Top 10 Expensive Violins
Violins are one of the most prominent instruments in the western classical tradition, orchestras, and solo instrumental. They are also a popular choice in folk music such as country, jazz, and bluegrass music. Violin was firstly designed in 1500 by Andrea Amati, more than 500 years ago. It is one of the best instruments with the most soothing sound if played properly. Also, it is one of the most complex instruments, in terms of design as it is made by combining 70 pieces of wood. The violin consists of four strings, that are usually tuned in with the notes G, D, A, E. It is played by drawing a bow across its strings and its bow is made of around 150 to 200 horse hairs or Nylon threads.
You all must be thinking how interesting this instrument is? Well to keep you hooked on it, today we at The Music Cart are going to present you a list of the Top 10 Most Expensive Violins in the World. Also, the world’s most expensive Violin is ‘the Messiah Stradivarius’ which was made by Antonio Stradivari in 1716 and is valued at around $20 million.
So, without further ado let us start with the Top 10 Expensive Violins in the World.
The Messiah Stradivarius
The Messiah Stradivarius was designed by Antonio Stradivari in 1716. Antonio Stradivari is known as one of the best violin makers in the world. He made this instrument during his peak years which has made this instrument the most expensive and valuable Violin in the world. It is also famed because of the fact that it remains in almost the same condition when it was made. The varnish is unworn, the carving is as it is to the day it was made, and the painted edge-work on the scroll remains intact. Although this Violin did go through some minor upgrades in the 19th century. The pegs, bridge, and tailpiece were added and the neck was lengthened.
The Messiah Stradivarius has been mostly a collector piece and has not been played much. Though violin artists Jean-Delphin Alard and Joseph Joachim have played this violin. This Violin has been passed on to many owners. Firstly it was bought by a collector named Cozio di Salabue from one of Antonio’s sons. Currently, it is on display at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England, and remains preserved. The current value of this violin stands around $20 million.
The Vieuxtemps Guarneri
The Vieuxtemps Guarneri is among the most expensive violin in the world. It was built in 1741 by the renowned Italian instrument maker Giuseppe Guarneri. Also, it is one of the last violins built by Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri. The Vieuxtemps Guarneri instrument got its name after its was owned by the most famous Belgian violinist Henri Vieuxtemps in the 19th century. Henri had a very special relationship with this violin and he played it throughout his career. In a letter to his friend in 1881, Henri wrote – ‘this will cost the buyer a lot, but it will be well worth it because this violin is a unique pearl.’ Also, there was a rumor that Henri Vieuxtemps wanted the violin to be buried with him.
The instrument has been later used by Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman. Also, the past owners of the instrument include Sir Isaac Wolfson and Ian Stoutzker. Its new owner anonymously donated this historic violin to violinist Anne Akiko Meyers on loan for the rest of her life. Its current value is around $16 million making it one of the most expensive instruments in the world.
The Lady Blunt
The Lady Blunt is a Stradivarius violin made in 1721 by the renowned Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari. Stradivari was famous for producing Violins, Violas, and Cellos in Cremona Italy. Some of his 600 instruments are still in existence and are in high demand by the world’s great soloists and collectors. Out of those 600 instruments, The Lady Blunt is one of the violins that remains in very good condition. It is still in its original form and varnish still being undisturbed. The instrument was more recently sold to the Nippon Foundation for another record price of $15.9 million, making it the world’s third most expensive violin in the world. All the amount and proceedings went to the upliftment of the victims of the Japanese tsunami and earthquake.
Well why it is named The Lady Blunt? It has an interesting story behind it. It was owned by Anne Blunt the granddaughter of famous English poet Lord Byron. The violin got its name from her. The Lady Blunt is one of the two well-preserved Stradivarius violins that remains in very good condition. The reason they are still in a good condition is that they are often kept as collection pieces by the collectors and are not usually played. They are so unique that they try to store them and preserve them in their original condition.
The Carrodus Guarneri
The Carrodus Guarneri was designed by Giuseppe Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ in 1743. At this time he was at his peak in terms of his imagination and creativity. One year after designing this instrument he tragically died at a young age. The violin is in very good shape and bears the full and original coat of golden–red varnish. The soundholes are of the ‘gothic’ style which can be seen in many of the late ‘del Gesù’ works. It has broad extended wings and a slanting, asymmetrical setting.
The very first owner of this violin is known to be Eller. In the 19th century, Vuillaume sold it to a Scottish dealer Davis Laurie. This violin got its present name when the great English violinist John Carrodus bought this from W.E Hill’s shop and kept it with him until he died. Currently, It has been acquired by the Australian violinist Richard Tognetti, who is also the artistic director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Also, the current value of this violin is around $10 million which pretty much makes it one of the most expensive Violins in the world.
