what moment did the violin leave the viola da braccio family? It is difficult to say...
has long been hesitant, and the term "viola" was
used most often for the soprano as well as for the alto.
In Italian we find the expressions "viola con tre corde senza
tasti" or "viola da braccio senza tasti"; in German
"Geige", in French "vyollon" in 1523 and "violon"
in 1556. "Violino" appeared in Italy in 1538 and "violin"
in England only in 1572.
names of the oldest violin makers are for the most part unknown;
some were undoubtedly also lute makers. Many musicians,
moreover, built their stringed instruments themselves.
The most ancient document mentioning instrument making as an
independent profession comes from Paris, where in 1292, "féseurs
de vielles" (vielle makers) were registered.
violin emerged in its definitive form between 1520
and 1550 in northern Italy with Milan as its centre (cf.
map). The first violin makers in the area included, from Brescia,
Giovan Giacomo Dalla Corna (ca. 1484-1530) and Zanetto de Michelis
da Montechiaro (ca. 1488-1562) who made lutes, lyres and other
similar instruments. It should be noted, however, that the instruments
of these violin makers were not all violins that had reached
the final phase of their evolution.
the instruments that bear a date are two violins by Andrea
Amati (born between 1500 and 1505, died in Cremona
in 1576), built between 1542 and 1546, that had only three strings
in their primitive form. But as from 1555 several documents
testify to the existence of the four-stringed violin: the first
four-stringed violin by Amati that has come down to us
is dated precisely 1555. Charles IX, King of France, placed
a substantial order with Amati in 1560 for 38 instruments
including 24 violins, 6 violas and 8 cellos; two of them can
be found today at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Northern Italy
maintained close political relations with France since Francis
I (1515-1547, dates of his reign), which explains the order
with Amati and the rapid expansion of the violin in France.