An Isaac Stern violin is up for sale

An Isaac Stern violin is up for sale


norman lebrecht

May 13, 2021

An 1840 Vuillaume once owned by Isaac Stern is being sold in an online auction next month by Ingles & Hayday. It was commissioned by the leading Russian soloist Alexis Lvov, composer of the anthem ‘God Save the Tsar’. Stern owned it until the late 1980s.

The auctioneer’s estimated price is £180,000 to £250,000.


  • Sam Zyg says:

    Any Stern related item goes far higher than estimate. Tarisio auctions sold many of his items years ago and everyone was shocked with how well everything sold

    • Bill says:

      One item that did particularly well is a violin by a guy named Sam Zygmuntowicz which as I recall set the auction record for a living maker. Looking at Tarisio’s listings of prices for violins by that maker, one might wonder if the Stern connection is the only thing affecting the prices…

    • David K. Nelson says:

      While I am sure Stern’s own name and reputation lend an additional bit of luster, he had some of the best, such as the Panette Guarnarius. I seem to recall Stern mentioning that Ysaÿe had been a prior owner of one of his bows, for example.

      I was not aware Stern had this Vuillaume. For most of us having a genuine pedigreed Vuillaume is something we could only dream of.

  • Nicolas Lupot says:

    That fact that Fritz Kreisler, Hillary Hahn, and countless other top players have played on Vuillaumes for their performances and recordings says something. If you get the opportunity to play on one, don’t pass it up. Great instruments!

  • Concerned opera buff says:

    Hope it goes to another musician. Violins have to be played. Once saw a sad sight at a museum, one of Heifitz’ violins laying in a display case all by itself, in a hallway, ignored by everyone. Maybe he donated it in his will, but now it lays alone and forgotten. How a young violinist would have treasured it.

    • Bill says:

      The most famous ex-Heifetz violin is his c. 1740 Guarneri “del Gesu” (the “‘David”) which he bequeathed to the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. It is occasionally played in recent years by Alexander Barantschik, the concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony, in accordance with Heifetz’ request that the instrument be used “on special occasions by worthy performers.”

      A young violinist might have treasured it — or they might have abused it. Not all violinists are responsible custodians.

  • BRUCEB says:

    Whoever buys it is sure to sound better on it than he did 😛


    • marcus says:

      Well, partly. Stern was genuinely first rate until about the mid sixties when his energies went into dobbing in rivals careers and general politicking.