The Il Cannone Guarneri violin of 1743 was once a prized asset of famous violinist Niccolo Paganini. The violin got its name Cannone, or its variants, Il Cannone del Gesu, Cannone or Canon from Paganini because of its power and resonance.

Niccolo Paganini landed his hands on the Il Cannone Guarneri after he has lost an expensive Amati violin due to his impulsive gambling. It was granted to him by an amateur violinist and businessman. After receiving it, Il Cannone became his only violin, and played it for years till his death in 1840. After his death, Paganini granted the violin to the city of Genoa, Italy and to be kept as a national treasure.

Il Cannone GuarneriThe Il Cannone Guarneri Violin. Credit: Wikipedia

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An interesting story about the Il Cannone Guarneri was that a direct duplicate of the Il Cannone violin was created by Jean Baptiste Vuilaume, one of the greatest violin maker in the 19th century. His workmanship on the Il Cannone replica is so acute that Paganini couldn’t differentiate the original and the replica, until he noted subtle differences in tone when he played it.

While it was just a replica, it had the privilege of being exhibited alongside the real Il Cannone Guarneri in Genoa town hall.

This famous violin was handled with care and was played monthly by its curator, to maintain its playability. The Il Cannone is also played each year by the winner of Premio Paganini contest held for young aspiring violinists.

Today, Il Cannone Guarneri is one of the most popular violins played by famous violinists in the world. Violinists have performed in concerts with the Il Cannone. Jazz violinist Regina Carter even recorded an entire album played with the Guarnerius violin, titled Paganini: After a Dream.

Thus far, the Il Cannone has not been known for being sold in auctions, but what’s sure is that it is being insured with US$4 million in Genoa, Italy.

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