Born in Naples in 1876, Armando Altavilla was a notable product of the school of violin making in the city dominanted by the Gagliano family. He himself was a pupil of the comparatively little-known Francesco Verzella (1864-1922) who trained with Antonio Gagniano ll (d.1860). Often given Gagliagno labels, his instruments deliberately recreate the style and mannerisms of earlier Neapolitan work, with a slightly coarse finish and a hard clear varnish of golden yellow to orange shades. He worked until 1956 at least, and died in about 1968. Very prolific, his cellos are particularly successful, and he produced a good number of violas of good size.
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