Antonio Stradivari created a large number of violins that are still known as the best instruments to be played. The Messiah Violin is one of those fine instruments that the famous violin maker crafted during the prime of his instrument-making period, known as the Stradivari Golden Period.
The Messiah Violin is one of the most precious violins in the world, which has remained in perfect condition as evidenced by its unworn varnish and crisp sound. However, the violin is famous not only because of its excellent sound quality, but because of the bizarre events in which it has managed to survive.
The Messiah has an interesting history that begins after Antonio Stradivari’s death. The violin had remained in his possession until then. But after Stradivari’s passing, his son decided to sell the eleven remaining instruments in his workshop, and the Messiah Violin was one of them. It was originally sold to Count De Salabue, and for some time the violin was named Salabue. The Count kept the violin until 1827. He then sold it to Luigi Tarisio.
Tarisio built himself a business through buying and selling instruments, but for some reason, he could not bear to part with this particular violin. It was always the center of his discussions, which is why a violinist by the name of Delphin Alard called this particular Strad instrument, ‘the Messiah’ as it was always waited for, but never arrived. From here on the violin got it’s famous nickname, which has remained to this day.
After Tarisio’s death, the Messiah switched owners a few more times until it was eventually sold to W.E Hills and his sons for 2,600 British pounds, which was then the highest price ever paid for any violin.
The life of the Messiah Stradivarius has also been a controversial one. The authenticity of the violin has been under heated debate, questioning both its craftsmanship and its tonal potentials. As it has been rarely played, some have even raised questions about it being an authentic violin made by Antonio Stradivari. However, experts have thoroughly studied this particular violin, and after an extensive study of its varnish, type of wood, the fingerprints under varnish, etc… the Messiah violin was determined to be made during the lifetime of Antonio Stradivari.
Today the Messiah Violin is in the possesion of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England. The violin is still not played much, but it was used by Nathan Milstein before 1940. He described it as an unforgettable experience and regarded it as one of the most valuable violins of Antonio Stradivari.
The violin remains in excellent condition even though it has traveled quite the journey of being sold over and over, before reaching its current home at the Ashmolean Museum. Undoubtedly, one reason for it staying in pristine condition is that it has always been a collector’s item. Throughout it’s long life, the Messiah has been kept well guarded and safe. Its handwritten sealed label, strong red varnish, and all parts remain in good form that makes it as one of the most beautiful violins made by Stradivari.