Tears and fears as two stars are forced to give up their violins

Tears and fears as two stars are forced to give up their violins


norman lebrecht

February 23, 2015

Time ran out this weekend for Frank-Peter Zimmermann. The German virtuoso has surrendered his Lady Inchiquin Stradivarius to a financial body, Portigon, that is obliged to sell it for the highest price.

The violinist has played the instrument on loan for 12 years and has been trying to buy it at a price suggested by two independent valuers, in the region of three million Euros. Portigon is seeking an extra million on top. At this stage, it seems unlikely Frank-Peter, 49, will ever see his Lady again. He is playing the New York Philharmonic this week, on a less familiar instrument.

frank peter zimmermann

In an unrelated scenario, Alexander Pavlovsky, a member of the Jerusalem Quartet is desperately seeking a new instrument after his on-loan Pressenda violin was sold by the owners. The quartet posted the following appeal last night.

Dear friends ,
Your help and advise is needed!
Our first violinist Alexander Pavlovsky is desperately looking for a new instrument !
His Pressenda violin, which he has been playing for last 10 years, is being sold now by the Syndicate which owns it.
If any of you knows any foundation, private collector or a sponsor that would be interested to help, please let us know.
Very much appreciate your help.
Jerusalem 4tet


  • Jehi Bahk says:

    Get a new violin. They sound as good as old ones. Or better. I played for more than 10 years on a J.B.Guadagnini (the ex Busch). I have to say my current violin, made by Martin Schleske, has at least the same quality and variety in sound colors, and on top of that even more power.

  • Milka says:

    Bahk is correct ..but , dare one say it , not all violinists are the brightest light bulbs.
    It really is a game of one up-manship ,see I’m a virtuoso ! I play a Strad , makes me
    more special a finer calling card . From the most famous to the humblest fiddle player
    this game is played .If violinists were to spend more time searching out good contemporary makers and not star names they would be ahead of the game — then watch how the “name ”
    prices would drop .But I repeat not all violinists are bright light bulbs .They have so boxed themselves into the Strad corner that now they can’t afford to buy one .Poetic justice .
    No, I am not downgrading the great old makers but It should be noted that beginning with
    Paganini down to Heifetz the great players preferred and used the Guarneri model even though they had Strads .And in all recent blind test sounds the modern instruments seem to rule the day with unbiased audiences.
    But with most fiddle players it is much like real estate hustlers .. the house could be crap
    but it is all ” location ! location ! ” .. it could be a poor Strad but it is a Strad .Go figure .

  • Terence says:

    F-P Zimmermann played – very well indeed – in Sydney in December.

    His fellow violinist Christian Tetzlaff – who played here this month – was to my ear just as good, on a modern instrument.

    Some people will never accept that recent craftsmanship can be just as good as old …

    In relation to sale prices, consider: a dirty little scrap of paper (know as a rare postage stamp) was recently sold for $9.5 million, and it’s just as useless as any other little scrap. Logic be damned!

    • David says:

      Please excuse me and don’t take it the wrong way, but comparing Zimmermann to that other guy sort of invalidates your opinion. Zimmerman is a real violinist, a great one even.

      That said, there definitely are very good sounding contemporary violins. I strongly doubt they could come close to the Ysaye, Lord Wilton, and the likes, but I’ve played or heard some that are certainly better than other Del Gesus or Strads. While age, I’m convinced, has an impact, you really have to judge individually, all the rest is baloney. And so much depends on the player. And on the strings. And on the bow. And (again) on the player…

      • Dirk Fischer says:

        Oh wow – have you ever heard Tetzlaff play or saw one of his master classes? Zimmermann, without a doubt, is a fantastic violinist, but Tetzlaff certainly is one of the most exciting musicians of this day.

  • Max Grimm says:

    Spot on, Mr. Bahk. I have yet to come across an old instrument for which I’d give up my Wilhelm Brückner viola. Mr. Zimmermann should look into exhibitions such as “Klanggestalten”. If he has 3mio Euro at his disposal, a fraction of that money could get him dozens of the finest contemporary violins, one of which should be bound to please even his highest demands….unless the only thing he’ll settle for is the actual Lady Inchiquin Stradivarius. In that case good luck.

  • Anon says:

    Painful to be forcefully separated from your beloved instrument, regardless of its name.
    But I agree Mr. Zimmermann could promote sanity in a highly irrational market, by choosing a great modern instrument. There are many makers who’s instruments can be as good or better than the old ones, Peter Greiner, Haiko Seifert, to name just two of many. The old instrument market is an investment market, not to be mistaken with the musical instrument market.

    • Milka says:

      One must use great care when using the word “sanity” especially when referring
      to the world of violins and violin players . It is an” irrational ” world at best .