Beautiful Past – Rethinking Stradivari Violins in the Aesthetics of European Neoclassicism (c. 1760-1814)

Research project (2015-2018) by Christina Linsenmeyer focuses on the canonization of Stradivari violins.


The “Beautiful past” project focuses on the canonization of Stradivari violins. The research traces the “old” and “Italian” aesthetic paradigms during the eighteenth century, focusing on violinmaking in France and England. The project demonstrates how cultural and historical factors, which substantiated neoclassical style outside of Italy, including the preference for old objects, affected violinmaking. Examining source documents and objects, the research interprets practices and their reception, with the aim to reform violin historiography. The study provides an understanding of what makes what makes “classical” musical instruments “classic”; what is the “secret of Stradivarius”; and how material-culture studies creates value for the benefit of the researchers, musicians than the general public. In reconsidering the history of the violin, the study also challenges innovation theory, and establishes a broader understanding of the classical era’s defining features and aesthetics.

The Principal Investigator of the research project is Dr Christina Linsenmeyer. The project is funded by the Academy of Finland.