Cremona is a city and comune in northern Italy, situated in Lombardy, on the left bank of the Po River in the middle of the Pianura Padana (Po valley). It is the capital of the province of Cremona and the seat of the local City and Province governments.
The city of Cremona is especially noted for its musical history and traditions, including some of the earliest and most renowned luthiers, such as Guarneri and Stradivari and several members of the Amati family.
Cremona has a distinguished musical history. The 12th century cathedral was probably the focus of organized musical activity in the region in the late Middle Ages. By the 16th century the town had become a famous musical centre. Nowadays there are important ensembles for Renaissance and Baroque music, i.e. Choir & Consort Costanzo Porta, and festivals which maintain Cremona as one of the most important towns in Italy for music. Composer Marc'Antonio Ingegneri taught there; Claudio Monteverdi was his most famous student, before leaving for Mantua in 1591. It was also the birthplace of Pierre-Francisque Caroubel, a collaborator with noted German composer Michael Praetorius. The bishop of Cremona, Nicolò Sfondrati, a fervent supporter of the Counter-Reformation, became Pope Gregory XIV in 1590. Since he was an equally fervent patron of music, the renown of the town as a musical destination grew accordingly.
From the 16th century onwards, Cremona was renowned as a centre of musical instrument manufacture, beginning with the violins of the Amati family, and later included the products of the Guarneri and Stradivari shops. To the present day, their work is widely considered to be the summit of achievement in string instrument making. Today Cremona is still renowned for producing high-quality instruments.
Cremona had a band tradition linked to the Guardia nazionale founded under Napoleonic influence. In 1864, native son, Amilcare Ponchielli, became its leader and created what might be considered one of the greatest bands of all time. In his role as capobanda, Ponchielli founded a band school and a tradition that waned only at the onset of World War I.