Pictured: The Mozart violin that has returned to Salzburg

Pictured: The Mozart violin that has returned to Salzburg


norman lebrecht

November 15, 2013

This is the first current picture of the Pietro Antonio Dalla Costa instrument played by Mozart which has been donated to the Salzburg Foundation. It was played last night in recital with the composer’s fortepiano in the Wiener Saal of the Mozarteum by the Swiss violinist Esther Hoppe.

mozat violin

More on the history and provenance:

Experts are of the opinion that the violin made by Dalla Costa is original and complete in all essential parts, and that it is in a good and playable condition. As was true of almost all Italian violins made by a master craftsman in the 17th and 18th centuries, the neck and the fingerboard were extended later so that it could also be used for the violin repertoire of the Romantic period.

It is not known exactly when Dalla Costa was born and when he died, but between 1733 and 1768 he was active as a violin maker in Treviso, 30 kilometres north of Venice. He took his orientation from instruments made by the Amati Family but evolved his own individual style. Dalla Costa violins have a powerful and sustained sound and are therefore still much in demand as concert instruments.

Mozart’s instrument from his time in Vienna

Mozart (1756-1791) was an accomplished violinist. He lived in Vienna from 1781 and although as a performing musician he concentrated then on playing the fortepiano, in private circles he still continued to play string instruments. Mozart must have bought this violin soon after he settled in Vienna as at that time he composed several sonatas for violin and piano which were explicitly intended for himself and his wife Constanze. The Costa Violin, in those days a relatively new and thus not exceptionally precious instrument was perfectly suited to meeting Mozart’s professional demands.

Fully traceable provenience

In 1909 the Costa Violin was bought by the company W. E. Hill & Sons in London. The previous owner, the violinist Karl Henkel, explained that his father Heinrich Henkel had bought the violin around 1840 from the music publisher Johann Anton André in Offenbach. André always described the instrument, which he had acquired from Mozart’s widow in 1799 as part of the composer’s musical estate, as “Mozart’s violin.” During the 1940s and 1950s the instrument was discussed and photographically documented in some specialist journals, but before the dissolution of the company Hill and Sons in the 1980s the violin was never played in public or scientifically studied. The violin was then acquired by a businessman and amateur musician in southern Germany.



  • Humphrey Burton says:

    I didnt know that Constanze played keyboard with her husband playing fiddle. I thought Mozart played the viola at home in Wien, eg with Haydn and Dittersdorf