The historic violin was crafted in 1720 by Antonio Stradivari, who lovingly made his instruments in his small shop in Cremona, Italy centuries ago.
Celebrated violin virtuoso Elizabeth Pitcairn performs in partnership with the legendary 1720 Red Mendelssohn Stradivarius, the 1990 Christie’s auction of which is said to have inspired the 1999 Academy Award-winning film, “The Red Violin.”
The historic violin was crafted in 1720 by Antonio Stradivari, who lovingly made his instruments in his small shop in Cremona, Italy centuries ago, and remains the most famous violin maker of all time. Not long after its creation, the instrument appeared to vanish; no one knows where or to whom the violin belonged for more than 200 years, spawning any number of historians, writers, journalists, critics as well as Canadian filmmaker, Francois Girard, to speculate on the violin’s mysterious history. Girard’s imaginative speculations became the narrative for his beloved film, “The Red Violin.”
Known as the Red Stradivarius and owned by legendary violinist Joseph Joachim, the 1720 Red Mendelssohn Stradivarius would eventually surface in 1930s Berlin. It had been purchased by an heir to the great composer, Felix Mendelssohn. In 1956, it was purchased by a New York industrialist who kept the instrument in impeccable performance condition. Much of its original burnished red varnish remains on the violin today, and it is thought to be one of the best sounding and most beautiful of Stradivari’s remaining violins.
Then on Thanksgiving Day in 1990, the instrument’s fate would once again be triggered when the industrialist opted to put the Red Stradivarius on the auction block anonymously at Christie’s of London. While some of the worlds’ most powerful sought to win the coveted instrument, it landed in the hands of then sixteen year old American solo violinist, Elizabeth Pitcairn.
Pitcairn would remain silent about owning the violin until her rapidly burgeoning solo career brought her into the public eye on international concert stages after nearly three decades of rigorous training by the world’s most esteemed violin teachers.
Pitcairn would come to view the violin as her life’s most inspiring mentor and friend. Many have said that the violin has finally found its true soul mate in the gifted hands of the young violinist who is the first known solo artist to ever bring it to the great concert halls of the world, and who has made it her goal to share the violin’s magical beauty of sound with people of all ages, professions and cultures.
Today, Pitcairn and the Red Mendelssohn Stradivarius violin continue to foster one of classical music’s most compelling partnerships.
– By Suzanne Marcus Fletcher (http://www.elizabethpitcairn.com)