Liutai Toscani al Concorso di Cremona

Cremona,  1937 and 1949 - Tuscan violin makers in the two Competitions

The Violin Making Exhibition-Competition organized in Cremona in 1937 by the National Agency for Crafts and Small Size Industries was participated by 119 violin makers, who were all members of the National Fascist Federation of Craftsmen as per the contest’s regulation,  presenting over 300 instruments. The exhibition catalogue reports that 116 makers were admitted in the competition and three in the hors-concours section.

Not only the number of Tuscan violin makers enrolled in the contest was considerable but, above all, one of them, Igino Sderci, was awarded first prize both for the violin and viola categories. He had won against highly qualified competitors like Ferdinando Sgarabotto, second prize winner for both categories, Gaetano Sgarabotto and Giuseppe Ornati.

Piero Badalassi was not awarded prizes but he would win, a few decades later, the gold medal for viola in the First International “Triennale” Competition.

The following Tuscan violin makers enrolled in the 1937 Competition:

Piero Badalassi, Pisa
Alfredo Bertozzi, Ripa di Seravezza (Lucca)
Carlo Bisiach, Firenze
Lapo Casini, Firenze
Ferdinando Ferroni, Firenze
Cesare Maggiali, Carrara
Giovanni Mei, Viareggio (Lucca)
Milton Poggini, Anghiari (Arezzo)
Igino, Sderci Firenze
Osvaldo Spelta, Lucca

As provided in the contest regulation, Sderci received 3,000 liras for his violin and the same amount for his viola; the two instruments were bought by the organizers and destined for the “Museo Liutistico dell’Artigianato”. As reported in the 1937 regulation, this Museum would be “permanently hosted in the city of Cremona”

The instruments, previously exhibited in the Museo Stradivariano and currently belonging to the Violin Museum’s collections, still remain as they were presented in the competition, with no labels.

Twelve years later, in 1949, the Executive Committee for the Celebrations of Antonio Stradivari promoted and organized an International Competition-Exhibition of Contemporary Violin Making. The contest was divided into different sections, including a special one for hors-concours makers invited by the Jury to take part into the contest. Among them there were the Tuscan makers Carlo Bisiach, Iginio Sderci, medalist in the 1937 Competition, and Fernando Ferroni.

The prizes amounts were raised by ten times compared to the previous Cremonese competition but the awarded instruments were no longer subject to purchase.

Beside the hors-concours Tuscan instruments, the exhibition also included works by the following makers:

Valentino De Zorzi, Firenze
Giuseppe Secondo Paganini di Forlì, Firenze
Luciano Sderci, Firenze – Special prize for best Italian young violin maker
Piero Badalassi, Pisa
Carlo Chericoni in Massa-Apuania
Dario Vettori, Firenzuola (Firenze)
Milton Poggini, Anghiari (Arezzo)

The Competition was again won by Igino Sderci who was awarded a special prize and a gold medal. Considering this and the prize earned by his son Luciano, the Sderci family undoubtedly reached a great success.

In conclusion, the 1937 and the 1949 competitions – held within a few years from each other though separated by a devastating world war – clearly made Igino Sderci into one of the leading Italian violin makers of his time.