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Ex-Vieutemps del gesu---The best


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Thanks for the email I received to repost. There are some kind hearted and wise people in Europe that I had no idea. Thanks.  


Jacoby, I have a client not 173 miles from your shop that commissoned two of my violins a couple years ago. There will be a day when I might need your help and I couldn't imagine anyone more trustworthy than you. I have a spreadsheet I updated a month ago and put your name and phone number in there for A. Cavallo Violins should my client have any needs.


Yes the 1741 Vieuxtemps Stoutzker is the Mona Lisa of violins.


To an outsiders perspective this is hard to understand because many do not reach the heights of playing as a master violinist. The feeling of the bow under the fingers and the snap of 32nd notes in quick passages where the violin must respond quickly or having a violin that will fill the hall with sound. And an instrument that sounds deep and projecting from the G string and lyrical well past 10th position without getting crunchy on double stops. Finding an instrument that has all these small details is difficult.


When driving your career with an instrument such as Heifetz, Ysaye, Meyers, Zuckerman, Pearlman, Ostrakh, Szeryng, Ehnes, Bell, up and coming musicians... the list is endless.... you have demands that must be met perfectly. Having a violin like the 1741 Vieuxtemps in your hands is historic and important. 

That said the instrument is useless until the trained musician picks it up.  A Monet is worthless in a vault at $200,000,000 until you crack open the door and shine light on it and hang it in a gallery to be seen. The 1741 Vieuxtemps Stoutzker finally is out of the vaults at J & A Beares and I'm glad its finally in the hands of Anne Akiko Meyers who has an incredible vast skill and talent and the instrument will be heard and presented for a lifetime of music properly.


Its no wonder the boys at J & A Beares decided it was time to relax and step down. That made sense when I got the email with the photo of Anne holding the Vieuxtemps. There will come a day when 20 million for a cremonese violin will sound cheap and wont be scoffed at probably in 25 years. I dont see that as being a problem.


The nonsense that some musicians feel an instrument that sits in a vault looses its tone in my personal opinion is quite wrong. Bring them out and set them up and wipe the grin off your faces as and hand them over to smiling musicians and just let them play. There is no harm in them sitting in a vault. If there was harm done nearly all the fine cremonese violins by now would sound awful.

Listening to some clips of the 1741 Vieuxtemps Stoutzker, it seems that this instrument has not suffered at all. It sounds fantastic! Find another instrument that can preform for sound like this and tell me it is not the Mona Lisa of violins. These few Del Gesus of the period are exciting and dramatic and fun. To the ear in a concert hall you are hearing a soundscape that is unique. Compared to the 1742 Dushkin played by Pinchas Zuckerman - its less fuzzy sounding and more clear. Listen to Rachel Barton Pine play the Ex Soldat with the longer F-holes -  the Vieuxtemps is less nasal in comparison.  Its a step ahead.  The clarity of the 1741 Vieuxtemps above 10th position does not choke as easily as the other Del Gesus in double stops in recordings I hear with multiple musicians. I can keep going on and on comparing many more musicians who play fine excellent violins all of which are world class musicians.

I crack up everytime I see the video of Josh Bell playing the
Vieuxtemps and going through the Ysaye Sonata No 2. and he gets all
sweaty and into it. (lol yankee doodle) Like a kid in a candy store with
that violin. That should say something about how it feels to play the


There are small auditory details that I listen to consistently at my bench while I work and make notes of that can be heard in these recordings or in person in the concert hall that might be related to the musician struggling with the instrument in their hands or the bow they are using. Zanjia is very correct in saying that 10% instrument 90% musician. However the above I am speaking of is that final top 1% cream of the crop that is the top 4 or 5 violins in the world. In my opinion the 1741 Vieuxtemps outshines in all areas.


After the email I received from London early this morning just to simply describe myself as it might finally make better sense to the rest of the world who dont know me well enough. I don't know how to describe it well but I'm one of the few people that sees sound in color? You might find some musicians who can describe this to you. Certain tone or frequency of sound has color and shape mentally to me.   I play an instrument a viola violin or cello and draw mental pictures of the sound scape which is great for being able to adjust instruments. So going to the symphony is an auditory adventure in 3D especially when you are used to hearing just one instrument at a time 


Putting that in perspective when you listen to the 1741 Vieuxtemps that instrument is wild. It is a strong and deep instrument with endless possible color and textures depending on how the musician wants to push it. Listening to other instruments which my sound library is pretty extensive - I don't find one other instrument quite like this one when I listen to it. I have yet to measure the frequency response of recordings compared to other instruments to see what comes up.  Just drawing a mental picture of the sound is not enough. We should test the sound scientifically in future recordings later down the road.

