#45 gives Japanese Emperor a viola!

Edited: May 27, 2019, 8:25 PM · I think its a cool present - anyone know anything about the instrument?

[Edit - maker in comments below]

Replies (66)

May 27, 2019, 12:05 PM · probably made in China!!
May 27, 2019, 12:34 PM · probably has geared pegs
May 27, 2019, 12:34 PM · If I only knew what "#45" means...
Edited: May 27, 2019, 12:51 PM · ---
Edited: May 27, 2019, 12:42 PM · Not our 45th President?

Does the current Emperor play viola? Or was it part of a house-cleaning effort?

NVM— here we go.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/05/27/national/trump-becomes-first-foreign-leader-meet-new-japanese-emperor/#.XOwg-RYo_YU

May 27, 2019, 12:43 PM · all it says is it's American-made, from 1938
May 27, 2019, 1:38 PM · Well, that's original! Jokes may follow...
May 27, 2019, 2:33 PM · "Well, that's original! Jokes may follow..."

LOL! Suddenly viola jokes became kosher again...

[#45? Some of us have a hard time saying 'President T.... grr'. Rats, there it goes again.]

May 27, 2019, 3:37 PM · 1938, made in Charleston, WV. It's just a big fiddle that is out of tune...
May 27, 2019, 3:50 PM · "I am supposed to give him what, viola? What on Earth is THAT!?"
Edited: May 27, 2019, 4:18 PM · I don't like the prevalent US-centrism (how are we not living in that country expected to get your local puns?)

But I get the joke (#45) - here (germany) we call that guy "president actor".

May 27, 2019, 8:15 PM · Its not a pun. He is the 45th 'president'. Pretty straight up - and while you can't be expected to know his number, we had to learn it too.
May 27, 2019, 8:22 PM · Got it - from Maestronet (thanks)
1938 by Ivan W. Allison of Charleston, West Virginia
May 27, 2019, 8:24 PM · … 'it was sold by Joe Joyner. He owns the Little Rock Violin Shop [in Charlston]';….


[Info from Matthew Noykos, Grand Rapids Michigan.]

Edited: May 27, 2019, 10:02 PM · "make viola great again! "
May 27, 2019, 10:30 PM · Anyone know anything about the maker? One of his violins was estimated to go for $1-1.5K at Bromptons in 2009, so it may not have broken the T bank...
May 28, 2019, 1:08 AM · Why did the US President give the Emperor of Japan a viola? Because it'll make a great baseball bat...
Nah
May 28, 2019, 1:43 AM · @elise
You can't expect from those who don't live in the USA to know what you are talking about. After all this is an international forum.
Edited: May 28, 2019, 7:37 AM · >> "make viola great again! " ....

I think viola is already great, but it needs to be a bit smaller so that it is not contribute to physical pain for people with shorter limbs and smaller hands.

By the way, surprisingly, I got what #45 means. I just didn't expect he chooses such classy gift. I have in mind he is the kind who gives statue of himself, or voucher to his golf course or hotel as gift.

Edited: May 28, 2019, 4:41 AM · I think he chose it because a) it was American, b) they knew Hirohito played the viola and 3) it was cheap.

Naruhito probably has some of the most expensive violas on the planet. Thus, the gift may become the living embodiment of the viola joke...

Edited: May 28, 2019, 5:36 AM · I don't think Naruhito owns any super-expensive viola. The instrument he usually plays is by Luis Claudio Manfio, so it's a high-end modern viola and was presumably priced accordingly when he acquired it. Likely over 20 times the price of the gift he just received, but at the same time it would be nowhere near the most expensive violas on the planet.
May 28, 2019, 6:44 AM · Manfio's viola :o Wow, I did not know. I wonder if his price range will go up! Beautiful and treasured instruments, but not in the (price) category that I expected. A humble emperor? :)

Thanks for that info Andrew - but of course we do not know if these two are his only instruments...

Edited: May 28, 2019, 9:13 AM · He might be a "stable genius" after all. How about that. I'll bet the folks advising 45 knew exactly what the Emperor already had and probably thought very carefully about giving him something of significantly superior or inferior value. I'll bet they matched the value of his MANFIO instrument.

By the way, when you insert HTML codes, can you try to do that properly and examine the thread afterward to make sure you haven't messed it up for everyone else.

Edited: May 28, 2019, 1:29 PM · Andrew wrote: "The instrument he usually plays is by Luis Claudio Manfio, so it's a high-end modern viola and was presumably priced accordingly when he acquired it."

I just corresponded with Manfio and this is incorrect. Naruhito borrowed one of Manfio's violas to play on during a visit there but he does NOT own one and it is certainly not his main instrument.

If anyone knows what he does play on we would love to know!

May 28, 2019, 9:42 AM · Elise you're going back a bit. The new emperor's name is Naruhito...
May 28, 2019, 9:52 AM · If you didn't know to whom "#45" refers, consider yourself fortunate that it isn't vital for you to know.
Edited: May 28, 2019, 2:57 PM · This viola is huge! I present you the hugest example of bigly American manufacturing!

(Jeez Rocky, how extra italic did you order your burger?)

