Renato Scrollavezza was born in Castelnuovo Fogliani, in the province of Piacenza, on April 14th 1927. His parents, who were farm labourers, moved to Noceto in 1930. There Renato attended the elementary school and started to help his parents in their work. From his infancy he demonstrated a marked talent for drawing, which was frustrated due to the lack of encouragement from the environment.

However even stronger in him was his passion for music, and this expressed itself in the desire to play the violin, an instrument which had struck his sensitivity during a public concert in the village square. At the early age of 15, having had the opportunity of examining a mandolin, Scrollavezza decided to build one. But it was always the violin (or rather the intense recollection of that day in the square and those heart-aching notes) which filled the boy's dreams. And when finally a friend manages to purchase the longed-for instrument, Renato (then 17) throws himself into the task of making one. Once more alone, with no help other than his great passion.

In seven years he makes approximately thirty violins. Then, when 24, he comes to know of the existence of a violin-making school in Cremona, and presents himself there with his latest instrument. He receives encouragement from the director and from M° Peter Tatar, and enrolls for the first year of study in 1951. In 1955 he completes the course, having obtained a bursary for its entire duration. In the meantime the first gratifications arrive: in 1954, while still a student, he partecipates in the 2° Rome International Violin-Making Competition and wins the silver medal. After obtaining his diploma, Scrollavezza moves to Parma, but not even the city allows a luthier to make a living and he is forced to take to other jobs, although continuinig to cultivate his most intimate passion. The growth of interest in music in the seventies gives new life to the market, reapaying Renato Scrollavezza with professional success after years of sacrifice and silent dedication. In the meantime a series of acknowledgements arrives from abroad and from Italy: in 1956 two silver medals in Rome, a gold medal in Ancona in 1957, in 1958 and 1960 two gold medals in Pegli; in 1959 a medal for a viola in Ascoli Piceno; then two prizes at the Wienawsky Competition in Poznan in 1962 and 1967; again two awards in Liege for two quartets, the first in 1963 and the second in 1966; two gold medals in Cremona in 1963 and 1965, respectively during the restauration course held by M° Sacconi and the International Expo of Stringed Instruments. Then Scrollavezza is called to be a member of the jury of the 4th and 5th International Wieniawsky Competition in 1972 and 1977.

The number of instruments built during the course of these years is noteworthy: 220 violins, 60 violas, 39 cellos, 3 basses, 2 violas d'amore, a viella, a lute, a gamba, a pochette and a hundred or so classical guitars. The maturity of workmanship attained procures him teaching resposibilities as well. In fact in 1975 he is teacher of violin-making at the A. Boito Conservatory in Parma and from 1979 'till 1983 he lectures at the Milan School of Violin-Making.

In 1980 he is invited as guest of honour to the 7th International Expo in Japan, representing Italian violin-making. That same year however, there is an important turning point in Scrollavezza's career: the Maestro decides not to sell his instruments anymore, although pressed with many requests. He intends to dedicate all his energy to pure research for his own personal satisfaction, with the aim of reaching that balance between form and sound which represents the only real secret of stringed instruments. In this sense the construction of a complete orchestra is to be understood - an extremely rare example in the history of violin-making.

Other important gratifications enriching Scrollavezza's career are his admissionthe Entente Internationale des Luthiers et Archetiers d'Art in 1980; then in 1988 the Municipality of Genova entrusts Scrollavezza with the assignment of curator of the famous "Cannone" built by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, the instrument preferred by Nicolò Paganini. Scrollavezza carries out this task 'till 2000, when Genova honours him with the Grifo di Bronzo, an important city award. Previously the town of Baveno had attributed to Scrollavezza the award to the career "A life devoted to violin-making" during the 5th Competition in 1995. Finally, in the year 2001, one of Scrollavezza's instruments is played by Ruggero Ricci in a record dedicated to the best contemporary makers (The Legacy of Cremona).

Associazione culturale Liuteria Parmense - Tel./Fax : +39 0521 207034 - [email protected]