This is an extract from the second part of Terry Borman’s detailed examination of the ‘Vieuxtemps’ Guarneri ‘Del Gesù’, with contributions from experts in the latest technologies, investigating acoustics, dendrochronology, varnish analysis and plate thicknesses. Download the June issue on desktop computer, via the The Strad App, or buy the print edition
Two months before his death in June 1881, Henri Vieuxtemps was considering selling his beloved 1741 Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ violin. He was no longer able to play, having suffered a stroke, and in a letter dated 9 April 1881 he told his friend, cellist Joseph Van der Heyden, that the instrument would ‘cost the buyer a lot, but it will be well worth it because this violin is a unique pearl’.
In early January 2013 the world found out how prescient his comment was, as the newspapers were flooded with reports about the violin’s sale to an anonymous buyer for an undisclosed sum – stating only that it was in excess of $16 million (£9.8 million).
That made it, at the time and still five years later, the most expensive violin in the world. The news also stated that it was to be a lifetime loan to the US violinist Anne Akiko Meyers.
Read the full excerpt here.
Watch: Anne Akiko Meyers plays Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso on the ‘Vieuxtemps’ Guarneri