The Emilian lutherie by Scrollavezza & Zanrè inspired by the great masters of the past

by Giorgiana Strazzullo

Elisa Scrollavezza and Andrea Zanrè’s workshop has been in the center of Parma for over fifteen years, and is involved in the construction, restoration and sale of string instruments. Scrollavezza & Zanrè are promoters and defenders of the Italian luthier heritage, curating exhibitions and publishing precious violin making manuals.

Andrea Zanrè tells us how Renato Scrollavezza (1927 - 2019), Elisa's father, was the mentor, teacher and guiding deity for them and for his students. An internationally renowned luthier from Castelnuovo Fogliani (PC), he was appointed in 1988 by the municipality of Genoa as curator of the famous "Cannone" by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, Paganini's favorite violin. In 1975 he created the "Renato Scrollavezza" Lutherie School in Parma where he taught until 2014.

This year at Cremona Musica 2022 they will present a quartet of instruments built with wood from the same trunk of maple and fir; and as publishers, the third volume of a series of monographs entitled “Treasures of Italian Violin Making”, featuring two perfectly preserved violins by Carlo Bergonzi.


Andrea Zanrè, on your website you offer many services: from the commissioning of string instruments, to their restoration, providing expertise of ancient instruments and insurance services. Can you describe these for us?

From the time we opened in a city like Parma, in a certain sense different from Cremona, we wanted to give musicians one more reason to visit our workshop: first of all it was necessary to exhibit ancient instruments, to offer services that are a collateral activity to the main one, which remains the construction of new instruments, and so in our shop we sell strings and accessories, we rent instruments, arrange insurance, provide expertise and we are also publishers of violin making manuals.


Your lutherie inspired by Renato Scrollavezza is based on the use of 50 different models of the classical school of Brescia, Mantua, Naples and Venice. How do you define yourself?

First of all we try to distinguish ourselves as Emilian because Emilian lutherie is a lutherie with its own tradition starting from the 1900s. The Parma tradition is something of a synthesis between the Emilian, Milanese and Bolognese traditions also due to the geographical position (Sgarabotto being a pupil of Leandro Bisiach). We pass on this tradition, different from the contemporary Cremonese style, both as builders and as teachers in the "Renato Scrollavezza" Lutherie School.

Renato had a more spontaneous and instinctive vision of violin making, it was he who designed and actively made his type of model. Instead, Elisa and I are very inspired by classical violin making, concentrating on analytical study. It is important for us to mature by managing to make new tools based on the knowledge of ancient ones.


Which instruments will you present for the next edition of Cremona Musica 2022?

The peculiarity of this year is that we will present a quartet made with the same two spruce and maple trees, usually not often seen: two years ago I found a beautiful maple trunk cut in 1984. Between one order and another, during the various lockdowns, I took the time to make this quartet having to travel much less. This quartet is my first set of instruments that I am making individually, the last violin remains to be completed.


At Cremona Musica you presented the manual “I Segreti di Sgarabotto”. How did the desire to publish violin making books come about? What will you present this year?

The idea of ​​publishing was born in the context of an exhibition that was held in Parma in 2011 to celebrate the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of Giovanni Battista Gudagnini. When his 25 instruments arrived, we had the opportunity to make the first monographic volume. Since that time we have been passionate about creating many others. This year at Cremona Musica we will present the third volume of a series of monographs called "Treasures of Italian Violin Making", on our site you can find and order all of them. The first volume focuses on a particularly rare Amati viola with an original neck located in Modena; the second volume is on the violin of Antonio Stradivari called the “Toscano”, this too being a very valuable violin as it is part of the Medici quintet. The third volume, the one that is about to come out now, is on two violins by Carlo Bergonzi.


Which instruments by Carlo Bergonzi are analyzed in the new volume that you will present at Cremona Musica?

Both instruments belonged to the collection of Baron Knoop, a baron who collected instruments in Germany and England in the late 1800s. He owned these two very important Bergonzi violins: the "Kreisler - Perlman" with the original neck and the "Baron Knoop, Landau ". They are two practically contemporary instruments made around 1735, the volume that will come out compares these two particularly beautiful instruments. The manual is aimed at appreciating the work of Carlo Bergonzi.


A fond memory, a lucky encounter to tell from the previous editions of Cremona Musica?

Ah, so thinking about it ... the thing we always joke about is that now, being our twenty-first edition as a group and as individual luthiers, we can now also predict the times of our visitors. Having loyal customers, aficionados who come to visit us, we can predict exactly the time of their visits, noting them every year.

One of the most entertaining and pleasant visits is that of the virtuoso violinist Manrico Padovani, resident in Switzerland. On the last day, during closing time, when we are starting to dismantle the stand, it is precisely at that moment that he wants to try the instruments, while we are putting them away!