"THE COUNTESS STANLEIN" STRAD 'CELLO


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A program has just aired on a cable network series called "Strange Inheritance".  It regards the sale of Bernard Greenhouse's 'cello.  Hopefully everyone who is interested can find it some way.

 

I was a little surprised that the estimated price was ONLY 6+ million; but apparently it went for much more.

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Since fine Strad and del Gesu violins go for double digit millions, it's not surprising that the best of Strad cellos might go for double digit millions.

 

In the 1980s the Beaux Arts Trio, with Greenhouse as cellist, used to play yearly at Indiana University.  Those concerts were among the finest musical experiences I've ever had.  That is a great sounding cello, at least it was in Greenhouse's hands.

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Christopher Reuning sold the cello in a sealed bids sale, according to a nytimes.com article.  I don't know exactly what that means but assume it means that each bidder could offer only one bid and bids would be kept secret.  Bidders would, I assume, not know what others had bid.  So, with your one bid, you probably wanted to place your maximum offer. 

 

The bidding process, the article states, also included the right of the heir to the cello, Greenhouse's daughter, to review the bids and select the one she wanted, which might not necessarily be the highest bid, but, perhaps, the one in which the cello would continue to be played as a concert instrument.

 

I wonder whether the cello might bear Greenhouse's name from now on.

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This instrument was the subject of a small book -- "The Countess of Stanlein Restored:  A History of the Countess of Stanlein Ex Paganini Stradivarius Cello of 1707" by Nicholas Delbanco, published in 2001.  A large part of the book relates the cello's two-year complete restoration by Rene Morel.

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Per the Strad article:

 

‘Countess of Stanlein’ cello was bought by a Montreal arts patron for in excess of $6m. Christopher Reuning, the Boston-based dealer who handled the sale, said the new owner will loan the cello to an 18-year-old Canadian player, Stéphane Tétreault, who is studying at the University of Montreal with Yuli Turovsky

 

http://www.thestrad.com/cpt-latests/stradivari-cello-once-owned-by-bernard-greenhouse-nets-record-sum-at-auction/

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I wonder whether the cello might bear Greenhouse's name from now on.

 

 

Greenhouse, of course, was very famous, both as performer and teacher.  The instrument may be called "Countess of Stanlein" now, but it will forever be linked with Greenhouse, just as the Piatti cello will always be linked to that virtuoso.

 

The program was exceedingly well done, and I only caught it by chance of seeing the ad.  It aired here on FBN.  If you get a chance to see it, it's definitely a don't miss for anyone at all interested in the field.

 

btw, only a couple people know the MSRP, none of them is here reading this.  That said, since it was a sealed bid, and bought out by a billionaire, I wouldn't be surprised if it brought a record sum for a cello (keeping in mind that Yo-Yo's is priceless, and will never, ever be on the market...).  Keep in mind it was NOT a golden period, but if I was a billionaire, and I wanted the instrument, that wouldn't dissuade me! 

 

EDIT: I've also read "The Countess of Stanlein Restored".  A fascinating book in itself, not just because of the intimate look at Rene's life, and the detail with which he restored the instrument.  The author, Nicholas Delbanco, is Greenhouse's son-in-law, who was also in this documentary, along with said daughter.

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Christopher Reuning sold the cello in a sealed bids sale, according to a nytimes.com article.  I don't know exactly what that means but assume it means that each bidder could offer only one bid and bids would be kept secret.  Bidders would, I assume, not know what others had bid.  So, with your one bid, you probably wanted to place your maximum offer. 

 

The bidding process, the article states, also included the right of the heir to the cello, Greenhouse's daughter, to review the bids and select the one she wanted, which might not necessarily be the highest bid, but, perhaps, the one in which the cello would continue to be played as a concert instrument.

 

I wonder whether the cello might bear Greenhouse's name from now on.

 

One element of the sealed bid sale that the NY Times article almost touches on (it has the hallmarks of journalists ever so slightly missing the point when talking about Greenhouse's own wishes during his lifetime) is that the seller has absolute discretion over which bid they accept. As I've been told directly, it was very important for the family that the cello would continue to be played - and heard, and not end up in a museum, an oligarch's basement or in fundamentally the wrong hands. Therefore, irrespective of what double figure bids there may - or may not have been - the cello ended up selling to the best combination of good intention and money. 

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I wonder whether the cello might bear Greenhouse's name from now on.

