‘The scent of fraud hangs about him’ - The Brothers Abell: Secrets and Lies

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Follow the lives of two brothers embroiled scandals, lies and violins

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Arthur and Edward Abell, two sons of a 19th century, sixth-generation Connecticut farmer, had humble roots but big dreams. Almost impossibly, Arthur (1868–1958) went on to study violin with Joseph Joachim’s student Carl Halir (at Joachim’s recommendation) at Berlin’s Königliche Akademische Hochschule für Musik and became one of the more prominent music critics of the 20th century. Edward (1864–1957), after his father put him out to work on a farm at only 14 years old to help support their large family, managed to graduate from Yale University. But instead of following his dream, he turned down a chance to gain a doctorate in astronomy to resign himself to a mid-level job at an electric company for practicality’s sake. As Arthur exchanged letters with Richard Strauss, Edward toiled in near obscurity. Though they had quite divergent career paths, one common frontier they shared was a lifelong love of the violin and each had access to their own violin collections: one very public (2022 being the 100th anniversary of the somewhat scandalous sale of this assemblage) and the other extremely private…

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