Expensive Instruments

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MUSICIANS PRICED OUT: Old rare violins have escalated in price so as to be all but unaffordable for musicians. "With even the biggest private collectors, let alone performers, finding it hard to keep up, the great Italian fiddles seem destined for public or institutional ownership, like the great Italian paintings before them." The New York Times 02/11/01 (one-time registration required for access)

BETTER NOT DROP IT: Sixteen investors have joined forces to purchase violinist Robert McDuffie the instrument of his dreams: a 1735 $3.5 million Guarneri del Gesù violin known as the Ladenburg (whose past players include Paganini). The partners are leasing the instrument to McDuffie for 25 years, after which time it will be sold for an expected profit. "The price of rare violins makes it virtually impossible for individuals to afford them. In Europe, the Middle East, and Japan, governments or businesses purchase these instruments and lend them for little or no fee." New York Times 2/06/01 (one-time registration required for access)

PRICED OUT: Young string players are facing an instrument crisis. "In the past 10 years, prices of violins have more than doubled. My generation faces the prospect of never owning a violin without the help of a patron." Philadelphia Inquirer 03/15/01

MAASTRICHT'S OLD MASTERS SHRINKING: The number of Old Master paintings for sale has been dwindling. As a consequence, "although it is known mainly as an Old Masters fair, Maastricht has expanded its other categories in recent times and this year includes some stunning Impressionist and 20th-century pictures." The Telegraph (London) 03/12/01

WOODEN WONDER: When an instrument upstages the performer playing it.  San Francisco Chronicle 10/29/99

PAGANINI'S FAVORITE VIOLIN  - a Guarneri called "the Cannon" - is brought out only for special occasions. This week it got only its second-ever concert in America. San Francisco Examiner 10/28/99 

YO-YO MA LEFT HIS $2.5 MILLION CELLO in a New York City cab last weekend. But he had his receipt for the ride and was able to track down the cabbie and get it back. (Reuters) MSNBC 10/18/99

RECORD PRICE FOR A VIOLIN: Reports that Yehudi Menuhin's Guarneri sold at a Zurich auction this week for $3 million. CBC 11/3/99 

GOVERNMENT ISSUE: Singapore government buys $600,000 Guadignini violin to promote young Singaporean violinists. Violin is loaned for three years to those chosen, with a possible three-year renewal. Singapore Straits Times 01/13/00

FIRST PRIZE - A STRADIVARIUS: The Canada Council selects a crop of young musicians to whom it will lend valuable musical instruments, including a couple of Strads. CBC 09/17/00

PRICE FIDDLING: The trade in string instruments is as much an art as it is commercial transaction. When Gerald Segelman died in 1992 at the age of 93, he left one of the world's great collections of rare stringed instruments, worth between $15 million to $34 million. Eight years later, Segelman's estate claims in a lawsuit that a handful of the world's top violin dealers colluded to plunder the collection, robbing the estate of millions that had been willed to charity. Minneapolis Star-Tribune 02/20/00

MODERN STRADIVARIUS? A biochemist claims he's discovered exactly why violins made in Stradivari's day are so magnificent. And he's begun turning out his own instruments, which have been "bought for as much as $15,000 apiece and reviewed favorably by members of the Cleveland Quartet, Chicago Symphony, and New York Philharmonic. Yehudi Menuhin played one, on loan for 15 years." So why aren't musicians flocking to Joseph Nagyvary's workshop? Discover Magazine 06/00 

THE "CONCEPT CAR" PIANO: "At $250,000 (or £170,000), Yamaha's Disklavier Pro 2000 is not merely the most stylistically radical and technologically advanced piano in the world, it is easily the most expensive, too." Yamaha makes it to celebrate 100 years in the biz. The Sunday Times 07/30/00

DAMAGED INSTRUMENTS: The Dallas Symphony got a rude surprise when they got off their plane for a European tour. Several of the orchestra's instruments had been damaged in the cargo hold of the plane. "The basses had literally come unglued, apparently while stored in the un-air-conditioned cargo hold of an American Airlines Boeing 767 jet during a 3½ hour on-the-ground delay Wednesday night at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport." Dallas Morning News 09/03/00

BOW-MAKERS STRUNG OUT: Violin bow makers are screaming. Since 1800, virtually all violin bows have been made of pernambuco wood from north-east Brazil. "This wood – nothing else, it seems, will do." But there is a proposed ban on the export and use of the wood. "This ban will kill the business. Not only will people be forbidden to make new pernambuco bows: it will also be illegal to tour with them." The Independent 10/29/00

FAKE STRAD? The conservator of musical instruments at the Metropolitan Museum has suggested that the world's most celebrated Stradivarius violin is a fake. "The so-called Messiah, or Le Messie, is housed in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University and estimated to be worth some $20 million. By implication Pollens has cast doubt on the very system of authentication and valuation that currently prevails in the market, a market worth $50 million per year worldwide by some estimates." Forbes 01/10/01


RECORD PRICE FOR A VIOLIN: Reports that Yehudi Menuhin's Guarneri sold at a Zurich auction this week for $3 million. CBC 11/3/99 






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