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JACOBUS  STAINER
VIOLIN BUILDER of  ABFAM
Over the past 16 years I have acquired numerous books on Jacobus Stainer.Of these    well written sources I will refer biographical data  from  the text "JAKOB STAINER" , by Walter Senn and Karl Roy . This book was presented to me by the REPUBLIC OF AUSTRIA ,for which I personally thank Auter Babloc. By far this book presents the most plausible  biography of Stainer`s  life and work.Stainer was born probably in 1617, the son of a salt miner working the deposits in the Karwendal, the limestone Alps north of Absam. This is speculative as the church records were destroyed in a fire in which birth records for that time were lost  .Of Stainers youth again what is reported is pure conjecture  based on unsubstantiated tales.One has him singing in a choir  from which he developed the necessary musical foundation . Another report has the young Stainer  apprenticing with an Organ builder named Daniel Hertz  .Yet another has him apprenticing with Andrea Amati ,who died in 1577,Nicola AMAT(1596-1684) , Matthias Alban in Bozen ,born 1634 and Pietro Vimercati, who first appears in the records in Venice in 1650. The first recorded information comes from the "carteggio  of  ALESSANDRO Conte Cozio de Salabue. Another early source places the master; in Salzburg in 1645  . Here he sold several Violins and a Viola  bastarda(similar to a tenorgamba but with sympathetic strings) for the use of the orchestra of the Prince-ArchbishopIn 1645 Stainer was in Munich to deliver a bass viol for the court orchestra of duke Maximillion 1 of Bavaria. Stainer sometime between 1644 and 1645 married Margarete  Holtzhammer a daughter of a foreman in the salt  mines of  Hall. Of his nine children ,only two or three daughters and a grandson survived him. By 1646 he was so highly  regarded that the sovereign of  Tyrol , Archduke Ferdinand Karl , placed an order for instruments totaling one hundred and three violins. Stainer went to Venice to purchase materials but for some unknown reason did not return for a year and a half. He returned only to find that he had lost the commission. This was the first of a sting of bad luck for Stainer. He moved to Kirchdorf on the Krems  where he worked and stayed with the innkeeper and  merchant Salomon Huebmer. Here he built and repaired instruments. His earnings were so meager he could not even cover his lodgings.   In 1648 and 1649 Stainer was in South Tyrol , selling and repairing violins in Brixen and Bozon.For the next ten years Stainer lived and worked out of his inherited home in Absam. Here he reestablished his place in the Violin makers hierarchy of the day.. In 1656 he traded the house for another on the northern edge of town , now known as STAINER-STRASSE 7. As a highly respected man he was assigned a coat of arms , which he had engraved on his seal. A document found  ca.1655, already refers to Stainer as the most famous Violin builder. Ties to the Innsbruck court were reestablished , with orders for Violins once more coming in. Evidently his work was far superior to that of the court violin maker GeorgSeelos , as many musicians brought their instruments to Stainer for repair . On such an occasion Stainer worked on a Gamba belonging to the English virtuoso William Young a member of  the Innsbruck orchestra. In 1658 the Tyrollean sovereign honored him  with the title of "Servant to the Arch- Sovereign". The position was not salaried and Stainer was only paid for work actually carried out .
                              ROY present no data on Stainer for the next ten years other than  to say  his fame grew and his days of a journeyman were over . Commissions reached him by letter.
       Stainers success meant little to the church who in 1669 denounced Stainer as a Heretic. The  Government  tried unsuccessfully to persuade the church of Stainers innocents Stainers enemies countered that he was about to flee. Stainer was placed in custody .  Stainer was able to work during some of his confinement . According to him the instruments were for the Rottenbuch  Seminary in Bavaria. The church finally settled for a private penitence , which Stainer performed under protest in September of 1669.
     A multitude of commissions awaited the Master, when he returned to his workshop. The instruments for delivery to Nuremberg and Italy  alone took over a year to complete. The Italian orders apparently resulted from connections he made during his Journeyman years . The esteem accorded Stainers instruments in Italy is borne out by a 1715 inventory the virtuoso Antonio Vericini in Florence: Of his sixteen violins , the first ten are stainers ranked above the products of the Italian masters.
   An interesting insight is given of Stainer the man : while working for a client ,the bishop of Olmutz,Stainer refused to speed up the order by hiring an apprentice. We learn that the      master was not interested in hiring an  apprentice. Since he had no son , he was loath to pass on his knowledge and skills to a stranger. Well conscience of his own worth, Stainer remarked that his art would die with him and there after his instruments would be highly priced. Visionary words which would be borne out in time.
    Stainer worked through the next ten years with his productivity slowly declining and is said to have died in 1682 or 1683.
    Today Stainer is regarded as the greatest violin maker active outside of Italy. Until the end of the 18th century he was ranked above even the most illustrious representatives of Cremonna     
       Both Bach and Mozart composed using Stainer Violins.        http://classicalusa.com/