The life of many of the Stradivarius violins is accompanied by stories of all kinds, romanticism, fires, floods, wars...
In the film “The Red Violin”, directed by Francois Girard, we attend one of those stories, in this case fiction, but to which nothing has to envy some of the real situations, such as the story of the Gibson. This violin, built in 1713, was stolen from its owner, Bronislaw Huberman, twice. The first, in 1919, in a hotel in Vienna. The last time was in 1936, in his Carnegie Hall dressing room while he was on stage playing with his Guarnerius. Fifty years later, in 1987, Marcelle Hall, widow of a violinist, Julian Altman, went to Lloyd's in London to say he had the violin stolen from Huberman. Altman, who in his good days was a member of the Washington Symphony Orchestra but later turned to playing for cafes and cabarets, and whose life degenerated to death in prison, he confessed to his wife, shortly before his death, that the violin with which he had been playing even at social events attended by personalities such as Richard Nixon, he bought it for a hundred dollars from a friend just the day after his robbery.
The insurance company paid the woman 263,475 dollars and the following year she sold the violin to a collector for one million two hundred thousand dollars.
Saved from the waters.
Even more exciting is the story of the “Red Diamond”, built in 1732, famous for the extraordinary brightness that gives it the ruby varnish that Antonio Stradivari applied. In 1953 its owner, Sascha Jacobsen, concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was riding in his car during a storm. He was trapped and the car began to flood. As he could, Jacobsen took his precious violin and left the vehicle. While fighting with the strong current, it escaped from his hands and nothing could prevent it from disappearing floating on the waters.
The next day, a famous lawyer, Frederick H. Sturdy, at that time a friend of Alfred Wallenstein, musical director of the Philharmonic, was walking along a beach and found a violin case on the sand. When he opened it, he recognized Jacobsen's violin. Hans Weisshaar, a famous luthier was commissioned, for nine months, to restore the precious jewel. Jacobsen, later, would tell his friends that the “Red Diamond” sounded better than ever. After the death of its owner in 1971, the violin was sold for $67,600 and later again auctioned by Sotheby's in 1985 with a starting price of one million dollars.
Another very recent anecdote, this time on a cello Stradivarius built in 1673, took place in New York in May 2001. Lynn Harrell, an excellent performer who has performed with the philharmonics of Berlin, Vienna and New York, left her cello valued at four millions of dollars in a taxi. Mohamed Ibrahim, the taxi driver of Muslim origin, returned to Harrell's house and left his phone number to the concierge. “I love this city”, said Harrell after meeting up with his precious treasure. “Although there is a lot of talk about theft and crime, this city has a heart”.
Stradivarius are instruments with proper name.
All Stradivarius has a name of their own. Here are some of them, with the year of their construction.
“Harrison” 1693, “The Lark” 1698, “Lord Borwick” 1702, “Toscano” 1690, “Hercules” and “Betts” 1704, “Lady Blount” 1721, “Falk”, “Joachim “, “Mac Cormac” and “Emiliani”, the four of 1723, “Davidoff” 1727, “Lyall “ 1702, “Soil” 1714, “Baumgartner“1689, “Bailott- Pomerau” 1694, “Colossus” 1716, “Dushkin” 1701 and “King Maximilian” and ''Mendelssohn‘' 1709.
Mendelssohn was the instrument that appeared in the movie 'The Red Violin'.