Some are jealous that Anne Akiko Meyers now has 3 violins to choose from but from a listener perspective its earcandy. You have your Vieuxtemps to listen to but now you also have possibilities with the Molitor and Royal Spanish for certain pieces of music where they might fit better. Perhaps certain pieces something needs a more lyrical strad like sound and the Molitor is perfect for the piece. What if we need a warm even comfortable instrument for a trio - BRING out the Royal Spanish please... But for heaven sakes if we are attempting the Elgar Violin Concerto I want to be sliced and diced with the sound of the 1741 Vieuxtemps. (Pinchas might have a run for his money if Anne ever battles Elgar on this violin) - Btw holy hell what a treat to have been at Carnagie Hall to hear Barber.

Some history background for our Vieuxtemps.

1741 Guarneri Del Gesu only made eight violins that we know of according to the 1931 Hill book. Seems that year was slower as 1742 picked up to 13 violins. (some possible violas and cellos might not be accounted for - Del Gesu who was your real teacher?)

Count cozio thought the Vieuxtemps was too high in the ribs and sounded small in tone when he had the violin. Which THANKFULLY the violin was left alone and not thinned out and survived a scraper when it landed in Yehudi Menuhin's hands as he compared it better than the 1714 Soil Strad.  Ysaye had this violin on loan. And Phillip Newman played the Vieuxtemps to Ysaye the night he died at his bedside.

There is every reason in the world to respect and get excited about these world class instruments for a good and healthy reason. They are world treasures steeped in history. There will be a day some 30 years from now when the experts today are no longer around which will leave a small few people to know and understand and care for these instruments. How one couldn't wax poetic about a historical violin such as the 1741 Vieuxtemps Stoutzker when so much music we know today was composed and preformed on this very instrument. 

In closing. The instrument is excellent - has a worthy player, and is more than worth the money spent. I look forward to hearing more of this instrument in the future.

I'll be stepping back from maestronet as I have quite a bit on my plate with working on reducing my wait list as well as investigating more about some non-profit work similar to Dextra Musica - I would love nothing more than to see more musicians in the USA not have to worry about astronomical prices on fine instruments and be able to support budding musicians in their endeavours.


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Martin, you are behind the times on Scarampella (or hitting the wrong currency button - I saw one in Cremona last year for that much in euros), but really really be careful with them, they are far too copyable, and have been! kind of the Rembrandt of the violin workd as far as attribution problems go. Having said that a good old Italian-looking fake of a Scarampella could well come up at auction inside Zanjia's budget and be a really good buy if age and model trump over attribution. Still a difficult one though.

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Kochie, I think you might have thought I was attacking you(?). I was saying: I think you might have missed your calling, as a writer, and only in good humor for your passion. I didn't think to imply that you should be doing something other than making violins, or that your points aren't valid!

I hope to see you, and not just your instruments, man.

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I agree with you in everyway. I admit my jealousy, but as a musician, I rejoice, since its better that an experienced musician handles it, rather than some fool of a bank CEO who might damage the instrument. I just hope that other musicians will have a chance to play that violin. I myself have a goal to one day play the Vieuxtemps at a concert hall. The thing I fear is that the person might become more stingy, and give other people chance to utilize the violin. I do not mean that Anne is a miser, but I just hope that others will have a good opportunity.


I do say in some ways it is a pity that there is only one violin as great as the Vieuxtemps, but I that gives a goal. And I encourage and hope that one day luthiers will rediscover the totality of the great Cremonese varnish. All I say is good luck Anne!


Its just sad that Il-Canone is not permanently in the hands of a soloist. Same thing for the Ex-David.

