Life and Owners of the 1714 Soil Stradivarius – Violin Pros

Life and Owners of the 1714 Soil Stradivarius

The 1714 Soil Stradivarius is known as the "Mona Lisa" of musical instruments, crafted by Antonio Stradivari at the peak of his golden period. Over a 300 year lifespan, it has had many owners and a colorful past. Inspired by the Scott Cao 1714 Soil copy we have in stock, we took a deep dive into the history behind this beloved violin.

It was crafted in Cremona, Italy.

The original owner and early years of the 1714 are unknown. However, the first recorded purchase was in 1859 by Jean Baptiste Vuillaume, a tradesman and maker of fine violins. Vuillaume dominated the violin trade in the mid-19th century as the first violin shop to conduct business in every European country. He is famous for acquiring and copying instruments from the old masters, Stradivari chief among them. He once made a copy of the virtuoso Paganini’s violin, a Guarneri del Gesù known as “Il Cannone” which was so perfect that Paganini couldn’t tell the difference when he viewed them side by side. Vuillaume’s prowess as a maker and tradesman endures to this day as many notable violinists still play his instruments. The 1714 Soil was named after its next owner, Amédée Soil, a Belgian collector who owned the violin from 1874-1911.

It was owned by collector Oscar Bondy during WWII.

The Soil was acquired in 1911 by Oscar Bondy, a collector living in Vienna, Austria. After the 1938 annexation of Austria by the Third Reich, Bondy fled to the United States and most of the items in his collection were seized and transported to the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Neue Burg, Vienna. Two of the Stradivarii he owned, the 1714 Soil and the 1679 Hellier escaped seizure, but an alleged third, the 1722 Cremonese was not so lucky. To this day it has never been found.

    It was played by Yehudi Menhuin.

    Yehudi Menhuin purchased the 1714 Soil in 1950. He is widely considered one of the quintessential virtuosos of the golden age of violin, a period that began with Paganini in the mid 19th century and ended with the rise of technology in the mid-to-late 20th century. A child prodigy, Menhuin began his career at the age of seven, when he performed a concerto with the San Francisco Symphony. His performing career was long and varied, including a great many concerts and recordings that are considered standard to this day.

    World-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman plays it now.

    Another child prodigy, Perlman’s fascination with the violin began at a young age when he heard a classical performance on the radio. He began playing at the age of three but was denied admission to a conservatory because he was too small to hold a violin. He contracted polio at the age of four, forcing him to take a year off from his studies, yet returned to them with a vengeance the next year. When he was thirteen, he made an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show which catapulted him to widespread fame. He purchased the Soil in 1986 and describes it as a dream come true. He says, “It’s a response, it’s the sound that comes under your ear, and it’s the way that it carries in a concert hall. It’s fantastic.” Though Perlman has owned many excellent instruments, including a Guarneri del Gesù, the Soil remains his favorite.

      Many makers replicate the Soil.

      Due to the beautiful nature of this instrument, many luthiers copy the Soil. Among these, some of the best come from the workshop of well-known maker Scott Cao with his 1714 Soil, which we are proud to carry. These instruments come in all levels from student to professional, and capture the essence of the original Stradivarius in their beautiful, clear sound and aesthetically pleasing form. 



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