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Messiah Stradivarius


The Messiah Stradivarius violin on 1716, is one of the most valuable violins among the 600 Strads left in the world today. Much of the high value and prestige is due to the fact that it was made during Stradivari‘s “golden period“, and it is one that has not ever been played, after almost 300 years in existence.

During the 19th century, the Messiah Stradivarius passed through the hands of famous violin maker of that era, Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume.

The violin was named the Messiah by violinist Jean-Delphin Alard, Vuillaume’s son-in-law, and called it “Le Messie“- the violin is like the Messiah of the Jews, because one always waits for him but never appears.

Messiah StradivariusMessiah Stradivarius at Ashmolean Museum. Credit: Wikipedia

Today, the Messiah Stradivarius was under the guardianship of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England. The violin is very close to the original condition when it left Stradivari’s workshop in 1737.

Though the Messiah Stradivarius has not been auctioned publicly, it was worth an estimated US$20 million.

In recent years, controversies were rife about the legitimacy of the Messiah Stradivarius which is exhibited at Ashmolean Museum. Stewart Pollens, an expert in high-precision instrument photography sparked the controversy when he was asked to do a catalog on the Ashmolean’s collection.

Till today, no one could give a definite answer.

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One Response to “Messiah Stradivarius”

  1. Nick says:

    Thanks for another informative piece. It is not quite correct to say that ‘The Messiah’ (or ‘Le Messie’) has never been played. It has, but very little, and never in a major performance. The first non-Stradivari family owner Count Cozio de Salabue actually described its sound in his notes on the violin as “round, beautiful, strong and even voice”. It is the condition of it that is most amazing, like it has just come off the workbench of Stradivari. This is why so many experts say that it should never be played, so that we have one example of how the masters works looked when they were new. It’s condition is not quite perfect though; it actually has a very small, almost imperceptible crack just above the soundpost. It was noted by Cozio in his records, so happened early in its life, and that he had GB Guadagnini rienforce it with a square patch. He also changed the angle of the neck and replaced the fingerboard. The later owner, JB Vuillaume also fitted a patch to reinforce it near the soundpost, as well as lengthening the neck, changing the base bar and inserting an inscription. When the Hills had it in their ownership they also took ‘Le Messie’ apart. The impression is that this is a violin that has been taken apart more than it has been played. It will be on display this some in the Stradivari Exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, UK, this Summer. A rare opportunity to see it alongside 19 of Stradivari’s finest surviving instruments, compare it next to them and judge for oneself its authenticity. I for one will be there.

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