Cremona and I immediately thought that I should pay homage to the founder of lutherie. At that time the Tuscan Luthiers Association existed and I therefore proposed to my colleagues to pay homage to Andrea Amati. I found a lot of resistance, they did not agree, no one at that time built instruments with characteristics so different from Stradivari, the f-holes, especially, with those holes so large in proportion to the peg-boxes that were so small. "Who is going to buy them!" They told me. But I didn't give up, I was convinced that it had to be done and at every meeting I tried to convince them... until I succeeded! The exhibition of all the instruments built by the Tuscan luthiers in homage to Andrea Amati was a success, but not only that, I think I was the first to make a copy of The King cello and perhaps also of the decorated Amati in general. The success of that idea is still demonstrated today by the numerous luthiers, not only from Tuscany but from all over the world, who repeatedly copy those models and decorations. Actually, after having copied almost all the decorated Amati and the inlaid Stradivarius, I have dedicated myself to something else, I wanted to do something personal, unique and not copies of my predecessors so, recently, I built a cello dedicated to Dante Alighieri summarizing the Divine Comedy in bas-relief on the bottom of the instrument.
Do you already know what you will be exhibiting at Cremona Musica 2022?
This year at the exhibition I will present a violin dedicated to Senator Robert Kennedy, brother of the more famous John F. Kennedy, who devoted his life to the search for a more just and equitable world. The Kennedy violin will be donated to the association of the same name and will be sold at the auction that Robert F. Kennedy Italy organizes every year to find the necessary funds for its activity.