Paul, I just added two cancel italic codes, meaning that a bunch of extra italics got added earlier, and it was just a question of balancing the reactants and products, as it were. The margins are a mystery, but then again, my html is limited to that sentence and this one explaining it, as it were.

May 28, 2019, 12:16 PM · How did you silence the italic? I tried adding the slash code, to no avail. Now can you fix the margins too?
May 28, 2019, 12:51 PM · Wouldn't it be ironic of this American instrument, like so many, was a Markneukirchen white viola finished in America??
May 28, 2019, 1:30 PM · Ah. Someone at Slipped Disc commented a while ago that Naruhito's usual viola was by Manfio, and Google then directed me to a Maestronet thread from 2008 that seemed to mention Naruhito commissioning a viola from Manfio. The impression I got from those things may not have been accurate.

Somehow I still don't think he owns a super-expensive viola, because the whereabouts of those instruments tend to be tracked very closely and it would likely be well known if he had one. He seems to have had modern instruments loaned to him on various occasions (most notably the viola from the quartet of instruments made from debris from the 2011 Tohoku tsunami) so it would not surprise me if he prefers a high-end modern viola.

Edited: May 28, 2019, 1:53 PM · Sounds like a thoughtful gift, #45's administration chose well. Hopefully he didn't goofed up like canada's prime minister during Japan last official visit refering to them as China, not once, but twice! So hopefully not a Chinese viola in the blank finished in the USA although that might improve trade relationship with China. Given that Chinese counterfeit parts made their way into the presidential Air Force One, that wouldn't be the least surprising.
May 28, 2019, 2:31 PM · " If you didn't know to whom "#45" refers, consider yourself fortunate that it isn't vital for you to know."
If only this could comfort me...it's a small world.
Edited: May 28, 2019, 6:43 PM · "the whereabouts of those instruments tend to be tracked very closely and it would likely be well known if he had one.."

I thought big ticket purchases were often 'bought by an anonymous buyer'. Maybe Naruhito IS 'anomymous'? ;)

[Steve - thanks for the catch, I fixed that somewhere but somehow it didn't take.]

May 28, 2019, 5:58 PM · To All ~ Re: #45

I know who may well have advised #45 on presenting a Viola, and I'm Not telling, but you can be darn sure it was/is someone who has musical 'class'!!!!!!!!!!!

What a marvellous Gesture and presented with, I'm sure, infinite respect ~

That's All Folks!!!!!!

Elisabeth Matesky

May 28, 2019, 6:44 PM · "I know who may well have advised #45 on presenting a Viola, and I'm Not telling, but you can be darn sure it was/is someone who has musical 'class'!!!!!!!!!!!"

Cool - wish you could share, or maybe hint....

May 28, 2019, 7:20 PM · Looks like the lucky dealer was happy to sell a hard to sell American viola!!
May 28, 2019, 10:02 PM · As A luthier living in Japan pointed out on Maestronet, a cheap, used viola is more of an insult to the Emperor than anything else. Poorly thought out. He should have gifted a new viola by a top American maker, that would have gone over better, perhaps a David Burgess, he seems to be on good terms with the Trumpster!!
May 28, 2019, 10:40 PM · It should perhaps be noted that federal statute limits spending on diplomatic gifts to a maximum of $2,000 per visit. Given that legal limit, perhaps giving a viola at all is ill-advised.
Edited: May 29, 2019, 2:36 AM · “I started playing one of these when I was three. I was a natural at it — I don’t know, some people maybe thought so, I’m just sayin’ what they said. I could have played in orchestras — I didn’t practice, I never had to practice, but I could have made money playing it. People would have paid to hear me play it, believe me. I was good. I was very very good. But I don’t play anymore. What’s that? No — no, I could play it for you now, but I hurt my hand a little playing golf. You play golf? I love golf. I’m very good at it. Very good. I beat Tiger Woods. Every time. Every time he plays me, he gets beat. I beat him. I beat Tiger Woods.”

Translated from the original Japanese. Because he speaks many many languages, speaks them very well. And there was no American press present. And no one to take notes. Believe me . . .

May 29, 2019, 5:54 AM · "It should perhaps be noted that federal statute limits spending on diplomatic gifts to a maximum of $2,000 per visit. Given that legal limit, perhaps giving a viola at all is ill-advised."

Absolutely. Now, if he had spent 2,000 on a block of rosin!

May 29, 2019, 6:03 AM · Shit, is that how much Leatherwood Goldflex costs?
Edited: May 29, 2019, 6:20 AM · >> "I didn’t practice, I never had to practice"

No, don't tell me #45 actually said that. I know he said similar thing from trade wars to his golf skill, but that is that. But hack, can't he spare the music world from nonsense?

Elise, if the budget is only $2000, then I think it is better spent buying a good back up viola bow. If not, a Musafia viola case will be a good gift.

