While the Stradivarius violins is widely considered as rare violins, one couldn’t agree more that the 1741 Ex-Vieuxtemps could just be ranked among the best. Ex-Vieuxtemps was the artwork of famous violin maker and also the fiercest rival of Stradivarius, Guarneri del Gesu.
The violin is one of of his last piece of workmanship by Guarneri before his death in 1744. It is named after Henri Vieuxtemps, a 19th-century Belgian composer, a violin prodigy and a court soloist to Tsar Alexandar II.
The Ex-Vieuxtemps Guarneri has passed through the hands of accomplished violinists, including Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman. Most recently in 2008, Pinchas Zukerman, an Israeli violin virtuoso, performed with the violin during a concert in Pashkov House, Moscow.
The Ex-Vieuxtemps Guarneri. Credit: Darnton & Hersh
Ex-Vieuxtemps has changed has its owner several times in the past years and in 2010, it is owned by Ian Stoutzker, a retired British financier and music philanthropist.
The beautiful Guarneri violin received numerous praises by its owners and players. Geoffrey Fushi, founder of one of the world’s leading traders in rare violins, Bein & Fushi of Chicago, says that the Ex-Vieuxtemps was “one of the most unusual of Guarneri’s output. It is larger than most, with enormous projection.”
Violinist Philip Quint, who has performed on the Ex-Vieuxtemps Guarneri several times with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, applauded that “this instrument has the most unbelievable power, not just in loudness but in sound quality. It has a huge palate of colors that allow you to express a wider range of emotions.”
In 2008, the Ex-Vieuxtemps was sold for a world-record price of US$3.9 million. In 2010, the violin was suggested to be worth US$18 million.