Bergonzi was born about 1685, probably in Cremona. He was the first member of his family to make violins. Carlo Bergonzi stands next to the triumvirate of Stradivari, Amati, and J. Guarneri. Carlo Bergonzi's father and mother lived next door to
Stradivari in the Piazza San Dominico, and he became apprenticed to Stradivari. In time Stradivari turned his repair business over to his talented pupil Bergonzi.
The pressure of the repair business took a great deal of time so Bergonzi did not make many violins. Bergonzi liked the rich singing tone of Stradivari
and the virile sonority of Joseph Guarneri.
This Bergonzi is called the "Kreisler" because Fritz Kreislerused it as his
concert instrument toward the end of his career, some 10 or 13 years. By that time his del Gesu had been donated to the Library of Congressto settle a tax debt with the IRS. Several of his most popular recordings were made on the Bergonzi and he also is pictured holding the instrument on the cover of some of them. The violin passed from
Kreisler to a well-known violinist and teacher, Angel Reyes (pronounced An-hell), thence to Perlman, thence to Ruben Gonzales who was one of the
Chicago Symphony concertmasters until about three years ago, thence to the present owner. The Kreisler Bergonzi is one of the most perfectly
preserved of all Cremonese instruments having its original neck and virtually all its varnish. No retouching, no significant cracks, and
it's tonally magnificent! Probably the best Bergonzi in existence.
Itzak Perlman recorded the Khachaturian Concerto on the Kreisler Bergonzi (and he is pictured on the cover of that recording holding the
This picture is included by Courtesy of the David L. Fulton Collection
with permission to use it on Sheila's Corner.
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