Monday, February 17, 2014

Stealing & Recovering a $5 Million Stradivarius in Milwaukee

It's easy to put a romantic spin on a story about the theft of a Stradivarius violin, but it was anything but for Milwaukee Symphony Concertmaster Frank Almond when he found himself tasered and his $5 million "Lipinski" Stradivarius stolen just before he got in his car following a concert.

Indulge me with a moment of levity. I can't help it. I imagine that there are many in my age group who automatically hear the pronunciation offered by Vincent Furnier, known professionally as Alice Cooper, in this movie scene:


Done? Done.

Almond recently told his side of the story to The Violinist's Laurie Niles.

Fortunately, the tale ends positively with the recovery of the violin and the arrest of the two individuals suspected in the case. Almond was back on stage with the "Lipinski" in concert a week after it was recovered.

One of the things I appreciated is that the value of both of the bows that resided in the violin case along with the Stradivarius were divulged: $20,000 and $30,000. Stradivarius violins are so desired because they produce an amazing sound, are rare, and still retain some mystery in terms of the exact combination of materials that work to give the instrument its sound. But every violin needs a bow if you are going to realize the instrument's potential. A bow's construction is just as important as its larger partner. Of course, a bow isn't much without a violin where you can still make music on a violin in the absence of a bow.

My public service announcement for the day to any parent who has a child who is becoming more serious about being a violinist and who is playing on a full-size instrument, is that it's worthwhile to invest in owning a violin and it's worthwhile to buy a quality bow. Your wallet may be unhappy in the short term, but your child will enjoy playing on a better quality violin versus struggling with a violin-shaped-object. The goal of purchasing a violin is not just to save on rental costs but to give your child the opportunity of a lifelong enjoyment of her instrument. Here are some other thoughts on the topic.

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