Four of the most famous violins ever made – and who owns them now

Stradivari and Guarneri were crafting violins in the 17th and 18th centuries – all of which remain some of the most expensive and valuable in the world. Although some have been lost over the last few hundred years, many are still being played by today's top performers

Published: April 3, 2021 at 2:10 pm

The Lipinski Stradivarius

Tartini wrote his ‘Devil’s Trill’ Sonata for the Lipinski. It’s now played by the Milwaukee Symphony’s leader Frank Almond, from whom it was once stolen in an armed robbery in 2014.

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1734 ‘Hercules’ Stradivarius

The Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe preferred to perform on his Guarneri, leaving his Stradivarius in its case while on stage. Stolen in 1908, it was later found at a Parisian dealer and is now part of the Israel Philharmonic’s collection.

1703 Guarneri ‘Filius Andreae’ Cremona

After he acquired a Stradivarius, Joseph Joachim passed his Guarneri to Felix, the youngest child of friends and collaborators Robert Schumann and Clara Schumann.

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1713 Gibson ex-Huberman Stradivarius

Twice stolen from Polish violinist Bronisław Huberman. In 1919 it was taken from his Vienna hotel room but returned days later. It then went missing from his dressing room in 1936 while he was performing. It was lost for nearly half-a-century, before a certain Julian Altman confessed on his deathbed to having bought the stolen violin for $100. It’s now in the possession of US violinist Joshua Bell.

Authors

Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.

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