Preserving the heavenly sound of Stradivarius violins

Ann-Sophie Mutter

Ann-Sophie Mutter

Cremona, Italy CNN – For virtuoso violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, only one violin can truly give voice to her prodigious talents – her Stradivarius. And she likens playing it for the first time to meeting her soul mate.”It sounded the way I had always been hoping,” she said. “Its the oldest part of my body and my soul. The moment I am on stage, we are one, musically.”Stradivarius violins — or “Strads” — are the instrument of choice for the worlds best violinists — but only a lucky few actually get to play one.Mutter likens hers to an irreplaceable piece of art. Indeed, it was made by Antonio Stradivari, the greatest-ever luthier, or stringed instrument-maker, who lived from 1644 to 1737.Ann Sophie Mutter makes guest appearanceMutters Strad was crafted in Italy and is at least 250 years old. It has been played by many musicians over the years, including Hungarian violinist Jelly DAranyi, for whom famed composer Maurice Ravel wrote his “Tzigane for Violin and Orchestra.”So, what is it that makes a Stradivarius so very special? According to Mutter, its a question of personal fit; for her, its the “depths of the colors and the incredible amount of dynamic range” that means it can sing out even in a roaring orchestra, yet also complement the softest pianist.Stradivarius stringed instruments may be almost priceless to the people who play them, but they are also serious cultural commodities worthy of six figure sums at auction.Last year, a 1697 Stradivarius violin went under the hammer for a record-breaking $3.6 million. Thought to have once been owned by Napoleon Bonaparte, it was sold to concert violinist Anne Akiko Meyers.

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