The founder of the Chimei collection was 96


Shi Wen-Long |

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The instrument collector and founder of the Taiwan-based Chimei Corporation Shi Wen-Long died on Saturday 18 November 2023. He was 96 years old. 

Shi was born in Tainan City in 1928. He taught himself to play the violin and started an ensemble as a teenager growing up in wartime Taiwan. When the strings broke on his first violin, which he purchased from a roadside salesman, Shi replaced the strings with wires salvaged from the wreckage of a Japanese fighter plane that had been shot down over Taiwan during the Second World War.

His company, the Chimei Corporation, grew to become the world’s largest producer of ABS resin, a plastic widely used in the household, automotive and computer industries. Following the success of his business in the late 1980s, he pursued his passions as an amateur violinist and instrument collector.

He purchased his first instrument from Cho-Liang Lin, the 1707 ’Dushkin’ Stradivari violin. He amassed an impressive collection of fine instruments over the next three decades, believing that the instruments should be shared with others. In 1992, he began displaying his collection in one of his factory’s buildings, eventually moving the instruments to the newly built Chimei Museum in 2015 in his home town of Tainan City.

The Chimei collection comprises over 1,300 instruments by over 900 makers. The instruments are loaned to notable musicians free of charge, with over 3,000 musicians having borrowed instruments from the collection. Significant instruments in the collection include the ‘Ole Bull’ Guarneri del Gesù, the ‘Marie Hall, Viotti’ Stradivari, the ‘Perkin, Burnford’ Bergonzi violins, as well as the the ‘Carlo IX’ cello by Andrea Amati.

A concert will be held to remember Shi, with a five-day memorial service. The Chimei Museum will hold a private concert for family and friends on 1 and 2 December 2023.

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