Instruments Owned by Nippon Music Foundation

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Stradivarius

Stradivarius

“Paganini Quartet”

  • “Paganini Quartet”
  • “Paganini Quartet”
  • “Paganini Quartet”
  • “Paganini Quartet”
  • “Paganini Quartet”

Feature

This is one of the 6 sets of quartets compiled with instruments made by Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) known to exist today. The 6 instruments are all in very fine condition, the viola in particular. A member of the Cleveland Quartet who played one of the “Paganini Quartet” instruments from 1982 to 1993, highly praised its superb sound, matured and refined by being played for over several centuries.

1680 Violin “Paganini”

The back is in two pieces of wood marked by a medium somewhat irregular curl. The sides are marked by medium grain, are of good depth and in excellent condition. The head is of plain wood. The table is marked by varying medium grain. The varnish is golden brown.

1727 Violin “Paganini”

The back is in two pieces of wood, marked by a horizontal medium curl. The sides are marked by a strong small curl, are of good depth, in good condition, and unusually, the bottom rib is still in one piece. The head is marked by medium curl. The table is marked by bold medium grain. The varnish is reddish brown in color.

1731 Viola “Paganini”

The back is in one piece of wood, marked by a strong medium curl ascending to the right. The sides are marked by a smaller curl, are of good depth and in excellent condition. The head is marked by plainish curl. The table is marked by strong, largely fine grain. The varnish is golden orange brown.

1736 Cello “Paganini”

The back is in two pieces of wood marked by a handsome small horizontal curl. The sides are marked by a very strong small curl, are of good depth and in excellent condition. The head is marked by fairly plain curl, and is in excellent condition. The table is marked by fine grain at the center, opening towards the flanks. The varnish is red-brown and really not that much worn.

History

The name of the quartet derives from Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), a legendary violinist of the 19th century, who once used and played them for his own quartet in the 1830’s.

With the death of Paganini in 1840, the instruments were separated from each other until in the beginning of the 20th century when Emil Hermann, a renowned luthier in New York, brought them together again spending more than 25 years. The widow of the U.S. Senator William A. Clark, Anna E. Clark purchased the quartet from Emil Herrmann in the 1940’s, and in 1964, donated them to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Under the condition of Madam Clark’s donation, the Corcoran had been carrying out a program of loaning instruments, based on which the quartet was lent to the Cleveland String Quartet until 1940.

Since the collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art mainly included paintings and sculptures, there were no specialized curators for musical instruments and the Corcoran had felt difficulty monitoring and maintaining the instruments as well as loaning and using them in public performances. This met with the new direction of Nippon Music Foundation to embark on a new program of loaning fine stringed instruments, and in April 1994, the Corcoran sold the “Paganini Quartet” to the Foundation.

Right after purchase, the Foundation held a concert in Tokyo to present “Paganini Quartet” performed by Maestro Lorin Maazel (1930-2014), conductor and then member of the Foundation’s Instrument Loan Committee, together with a principal member of the Philharmonia Symphony Orchestra who was visiting Japan at the time. After playing the 1727 Paganini violin, Maestro Maazel was impressed that it was as if he had a dialogue with Paganini himself.

Succeeding the will of Madam Clark, Nippon Music Foundation has been loaning the “Paganini Quartet” as a set to string quartets including Tokyo String Quart, Hagen Quartet and Quartetto di Cremona. The four instruments were displayed in the exhibition “Fiddles of the Master Craftsmen” at the Brooklyn Museum from April 27 through June 3, 1945 commemorating the 300th anniversary of the birth of Antonio Stradivari and the 200th anniversary of the death of Giuseppe Antonio Guarneri. The Stradivarius 1708 Violin “Huggins” owned by the Foundation was also displayed in this exhibition.

Certificate

1680 Violin “Paganini”

December 18, 1922 Caressa & Francais, Succ, to Pierre de Ellisseieff
January 16, 1946 Emil Herrmann, to Anna E. Clark

1727 Violin “Paganini”

June 3, 1945 Emil Herrmann
January 16, 1946 Emil Herrmann, to Anna E. Clark
August 25, 1914 William E. Ridcoms (W.E.Hill & Sons), to Felix E.Kahn

1731 Viola “Paganini”

January 16, 1946 Emil Herrmann, to Anna E. Clark
September 11, 1936 W.M. EBSWORTH Hill

1736 Cello “Paganini”

January 16, 1946 Emil Herrmann, to Anna E. Clark

Reference

1680 Violin “Paganini”

November 9, 1993 Andrew Hill, Report to Nippon Music Foundation
June 3, 1945 Certificate of the Exhibition at Brooklyn Museum
April 27- June 3, 1945 Exhibition at Brooklyn Museum “Fiddles of the Master Craftsmen” commemorating the 300th anniversary of the birth of Antonio Stradivari and the 200th anniversary of the death of Giuseppe Antonio Guarneri
August 25, 1914 William E. Ridcoms (W.E.Hill&Sons), History Letter

1727 Violin “Paganini”

November 9, 1993 Andrew Hill, Report to Nippon Music Foundation
June 3, 1945 Certificate of the Exhibition at Brooklyn Museum
April 27- June 3, 1945 Exhibition at Brooklyn Museum “Fiddles of the Master Craftsmen” commemorating the 300th anniversary of the birth of Antonio Stradivari and the 200th anniversary of the death of Giuseppe Antonio Guarneri
August 25, 1914 William E. Ridcoms (W.E.Hill&Sons), History Letter

1731 Viola “Paganini”

November 9, 1993 Andrew Hill, Report to Nippon Music Foundation
June 3, 1945 Certificate of the Exhibition at Brooklyn Museum
April 27- June 3, 1945 Exhibition at Brooklyn Museum “Fiddles of the Master Craftsmen” commemorating the 300th anniversary of the birth of Antonio Stradivari and the 200th anniversary of the death of Giuseppe Antonio Guarneri
September 15, 1936 Alfred Hill, letter to Francesco Mendelssohn
August 25, 1914 William E. Ridcoms (W.E.Hill&Sons), History Letter

1736 Cello “Paganini”

November 9, 1993 Andrew Hill, Report to Nippon Music Foundation
June 3, 1945 Certificate of the Exhibition at Brooklyn Museum
April 27- June 3, 1945 Exhibition at Brooklyn Museum “Fiddles of the Master Craftsmen” commemorating the 300th anniversary of the birth of Antonio Stradivari and the 200th anniversary of the death of Giuseppe Antonio Guarneri
August 25, 1914 William E. Ridcoms (W.E.Hill&Sons), History Letter

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