Lucerne Festival Strings granted another instrument of the highest calibre
The instrument in question is none other than the Stradivarius «Sellière», a violin in pristine condition considered to have been built before 1680. This violin, having been hidden away first in the private instrument collection and subsequently in the bank vault of the Austrian textile manufacturer Theodor Haemmerle (1859–1930), shall be awakened from its decades long slumber.
Stradivari-Violin «Sellière» (est. before 1680), photo©Jan Roehrmann
The «Sellière» Stradivarius was last played by the renowned Austrian violinist and co-founder of Lucerne Festival Strings Wolfgang Schneiderhan (1915–2002) from presumably 1934 until 1979. The instrument has not been played in public since then. Besides being concertmaster (1938–1949) and honorary member of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Schneiderhan was an important figure for classical music in Lucerne. As co-founder of the Lucerne Festival Strings in 1956 he helped immensely to establish the ensemble as a world class ensemble, and he was an integral part of the program of the Lucerne Festival from the 1940s until the 1980s. In addition, he taught a violin masterclass at the Conservatorium in Lucerne.
Wolfgang Schneiderhan around 1955, photo©Max Jacoby/DG
The loan of this instrument affirms the prestigious reputation of the Lucerne Festival Strings as it is the second Stradivarius that will be played by members of the ensemble. Rudolf Baumgartner, who founded the ensemble together with Schneiderhan, owned the other Stradivarius, an instrument that was also previously part of the Haemmerle collection and was donated to Lucerne Festival Strings in 1986. The unique sound for which Schneiderhan was known – a product of the Viennese school – is now manifested in the magnificent sound of Lucerne Festival Strings.
The «Sellière» with representatives of the Festival Strings Lucerne
The partnership between Lucerne Festival Strings and the Lucerne Foundation Monika Widmer was essential to the process of acquiring the Stradivarius as the foundation generously enabled its purchase. The wish to establish the foundation, which is named after the heir of a Swiss industrialist family, was embedded in the will of Widmer herself. Today the foundation supports non-profit cultural and social projects.
Previous owners of the Stradivarius «Sellière»
- from 1780: King Carlos IV of Spain
- Unknown: Carolina Ferni, Milan
- in 1881: Baron Marie François Alexandre Seillière, Paris
- from 1892: Baron Johann Knoop, London
- from 1895: W.E. Hill & Sons, London
- from 1898: Marie Lynen, Antwerp
- from 1912: Theodor Haemmerle, Vienna
- from 1930: Haemmerle family
- from 2019: Foundation Monika Widmer, Lucerne
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