In 2011, the Stradivarius violin known as the “Lady Blunt” sold for $15.9 million—four times the amount for any previous Stradivarius. The hefty price tag for these instruments is commensurate with their reputation. The Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti, who plays the 1717 “Gariel” Strad, has spoken of its “addictive quality,” while Anne-Sophie Mutter, who plays the 1710 “Lord Dunn-Raven,” has described how “these Stradivari violins have the amazing capacity to keep the substance of their sound, even when playing at the quietest pianissimo.” Stradivari’s instruments are also rare: only around 650 are believed to have survived.
For players and buyers alike, Stradivari violins clearly have valuable and special properties that modern violins cannot replicate. Several theories exist to explain this: it may be due to the specific wood or varnish that Stradivari used, which can no longer be sourced today; or perhaps it is down to how numerous violinists have played them over the years, allowing their sounds to mature in unpredictable ways. Full story.