Why a Strad is beyond the reach of street criminals

Why a Strad is beyond the reach of street criminals


norman lebrecht

October 18, 2014

Vanity Fair has published a minutely detailed account of the hijacking and return of the Lipinski Strad from the hands of Frank Almond, concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony. It’s a long read, with a happy ending. Savour it at leisure. Click here.

frank almond perlman



  • Milka says:

    One can be pleased only in that a stolen item was returned to its owner .
    If it were a Klotz there would have been less bother . What was being returned to the owner was a name –“Strad ”
    It could have been a potty except the
    the name “Strad “changes the story .
    You don’t think that Vanity Fair would
    take the time to write about a “Klotz’
    hijacking . Yes , yes many Strads are
    wonderful instruments but one should
    also note that in blind tests for sound
    quality, instruments that won approval were usually not Strads.
    The myth must be kept up for $$$$$$
    and so all play into it .The last debacle
    for a stupid game play was a “Strad”
    viola ….got nowhere .The photograph
    of Mr. Almond and that other violinist
    tells a lot ,how the myth must be perpetuated ..

  • I wonder who decided that tagging it with Lipinski’s name rather than Tartini’s was a good idea.

  • Frank Almond says:

    Robert- I’ve often wondered that myself. I don’t think Tartini was particularly well-known during Lipinski’s era.

    MIlka- Your post suggests that you’ve not read the article.

    • milka says:

      Mr.Almond ; I have read the article
      with care and stand by my opinions .
      The article seemingly is about
      an odd ball thief , but the very first sentence lets us know he stole something valued at $6ml. a violin
      no less . With a due respect to Michael
      Klotz a Klotz violin carries little weight
      or interest $$ . In the violin $$world,
      if a Klotz sounded as good as a good Strad it would still be a Klotz
      and would not command the price of
      an inferior Strad .It’s about the name
      and myth attached to the name .
      To deny this is to play games .

      • Frank Almond says:

        I don’t think anyone can deny that part of the piece was about a Strad theft and associated valuations, etc. (mythology is another matter). But the great thing about this piece is that it factually examines many of the broader (and more bizarre) elements of the story that have been ignored or poorly reported up until now.
        It’s always interesting to see what different people see as the “essence” of a certain article. To me the “Stradivari” part is only one of many important components of a truly unbelievable saga.

  • Camilo Peggiero says:

    How about a tiny GPS type tracking device on every famous and costly instrument. Would it harm it? I don’t think it would disrupt the sound at all.

    • Frank Almond says:

      I can’t tell you how many times this discussion has come up. There are two problems:

      1) current GPS devices are not small enough (those available publicly). Not to be confused with the little RFID chips that are used to track things and you wave a wand over it within inches.
      2) even if a GPS device were small enough, you’d need a power source that lasts for an adequate amount of time.

      I wish it all existed, but only in movies at this point.

      • SVM says:

        Surely, another danger with GPS tags would be that thieves (or airport security) may attempt to remove them (or get somebody who claims to be a luthier to do it — most real luthiers would probably realise that something was awry) and, in the process, severely damage or destroy the instrument. If anything, the risk would be greater if the tag were inconspicuous.

  • JKJohnson says:

    Milka: “that other violinist” is the highly respected and critically acclaimed Itzhak Perlman. It’s a shame that you didn’t know who HE is. Trying to make comment about an article under the guise of a violin pedagogue {who couldn’t name “that other violinist”}while touting another violin maker is odd, while stating that you have a problem with associated costs of such instruments. There is no myth, however. Stradivarius changed the shape and sound of the violin from chamber instrument to the known sound of today’s orchestral world. It doesn’t matter who the violin maker is after that point, violins heard in concert from soloists to the sections of orchestras are indebted to Mr. Stradivarius for refining the shape and fingerboard length to create an instrument “pattern” that improved the violin for other makers. The refined work on each instrument made during his time is key to the production of sound in a large hall. The Lipinski Strad has a very special sound and when played by the gifted Frank Almond, its beauty shines forth. Not only was the theft horrifying for the instrument being taken by some ignorant street thug, which brought about concerns for its welfare; but, it was the manner of the theft that produced concerns for Frank’s well being. Frank was tasered. This could have been a real health risk or worse for him. So, where other media seemed to gloss over the details, the Vanity Fair article defines the bizarre story quite well.

  • milka says:

    JKJohnson you embarrass yourself
    in believing I couldn’t recognize
    “that other violinist “. Do you really think for one minute that in my response to the article I would not know the other gentleman , use common sense.
    This story for your violin education ;
    Heifetz , I am sure you heard of him-.
    in the green room after a concert is listening to a lady go on and on and on about the “sound ” of the violin
    after a while he stops her and looks
    over at the violin case where the violin
    is placed ,looks at it for a while then
    says to the lady “I don’t hear a thing ” thus ends the lesson ….

  • JKJohnson says:

    Not embarrassed, here. Heifetz has been dead for quite awhile and the story you tell for my “violin education” is very old, has been spun and retold forever and there was no reason for you to restate the story, here. My point is this: do not proclaim to be superior to other people, as you wish to do in these comments. You still haven’t given “the other violinist” the respect he would deserve by using such a description of him instead of his given name. The story is about Mr. Almond and his awful experience, not Heifetz or yourself. Good luck!

  • milka says:

    That Mr. Almond had a terrible time
    is a given …that you still don’t understand is a given …that I don’t much care for “the other violinist ” is a given. That you seem not able to understand is a given .