A Violin From Hollywood’s Golden Age Aims at an Auction File
Rare violins as soon as owned by famed virtuosos like Fritz Kreisler, Jascha Heifetz and Yehudi Menuhin have offered privately in latest decades for up to $20 million. The devices they performed commonly bear their names, like the “Earl of Plymouth” Stradivarius, which to burnish its status, mystique and market value is now also referred to as the “ex-Kreisler.”
Can Toscha Seidel get the job done the exact same internet marketing magic — even even though his fame came largely from Hollywood relatively than the concert hall?
Musicians and collectors will know quickly. Just after a worldwide tour at the moment underway, the violin Seidel owned and played, the “da Vinci” Stradivarius from 1714, will be bought by the on line auction dwelling Tarisio, from May 18 by June 9. It is the very first Stradivarius from the so-known as golden age of violin generating to be auctioned in decades.
Not like most musical instruments, about time all Stradivarius violins have obtained names, some rather fanciful, like “the Sleeping Beauty.” The “da Vinci” has no connection to Leonardo. As a advertising tactic, a dealer who marketed a few Stradivarius violins in the 1920s named them all following renowned Renaissance painters: in addition to the “da Vinci,” the “Titian” and the “Michaelangelo.”
The violin alone is the natural way the most essential component in figuring out its value, with devices built by the Stradivari, Amati and Guarneri family members of Renaissance Italy commanding the maximum selling prices. Issue is yet another critical thought. But so, also, is the identification of its prior house owners — its provenance.
Couple of may figure out Seidel’s identify these days. But he was so profitable by the 1920s that he was in a position to get the “da Vinci” for $25,000 (around $400,000 now), a sale highlighted on the entrance web page of The New York Occasions on April 27, 1924. Seidel stated at the time he would not trade the violin “for a million dollars” and considered it his most treasured possession, incorporating, “The tone is of exceptional power and attractiveness.”
Seidel was so well regarded in his heyday that George and Ira Gershwin wrote a comic music about him and three of his Russian Jewish peers: “Mischa, Sasha, Toscha, Jascha.” (“We are 4 fiddlers three.”) Both researched in St. Petersburg with the eminent instructor Leopold Auer and the two emigrated to the United States after the upheavals of the Russian Revolution. They created their concert debuts at Carnegie Corridor within just months of just about every other, to significant acclaim.
Albert Einstein took violin lessons from Seidel, and with each other they executed Bach’s Double Concerto for a fund-raiser. They sported thick shocks of unruly hair that strengthened the caricature of the very long-haired musician, like Liszt.
Each Seidel and Heifetz settled in Los Angeles, in which the burgeoning motion picture sector paved the way for Seidel’s achievements. By the 1930s, he was surrounded there by a crowd of mainly Jewish exiles from Nazi Germany and war-torn Europe. Among them had been the composers Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg and Erich Wolfgang Korngold.
Seidel performed the principal violin portion in a lot of of Korngold’s celebrated movie scores, which incorporated “A Midsummer Night’s Desire,” “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (for which Korngold gained an Academy Award) and “Anthony Adverse” (ditto). The two guys recorded a violin and piano arrangement of Korngold’s suite for “Much Ado About Absolutely nothing,” with the composer at the piano.
Music administrators and composers sought out Seidel’s warm, abundant tone. He was the concertmaster for the Paramount Studio Orchestra and performed the violin solos for MGM’s “The Wizard of Oz” and David Selznick’s “Intermezzo,” in which a famed violinist (played by Leslie Howard) falls in adore with his accompanist (Ingrid Bergman).
“That we mostly affiliate love scenes or depictions of the considerably less lucky in movies — or any scene evoking tears or solid thoughts — with the audio of the violin is mostly thanks to Seidel,” Adam Baer, a violinist and journalist, in a 2017 posting for The American Scholar. (Baer’s violin teacher examined with Seidel and insisted that his pupils listen to recordings of Seidel performances.)
Even though ideal regarded for his motion picture do the job, Seidel also performed conventional classical repertoire, soloing with orchestras and touring in recital. In the 1930s, he was read by hundreds of thousands of radio listeners as the musical director and a recurrent soloist with CBS’s symphony orchestra. In 1934 he experienced his individual weekly broadcast on the network, “The Toscha Seidel Software.” (A number of recordings showcasing his lush sound are on YouTube, together with a 1945 recording of Chausson’s “Poème” with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra led by Leopold Stokowski.)
“He was a singing violinist, influenced by the cantorial custom,” Baer said in an interview. “He played with as a lot depth of tone and emotional depth as anybody I have heard on disk.”
But Seidel never ever reached Heifetz’s enduring worldwide fame. In Los Angeles, Heifetz generally known as on Seidel to engage in with him in string quartets, basically assuming the purpose of 2nd fiddle.
As the golden age of Hollywood light, the studios deserted their in-dwelling orchestras, relying rather on freelancers. And as he aged, Seidel made a neurological affliction that little by little diminished his actively playing. This the moment-eminent violinist finished up in a pit orchestra in Las Vegas before retiring to an avocado farm in California. He died in 1962, at 62, with his violin by significantly his most beneficial possession.
That violin past offered at auction in London in 1974 for 34,000 lbs (above $3 million currently). It is now owned by the Japanese restaurant chain magnate Tokuji Munetsugu, who has amassed a assortment of rare string devices and sponsors an international violin competitiveness in Japan. (Munetsugu, 73, has not explained why he is selling it.)
Film audio has been generating its way into concert halls, and the “Star Wars” and “Jaws” composer John Williams is arguably the most well-liked dwelling American composer. But movie scores and their mostly anonymous players have long been mostly shunned by the classical music elite.
Could the “da Vinci” sale however established a file?
The “Lady Blunt” Stradivarius, the moment owned by the granddaughter of Lord Byron, holds the recent report for a violin offered at auction. (Its 2011 sale, for $15.9 million, was also taken care of by Tarisio.) Like the “Messiah” Stradivarius now owned by the British Museum, the “Lady Blunt” was rarely at any time played, and continues to be in pristine problem.
Carlos Tome, a violinist and a co-proprietor of Tarisio, reported the auction home has not released an estimate for the “da Vinci.” Citing its rarity — a Stradivarius from the golden time period — its wonderful situation and its “unique Hollywood provenance,” he stated he expects it to market in the $15 million to $20 million assortment.
“It could established a file,” he stated, noting the emergence of a class of wealthy collectors considering that the sale of the “Lady Blunt” a decade ago. (Other dealers say there have due to the fact been several non-public income at charges in excess of $20 million.)
Baer dismissed the idea that the Hollywood pedigree of the “da Vinci” could possibly suppress its worth at auction. Although he conceded Seidel did not document the most intellectually demanding music, he extra that “the reality he was a Hollywood performer should not diminish the value at all.”
“He was a good classical musician in advance of he arrived to Hollywood,” Baer included. “And ‘The Wizard of Oz’ is a very massive offer.”