The B and F edition of Doring lists the 'cello as: "Stanlein, Paganini, Greenhouse" so it may be going it that direction.  I don't know from "Stanlein" but it would be hard to erase "Paganini".   :)

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To me the Greenhouse beats out the Paganini for namesake value. 

 

One of my friends is Greenhouse's niece, she speaks of him fondly calls him Uncle Bernie. She's a concert promoter and music festival organizer and a singer. Before her uncle passed away she used to tell me how he was doing, and she went to visit him a final time. She said he played for her and she said he looked right at her and played something beautiful, she did not know what it was specifically, but it was one of those moments. 

 

Soon after Greenhouse passed away the cello went out of sight and without going into depth in public, which is not my place to do, my friend wondered out loud to me about what will happen to the cello. There was silence around the sale so much so that my friend was asking me as a person who has reasons to track instruments to keep my ears open to see where it might turn up. And eventually it did. And I sensed she was a bit wistful about knowing someone else will play Uncle Bernie's cello, because to her it will always be Uncle Bernie's Countess. 

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To me the Greenhouse beats out the Paganini for namesake value. 

 

 

I don't mean to be contrary, but it's pretty damn hard to trump "Paganini" for namesake value.  Greenhouse was a fine modern player, if not on a par with Rose, Piatigorski, etc., while Paganini will always be...well, Paganini.

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I don't mean to be contrary, but it's pretty damn hard to trump "Paganini" for namesake value.  Greenhouse was a fine modern player, if not on a par with Rose, Piatigorski, etc., while Paganini will always be...well, Paganini.

That was my point too in post #10.  In another 100 years Paganini's name will still be gold, and Greenhouse and Stanlein will be just be  names of minor interest among seekers of the obscure.  (Please understand that I don't think it SHOULD be that way.  I have huge respect for Mr. Greenhouse.)

 

In fact, I'm a little surprised that the 'cello isn't listed:  "Paganini, Greenhouse, Stanlein."  

 

Can't we assume that since names are changeable,  a current name is usually the one that will enhance the value most, or catch attention the most?  50 years from now some 'cellist might come along who blows away every other 'cellist, and this instrument will take his/her name.

 

I used to joke about the "Strunk Smorgasbord"  Guadagnini.  Because a friend was trying out a lovely Guad in Chicago which he couldn't afford.  We were passing the "Strunk" establishment and I suggested we should go in and persuade Mr. Strunk to invest in the violin for my friend's benefit;  and for his kindness Mr. Strunk could take advantage of the "advertising value."  It would be good for business, and also immortalize him in the process.

 

Well, of course when someone owns a great instrument with such an ugly name as "Strunk Smorgasbord" it damned well have better been played by a Paganini or Heifetz.   :)  Incidentally, most names are very lovely, of course.  We get the Lady THIS or the Lord THAT; or the "Jupiter" the "Sunrise,"  etc.  We don't usually see:  The "Mud Hut"  the "Droppings" the "Mighty Mouse"  the "Smog."  I mean, if Steve McQueen had bought a Strad after his early movie, "The Blob"  do we think he would have, could have...?

 

Maybe on April 1 we ought to have a WORST NAME FOR A STRAD CONTEST. 

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I don't mean to be contrary, but it's pretty damn hard to trump "Paganini" for namesake value.  Greenhouse was a fine modern player, if not on a par with Rose, Piatigorski, etc., while Paganini will always be...well, Paganini.

  

You guys missed my point, for my friend it will always be her Uncle Bernies Strad. I only meant to say I observed her reaction when I told her it showed up somewhere else. 

 

For the public who knows how it will be remembered. It's only called the Paganini because it sound betters for a sale. And personally I'm glad it will continue to be played and not locked up in a vault. And I have to add, it will always be Greenhouse's cello to me too. 

 

And the Davidov is Jackie Du Pre's Strad...David  off.... who?

 

And you know Greenhouse blows Paganini way as a cellist, so by that logic is should be called La VerdeCasa! 

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You guys missed my point, for my friend it will always be her Uncle Bernies Strad. I only meant to say I observed her reaction when I told her it showed up somewhere else. 

 

For the public who knows how it will be remembered. It's only called the Paganini because it sound betters for a sale. And personally I'm glad it will continue to be played and not locked up in a vault. And I have to add, it will always be Greenhouse's cello to me too. 

