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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Violin on new stamp by Austria Post

"Musical instruments" is the euphonic title of a new attractive series of stamps that is now beginning with the first issue, the violin.

In the tradition of European classical music, the violin plays an extremely important and often indeed central role - many famous composers have dedicated a major part of their works to it.

The versatile and very different uses of the violin in music range from classical orchestral and chamber music to traditional folksongs, big band, dance, jazz and rock music.

Turning to the history of the violin, the first documented reference to the instrument dates back to the 16th century - in 1523, according to the historical source, "les trompettes et vyollons de Verceil" (the trumpets and violins of Vercelli) were paid a fee at the court of the Duke of Savoy in Turin. The oldest illustration of a violin, however, is a putto playing a violin in the altar painting in the church of S. Cristoforo in Vercelli. The essentially unchanged shape of the violin has been in use since around 1540 and originates from upper Italy. Famous Italian violin makers include Andrea and Nicola Amato, Gasparo da Salo and above all the world-famous Antonio Stradivari. Mention should also be made of Jakobus Stainer from Absam, whose instruments were regarded as the best until the end of the 18th century, and the Klotz family from the Upper Bavarian town of Mittenwald. The violins made during this period are today referred to as Baroque violins, and since the 1950s have mainly been used for the performance of "ancient music".