Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Stopping the music

I'm not sure I mentioned this in the last post, but a Stradivarius was stolen here a couple of nights ago.

The concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra has a Strad on more or less permanent loan from a collector. He's been playing it for years. While leaving a performance at a local college, he was approached by a couple, tasered, and the instrument stolen. The case and his (also stolen) ipad were dumped by the thieves and recovered elsewhere.

As a violinist, the news made me physically sick. There are so few of these wonderful violins left. The FBI seems certain that it was the sole target of the theft, with the idea of selling it (value ranges from $3.5 to $6 million depending on which story you read) to a collector.

Better in a collection than destroyed, I guess. But whoever purchases it certainly cannot play it in public, nor loan it out as the real owner has done. What is the value if the violin sits in a secret room, just so the "owner" can gloat over his acquisition? The true worth of the instrument is the sound it produces in skilled hands.

If I'm heartbroken about the theft, I cannot imagine what Mr. Almond is feeling. While I'm sure he will secure another top flight instrument to use, learning a new violin is like, to continue his own simile, learning to drive a new car.

But as they say, they don't make them like they used to.

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