Instruments Owned by Nippon Music Foundation

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Stradivarius 1696 Cello

“Lord Aylesford”

  • “Lord Aylesford”
  • “Lord Aylesford”


The back, in two pieces, is of wood cut on the slab and marked by a curl of medium strength, a small wing having been added by the maker to the right bottom flank. That of the sides is similar. The head cut on the quarter is of more pronounced curl. The table, in five pieces of pine, is rather open grain. The varnish, liberally applied, is of an orange red color, of a deeper shade on the table. The length of the cello was slightly reduced in order to make it easier to play. This work was carried out very successfully by an excellent luthier in a way that cannot to be visually recognized. The instrument is a characteristic example of the above period of Stradivari’s work.


It is said that there are about 50 cellos made by Antonio Stradivari that still exist. This cello was brought to London from Italy about 1780 by a well-known musician, Felice de Giardini (1716-1796), who sold it to Lord Aylesford, a well-known amateur player. It was retained by his family for about 100 years, hence the name of this cello. In 1875, it was sold to George Hart, violin dealer of London, who sold it to Baron Heath in 1880. However, it was bought back by George Hart, in 1882 and re-sold to Mr. Richard Bennett, who in later years formed a fine collection of Cremonese masterpieces and who at one time possessed famous instruments made by Stradivari. Not being a cellist himself, Mr. Bennett parted with the instrument and left it on sale with W. E. Hill & Sons in 1892. The firm retained possession of it until 1898, when it once more passed into the hands of George Hart, who later sold it to Mr. Keene of Buenos Aires. It was purchased by Maucotel of Paris in 1923 and was sold in Germany through the intermediary of Mr. Hamma of Stuttgart. It later formed part of the famous Harry Wahl collection in Helsinki, Finland. At the termination of the World War II, he sold many of his instruments to Emil Herrmann of New York, and in 1946, through him it went to the possession of Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976), the world-acclaimed cellist who resided in Philadelphia. Janos Starker (1924-2013) had the use of this cello during 1950-1965 and made 35 recordings with the instrument. In the mid 1960’s, the cello passed into the hands of Mr. Werro of Berne, Switzerland and had been kept by his family since then. Nippon Music Foundation acquired this instrument in June 2003 from the Werro family through a luthier.


Stradivarius 1696 Cello “Lord Aylesford”

October 12, 1966 Rembert Wurlitzer, Inc., to Henry Werro
September 28, 1959 Emil Herrrmann, to Hugh W. Long
October 22, 1946 W. E. Hill & Sons, to Gregor Piatigorsky


Stradivarius 1696 Cello “Lord Aylesford”

April 23, 2003 Andrew Hill, Report to Nippon Music Foundation
October 21, 1946 William E. Hill & Sons, History letter to Gregor Piatigorsky

“Violin Iconography of Antonio Stradivari: 1644-1737” by H.K. Goodkind (P261-262)
“Antonio Stradivari His Life of Work” by W. E . Hill (P116-118)
“How Many Strads?” by Doring (P89-91)

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