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Classical 101

The World's Most Expensive Violin Plays Again

The word collectibles is tossed around a lot these days.  If an item has the collectible tag hung on it, hang on to your wallet! There are television programs dedicated to finding collectibles at garage sales, flea markets, in old barns and abandoned storage units.  Best-known to fans of Public Broadcasting is, of course, Antiques Roadshow. Then there are the "collectibles" which are right there in plain site.  I discovered just how protective the owners/users of these items can be when preparing to interview Hilary Hahn.  "Would you like me to put your violin over here out of the way?" I asked.  "Thanks, but I can keep it right here," she replied.  What a silly question THAT was!  She was very nice about it, but was obvious that they would never find my fingerprints on that violin case. When we have had musicians in our home, there is a space just inside our door where you can nicely fit a cello, maybe a violin and viola, and possibly a clarinet or two.  Out of the way, but in full view of the owners.  You can't blame them.  Musicians spends their lives not only perfecting their skills, but getting their instrument adjusted to fit them.  When some damage has to be repaired, it can be a tough situation. Heck, most of us have difficulty getting used to a rental car. Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers recently went through that adjustment, but for all the right reasons.  Earlier this year, an undisclosed buyer purchased the Guarnerius del Jesu violin, once owned by Henri Vieuxtemps, for an undisclosed sum.  The auction house would only say that it was a record amount.  The previous record was for the ‘Lady Blunt’ Stradivarius, sold two years ago for $14.2 million, plus house commission. Meyers says what makes this violin really special, beyond it's pedigree, is that it has had no cracks that needed repairing.  Somehow, it has passed from hand-to-hand without damage. The new owner has done a great service, not just to music lovers everywhere, but to the instrument, as well.  Until it was presented to Anne Akiko Meyers earlier this year, the violin had sat silent for 50 years.  As you know, these instruments need to be played and need to be heard.  It's good to know the Vieuxtemps Guarnarius is silent no more. Watch Anne Akiko Meyers speak with Cathy Fuller on WGBH in Boston http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=HD3u5YWdWLw