Rovati Violoncello

Rovati Violoncello

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This violoncello was made Luigi Rovatti in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1915. It is made of a two-piece table of spruce, two-piece back of maple with even fine descending figure, ribs of similar maple, mildly figured maple neck, pegbox and scroll; golden orange-brown varnish. The instrument has an original printed and handwritten label:

Luigi Rovattia
Ennio Bolognini
fece in Buenos-Ayres anno 1915
Calle Amambar. p. 232

(and a handwritten inscription):

Te Niglior
Violoncello del
mondo. Il mio
padrone e
Ennio Bolognini.
Cuando Studia
e mi suona bene

[”Best Violoncello of the world for my friend Ennio Bolognini.

When (one) studies, I sound good.”]

This instrument was made expressly for the cellist Ennio Bolognini (b. November 7, 1893, Buenos Aires; d. July 31, 1979, Las Vegas). Bolognini was raised in a musical family and subsequently received his early training under José García, teacher of Pablo Casals, at the St. Cecilia Conservatory in Buenos Aires. His talent attracted the attention and friendship of highly regarded musicians such as Jasha Heifetz, Valdimir Horowitz, Victor Herbert and Maurice Ravel. During his years in Buenos Aires he shared an apartment with Arthur Rubenstein and Andrés Segovia. Ennio's father was a close friend of Arturo Toscanini, who became Ennio's godfather.

Ennio Bolognini became an American citizen in 1929 and pursued a career with symphony orchestras in Philadelphia, Chicago, Hollywood and Las Vegas. In addition to his remarkable talent as a cellist, he was a conductor and composer, writing six pieces in the style of flamenco guitar for the exclusive performance use of the American cellist, Christine Walewska. Beyond his musical accomplishments Bolognini was a South American boxing champion and licensed airplane pilot, and he is remembered by many colleagues for his unpredictable behavior both inside and outside the concert hall.

Ennio Bolognini collected autographs of prominent 20th century musicians, composers, conductors, actors and sports figures. They are written in ink on the table and ribs of this cello.

Among the most easily legible signatures are on the left (bass) side of the instrument. Signatures on the upper bass side of the cello include:

Remo Bolognini (1929-1973), violinist, brother of Ennio Bolognini

Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962), Austrian-American violinist and composer

Dmitri Mitropoulos (1896-1960), Greek-American pianist and conductor who led the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (1937-1949) and the New York Philharmonic (1951-7)

Andrés Segovia (1893-1987), father of the modern classical guitar movement

Joseph Szigeti (1892-1973), Hungarian-American violinist

José Ferrer (1912-1992), the first Latino (Puerto Rican) actor to win an Academy Award

Bruno Walter (1876-1962), German-born conductor of many famous American orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the NBC Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Columbia Symphony Orchestra

Richard Crooks (1900-1972) American tenor, a leading singer at the New York Metropolitan Opera
G[iovanni] Martinelli, (1885-1969), Italian-American tenor, also a leading singer at the New York Metropolitan Opera

János Starker (b. 1924), Hungarian-American cellist and teacher

Eugene Ormandy (1899-1985), Hungarian-American violinist and conductor who led the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (1931-1936), and the Philadelphia Orchestra (1936-1980)

Richard Tucker (1913-1975), a leading American operatic tenor of the post-war era

Stephen Kates (1944-2003), American cellist, and the last person to sign Bolognini’s cello

Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Bolognini, Ennio
Rovatti, Luigi
place made
Argentina: Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires
Physical Description
spruce (overall material)
maple (overall material)
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Dorothy B. Bolognini in memory of Maestro Ennio Bolognini
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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