Yehudi menuhin violins violin

September 15, 2023, 3:18 PM · Does anyone know which Strad of Menuhins was dropped on the floor in Canterbury Cathedral in 1970, I know it was Giles Brandreth who dropped it but I have been trying to find out which one it was

Replies (19)

September 15, 2023, 4:50 PM · I hadn't heard of this, but the Strad Menuhin was using at that point was the "Soil", now owned by Perlman. Unless he had borrowed another for some reason.
September 15, 2023, 5:08 PM · Apparently Giles, said Menuhin was unperturbed, and said he had brought a spare in the boot of his car, Branreth then said do you want me to get it, but understandably Menuhin declined.

The violin was damaged in the fall down the steps at the cathedral, and it landed on the very spot of the murder of Beckett.

September 15, 2023, 5:34 PM · The joys of temperate weather. I can't imagine keeping a backup violin in the trunk of any car.
Edited: September 16, 2023, 6:44 PM · Giles Brandreth tells a good story. Watched it on an episode of QI, with a slight feeling of skepticism. Interesting if you can verify it.
September 17, 2023, 4:52 AM · Parker, it is quite true, and easily verifiable there are quite a lot of articles on the net about it, but none of them said which violin it was that was dropped which is why I put the story on here. I didn't believe it either until I looked it up.
September 17, 2023, 1:40 PM · Here is an article that recounts the story:

There are things that don’t make sense in the story, though. First of all, according to the story, Menuhin claims the Strad is the oldest one being played; that doesn’t add up, as the Strads he owned were a Golden Period (the Soil) and a Late Period (Prince Khevenhuller). Surely Menuhin would have been aware that his Soil was not the earliest Strad in use. The writer also claims the violin can be seen in a museum currently and the damage is still apparent. That would discount the Soil, which has been in Perlman’s hands since the 1980s. It appears the Khevenhuller is in private ownership as well. The anecdote about the insurance company requiring the violin case to be padlocked and attached to Menuhin’s wrist sounds a little fishy. There have been some stories of violins being transported this way (the Cannon del Gesu comes to mind), but for this to happen in the way described, especially in the early 1970s and after it had been owned for quite some time by the player at that point, sounds suspect. Menuhin did own older violins by other great Italian makers, and perhaps it was one of these that was damaged, if the story is true.

September 17, 2023, 11:32 PM · My guess is that it was not a Strad, but media (and most other) don't know the difference. Priceless = Strad. It was the same with Garrett's "Strad" that in fact was a Guadagnini.
September 18, 2023, 12:11 AM · I wish someone could share those performances.
September 18, 2023, 2:19 AM · "Priceless" is devalued media currency these days. In Saturday's Times the story was of someone's priceless 20th century viola that got lost and found. £50K max.
September 18, 2023, 9:59 AM · Mattias,

Your explanation would make a lot of sense were it not that Brandreth is directly quoted in the article referring to it as a Strad.

Edited: September 18, 2023, 12:35 PM · Anyone know about the Grancino violin that belonged to Menuhin? I played on a Grancino about 40 years ago and it may have been better (for me personally) than the ex Wieniawski Guarneri del Gesu I played at Bein & Fushi many years later. The wood grain on the Grancio was very marked and the violin fit perfectly in my hand like a glove made to order. The sound was warm, sweet, full-bodied, and complex. It didn't have the power of the Guarneri, but it was most pleasing to my ear.
September 18, 2023, 1:35 PM · @Mattias, you may find this bbc interview on the strad which Giles dropped quite interesting.
September 18, 2023, 11:26 PM · Yes, it is an entertaining story. But that doesn't make it exact in all the details. Ron is to my knowledge not a musician and wouldn't know the difference between violins, as noted to his words about Menuhins spare that he calls an "everyday" violin.
September 19, 2023, 6:58 AM · I thought the Grancino was part of the auction for Menuhin's estate, but that could be a slip in memory.
September 19, 2023, 8:17 AM · Matthias, I missed the part in which he referred to the second violin as an everyday violin, but he could have meant it was one that he uses for practice,rather than using a strad, I nyself quite often use a second violin for practice reasons. But then again you may be correct in your assumption, impossible to find out without using a medium. Brandreth does say that the violin he dropped is on display in the Royal college of music, with the damage visible.
September 19, 2023, 10:09 AM · I can’t find anything in the Royal College of Music collection that belonged to Menuhin or even remotely fits the description. The 1695 Grancino he played was auctioned in 1999 and does not show obvious signs of damage. His Bussetto does have a couple ugly cracks on the top, but it was also auctioned off in 1999. The story still doesn’t add up.

Menuhin had a copy of the Khevenhuller Strad made by Emile Français which the former used whenever he was concerned for the safety of the Strad and he commissioned a Capicchioni in the 1960s. Either of those could have been his “spare.”

September 19, 2023, 12:26 PM · @Rich I took a look in he royal academy they have a couple of strads in there but it doesn't mention Menuhins name
Edited: September 19, 2023, 1:23 PM · The 1694 “Rutson” Strad is in the Rutson collection, but it wasn’t Menuhin’s and doesn’t show signs of the kind of damage you’d get from launching a violin down a flight of stone stairs.

I’m just having a lot of trouble believing that Menuhin was so willing to hand over a Strad to someone who wouldn’t know how to handle it and that such a precious instrument would not be restored with the greatest attention to detail so as to render the damage invisible.

I found a different article from the Daily Mail where he claims the Strad WAS repaired and the damage is no longer visible. It seems the details were fluid in his telling of the story.

I also came across two different accounts of him viewing an Oscar Wilde manuscript at the British Museum. In one he claims to have spilled coffee on it, while in the other, he reprimands the museum for so quickly allowing him to handle it when he “could’ve had jam on [his] hands.”

September 19, 2023, 1:32 PM · Rich, the coffee story seems quite telling to be honest, if he would make up a tale once he would do it again, but I am surprised no one has said anything to challenge the story.

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