Just in: Stolen Strad turns up, 35 years later

Just in: Stolen Strad turns up, 35 years later


norman lebrecht

August 06, 2015

This will go down forever as a quiz question for violin geeks.

Whatever happened the the Ames Stradivarius that vanished after a May 1980 concert from Roman Totenberg’s room at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass?

Well, we don’t yet know what happened, but the FBI has somehow found it. More details here.

Roman, a celebrated virtuoso and teacher died aged 101 in May 2012, teaching to his very last day. He never saw the violin again but he had strong suspicions it might have been taken by a man who loitered around his college office. The unnamed woman in whose possession the violin was found is thought to be that man’s daughter. She is not suspected of wrongdoing.


Here’s what the FBI and the family are telling US media.

Depending on condition, the Ames Strad would be worth several million dollars today.


  • Beacon Hill Listener says:

    Hear Totenberg play the 3 Brahms Violin Sonatas on his marvelous Strad, with the splendid American pianist Leonard Shure:




    • Ted Shure says:

      How nice of you to suggest the Brahms with Roman and my father. I turned pages for my father when they performed it! I miss Roman lots and listen to the recordings often!

    • NYMike says:

      Lovely playing, but the recording seems overbalanced toward the piano. I heard Totenberg play in Aspen one summer years ago – very enjoyable.

  • Violinist says:

    How fabulous it has been found after so many years but terribly sad that Mr Totenberg was not reunited with his musical partner. He must have wondered upon its fate. Perhaps blamed himself for not locking his office door or similar …. Musicians tend to take great care of their instruments but sometimes it is not enough. The effects can be heart breaking.