 

And the Davidov is Jackie Du Pre's Strad...David  off.... who?

 

And you know Greenhouse blows Paganini way as a cellist, so by that logic is should be called La VerdeCasa! 

 

1)  No one missed your point; it was simply an inadequacy of the English language.

 

2)  The Davidov is now, and forever shall be, the Davidov.  That's how Yo-Yo Ma refers to it,*and since it will never be sold, the name will never ever change. 

 

3)  As to "La Verde Casa", you're correct, of course.  On third thought, Paganini didn't even play the instrument, (I blush...)  so on that count, it can't be assumed he chose it as his concert instrument, unlike so many of the others with 'names' attached.  Perhaps we can credit Mr. Reuning for his (semi) clever marketing for finding a way to attach to "La Verde Casa" the name of perhaps the most famous performer in the history of music.  If so, I salute him for his conscientious work.

 

* Of course, if the instrument should be sold in the future, you can bet that the name Yo-Yo Ma will be attached to it, as will Davidov.  

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Fellow enthusiasts,

So happy you caught this program, I agree it was very well done!

The Paganini name is important because Duane Rosengard proved that this was the cello in the famed Stradivari quartet Paganini assembled at the end of his life (not the Ladenburg) Duane also discovered that Count Stainlein (note corrected spelling) was in important amateur cellist, the Countess inherited the cello.

If you read Duane's essay under the "history" button on the website, you will see so many other newly discovered aspects of this fascinating provenance. Enjoy!

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"Cozio’s remark on the head is slightly perplexing. While recognizing it as by the maker, he seems to conjecture that it was made as a viola da gamba with six strings. It would appear that Cozio interpreted the opening of the back of the pegbox as evidence that the instrument was strung as a viola da gamba."

 

http://reuningprivatesales.com/stainlein/stainlein-history

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The article by Delbanco covering the restoration appeared the New Yorker magazine about 2002 ish......it goes into a bit of detail also about the open scroll. Greenhouse and Morel had a talk about whether or not they should restore the missing wood. Greenhouse made the call that it is part of the history of the instrument and should be left as is. The article is a fun read. 

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 Count Stainlein (note corrected spelling) was in important amateur cellist, the Countess inherited the cello.

 

I was wondering why everyone was pronouncing the title "Stayn-line."  I took the spelling from the B and F edition of Doring who gives it as "Stanlein."  I'll change it if I can in the topic heading.

 

Well, I guess it can't be done.  

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I was wondering why everyone was pronouncing the title "Stayn-line."  I took the spelling from the B and F edition of Doring who gives it as "Stanlein."  I'll change it if I can in the topic heading.

 

Well, I guess it can't be done.  

 

I would think that the German pronunciation of the name "Stainlein" would be "shtine-line," with "Stain" pronounced as in the violin maker "Stainer" and the "lein" pronounced as in "Fraeulein".   The two syllables rhyme.  The pronunciation as "stayn-line"  (with "stayn" rhyming with "plain") sounds half English (the first syllable) and half German (the 2nd syllable).  

 

It reminds me of my daughter and a large portion of the English speaking world referring to the German football team in Bavaria as "Bayern Munich," not "Bayern Muenchen" (which would be all German) nor "Bavaria Munich" (which would be all English).

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm bringing this back to life because a followup show in the "Strange Inheritance" series regarding the "Countess Stanlein" has just appeared with some interesting footage that didn't appear in the original episode.


 


It's rather typical, IMO, that experts speaking off the cuff is a big mistake.  The public is mislead in some areas, IMO, but I won't waste time arguing the point.  


 


Also, I had the opportunity to look carefully at the cover of the book written on the restoration of the instrument by Greenhouse's daughter's husband, Nicholas Delbanco.  The spelling was "Stanlein" at the time of printing. I hope Mr. Reuning, if he reads this, will explain how the name was Stanlein for so long, and why the spelling has changed.  Names of instruments and how they change or get changed is always interesting.


 


As in the first episode, an old and new 'cello were played and again the reporter/reporters preferred the older instrument.  This time the soloist was Jeffry Solow, and his instrument is a Goffriller.  The reporters were blindfolded this time.  Interesting though that in both episodes the 'cellist chose to play his personal instrument and play it last, which I think gives an advantage to the older instrument.


 


Nice blurbs with Fan Tao and John Waddle, too.


 


A very interesting show if you can find it.


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