Magazine article Strings

Hail 'The King'

Magazine article Strings

Hail 'The King'

Article excerpt

Historic gilded Amati cello returns to New York City

After nearly five decades, the oldest- and arguably most famous-surviving cello has returned to the Big Apple. The "King" Amati cello, c. 1572, has moved from its digs at the National Music Museum on the University of South Dakota campus in rural Vermillion to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan for a summerlong exhibition through September 8. Cleveland Johnson, director of the NMM, told KDLT News that the cello is "one of the [museum]'s crown jewels-akin to being the 'Mona Lisa' of Italian stringed instruments."

New Yorkers last had a chance to see the "King" in 1968 when the Rockefeller University for the Conference on Scientific Aspects of Musical Instruments exhibited the "King" Amati cello in New York City. At that time, it was examined closely by violin experts. "The 'King' cello offers visitors a big picture window onto the 16th century and the origins of the violin family," says violin dealer Claire Givens, a member of the NMM board of directors.

The "King" has been cut down in size from its original shape, most likely in the early 19th century, to the more popular-sized cello. However, it started life as a threestringed basso, perhaps as early as 1538, and is the earliest surviving bass instrument of the violin family. It was made in the mid-16th century by Andrea Amati, the founding master of the Cremonese violin tradition. It remains an iconic master work of the Italian Renaissance.

According to the 1975 book The Cello, by B. …

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