STEFANO CONIA, CREMONA (ITALY)

“My goal has always been one: to manufacture more instruments than Stradivari did” and he’s not too far from the goal. Stefano Conia, born in 1946, is one of the representatives of contemporary Cremonese violinmaking, one of the founders of the renewed violinmaking tradition, reborn under the sign of Stradivari. Hungarian by origin, his father Istvàn Konya senior (1919-1999) was a luthier himself and graduated from the International School of Violinmaking in Cremona, managing to leave Hungary. A family of luthiers: Stefano Conia shares the workshop in Corso Garibaldi in Cremona with his son Stefano, who signs his instruments as Conia ‘the young’.

Stefano Conia began his relationship with music, playing the violin from the age of five, then the family tradition got the better of him: the luthier triumphed over the violinist. He graduated at the International School of Violinmaking in 1972 with the masters Sgarabotto, Morassi and Bissolotti, then for twenty-three years he taught at the same institute, training violinmakers such as Stefano Trabucchi, Marcello Villa, Francesco Toto and many others, contributing to spread the Cremonese violinmaking know-how among the new generations. In 1970 he won a gold medal at the Young Violinmakers Competition in Bagnacavallo, in 1971 two gold medals (at the IV Cremona Biennial for a violin and in Bagnacavallo for a classical quartet). He has participated in countless exhibitions from Poznan to Tokyo and in many other Italian and foreign cities. In Budapest, one of his instruments is on permanent exhibition at the national museum of musical instruments. For years he has participated in the Triennial competitions of Cremona, obtaining important awards, and on several occasions he has been part of the jury of national and international lutherie competitions.

Stefano Conia is to all intents and purposes one of the greatest representatives of contemporary Cremonese violinmaking. In fact, the luthier is present in the most important publications in the sector, essays and books recounting his profession and his lesson as a craftsman.  On the eve of half a century of activity and with a family tradition of violin making behind him that still continues, he knows how to reinterpret and give new luster and elegance to the classical models of Cremonese violin making, making the great masters Amati, Guarneri del Gesù and Stradivari the inspirers of his know-how. A member and founder of the Antonio Stradivari Consortium and of the Italian (ALI) and European (AEL) Violinmaking Associations, he has contributed to telling the story and spreading the lesson of Cremonese violinmaking throughout the world with the passion of an artist and the tenacity of a craftsman bent over his work table, but with his eyes looking far ahead.

If you’re looking for Stefano Conia, all you have to do is ring his workshop and you’ll find him there, shaping music amidst planes and varnishes, with one objective: to exceed the number of instruments made by the greatest luthier of all time.”

(Nicola Arrigoni)

 

All of Maestro Conia’s instruments reflect his many years of experience as a violinist in an orchestra. For him, the fretboards, the neck, the bridge, the position of the core, and the comfort of the instrument have always been put first in the construction process.

The varnish, of his own production, contains only natural dyes, extracts of exotic essences produced with an extractor in his laboratory; together with the wood, carefully selected, it is a determining element for the quality of the sound.

The red-brown color, with lightly shaded yellow-gold reflections and the slightly lightened edges, are the hallmark of Maestro Conia’s lutherie.

The spontaneous, vigorous bowing, the wide, slender harmonic holes and the well-carved snails make his instruments absolutely unique, and their sound is “The sound of Conia”.

VIOLIN I

— Currently on loan to the Alinea Quartet

Model: Stradivari 1715
Manufacture year: 2013

The violin is built of “occhio di pernice” maple, the boards are made of Val di Fiemme spruce, well seasoned, medium grain, regular.

VIOLIN II

— Currently on loan to the Alinea Quartet

Model: Stradivari 1715
Manufacture year: 2013

The violin is built of “occhio di pernice” maple, the boards are made of Val di Fiemme spruce, well seasoned, medium grain, regular.

VIOLA

— Currently on loan to the Alinea Quartet

Model: Stradivari 1672
Manufacture year: 2013

The viola is built of “occhio di pernice” maple, the boards are made of Val di Fiemme spruce, well seasoned, medium grain, regular.

CELLO

— Currently on loan to the Alinea Quartet

Model: Stradivari 1720
Manufacture year: 2013

The cello is built of “occhio di pernice” maple, the boards are made of Val di Fiemme spruce, well seasoned, medium grain, regular.

PRIZES AND AWARDS

1970 Gold medal at the Bagnacavallo Young Violinmakers Competition

1971 Gold medal at the IV Cremona Biennale of the Provincial Administration

1971 Gold Medal at the Young Violinmakers Competition of Bagnacavallo

STEFANO CONIA’S ATELIER

Corso Garibaldi 95, Cremona 

In 1972 – freshly graduated from the International School of Violinmaking – Stefano Conia registered his business as “Liuteria Cremonese Stefano Conia di Kònya Istvàn” and immediately established the headquarters of his atelier in Corso Garibaldi 95, Cremona, where it is still based today.

The atelier is located on the central street of the city that leads to the Duomo, and overlooks a peaceful corner: the courtyard of the nineteenth century building.

For many years Stefano Conia has worked alongside his son Stefano Conia “the young”: the instruments of each, however, are built individually.

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