A violin from Hollywood’s golden era fetches record price at auction
From the “Stradivarius” trademark, made in 1714
Wednesday – 17 Shawwal 1443 AH – 18 May 2022 AD Issue No. [
A 1714 violin, the first “Stradivarius” violin since the so-called golden age of the violin, was auctioned for decades (The New York Times)
New York: James B. Stewart
Rare violins – once owned by prominent artists such as Fritz Kreisler, Josha Hefetz and Yehudi Menuhin – have been sold privately for up to $ 20 million in recent years. The instruments they played had their own names, such as the “Earl of Plymouth” Stradivarius, now also referred to as the “X-Chrysler” to increase its reputation, its mystery and its market value.
Could Tosha Seidl’s violin use the same marketing magic – even though his fame came mostly from Hollywood rather than the concert hall?
Musicians and collectors will know soon. Following a world tour that is currently underway, Seidel’s violin owned and played, called “Da Vinci”, a 1714 Stradivarius trademark, will be sold by Trisio Online Auctions in an auction held from today 18 May to June 9 next run. It is the first Stradivarius violin since the so-called golden age of the violin auctioned in decades.
Unlike most other musical instruments, Stradivarius violins eventually gained familiar names, some of them somewhat imaginative, such as “Sleeping Beauty”. Well-known artist Niccol Paganini called his violin “Il Canone”. There is no connection between the violin “Da Vinci” and the famous Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. In a marketing tactic, a trader sold three Stradivarius violins in the 1920s after naming them famous Renaissance painters: in addition to Da Vinci, Tischian and Michelangelo.
The violin itself is of course the most important factor in determining its value, with the instruments made by the Renaissance families of the Stradivari, Amati and Guarnery families being the most expensive of their counterparts. The condition of the violin is one of the most important other conditions. As well as the identity of the previous owners – ie the origin.
Few people today know the name Seidel. But he was so successful in the 1920s that he was able to buy a German known as “Da Vinci” for $ 25,000 (today more than $ 400,000), a deal that appeared on the front page of the New York Times on April 27, 1924. . Seidl said at the time that he would not trade the violin “for a million dollars”, and considered it his most valuable possession, adding: “The notes vary in outstanding strength and beauty.”
Seidl was so famous in his youth that composer George Gershwin wrote a comedy song about him and three of his Russian Jewish counterparts: “Misha, Sasha, Tosha, Yasha”. (“We Are Four Musicians Three”) Seidl and Hefetz were both born in Ukraine, both in St. Petersburg. Petersburg studied with the leading teacher Leopold Auer, and both emigrated to the United States after the unrest of the Russian Revolution. Their first concert was within months in a row at Carnegie Hall; This provoked a flurry of critics.
Albert Einstein took violin lessons from Seidl, and together they performed Bach’s Double Concert for a fundraiser. Their hair was shockingly thick and stubborn; This reinforced the image of the long-haired musician’s caricature, such as Franz Liszt.
Seidl and Hefetz settled in Los Angeles, where the film industry flourished and paved the way for Seidl’s success.
By the 1930s, he was surrounded by a crowd of Jewish exiles from Nazi Germany and war-torn Europe. Among them were composers Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg and Erich Wolfgang Korngold.
Seidl starred in many of Korngold’s most famous films, including “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (for which Korngold won an Oscar), and “Anthony Advers (Detto”). The two men recorded violin and piano playing in Korngold’s movie “The Great Exaggeration of Nothing”, with the composer playing the piano.
Film directors and composers tried to extract Seidl’s warm, rich tone. He was the concert moderator for the prestigious Paramount Orchestra, and played violin solo in the famous “The Wizard of Oz” as well as David Selznick’s “Intermezzo”, in which a famous violinist (performed by Leslie Howard) falls in love with his accompanist (Ingrid Bergman). .
As violinist and journalist Adam Baer wrote in a 2017 article for the American Scholar Literary Forum, “To a large extent, the love scenes or depictions of the underprivileged in movies – or any scene that evokes pathetic or strong emotions – are associated with the sound of the violin, goes back to a degree Great to Seidl. ” (Professor Bayer studied violin with Seidl and insisted that his students listen to recordings of Seidl’s performances.)
Although Seidl is best known for his film work, he also played classical music; He had previously played solo with the orchestra and toured between various occasions. In the 1930s he was heard by millions of radio listeners as a music director and recurring soloist with the CBS Symphony Orchestra. In 1934 he had a special weekly broadcast on the “Tosha Seidel Show”. (There are several YouTube recordings of his rich voice, including the 1945 recording of “Boemi” by Ernst Chausson, with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski.)
As Hollywood’s golden age faded, studios abandoned internal orchestras and instead relied on independent players. As Seidl got older, he developed a nervous condition that gradually diminished his game. The prominent violinist eventually worked in an orchestra in a Las Vegas theater before retiring to an avocado farm in California. Then he died in 1962 at the age of 62 and his violin was his most valuable possession.
* The New York Times Service