Thanks to recent research by Philip Kass and Andrea Zanrè, we know that Tommaso Balestrieri was born in a small agricultural village south of Piacenza in 1713. As a young man, Balestrieri moved to Mantua where he was first employed as a personal valet.
Although there is no evidence that Balestrieri trained with his Mantuan predecessor, Camillo Camilli, Balestrieri was strongly influenced by the older violin maker, who probably introduced him to the instrument-making profession.
About the time that Camilli died, in 1754, Balestrieri became a full-time violin maker. His violins developed from the Camilli style to one that was strongly influenced by a late Stradivari model.
This violin dated 1759 is transitional and retains some features of the early work while foreshadowing the rustic, late style. It has a husky and bold sound that is, in fact, quite refined.