News / Arts & Entertainment

Sale of Rare Stradivari Viola Could Set World Auction Record

Violist David Aaron Carpenter of the U.S. holds the 'Macdonald' Viola by Antonio Stradivari, made in 1719, at Sotheby's gallery in New York, March 27, 2014.
Violist David Aaron Carpenter of the U.S. holds the 'Macdonald' Viola by Antonio Stradivari, made in 1719, at Sotheby's gallery in New York, March 27, 2014.
Reuters
A rare Stradivari viola, considered to be one of the finest in existence, is expected to fetch more than $45 million in a sealed bids sale this spring, which would set a world record for the most expensive musical instrument ever sold.

The 'MacDonald' Viola, made by the famed Italian artisan Antonio Stradivari in 1719, is the first to be on the market in 50 years, according to Sotheby's auction house. It is also one of only two Stradivari violas still privately owned. The other is held in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

"Stradivari is the greatest violin maker of all time," said Tim Ingles, director of the London-based fine instruments auction house Ingles & Hayday, which is conducting the sale with Sotheby's.

"The amazing thing about violas is that there is such a small number of them in existence - only 10 complete violas today, so there is a huge rarity factor," he added in an interview with Reuters.

Because of the caliber and status of the instrument, a sealed bid sale with a minimum bid of $45 million was decided as the best way to combine the exclusive feel of a private sale with the excitement of an auction. The highest bidder will be announced on June 25.

The world auction price for a musical instrument is $15.9 million, which was set in an online auction in June 2011 for the 'Lady Blunt' Stradivari violin of 1721.

Holy Grail for Music Instrument Collectors

Stradivari instruments, with their rich, deep sounds, sell for millions of dollars and have been beloved by legendary musicians for centuries.

Born in Cremona, Italy in 1644, Stradivari had an extraordinary 70-year career. In addition to violins and violas, he also made lutes, mandolins, guitars and harps before dying in 1737 at the age of 93.

"The finest of all Stradivari violas is generally agreed to be the 'Macdonald' of 1719," said Ingles. "A Stradivari viola has always been, I suppose, the holy grail for a collector of musical instruments."

The 'Macdonald' was also made during what is considered to be Stradivari's Golden Period between 1700-1720 and is immaculately preserved. Its value had been further enhanced by renowned 19th century violinist Niccolo Paganini, who put together string quartets of Stradivari instruments consisting of two violins, a viola and a cello.

"As the violas have gradually disappeared over the last 100 years into foundations and public collections and the number of Stradivari violas held in private hands decreased it has become increasing difficult for anyone to form a quartet," Ingles explained.

The viola's front is made of alpine spruce, while the back is a single piece of maple. Its coating of Stradivari's famous varnish, thought by some experts to contribute to his instruments' sound, is undamaged.

"Stradivari was really a genius of design but there are a number of factors which influence the sound of an instrument.

The shape, the thickness of the plates, the archings of the instrument. These are all things that Stradivari spent decades perfecting," said Ingles.

The viola is being sold by the family of Peter Schidlof of the famed Amadeus Quarter, who bought it in 1964. It is called the 'Macdonald' because it was purchased in the 1820s by Godfrey Bosville, the 3rd Baron Macdonald.

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the latest edition of "Beyond Category" blues singer and guitarist Corey Harris performs with his band and talks about his travels in West Africa tracing the roots of the blues.