Vittorio Salvi was the youngest child of Rodolfo Salvi and Apollonia Paoliello. His family arrived from Venice, Italy to the United States in 1909, settling in Chicago, Illinois where Victor Salvi was born March 4, 1920. Apollonia, Rudolfo's second wife, was the granddaughter of Vincenzo Bellizia, a well known harp maker from Regno delle Due Sicilie, one of the largest states of Italy before Italian unification. Victor had a half-brother, Alberto, two sisters Livia and Aida and a brother, Giovanni.

Salvi's early career as a harpist included working as a soloist with conductor Paul Schreiber's St. Louis Sinfonietta Orchestra, playing in Gian Carlo Menotti's New York operatic run of The Consul and The Saint of Bleecker Street, as well as with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos, and the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini. Salvi also played under other acclaimed conductors such as Bruno Walter, Leopold Stokowski, and George Szell. Salvi recorded Debussy La Mer with the NBC Symphony Orchestra in 1950, produced by RCA.

While in Chicago Salvi taught himself harp repair and set up a workshop. And, once professionally established in New York, Salvi opened another harp workshop where he built his first instrument - a small orchestral model.

Several years into his professional harp career, Victor Salvi decided to immigrate to Italy and focus on building harps. There, in 1955, he founded Salvi Harps in Genoa, Italy later moving the factory in 1974 to its current home in Piasco, Italy. In 1969, Salvi opened two shops, one for harp distribution and repairs in Covent Garden, London, named Holywell Music, and a factory in Sainte Croix, Switzerland called Les Arts Mecaniques for the construction and mechanical aspects of harp building.

In June 1987, on behalf of Les Arts Mecaniques, Salvi purchased Lyon & Healy Harps ending more than a decade of continued ownership changes for the Chicago-based company. Victor Salvi recognized that this 'marriage' between Salvi Harps and Lyon & Healy made the most sensible growth solution for both companies with "each helping the other out to make one complete and strong whole".  Salvi also understood the importance of having each company continue making fine quality instruments specific to their own particular style and sound.

Salvi continually commissioned many works for the harp and sponsored several harp competitions, nationally and internationally throughout his lifetime. He encouraged promising young harpists with sponsored concerts and helped to create Egan Records, which specialized in recorded performances from some of the world's most talented harpists. In 2005, Salvi funded the building of a concert hall on the top floor of the Lyon & Healy factory. And in 2006, inspired by Victor Salvi's immense collection of historical harps, The Museo dell’Arpa Victor Salvi was founded, the first and only museum in the world entirely dedicated to the harp.

Victor Salvi died May 10, 2015. Throughout his lifetime, he was extensively involved with the Salvi factory, always finding new ways to execute and refine the sound and mechanics of the harp.

Salvi was a talented musician, harpist, harp maker and philanthropist with an incredible business sense and relish for life who dedicated himself completely to the promotion of the harp.  He will long be remembered through his legacy of the Salvi Harps factory and Museo dell'Arpa in Piasco, as well as his many philanthropic pursuits which continue by means of the Victor Salvi Foundation run by his wife, Julia. And most importantly, through the many harpists world-wide who play his magnificent instruments.