Skip to comments.Selling a 300-Year-Old Cello
Posted on 01/15/2012 2:25:59 PM PST by billorites
On a cold day last winter, an ailing Bernard Greenhouse, wearing an elegant bathrobe and attached to oxygen, was wheeled into the living room of his Cape Cod home, which was festooned with paper cutouts of musical notes. Relatives and students, locals and caregivers had gathered to celebrate the 95th birthday of one of classical musics most respected cellists, a founding member of the famed Beaux Arts Trio and a beloved teacher. Young cellists performed for him, and then Greenhouse indulged in a martini and a plate of oysters. Thus fortified, he decided he wanted to play for the company. He picked up his cello and, though a bit wobbly, rendered Song of the Birds, a Catalan folk melody transcribed by Casals, with whom he studied many years ago.
And then he laid down the bow and praised the cello for its beauty, Nicholas Delbanco, Greenhouses son-in-law, recounted. He said it had been his lifelong companion and the darling of his heart. Indeed, the instrument, known as the Countess of Stainlein, ex-Paganini of 1707 perhaps the greatest surviving Stradivarius cello had been with Greenhouse for 54 years. It was his voice on numerous recordings and a presence at up to 200 concerts a year. Toward the end of his life, Greenhouse asked his nurses to lay the instrument next to him in bed.
But in a twist of exquisite poignancy, Greenhouse was not actually playing his precious cello that day on Cape Cod. It was an exact replica that was made especially for him, a beautiful instrument but not the Strad. As they listened to him talk of his love for the cello, his daughter Elena grieved that he could not tell he was playing the substitute. We knew that this was the beginning of the end,
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Many complain they lack storage space.
But they should remember: there’s always room for a cello!
Fascinating article. A Stradivarius turned up in a vault here in Milwaukee and was eventually sold to the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Foundation for use by its concert master. When the concert master moves on, the violin stays here and is lent to the new CM.
A friend was invited by a business colleague of her husband’s to attend a private dinner at anunknown home on the east side. Access to this dinner had been purchased at a charity auction, so my friend did not know where she was going. After the guests had gathered for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the living room, the man of the house came down the stairs with a violin tucked under his arm. It was the symphony orchestra’s concert master, and he treated the guests to an hour’s worth of music played on the “new” Strad. My friend is NEVEER going to forget that evening.
How was the sound quality of the “new” strad - esp compared to an original Strad?
It was an original strad. I called it “new” because it was new to the orchestra and to the artist. This violin had been locked in a vault (thought lost) for 30 years and no one had heard it before.
The previous owner (a concert violinist) had left it in Milwaukee when she could no longer play. Apparently she used to “summer” here between tours, and she liked this town. I’m not sure that her heirs knew the instrument was here, but when they discovered it in the vault, they decided to sell. They had many stipulations about who should get it which is why everybody was pleased that the orchestra foundation raised the cash to buy it.
One of my grandsons is playing cello. He’s five.
This is a news account which is not exactly how I heard the story. Ownership is a little muddled in this account, but it's generally the same.
It’s gotto be bigger than he is, unless he is lucky enough to have a model sized for a child! My father’s twin sister played the cello, along with many other instruments.
My father was from a family of 9, raised on a ranch in CA. My grandmother had been a music missionary to the Choctaw tribe in Oklahoma Territory before she was married. So, she taught all of her own children different instruments. She wanted her children to be able to have an orchestra to entertain them in the evening.
All of the girls (my aunts) eventually taught music, but my dad never did anything with it. He would play the first page of The Swan beautifully and then claim that he didn’t feel like playing any more. My mother was married to him a year before she learned that he didn’t know how to play the piano at all. His sister had taught him one page and stopped.
His assigned instrument was the cornet, and he didn’t like it.
Am I the only one who noticed in the article that his “wonderful family” STOLE HIS CELLO, had a replica made, and gave the old man the replica to play? And he never knew.
Obviously they see nothing wrong with this; in fact, they want to be congratulated for their treachery, the way they blather about it to the New York Times.
I’m pretty sure it’s called theft, conversion, and elder abuse, for starters.
I’ve heard of greedy kids, but this bunch takes the cake.
Maybe they were greedy or maybe their dad was unstable and they were concerned he would fall with it. If he damaged it he would be heartbroken.
There are a lot of greedy kids around. If only this were the worst example. I could tell you stories that would make your hair stand on end.
Great article, and thanks for posting it. Regarding the relationship between a musician, and his instrument,,,
I’ve played electric guitar and pedal steel for over 50 years. 1/2 of my income for sure. I played a Telecaster. One has to “dominate” a Tele. Great guitars, but you must be very firm with them to get what you want. I’m a finger-style player, so I’m somewhat of an oddball. I stopped in a music store in Streetsborrough, and there was a ‘57 Strat. Rattle-canned black, with the previous owner’s name in stick on post box letters. The guitar was amazing! I went back every day for 10 days before trading for it. The guitar spoke to me as a partner. I didn’t have to “dominate” it. It worked with me. The nuances of my style were presented by this guitar magnificently. No forcing it into submission. I’ll have it until I die, then my Sister will sell it at a garage sale for $25. Wonder what it will sound like when it’s 300 years old!
I read once of a lady who was playing a duet whan she started to faint. The pianist junped up, grabbed her Strad, and let her fall.
Baddest Thing I Ever Done Was Just To Be Your Fellow That Didn't Seem To Work With You What Happened To Your Mellow? But You Don't Need This Can Of Beans So Get Back To Your Magazines Check What's On Page 92 There's A Recipe For Loving You It's A Cookin' Little Recipe All You're Needin' Is A Fellow (you Need A Mighty Fellow) Why Couldn't That Boy Be Me? I'm As Mellow As A Cello But I Want To Know How Come My Cello Don't Play For You? It Needs To Play Or It Gets Blue If It Don't Play A Song A Day I Might As Well Throw The Thing Away I Might As Well Throw This Thing Away (Dan Hicks.)