Yesterday I decided to spend a little time listening to Beethoven, and while watching Arabella Steinbacher play his violin concerto I started to wonder about her instrument – it’s a 1716 Stradivarius called “Booth.” I learned that, like many great players playing great instruments, Steinbacher has the Booth on loan. I’ve written about The Stradivari Society, a fine instrument loan project of Chicago fine violin dealers Bein and Fushi, as one way such loans are brokered.
The Booth Stradivarius, however, is owned by the Nippon Foundation for Music, a sub-foundation of the Nippon Foundation, a Japanese non-profit funded by the profits of the motorboat racing industry in Japan. Based on the organization’s list of instruments and the musicians to whom they have been loaned, this is Steinbacher’s second Stradivarius from the group – the first was “Joachim,” after the legendary 19th century child prodigy who played it.
The Booth gets its name from one of its owners, Otto Von Booth, whose mother purchased it for him in 1855 from Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume in the hopes of assembling a Stradivarius quartet. It seems unlikely the quartet was ever completed. Vuillaume was one of the great makers himself, of course, and in addition to his own instruments he was a renowned steward and repairman of many Stradivari instruments.
Steinbacher has been playing the Booth since 2006. Prior to that, since acquiring it in 1999, the Nippon Music Foundation had loaned it to Julia Fischer as well as Shunske Sato. Thanks to The Nippon Music Foundation, Wikipedia, and Cozio.com for information about the Booth, and to Arabella Steinbacher for the publicity image with the Booth.
Thanks for reading.