Friday, July 21, 2006
A Stradivarius (or "Strad") is a stringed instrument built by members of the Stradivari family, especially by Antonio Stradivari.
The playable instruments are highly prized by world-class musicians, and others who can afford them. Their individual qualities are considered worth distinguishing, and a Strad is often identified by the name of someone (often a famous musician) who formerly owned it, or regularly performed on it.
A Stradivarius made in the 1680s or during Stradivari's Brescian period (1690-1700) could be worth several hundred thousand dollars or more at today's prices in auction. If it was made during Stradivari's "golden period" (1700 to 1720), depending on condition, the instrument can be worth several million. They rarely come up for sale and the highest price paid for a Stradivarius at public auction was 'The Lady Tennant', made in 1699 which sold for US$2,032,000 in 2005. Private sales of Stradivari instruments have exceeded this price.
The world's only complete set of Stradivarius instruments (string quintet) belongs to the Spanish Government and consists of two violins, two cellos, and a viola. They are exhibited in the Music Museum at the Royal Palace (Palacio Real) of Madrid.
Another important collection is the collection of the Royal Academy of Music (York Gate Collections) in London.
Many people find violins labeled or branded as "Stradivarius," and believe them to be genuine. It is believed that there are fewer than 700 genuine Strads left in existence, very few of which are unaccounted for.
These instruments are famous for the quality of their sound and there have been many attempts to reproduce the sound quality. Recent studies indicate that Antonio Stradivari may have used wood from an old cathedral for its construction which might be a reason for its sound quality.
The Stradivarius Trademark
One of the current owners of a Stradivarius named Soil is famed violinist Itzhak Perlman. Another Stradivarius violin named Benny was bequeathed to the Los Angeles Philharmonic by Jack Benny.
Aside from violins. Antonio Stradivari made 13 violas, 70-80 cellos and there are two complete guitars and parts from other guitars. Both guitars are 10 course (10 strings) which was normal for the time period. There is one harp that he made as well.