Antonio Stradivari (1644—1737) was a perfectionist whose single-minded pursuit of excellence changed the world of music. In the course of his long career in the northern Italian city of Cremona, he created more than a thousand stringed instruments; approximately six hundred survive, their quality unequalled by any subsequent violin-maker. In this fascinating book, Toby Faber traces the rich, multilayered stories of six of these peerless creations–five violins and a cello–and the one towering artist who brought them into being. Blending history, biography, meticulous detective work, and an abiding passion for music, Faber takes us from the salons of Vienna to the concert halls of New York, and from the breakthroughs of Beethoven’s last quartets to the first phonographic recordings. This magnificent narrative invites us to share the life, the intrigue, and the incomparable beauty of the world’s most marvelous stringed instruments.