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From the ARCHIVE

An unsolved mystery from 1869: T.L. Phipson relates how a c.1709 Stradivari violin vanished without trace – and as far as we know, remains missing to this day

One fine afternoon in 1868, I was coming thorough Wardour Street and thought I would call in at George Hart’s for a few strings. On this occasion, there was a handsome, fair-haired, young man, barely twenty-four years of age, rather tall, and of very gentlemanly appearance, walking up and down the room, playing a series of scales and cadenzas on a fine toned violin. It struck me that he was a very good player, and I sat down for some time to listen to him. At last he finished playing and turning to Hart, said:— “Yes, I am quite contented, I have brought a blank cheque with me, and I will fill it up now.” “If you fill up your cheque for three hundred and four pounds, that will be all right,” said Hart. I learnt he was a not a professional violinist, but a young attaché to the Embassy of St. Petersburg, named Warde, and that he was on the point of leaving England for that city. Well, the following year, I purchased a Globe newspaper and came upon a paragraph announcing with great regret the death of the young English attaché. I was much pained in reading this, for I That once recognized the talented violinist I had met accidentally at George Hart’s music shop. One day I called at Hart’s and told him what I had seen, asking him if he knew it. “Oh, yes,” he replied. “It appears that after playing at a musical evening in the house of one of his friends, he was fondling a parrot, which bit him upon the lip. At first nothing was thought of the slight wound; but he afterwards caught cold, and it festered, producing blood-poisoning, to which, unfortunately, he succumbed.”

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About The Strad

Lisa Batiashvili discusses her latest projects and we delve into the mysterious world of varnish making. There’s a look at strategies for teaching adolescents, and Leila Josefowicz completes her look at Berg’s Violin Concerto. Plus Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s Sentimental Work.