Man finds Strad in dead aunt’s flat

Man finds Strad in dead aunt’s flat


norman lebrecht

September 09, 2020

RIA Novosti reports that a Moscow man, Yuri Kurnosov, clearing out his late aunt’s apartment in the Tula region, found a violin, which turned out to have been made in Antonio Stradivarius’s workshop in the 1690s.

Before Sotheby’s get all excited, instrument is not in prime condition. It has no strings, one peg is missing and no-one knows what it will sound like after restoration.

UPDATE: It’s a fake, apparently.


  • violinist says:

    No strings and a peg missing are easy fixes. It will probably need an adjustment and to be played in for a few months, but I bet it will sound great after that.

  • Fiddlist says:

    “Before Sotheby’s get all excited, instrument is not in prime condition. It has no strings, one peg is missing and no-one knows what it will sound like after restoration.”

    Are those the only reasons the instrument is not in “prime condition” ? 😀

  • Mike Aldren says:

    So who says that it really is a Strad?

    • David K. Nelson says:

      That indeed is the key question. There are relatively few folks in the world who can make the determination and of course the least of their criteria is what the label inside says. Nor does hearing it be played matter much to those experts, so missing pegs and strings or even tailpiece or fingerboard means little to them. [For a genuinely entertaining book about the violin and the mysterious art of violin identification, I recommend “A Thousand Mornings of Music” by Arnold Gingrich, an amateur violinist and at the time, publisher (and had been founder and editor) of Esquire magazine.]

      Of course on the chance that this IS a Strad – and Lord knows all those missing and stolen ones have to be someplace – then the loss of 3 pegs is a little sad because the pegs you see on the best instruments don’t come cheap and are themselves the products of skilled artisans. Oddly enough I don’t find them particularly easy to use as pegs.

      I’ll bet just about all of us who play the fiddle have at one time gotten that “excited phone call.” For those of us with no real expertise in instrument identification, about all we can do to help those folks is either point out the tell-tale signs of modernism or imposterism, or at least give a rough opinion about the seeming quality of the instrument that might make it worth taking to a higher level of expert.

      The pity is that people get excited about violins with fake Strad labels but there are some genuinely fine, even great instruments with genuine labels in those attics and closets but the makers are someone they of course never heard of, that might end up in the dumpster along with the rest of the “estate.” I was horrified to learn that about a Walter Solon Goss, at one time quite a respected maker in Boston. The family thought that name Goss sounded cheap.

      My high school orchestra director purchased an entire pad of fake Strad labels, so that if someone said “we have a violin in the attic and the label says it’s a Stradivarius” he’d peel a Strad label off the pad and say “you mean like this one?” Sears Roebuck sold many, many such “Strads.”

  • Paganini says:

    Who has confirmed it is by Antonio Stradivarius? I recall there was a famous violin expert a while ago in hot water claiming instruments were Strads, Amatis etc, when in fact they were not.

  • fierywoman says:

    A more important question regarding the condition of the instrument: are there any cracks in the body?

    • The greater number of violins produced at one time or another can easily get cracks, most especially on the top, easy fix. Pop the top, cut diamond shape patches, put under the cracks and glue the plot back together.

  • Rocketmeoff says:

    No history of fake Strads in Russia!

  • observer says:

    That we should all be so lucky.

  • Rocketmeoff says:

    There is a Strad for sale on a certain list in the States for only $200,000.00. That’s a good deal…

  • viorinist says:

    ask Peter Biddulph! or his girlfriend Lindsay Camden!

  • anon says:

    If Putin says it’s a Strad, it’s a Strad.

  • Nate W says:

    Unfortunately, due to the limited availability of strings and pegs, the world will never know what this “Strad” will sound like….

  • Lancelot Spratt says:

    Probably made in China by the state of it.

  • First of all we wouldn’t be using gut strings today and replacing pegs is a daily operation for any violin-maker. Determining if it is a Strad can be accomplished by many around the world, but all Strads didn’t have marvelous tone. In fact I think there’s one in the Ashmolean that has a buzz in it, so now she’s a museum Queen.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    No strings, no peg, no problem. Replacement fittings are an easy fix.
    But what shape is the body, neck, and pegbox in?
    Even if more research determines it not to be a Strad, an old Italian violin that is in good condition (decent varnish, no major cracks or worm damage) is probably going to be a beautiful sounding instrument well worth the cost of restoring it to playing condition.

  • Terence says:

    A few years someone paid around $10m for a dirty little piece of paper. Apparently a rare stamp.

    There are many great modern violins around from this century and from the last hundred years. We really don’t need this worship of Stads and other old violins: judge by the sound the player can provide.

    I’m happy with my hundred year old German instrument — it just needs a better musician.

  • According to the list of Stradivari instruments on Wiki, there are no missing/lost/stolen violins from the 1690s.

    If it is real, and really from the 1690s, it would have to be a previously unknown instrument.

  • NoMinorChords says:

    Do you know how many “Strads” are found every year? Until a couple of experts examine it, I would be skeptical.

  • brinton says:

    Stradivari in his 93 years produced over 600 violins, but only about 1000 of those are currently accounted for…

  • Monty Earleman says:

    The stuff dreams are made of!

  • David A. Boxwell says:

    War booty, plundered from Vienna in 1945? Check the provenance!

  • Frank says:

    Any luthier or violin dealer could have told you instantly that there are no Stradivari violins in your gandma’s attic. Strads were always the top of the line expensive instruments, even back in the day they were fresh from the bench. As a consequence they were always desirable instruments and no owner would put them in the attic and forget about it. You don’t park your Rolls Royce around the corner one night and forget about it for the rest of your life. And even if you do, because dementia struck overnight, your cousing or neighbour will know you have this special, extremily valuable item. So the chances of finding a neglected Strad are vanishingly small. Also a missing peg is not part of the “condition of the istrument”. Cracks in the body are.