Posted: Mar 13, 2013 7:23 PM by Pat Shingleton
Italian violin makers in the 17th and 18th centuries constructed instruments known for their superior quality. Those crafted by Antonio Stradivari may be the most sought after violins of all time. Stradivari lived In Cremona, Italy from 1644 to 1737, which was an era now designated as the Little Ice Age and is also known as Maunder Minimum due to reduced solar activity. Scientists surmise that a change in climate, during this period affected tree growth that ultimately contributed to the improved acoustic quality of these violins. Other Cremonese artisans used only wood grown during the Maunder Minimum. Researchers believe the slow, even-growth of wood patterns from this era increased the wood's density, thus making it stronger. Many believed Stradivari and others implemented special techniques by using special ovens, wood seasoning or even varnish. Updated research credits climate as the key ingredient.