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A viola with a tragic history

Sunday, 05 May 2013

Here are some pictures of a beautiful viola with a profoundly sad past. It once belonged to the South African player Cecil Aronowitz and he was playing it when he collapsed with a fatal stroke in 1978.

Ariane Todes, editor of The Strad, recently met its current owner, Louise Lansdowne, head of strings at Birmingham Conservatoire, at the Spanish Viola Congress, and Louise told the story of the instrument and kindly let Ariane take pictures.

The instrument bears a label of a 1732 Tecchler, but Charles Beare considers it more likely to be a 1750 French instrument. If you look carefully, you can still see some of the scars on the back – a sad reminder of its tragic history. 

You can watch Aronowitz performing on the viola in this recording of the Mozart Quintet in G minor with the Amadeus Quartet in 1966.

Look at pictures of the violin once played by Jean Sibelius.

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