Thursday, January 5, 2012

Violin violence

There are 2 violin stories circulating in the weird news. One contrasts with an unfortunate earlier (and less malicious) incident:

Jan. 2012:
A reader named Erica wrote to Regretsy about a heartbreaking experience she recently had with PayPal about a violin carrying the mark of early 20th c. French instrument-maker Maurice Bourguignon (like the example, 2nd image):
"I sold an old French violin to a buyer in Canada, and the buyer disputed the label. This is not uncommon. In the violin market, labels often mean little and there is often disagreement over them. Some of the most expensive violins in the world have disputed labels, but they are works of art nonetheless. Rather than have the violin returned to me, PayPal made the buyer DESTROY the violin in order to get his money back. They somehow deemed the violin as 'counterfeit' even though there is no such thing in the violin world. The buyer was proud of himself, so he sent me a photo of the destroyed violin (1st image). I am now out a violin that made it through WWII as well as $2500. This is of course, upsetting. But my main goal in writing to you is to prevent PayPal from ordering the destruction of violins and other antiquities that they know nothing about..."
Representatives from PayPal defend their advice, which is included in the fine print, and the matter is under dispute.

Feb. 2008:
After virtuoso British violinist David Garrett, then 26, finished performing at the Barbican, he tripped and landed on his 290-year-old instrument. He describes, "I was all packed up and ready to go when I slipped. People said it was as if I'd trodden on a banana skin. I fell down a flight of steps and on to the case. When I opened it, the violin was in pieces. I couldn't speak and I couldn't get up. I didn't even know if I was hurt – I didn't care. I've had that violin for 8 years. It was like losing a friend." Made by early 18th c. Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari, the violin could have fetched more than £1,000,000 and was expected to cost £60,000 just to repair, and it likely never sounded the same again. Due to perform again the following night, Garrett was loaned another Stradivarius by a violin dealer - who made sure it was guarded by a 3-man security team.

And the other parallels earlier stories:

Dec. 2011:
Taiwanese violinist Muchen Hsieh, studying at the New England Conservatory in Boston, hopped a bus to Philadelphia and didn't realize that she had left her instrument in an overhead bin until after she had been picked up at her destination. Valued at $172,000, the violin had been made in 1835 by Vincenzo Jorio in Naples - and it wasn't even hers! It was on loan from the Chi Mei Culture Foundation. Hsieh called the bus company immediately, but it took 3 days to locate the instrument in a holding facility.

Aug. 2009:
Korean musician Hahn-Bin (photo here), then 22, played a concert in the Hamptons, took a bus nfortunto Lincoln Center, and then caught a cab to his apartment in Chinatown. He was exhausted and it was by then 12:40AM. Unfortunately, he left his violin in the taxi - and it was not just any violin. It had been crafted in the early 19th c. by Italian violin-maker Giovanni Francesco Pressenda and was valued at up to $600,000. He quickly realized his mistake and called 311. The driver had gone home to New Jersey unaware of his precious cargo, but was tracked by GPS. Violinist and violin were reunited later that day.

Accidentally leaving one's musical instrument behind in a means of transport has been called "pulling a Yo-Yo Ma," referring to the time in 1999 when the American cellist (photo here) left his $2.5 million cello, made in the 18th c. by Italian luthier Domenico Montagnana, in the trunk of a New York City cab (from which it was retrieved later that afternoon). “You could probably string together an entire orchestra from the folks that have left cellos, violas and violins in the back of cabs,” said Matthew W. Daus, the chairman of the Taxi and Limousine Commission. In fact, there is a blog...

1 comment:

  1. I distinctly remember leaving my not-possibly-worth-more-than-$100 student clarinet on the bus when I was in middle school, and the horrible feeling I had when I realized what had happened followed by a frantic rush to the bus terminal with my mother to track it down. I also remember that same clarinet being knocked off the bleachers in high school (marching band), and how seeing it truly broken was so devastating.

    And after reading this I am SOOO glad I never touched an instrument of that sort of value.


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