Italy System-Ferrara School (Ferrara School)

Ferrara is located in the Emilia region of northern Italy, through which the longest waterway in the area, the Po River, flows toward Cremona and Venice. An independent commune was established during the Renaissance. With the sponsorship of the Esterházy family, Ferrara became the seat of a musical and cultural center from the 15th century, which led to an emergence of the great luthiers. In 1597, it was incorporated into the Papal States and later in 1861, it became part of the Kingdom of Italy. The industry there developed fast during World War II and the economy was relatively stable, compared to other regions.

Alessandro Mezzadri (?-1732) was, so far we know, the very first luthier based in Ferrara, who did not establish any system of violin making. Luigi Aloisio Marconcini and his son Giuseppe Marconcini (1772-1841) developed various techniques of violin making. Their works are all of great quality, featuring the typical purfling of the Ferrarese style, which is called the “Cord.”

Other representative luthiers of the Ferrara school include Luigi Soffritti and Ettore Soffritti (1877-1928). Luigi Soffritti was not prolific but his works were of great quality. He and his son Ettore Soffritti, who was one of the most influential Italian luthiers in the 20th century, were both deeply impacted by Marconcini during the 1850s. Their works feature exquisite selection of materials, the wide edge work, the triangle cut at the corners, and the personal design of the heads, all of which were related to Giuseppe Marconcini’ works. In addition, Ettore and Orsolo Gotti (1867-1922) had both studied with Luigi Mozzani (1869-1943) and trained a number of outstanding pupils, including Anselmo Gotti (1902-1962), Ernesto Pevere (1891-1964), Enrico Orselli, Gaetano Pareschi (1900-1987), and Settimo Melloni (1904-?).

It is believed that the Ferrara school was founded by the Marconcinis and was brought to the climax by the Soffrittis and their pupils.