Daniele Tonarelli

Master violin maker in Cremona

My father wanted me to be a bricklayer. This is also a form of manual work.
But I didn’t listen to him: I wanted to pursue my dream of making violins.
In the end, he had to admit that I made the right choice.

I was born in Cremona.
And paraphrasing the famous Italian actor, Totò: violin makers are born and, in all modestly, I was born a violin maker.

I have always liked working with my hands. Perhaps this had something do to with growing up in the countryside, where there is always work to do, especially with wood. And I had music in my ears. I started taking music lessons early: at the age of 8 I went to the workshop of a luthier in Corte De’ Cortesi, who also held a music course in the town library. Explosive mix: at 9 years old I decided that I would be a violin maker. Every day, after school, I went to his laboratory, even if just for half an hour. I spent four summers in a row there, between one school year and the next. I just couldn’t stop.

I made my first violin when I was 15, in 1991.

When I think back, I’m amazed at the courage and determination I displayed in that period. In fact, I mostly had to do things alone.

Even when my career as a luthier was already underway and my long professional training was over – first at the prestigious “Antonio Stradivari” International School of Violin Making and then at the laboratory of Maestro Marco Nolli – my youth was an obstacle. For some, it was synonymous with inexperience.

But I didn’t give up.

I had to find a way of overcoming my fears and shyness. I had to find a way to believe in myself and in my abilities. I committed myself to study and continuous improvement. And finally, I gave myself a set of goals.

It was all worth it. Over time I have participated in numerous competitions, including Baveno, Bagnacavallo, Moscow and Cremona. I have obtained honourable mentions and awards, which in this profession are important to make one’s mastery known in Italy and abroad.
But above all… for me, the pleasure of creating something with my own hands is priceless. It is also priceless to know that others appreciate my work.

I have dreamed of making violins since I was a child. That dream eventually turned into a reality. Today my instruments are handmade in Cremona, by me, someone who was born in Cremona. Many musicians dream of a Cremonese violin and I try to fulfil their wish.

Cremona has been the undisputed birthplace of violin making since the 16th century. The Cremona of Andrea Amati, Antonio Stradivari and Andrea Guarneri is rich in history and ancient artisanal workshops. Here in Cremona, technique, studies and research are handed down from generation to generation.

Today I too am part of this history. In 2017 I celebrated my 20 years in business. I specialize in making violins, violas and cellos. Over the years I have developed my own personal technique for the construction of antique instruments and copies of antique instruments, for which I take inspiration from the great masters of the past while maintaining my own personality. I also do repairs, restoration and appraisals.

The passion I have for classical music and for these instruments drives me to continuously research sound and processing techniques, an art that has been on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Heritage of Humanity since 5 December 2012.

UNESCO has thus recognized the value of Cremona violin Making and its tradition, an “artisanal know-how” that leads to the creation of unique musical instruments recognized throughout the world.