May 29, 2019, 8:55 AM · I assume the budget is unlimited. You can't refuse a gift. However if its above a certain value the gift would become property of the Japanese government. This is a common corporate policy. So maybe they will put this viola to the collection of famous japanese made violas. I also assume that is a small collection.
May 29, 2019, 10:09 AM · Because I am serious about the viola, I wasn't intending to engage in this post until I saw Bruno Kravitz's response. (Kudos to you for that. Better that my husband laughs at your response than at viola jokes.) I must say, I never thought I'd see a sentence that contained both 'Trump' and 'viola'. And although my first thought was incredulity that the Emperor plays viola, I realized why not? It is after all the land of Suzuki and what good are millions of violinists without some violas (and cellos) thrown in to balance them?
May 29, 2019, 10:57 AM · "a Musafia viola case will be a good gift"

No go, its made in Cremona Italy! #45 did get that right, the viola was made in the USA.

OK several blocks of rosin :P The most expensive I could find was $270

May 29, 2019, 11:02 AM · "The Last Viola", Francesca - phrase doesn't quite strike the same chord!
May 29, 2019, 5:22 PM · Francesca: It may interest you to know that, despite being having a tradition of playing chamber music that seems to have begun with the recently abdicated Emperor Akihito (a cellist) and Empress Michiko (a pianist and harpist), the Japanese royal family appears to currently have no violinists. Naruhito started on violin but switched to viola at a fairly young age.
May 29, 2019, 5:26 PM · "...federal statute limits spending on diplomatic gifts to a maximum of $2,000 per visit..."

Trump bought him the pegs and the tailpiece. Michael Cohen bought him the rest of it.

Edited: May 30, 2019, 1:40 AM · I can attest to the fact that Naruhito is indeed a violist, and that he received as gifts at least two other violas.

One was given to the future emperor in the late 1980s during an official visit to Cremona, and it was made by students at the violin making school. The second was made in the late 1990s by Japanese-Italian maker Ishii Takashi, who was a personal friend of Akihito. I have a photo of that viola somewhere…

Edited: May 30, 2019, 12:46 AM · In recent history, Russian friends have proven to be pretty helpful and inventive, in case federal laws are an issue you need to overcome. Maybe Russia's #2 (or #3, #4, or even #5 depending on how you prefer to count) helped out a bit, too. He's such a polite and handsome person, and even good at sports...
May 30, 2019, 1:02 AM · Now I'm really confused. Please Dimitri, isn't the violist Naruhito?

I once took my violin to Japan and performed "Over the Rainbow" in duet with a lady in traditional dress playing a bamboo flute. Agreeing on the A was the main problem.

May 30, 2019, 1:39 AM · Sorry, typo, you are absolutely correct, Naruhito. His father Akihito played the cello.
May 30, 2019, 4:35 PM · "President actor"? No, that's #40.
May 31, 2019, 5:57 AM · I’m very offended #45 did not ask Lyndon first, does he not read violinist.com!
May 31, 2019, 6:01 AM · "I once took my violin to Japan and performed "Over the Rainbow" in duet with a lady in traditional dress playing a bamboo flute. Agreeing on the A was the main problem."

I'm intrigued - what was the starting difference and the compromise?

May 31, 2019, 6:35 AM · About a minor third if I remember correctly. She couldn't tune up so I tuned down!
Edited: May 31, 2019, 8:08 AM · Mike,that's because #45 and I are not on speaking terms, otherwise I could have sold him a really great sounding 1700s German viola.
June 5, 2019, 9:42 AM · its probably all fake news....
June 5, 2019, 10:53 AM · "About a minor third if I remember correctly. She couldn't tune up so I tuned down!"

So! You played a HIP version of Over the Rainbow! Next time take along also your baroque bow and saw a couple of inches off your fingerboard and you'll be all set.

Edited: June 5, 2019, 10:54 AM · I'm guessing it might have been a little dicey to give the Emperor of Japan a German viola. But next time Angela Merkel goes there you might have a sale.
June 5, 2019, 12:43 PM · "I could have sold him a really great sounding 1700s German viola."

Sorry Lyndon, he at least got that right: the gift had to be made in the USA.

June 6, 2019, 5:44 AM · Off topic... but #45 is in UK now and he is "welcomed" by our citizens.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SohiIJI0KfM

Not music related but it is surely special.

June 6, 2019, 8:40 AM · I heard Trump gifted Megan Markle a kazoo, how insulting!!
June 6, 2019, 11:31 AM · The queen wins: she gifted #45 a first edition of "The Second World War" by prime minister Winston S. Churchill - but it was the abridged version. Which makes it a joke on two fronts: first, it has little value (the complete original 4 volume set is a collectors piece); second, it must surely have been a dig at both his loathing of books and his disregard of history fascism, and third and sweetest, his short attention span.
The unequalled master of symbolism...
Edited: June 7, 2019, 2:24 AM · And Naruhito gifted him an invaluable hand selected top class modern Japanese ceramic piece. Surely way more than 10x the viola cost.
June 7, 2019, 4:20 AM · It's very, very common for US presidents to receive much larger gifts than they give, because of the maximum gift budgets they are subject to. It's sometimes been the subject of amusement in other countries over the years. Fortunately, the gifts are largely symbolic.

I think an excellent custom-made viola case would have made the best gift within the $2,000 budget, if the State Department was dead set on giving Naruhito something viola-related.

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