Twelve violins worth £146m record 'most expensive music ever'

That’s a lot of notes! Twelve Stradivarius violins worth £146m combine to record ‘most expensive music ever’

  • 12 Stradivarius violins worth total of £146million brought together for album 
  • They have a combined age of more than 3,000 years, used in album 12 Stradivari
  • But project almost scuppered when violinist Janine Jansen contracted Covid 

Musicians have sung their praises as some of the finest violins ever made – often with a multi-million-pound price tag to match.

And now 12 Stradivarius violins – worth a combined £146million – have been brought together for what is believed to be one of the most expensive recordings in the world.

The instruments, which have a combined age of more than 3,000 years, were flown to London from their homes across Europe, America and Asia to record the album 12 Stradivari.

The ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ was almost scuppered when violinist Janine Jansen contracted Covid.

Elbphilharmonie Orchestra with Janine Jansen (l), violinist, plays the pre-opening concert of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival

But the ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ was almost scuppered when violinist Janine Jansen contracted Covid.

The violins – which were made by Italian craftsman Antonio Stradivari between 1680 and 1734 – had formerly belonged to virtuosi including Ida Haendel, Fritz Kreisler and Joseph Joachim, a close collaborator of Brahms.

They were all loaned to the project, many from private collections, with strict contracts and expensive insurance cover in place. 

All travelled first class to London and had to be accompanied by costly security.

But the project had to be delayed for three weeks after Miss Jansen, 43, was struck down with Covid. 

Steven Smith, of violin dealers J&A Beare, who devised the project, said that despite the difficulties it had ‘absolutely’ been worth it

The violins – which were made by Italian craftsman Antonio Stradivari between 1680 and 1734 – had formerly belonged to virtuosi including Ida Haendel, Fritz Kreisler and Joseph Joachim, a close collaborator of Brahms. (Album: 12 Stradivari)

The Dutch violinist was so weak by the time she returned that she struggled to climb the concert hall steps with a violin in her hand.

But she was able to continue with the recording, which took place over four days at Chelsea’s Cadogan Hall, with Royal Opera House supremo Sir Antonio Pappano accompanying on piano. 

Steven Smith, of violin dealers J&A Beare, who devised the project, said that despite the difficulties it had ‘absolutely’ been worth it. 

The album 12 Stradivari is released on Decca Classics on September 10.

300 years of musical grandeur…

Stradivarius string instruments were created by the Stradivari family during the 17th and 18th centuries

Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) is thought to have built some 960 violins during his lifetime and more than 1,100 instruments in total. Around 650 still survive today

Due to their value, many violins have been stolen and remain lost today

 

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