Milwaukee Musician Acquires Legendary Stradivarius
Lipinski Stradivarius back on stage after almost twenty years
MILWAUKEE, WIS. – The famous Lipinski Stradivarius, out of the public eye for almost 20 years, was recently uncovered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and will now be played by Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Frank Almond. This violin is one of less than 700 surviving instruments made by Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737). Stradivari's instruments are highly prized due to their craftsmanship, historic significance, and acoustic power and clarity.
The Lipinski Stradivarius was constructed in 1715 in Cremona, Italy, during Stradivari's "golden period" between 1700 and 1720. It is named after the celebrated 19th century violinist Karol Lipinski (a student of Nicolo Paganini) who owned the instrument until his death in 1861. The earlier history of the Lipinski is unclear, but Italian violinist/composer Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770) was the first known owner. In 1962, the Lipinski Stradivarius was sold to Richard Anschuetz, a pianist in New York who had spent summers in Milwaukee as a child. Anschuetz purchased it for his wife, the Estonian violinist and child prodigy Evi Liivak, with whom he had performed since the 1940s. The two performed around the world as a duo until the late 1980s, and the violin has not been heard in public since.
"1715 is the absolute epicenter of the best output from the Stradivari atelier," says Stefan Hersh, President of Darnton and Hersh. "While all of Antonio Stradivari's instruments are magnificent, violins built on the master's large pattern like the Lipinski are generally accepted to be among the most heroic sounding of all violins. The Lipinski violin is typical of the most desirable Strads. It is visually striking and tonally exceptional with an absolutely enormous tone combined with elasticity and range of color one only meets with in a great Strad."
In late April 2008, the current owner of the Lipinski Stradivarius (who wishes to remain anonymous) contacted Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Frank Almond via e-mail to advise in an estate appraisal and possible sale. Almond was curious, cognizant that this instrument had "disappeared" quite some time ago, and contacted Hersh. In the meantime, Almond accompanied the owner to a local storage locker to look through documents associated with the instrument, Mr. Anschuetz, and Ms. Liivak. He then met the owner at the M&I Bank vault in Milwaukee to examine the violin, and with the help of Hersh confirmed its authenticity and condition.
"It's impossible to express the gratitude I feel at being able to play this extraordinary violin, especially considering its pedigree," says Almond.
"I'm still astonished at how this story unfolded; a real Red Violin tale, except that it's all true."
After some minor adjustments, the instrument is performance ready, and the owner of the Lipinski Stradivarius has generously loaned the instrument to Almond. It will be premiered during the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra's 50th anniversary season. Almond will perform for the first time with instrument during the MSO's Itzhak Perlman Gala September 18, 2008. In addition, he will perform the Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor May 1 & 2, 2009 with conductor Andreas Delfs and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
Almond will also be using the instrument for the opening concerts of his Frankly Music Series at the intimate Bader Hall of the Wisconsin Conservatory on September 29 and 30, 2008. That program will feature Beethoven Piano Trios with pianist William Wolfram and cellist Darrett Adkins.
In addition to his work with the MSO, Almond will also appear as a chamber musician and soloist in 08-09 in various locations around the US, as well as a Guest Concertmaster for the Seattle Symphony.