Alessandro Gagliano

Alessandro Gagliano was born in Naples in 1640. He studied violin and mandolin early in his life and as his interest in music grew he became interested in making instruments as well. Legend has it that around the age of 20, possibly on the run from some altercation in Naples, Gagliano found himself in the woods of Marighanetto Borgo where he started carving instruments from dead wood and tree stumps. Although this is likely just a story, Gagliano’s origins during those few years haven’t been traced. Eventually he moved to Cremona where he became acquainted with Nicola Amati. At Amati’s workshop he delved into the technical aspects of fine violin making and his work drastically improved. Around this time, some sources say he may have apprenticed with Stradivari as well.

In 1695 he returned to Naples to establish on his own, away from Cremona where more well-known makers absorbed all the demand for fine violins. Gagliano was clearly inspired by what he had learned in Cremona. This inspiration is evident in his wood selection and varnish. Still, in an effort to develop his individual presence he created a personal model. His varnish recipe evolved as well to work in the warmer climate of Naples.

Gagliano became incredibly influential to the history of violin-making and he is known to have established the Neapolitan style. He trained his sonsĀ Nicolo Gagliano and Gennaro Gagliano in violin making as well. Upon his death in 1732, his sons took over his workshop and continued the legacy of violin making in Naples.