How much is a Stradivarius violin worth?

Stradivarius violins are considered a piece of great value and some remain today in banks, palaces or conservatories. Others belong to some collectors of great importance. Also, we mention that some violinists like Salvatore Accardo have had the privilege of playing this brand of violins or have them as instruments for personal use.

In this article we will tell you how much a Stradivarius violin costs, created by the famous luthier Antonio Stradivari. The present violin manufacturer came to create approximately 1,200 instruments, among which Lady Blunt, El Mesías, Lipinski and Stradivarius Dancla stand out. Also, we will talk about how a Stradivarius violin sounds, which performers have had the privilege of playing this brand of instrument and other information of general interest. 

Regarding the price of Stradivarius violins, one of the cheapest ones costs $4,000,000. However, many models belong to people and institutions that we will mention later. In fact, the vast majority of Stradivarius violins still left in the world are not for sale. 

Meet the creator of the Stradivarius violins

Antonio Stradivari, the creator of the Stradivarius violins, was born in Italy in 1644. He was the son of Ana Moroni and Alessandro Stradivari. This man is considered the most important manufacturer of stringed instruments in history. In 1658 he was apprenticed to the talented Niccolò Amati, a very famous musical instrument maker during his time. His initial tasks were simple repairs, but due to his talent and skill he began to do more important work. That is why at the age of 17 he made a violin for the first time by himself.

3 years later, in 1667, he married Francisca Ferraboschi, a young widow with whom he had 5 children. Years later, when Antonio was 54 years old, his first wife died and he married Antonia María Zambelli, who gave him 6 more children.

Very few biographical data are known about this important luthier, however, regarding his talent in making violins, we do find records.

Stradivari and his talent in violin making

In 1683 he moved into his master’s building and quickly became famous as a maker of musical instruments. In addition, he was characterized by showing originality and making modifications or improvements to the violins created by Amati, his teacher. For example, he built violin necks, bows, and gave the instruments a more colorful varnish coating. 

Some time later, between 1700 and 1725, he began to create his own models of violins , these being the most valued. These mythical instruments bear the Latin inscription “Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis anno”, this means that they have his name, city and year of manufacture.

Among his most emblematic works, “the Messiah” stands out, which was manufactured in 1716 and today is exhibited in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. This model has been considered the only violin that is preserved in its original form and to which no modifications have been made. 

Also, we mention his Hammer 1707, Lord Dunn-Raven 1710, Gibson ex Huberman 1713, Cremonese ex Joachim 1714, Lipinski 1715, Lady Blunt 1721, Jupiter 1722 and Sarasate 1724 violins. All these models are of great value today. 

How does a Stradivarius violin sound?

Without a doubt, Stradivarius musical instruments are very famous. Regarding the beautiful audio of Stradivarius violins, there have been a number of theories, among which we can mention:

  • The tree in the river
  • the insecticide
  • Climate change
  • magic varnish
  • sunken ships
  • wood washing

In addition to this, according to some scientists, the so-called “magic ingredient” was a mixture of mineral compounds that came from the mountains of Cremona, which Antonio Stradivari applied to the wood before varnishing it. This mixture after a while made the wood crystallize, thus obtaining a less porous soundboard with a stronger sound.

Similarly, there have been debates about the quality of the wood that this famous luthier used. She came from the Norway spruce, which was found in the Fiemme valley. In fact, there is a scientific explanation regarding the sound and great quality of Stradivarius violins: our famous Stradivari lived through the “Maunder minimum”, a period characterized by the reduction of sunlight, which occurred between the years 1645 and 1715, where there was also a drop in temperatures and an increase in rainfall. Given these peculiar climatic characteristics, the trees from which the wood was obtained had both an elastic and dense composition.

Now, you may be wondering how much a violin of this brand that has been awarded for its perfect sound and beauty costs. Well, the Gibson ex Huberman, for example, was bought for $4,000,000. The person who acquired it was the violinist Joshua Bell. 

Unfortunately, today there is no manufacturer that has been able to create a new Stradivarius collection, so there are only approximately 600 Stradivari-made violins in existence.

What is the most expensive Stradivarius violin?

As we have mentioned before, the violins of this brand have been considered excellent works of art, which is why many antique collectors and musicians have bought several units. Specifically, the price of the most expensive Stradivarius is 15.9 million dollars , a model put up for sale in 2011 by The Nippon Music Foundation. This is a Japanese organization that donated the money to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that occurred in Japan in the same year. The present model, known as Lady Blunt, was part of the collection that the organization owned. It should be noted that the instruments of this foundation are lent free of charge to the most important musicians in the world.

Which violinists have used this brand?

Some violinists of different nationalities have had the privilege of playing a Stradivarius violin. Next, we mention several of them, you may have heard them name at some point, especially if you are a violinist. 

  • Jesús Reina (Spanish) played the former Saint-Exupéry 1718 and the former Beckerath 1720.
  • Joshua Bell (American) Gibson ex Huberman 1713, owned by him.
  • Itzhak Perlman (Israeli) Soil 1714.
  • Gil Shaham (American) Countess Polignac 1699.
  • Leonidas Kavakos (Greek) Falmouth 1692.
  • Vadim Repin (Russian) Ruby 1708.
  • Leila Josefowicz (Canadian) Ruby 1708.
  • Anne-Sophie Mutter (German) Lord Dunn-Raven 1710.
  • Nicola Benedetti (Scottish) Gariel 1717, owned by Jaime Laredo.

In conclusion, Stradivarius violins have been played by many violinists from different countries around the world. However, not all of them are current owners of these violins. Perhaps this will continue to be the case for many more years. 

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