Frieda Belinfante - the search for a cello, gifted to help in her fight against the Nazis

Edited: October 26, 2020, 4:40 PM · Might someone be able to help me find the cello once played by Frieda Belinfante? I am a cellist and Artistic Director of the National Symphony Orchestra in London. We are hoping to make a television documentary about this remarkable lady's life.

Frieda, in 1947, left Europe for the United States, eventually settling in Laguna Beach, California joining the music faculty of UCLA in 1949. She formed an ad hoc group she named The Vine Street Players in 1953, an orchestral ensemble of colleagues from the local area universities as well as studio musicians from Hollywood.

The formation of the Vine Street Players proved fortuitous for Belinfante. A successful performance in the Redlands Bowl by the ensemble under Belinfante’s direction prompted local civic and cultural leaders to invite Belinfante to form a permanent orchestral ensemble in Orange County. She subsequently became the founding artistic director and conductor of the inaugural Orange County Philharmonic Society.

Freida was a huge character who played a remarkably courageous part in the resistance in the Netherlands in WW2. Recordings of her performing reveal her as a superb cellist, though she was a conductor in later life. She sold her cello to the director of the Heineken brewery to raise money for the resistance.

Any information as to surviving relatives or how to contact the orchestra would be most gratefully received. Thank you. John

Replies (6)

October 30, 2020, 6:38 PM · My brother was a cello student of Ms. Belinfante in the 80's. I will ask him if he knows anything.

Off topic, but how do you start a new discussion thread? I see link to "POST BLOG", but not one for a new discussion. I think there used to be a link at the bottom of the discussion tab, but I don't see it anymore...

October 31, 2020, 12:07 PM · "how do you start a new discussion thread? I see link to "POST BLOG", but not one for a new discussion. I think there used to be a link at the bottom of the discussion tab, but I don't see it anymore..."

Is this a test? Yes indeed, v.com members can find the "Start a Discussion" button at the bottom of the discussion page. If you can't see it, you can search for it using your browser's search function.

October 31, 2020, 12:22 PM · J Ray -- Thanks! I see the button now, but I swear it wasn't there yesterday, and I checked using Chrome and Firefox!

John Cooper -- Back on topic: Here is the response from my brother, which does not tell us much, unfortunately...

"Hmm. She rarely ever even had her cello out during lessons, and would simply use mine when she needed to demonstrate something. But if she sold her cello to a Heineken brewery employee, I imagine it would still be in the Netherlands.

I was never in touch with any of her fellow musicians, unfortunately."

October 31, 2020, 12:35 PM · sorry if this is obvious but did you contact Heineken? you can contact their customer service or their PR division.
November 10, 2020, 2:59 PM · Thank you Gene and Jean!
I have indeed been in touch with the Heineken family but no luck there.we found Frieda's cello bow is now in the hands of the cellist of the Dutch based Belinfante String Quartet. Frieda's last partner is still alive so there is much to find out. Thanks again for your assistance
November 10, 2020, 5:27 PM · "if she sold her cello to a Heineken brewery employee, I imagine it would still be in the Netherlands."

She got it back after the war.

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