31st March 2015
Sotheby's, New Bond Street, London
The ‘Macdonald’ Viola.
A Stradivari viola is the ultimate prize for collectors of musical instruments. In a career spanning 71 years, Stradivari produced around 600 violins and over 60 cellos, but his violas are exceptionally rare, with only 10 examples surviving intact. For this reason the violas are especially treasured.
The last time that a Stradivari viola was on the market was in 1964 when the ‘Macdonald’ was purchased for Peter Schidlof, the celebrated violist of the Amadeus Quartet. Exactly 50 years later it is returning to the market, and the chance to acquire it is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“its proportions are untouched and, in fact, as left by the maker. I therefore hope it will pass into appreciative hands and thus be henceforth preserved for the admiration of posterity”- Alfred Hill, 1926
“the ‘Macdonald’ is without peer: the finest Stradivari viola in existence”
“the Rolls Royce of instruments” – Peter Schidlof, former owner and renowned violist
“The Finest Stradivari Viola in Existence”
Antonio Stradivari undisputed as the most celebrated violin maker of all time and the name “Stradivarius”, as it appears in Latin on his instruments’ labels, has become a byword for perfection. In a career spanning 71 years, Stradivari produced around 600 violins and over 60 cellos, but his violas are exceptionally rare, with only ten examples surviving intact. For this reason the violas are especially treasured.
A Musical Heritage
As well as being an outstanding example of Stradivari’s craftsmanship, the ‘Macdonald’ viola also holds a distinguished place in the musical and cultural heritage of the last century. In 1964 the viola was purchased by Philips, the Dutch-based electronics company who owned Deutsche Grammophon, for the use of Peter Schidlof of the Amadeus Quartet. By this time, the quartet had developed an outstanding international reputation as the pre-eminent quartet of the day and are still appreciated through their recordings, particularly for their interpretations of Haydn and Mozart.
Stradivari: A Sound Investment
In centuries past it was common for royal patrons to buy instruments directly from the most celebrated maker of the day, such as the set of 38 decorated instruments made by Andrea Amati for Charles IX of France or the quintets made by Antonio Stradivari for the Spanish Court and the Medici family. Yet these were one-off purchases largely born of a desire for status and prestige, not for the love of the object that is unique to the true collector’s mentality that we understand today.