Instruments Owned by Nippon Music Foundation

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Guarneri del Gesu

Guarneri del Gesù 1740 Violin


  • “Ysaÿe”
  • “Ysaÿe”
  • “Ysaÿe”


The back is in one piece of wood, marked by a strong small curl ascending to the right. The sides are marked by a varying curl, mainly the medium. That of the head is similar. The table is marked by very fine grain at the center, opening towards the flanks. The varnish is orange-gold in color, worn to gold-brown. The most striking feature of this violin is the magnificent chipped and mottled varnish of the back. The f-holes are cut with a strong hand. This violin has been a top-class concert instrument throughout its life, and has been in particularly famous hands in the 20th century. Inside of the violin, the Belgian virtuoso Eugene Ysaye (1858-1931) put a little label written in French in red ink “This del Gesu was the faithful companion of my career, Ysaye 1928”. The violin took part in the procession of Ysaye’s state funeral being carried on a pillow in front of the virtuoso’s coffin.


This violin bears the name “Ysaye” from the Belgian virtuoso, Eugene Ysaye (1858-1931) who used it as concert instrument for many years. Before Ysaye, it belonged to Count Baldeschi and to the collector John Adam. It was later owned by a Dutch doctor, whose daughter took lessons from Ysaye borrowed it for his first tour of America in 1894-1895, and eventually bought it in 1896. It was inherited by the pupil he had married in 1929, Jeanette Dinsin, and bought from her by the conductor Charles Munch (1891-1968). Despite the wish expressed by Ysaÿe that the violin should remain in Belgium, it was sold by the violin dealer Emil Herrmann of New York to Mr. Henry Hottinger. In 1965 it was acquired by the renowned violinist Isaac Stern (1920-2001) to become his primary concert instrument throughout his life. In March 1995, Nippon Music Foundation acquired the violin from Isaac Stern.


Guarneri del Gesu 1740 Violin “Ysaye”

October 9, 1965 Rembert Wurlitzer Inc., to Isaac Stern
April 1, 1958 Emil Harmann, to Charles Munch (copy)
July 29, 1938 Albert Caressa, to Charles Munch
November 8, 1937 Albert Caressa, to Madame Charles Munch


Guarneri del Gesu 1740 Violin “Ysaye”

March 11, 1998 Andrew Hill, Report to Nippon Music Foundation
December 29, 1965 Issac Stern, Letter to Jacques Francais (copy)
October 14, 1965 Jacques Francais, Letter to Issac Stern(copy)
January 23 & 24, 1936 Albert Caressa, History & Description letters

“Violin Iconography of Antonio Stradivari: 1644-1737” by H. K. Goodkind (P660)
“The Violin Masterpieces of Guarneri del Gesu” by Peter Biddulph (P48-49)
“The Henry Hottinger Collection” by Rembert Wurlitzer Incorporated 
“The Violin Maker of the Guarneri Family (1626-1762)” by W. E. Hill & Sons (P87-88, P100-103)

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