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From the Archive: a violin by Carlo Bergonzi, ‘ex Kreisler’

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This illustration of a violin by Carlo Bergonzi was published in The Strad, January 1987. The following text is extracted from the article accompanying the photographs:

Hill’s record of this Carlo Bergonzi violin places it first in the collection of Count Cozio di Salabue, the first great violin collector and a patron of J.B. Guadagnini. In 1875 Hill’s purchased it from a nobleman’s family in Turin. It was acquired by Mr W. Edwards before becoming part of the Baron Knoop collection. Subsequently returning to Hill’s it was sold to Mr R.C. Baker, who also owned the ‘King’ Guarneri. Upon Baker’s death it was again returned to Hill’s, and in 1939 was sold to Kreisler.

The well-known violinist Angel Reyes purchased the Bergonzi from Wurlitzer in 1945. His account of the acquisition is thus:

‘As we entered the spacious vault of the Wurlitzer Violin department in New York, and I saw the violins on top of a long table, I became transfixed and speechless by their beauty, and the realisation that I was looking at many of the violins Mr Kreisler had played  during his long and glorious career.

‘After a while I became aware that I kept returning to the Carlo Bergonzi, and it did not take long to discover that I was beguiled by this violin. It was “love at first playing”‘.