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Digital Subscriptions > The Strad > May 2019 > PAOLO DE BARBIERI


A close look at the work of great and unusual makers

Paolo De Barbieri was born in 1889 in Genoa. In 1902, aged 13, he left a note on the kitchen table which read ‘Back in a minute’: he left home for about six years to work as a cabin boy. He completed his military service in the navy and in 1912 received a medal for participating in the Italian attack on the Dardanelles, part of the Italo–Turkish War.

It is not clear when De Barbieri started making violins; it seems that during his naval service he made guitars for his friends. He then entered Cesare Candi’s workshop as an apprentice, remaining until about 1919 when he opened his own shop in the Piazza Paolo Da Novi, Genoa. He always worked alone without any help, making a sizeable number of violins and violas, plus a few cellos. He participated in various competitions and received a special prize in Cremona in 1949 for the best quartet made by a living Italian luthier. In 1960 he sat on the jury of the Liege Competition in Belgium.

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About The Strad

The Shanghai Quartet celebrates its 35th anniversary and we hand on some yoga tips for string players. There’s an in-depth look at Stradivari’s working methods and Shostakovich’s violin works. Plus Maxim Rysanov’s Life Lessons and Rivka golani’s Sentimental Work