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To avoid confusion:


The violin in the video, and under discussion, is definitely the Guarneri listed as the "Vieuxtemps" in the Biddulph book, according to the picture on the video shown in post #2.  I would like to know why the "Stouker" name is being mentioned, and why the violin has become the "ex-Vieuxtemps."  I asked the question regarding the use of "ex" once before a few months ago and didn't get an answer.  I have always been led to believe that "ex" is used when the owner whose name the violin carries parts with the violin while alive.  Maybe there are other reasons.  Let me know.


edit:  I see on Strad Mag site that "Stouker" is Ian Stoutzker, English banker and now next to last owner.   

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Will, you can't avoid confusion. Vieuxtemps had two from the same year: both very prominent fiddles

Ian Stoutzker was the last owner of the one now being used by Akiko Meyers and is dated 1741 with a genuine label.

The second was sold by Sotheby's in a private sale about five years ago to a Russian Oligarch Maxim Victorov for what was then the highest price for a violin sold (through private sale) by any auction house, and was a major gambit in their promotion as a private sales venue. This is also accept as beng 1741 stylistically, though the label is for 1743. So it must have sold for more than The Lord Wilton, but...

In all, Vieuxtemps owned six del Gesu's and the same number of Strads as well as other things. Makes owning an additional two Strads seem perfectly modest. Does that make things any clearer?

I don't like ex- either. I don't think it makes sense and is cumbersome and redundant. It may have made sense when a lot more of the principal Stradivari's and del Gesu's had names that didn't relate to an owner: Sleeping Beauty, Red Criss Knight, Canone, and circle etc are obvious, but the Da Vinci, Michelange, Titian might be confusing when listed against the Vieuxtemps, Alard, Wilmotte... But that's all in the past and a bit silly. You see a lot more of these names on 19th century certificates, and for some reason they were dropped later on - perhaps to deliberately obfuscate provenance. To be blunt though, I think the habit of adding the names of money-men to the formal name of a violin is a bit tragic, and likewise even the name of good, but not that good players who are lucky to find money men. Great figures in history, great musicians, for sure, and then perhaps acknowledging the sentimentalism of retaining archaic nineteenth century names from a different time in history.... All just a bit of silly fun mostly, although its nice to know there's a Strad out there with your great - great- grandmother's name on it!

I heard once upon a time that Karl Rove of the quick boats scandal has a Strad and an Amati behind glass... Do you Americans out there think there will be a market for the ex-Karl Rove?

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LOL.  Bravo Ben.  Poor ol' Walter:  The "Dolphin" would be "Jonah's Whale," the Cannone would be the "Nuclear Deterrence,"  the "Soil" would be the "Pure Dirt," and the "Lubbock" would be the "Amarillo." (The last, a Texas joke)


I'm beginning to suspect there is nothing set in stone.  Whatever gives a violin the greatest cachet will be done.  If I were the new owner, I wouldn't mention Stoutzker at all.  I'd continue to call it the "Vieuxtemps," and worry about any confusion with the Russian oligarch's violin only if necessary. 


Heifetz owned the "Dolphin," but his name isn't attached.  He owned the "Piel," and I believe that was the one sold in the early 70s as the "Ex-Heifetz.  (Note that this violin was never known as the "Heifetz"; no new owner put his name on it, causing it to became an "ex-Heifetz.")   And it isn't the "Heifetz-ex-Piel," either.  Doring lists it as:  Heifetz, Piel 


So, apparently, I am the only person in the world who was taught back in the last century that "ex" = sold while still alive, or exchanged for a preferred violin? 

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Its just sad that Il-Canone is not permanently in the hands of a soloist. Same thing for the Ex-David.

The Cannone like the Messiah and a very small number of particularly important instruments that have miraculously come down to the present day in exceptional condition and that should remain that way will only be possible if they are permanently kept out of the hands of a soloist with consequent continuous playing. If the Messiah had been played on continuously from Vuillaumes time until today it would be unrecognisable and miles from being the pristine example of one of the greatest violin makers of all time. The Cannone would also be hugely different.

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So, apparently, I am the only person in the world who was taught back in the last century that "ex" = sold while still alive, or exchanged for a preferred violin? 

Yes, I like this as a basis for sobriquet. Having it applied consistently could be difficult.

My favorite is still the 1744 del Gesu given as the "Terminator" - (or more meekly as the Edith Lorand or Columbus) 

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