Back in the 17th century, when violin making in Italy was mainly concentrated in northern cities like Brescia and Cremona, a new school was born down south in the city of Naples and got formed through the work of the multiple generations of the Gagliano family. In the second half of the 1600s, Alessandro Gagliano led off the beginning of one of the most productive and unusually long violin-making family traditions in Italy. Historians and biographers believe that he, traveling north to Cremona, learned from the great masters of that time, such as Nicoló Amati and Antonio Stradivari. Alessandro would not only have learned the craft itself but how to select wood for both acoustics and aesthetics purposes, highlights of the family instruments, and the trade business too. For over 200 years and 5 generations, the Gagliano family dominated the Neapolitan market of bowed stringed instruments. Alessandro himself worked until the age of 90, enough time to train and pass his knowledge to his sons, and they to theirs, and so on.
From all the family members, Ferdinando Gagliano is believed to be the most productive member of the 3rd generation of the family. It was in this period, through the second half of the 1700s, that the family consolidated its style and matured its approach into what is defined until today as the Neapolitan School of violin making. Ferdinando, along with his brothers, was trained in one of the world’s finest violin-making workshops. But unlike his brothers, Ferdinando does not seem to have learned his craft from his father, Nicolò. In fact, the influence of his uncle Gennaro in his style, models, and fine details is undeniable. All leads to believe that he pursued, as much as possible, a solo career, with some independence of the family business, eventually coworking with his brothers.