Stradivarius is a well known name, especially in the world of classical music. Antonio Stradivari was most likely an apprentice of Nicolo Amati. A little while back, I wrote about Nicolo’s grandfather, Andrea Amati. https://mtochambermusic.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/a-luthier-and-the-violin/
Stradivari was born in 1644 and lived until December of 1737 – 93 years. Over 70 of those years were spent crafting instruments. His apprenticeship most likely started when he was between the ages of 12 and 14. His oldest surviving violin dates back to 1666 when he was 22 years old. At the age of 23, he married his first wife, Francesca Feraboschi. They had 5 surviving children and were married for 31 years, until her death in 1698. At the age of 55, he married for a second time. He and Zambelli Costa had 5 children as well. At the time of his death, two of his sons were working with him and his business passed on to Francesco, who only survived for another 6 years.
Like many good craftsmen, he honed his skills over time, experimented with changes to his instruments, and created a variety of final products that would stand the test of time. While known by many for his violins, Stradivari also made lutes, guitars, and harps. Estimates place the number of instruments he made between 1,000 and 1,100. 650 of those are still in existence today with at least 450 of them being violins. He has given us a lasting legacy of excellence.