Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program


Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Dolores Pesce


Competing with Cremona: Violin Making Innovation and Tradition in Paris: 1802-1851) by Christina Marie Linsenmeyer Doctor of Philosophy in Musicology Washington University in St. Louis, 2011 Professor Dolores Pesce, Chairperson This study considers the ways in which the preference for old Italian violins, particularly Stradivari, is substantiated in Paris: 1802-1851). It examines historical documents of three institutions related to new violin making: violin evaluations by the Institute of France's Music Section: 1813-1827); musical instrument patents at the National Institute of Industrial Property: 1817-1851); and French national fair reports about violin making exhibitions and competitions: 1802-1849). It provides historical overviews for each of the three document types, and divides violin making into three periods: 1) Revolutionary and First Empire: 1789-1814); 2) Restoration: 1814-1830); and 3) Fourth Period: 1830-1895), with this study concluding in 1851. Based on these sources, this study considers innovative and traditional violin-making practices and their reception for each of the three violin-making periods. Violin making in early nineteenth-century France used scientific methods to improve the violin. Changing views of industrial progress embrace historicism, and the discipline of violin making fixed a classic ideal around 1827 during the Restoration. Violin making practices from then on are geared largely towards imitation and mass-production of classic Italian violins. This study, using source documents that had not previously been discussed in detail, unravels this history and sheds a clearer light on early nineteenth-century French contributions to violin making. It proposes that a historicist tendency and commercial demands in Restoration France worked together to undervalue French innovative violin-making designs and place Cremonese violins, particularly Stradivari, at the foremost position within a violin-making hierarchy.


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