The Ex-Kochanski Guarneri
This fine instrument was created in 1741 and was again designed by Guarneri del Gesu. It is a very well preserved instrument that features a deep red varnish. Also, it is among the best creations of Guarneri’s. If you are thinking from where did it got its name, then it is named after the Polish violinist Paul Kochanski, who owned it for quite a while. Later Aaron Rosand who is an American violinist bought it and used it for around 50 years. Then in 2009, it was sold to a Russian collector and has been kept preserved to this day. Rosand has auctioned this violin at $10 million dollars bringing it in the race of most expensive violin.
Mr. Rosand was one of the popular soloists in his days and he had acquired the ex-Kochanski violin in 1957. Also, it took him around 10 years to pay off the loans for acquiring this expensive and beautiful violin. He had recorded around 36 recordings with this violin and there were many buyers who wanted to buy it from him. The current owner of the Ex-Kochanski Guarneri also said that “I suppose it’ll now be known as the ex-Rosand”. Well, why not? After all Rosand had kept this instrument alive for a very long time.
The Mary Portman Guarneri
The Mary Portman Guarneri Violin was created by Giuseppe Guarneri in 1735. It gets its name from a lady named Mary Isabel Portman who used to reside in London. She was the daughter of a British peer and builder of “The Kranzbach Castle”. It is often assumed that Mary Portman must have been a professional violinist as she owned the Guarneri violin, but she wasn’t. She was learning music from Leipzig, Germany, and was an accomplished amateur. This violin was was under her care during the period of World War I.
Many famous violinists have played the magnificent Mary Portman Guarneri violin. One such is Fritx Kreisler, who is among the finest violinist in history. Yi-Jia Susanne Hou is a famous Canadian violinist who also played the Mary Portman Guarneri violin. She quoted that “the violin has a new mood every day and I play with these and we get along perfectly! Actually, the difference with a Guarneri violin is that it sounds better with more audience, the other violins do not.” At present, the instrument is on loan from the Stradivari Society and is being used by violinist Francisco Fullana. The current value of this violin is $10 million.
The Lord Wilton
The Lord Wilton Guarnerius is one of the most expensive violins in the world that was the creation of Giuseppe Antonio Guarneri. It was made in the city of Cremona in 1742. It is an antique and very valuable violin that is named after Seymour Egerton who was the 4th Earl of Wilton. He was also an associate of Arthur Sullivan and a proud owner of The Lord Wilton Guarnerius Violin.
Sometimes this violin is called as Ex-Yehudi Menuhin, as it was owned and played by the celebrated violinist Yehudi Menuhin from 1978 to 1999. When Yehudi died the instrument was bought by the collector David L. Fulton at a whooping price of $6 million. This instrument still remains in Fulton’s possession. Another great violinist Zlatko Balokovic has also played the instrument from 1952 to 1961.
The La Pucelle Stradivari
The La Pucelle Stradivari was created in 1709 by one of the best violin makers in history Antonio Stradivari. This instrument is also known as The Virgin. Why? Because when Vuillaume who was a violin maker dissembled the instrument for maintenance he found out that the violin has remained untouched since it had left the Stradivari workshop. The excited Vuillaume exclaimed – “C’est comme une pucelle!” which translated to English means – “It’s like a virgin”! Hence got its name as The Virgin.
Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume added some features such as its tailpiece. It was carved with the image of a woman in armor, which was called Joan of Arc, the virgin warrior. Also known as “La Pucelle d’Orléans”. Vuillaume also modified the violin’s carved pegs. Currently, the violin is owned by David. L Fulton is a collector and owns a very good collection of magnificent instruments. It is one of the most expensive violins in the world that has cost around $6 Million.
The Dolphin Stradivari
The Dolphin Stradivarius or Delfino Stradivarius is a violin that was constructed in 1714 by the Italian violin maker Luthier Antonio Stradivari. From 1901 to 1987 Jascha Heifetz owned and played this violin. In the 19th century, the instrument was owned by an instrument dealer in London named George Hart. He is responsible for adding a dolphin to the name of this violin. He found the color and appearance of the Violin to be very similar to that of a dolphin. Hence it was called The Dolphin Stradivari.
Currently, the instrument is being given on loan to violinist Akiko Suwanai from the Nippon Music Foundation. This violin is very delicate and needs a lot of thorough maintenance, like frequent polishes and touch-ups. It is one of the most expensive violins in the world and has a current cost of around $6 Million.
The Ex-Szigeti Stradivari
The Ex-Szigeti Stradivari violin was crafted by Antonio Stradivari in 1724. It is also known by the name ‘Ludwig.’ One of the beautiful things about it is that there is an inscription etched into it that reads “Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis faciebat Anno 1724.”
It is a fine instrument that is known all over the world for its polished sheen and finesse. The Ex-Szigeti Stradivari violin has been played by various violinists over the years. The last it was bought by L- Bank Baden Wurttemberg in 1989. Currently, it is one of the most expensive violins in the world and is priced at around $6 Million.