A Violin’s Life Vol. 1: Music for The ‘Lipinski’ Stradivari

1 Sonata in G Minor ‘Il trillo del diavolo’: I. Larghetto affetuoso
2 Sonata in G Minor ‘Il trillo del diavolo’: II. Tempo giusto
3 Sonata in G Minor ‘Il trillo del diavolo’: III. Sogni dell autore. Andante –
4 Violin Sonata No. 2 in F-Sharp Major, Op. 20: I. Allegro non troppo
5 Violin Sonata No. 2 in F-Sharp Major, Op. 20: II. Con animazione
6 Violin Sonata No. 2 in F-Sharp Major, Op. 20: III. Agitato
7 Caprice, Op. 29 No. 3
8 Violin Sonata No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 121: I. Ziemlich langsam – Lebhaft
9 Violin Sonata No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 121: II. Sehr lebhaft
10 Violin Sonata No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 121: III. Leise, einfach
11 Violin Sonata No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 121: IV. Bewegt

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A Violin’s Life traces the provenance and history of the Lipiński Strad, one of the most notable of the coveted string maker’s instruments, which are worth millions today. Crafted in 1715, the violin is named for Polish virtuoso Karol Lipiński, who played this instrument from c. 1818 until his death in 1861. Frank Almond, concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, has played on the Lipiński Strad since 2008. Envisioning a project that chronicled the extraordinary history of this violin and its associations, he has made a recording that includes Tartini s most famous work, the “Devil s Trill” Sonata, as well as a virtuoso solo piece by Karol Lipiński, one of Julius Röntgen s unjustly neglected violin sonatas, and the stupendous Sonata in D minor of Robert Schumann, certainly performed during their lifetimes with Schumann at the piano and Lipiński playing this very instrument. William Wolfram is Frank’s estimable pianist.

For hundreds of years the name of Antonio Stradivari has been synonymous with the finest string instruments ever made. Although they are worth millions today, even during his lifetime both musicians and nobility coveted instruments from this master craftsman and engineer. Unsurprisingly, many of Stradivari’s violins have remarkable histories and pedigrees; one notable example is the “Lipinski” Stradivarius, crafted in 1715 during Stradivari’s golden period.

The violin is named for the Polish virtuoso Karol Lipinski, who played on this instrument from approximately 1818 until his death in 1861. Lipinski was given the violin by a student of the legendary Giuseppe Tartini, the instrument’s first known owner. Known in his lifetime as a violinist, composer, concertmaster, and pedagogue, Lipinski associated with some of the most famous cultural figures of the time, including Franz Liszt, Nicolò Paganini (with whom he had a certain “rivalry”), and Robert Schumann, who so admired Lipinski that he dedicated his famous piano work “Carnaval” to him.

After Lipinski’s death the instrument eventually came into the Röentgen family, which included several violinists and the celebrated composer Julius Röntgen In the 20th century the violin changed hands several times, in 1962 arriving in the possession of the Estonian violinist Evi Liivak, who passed away in 1996.

I have been fortunate to play on this violin since 2008, and the aim of this project is to partially chronicle some of the extraordinary history of this violin and its associations. To that end a recording is planned that would include Tartini’s most famous work, the “Devil’s Trill” Sonata, a virtuoso solo piece by Karol Lipinski, one of Julius Röentgen’s unjustly neglected violin sonatas, and the stupendous Sonata in d minor of Robert Schumann, certainly performed during their lifetimes with Schumann at the piano and Lipinski playing this very instrument.

The recording will take place in August 2012, and will be released on AVIE Records, the noted label with whom I collaborated on the Respighi/Strauss/Janacek CD in 2006. Unlike many larger conglomerates, AVIE is completely artist-oriented, and this is truly an independent project over which I have total artistic control. The producer will be the eminent Evans Mirageas, well-known in the industry since his days at Decca.

The pianist for this recording will be William Wolfram, known for his outstanding solo work as well as his numerous chamber music collaborations (including three previous recordings with me).

I am asking for your help to make this project a reality. The money I hope to raise will be used exclusively for recording, production, and manufacturing costs, all of which are considerable, and I need your help to share this unique project with as many people as possible. I am deeply grateful for any support you can offer!

With sincere thanks,

Frank Almond

Special thanks to the Signature Donors for A Violin’s Life:

Andy Nunemaker and Arthur Laskin

Also much appreciation to William Allmart for his initial research and interest, especially regarding the Röntgen family. And to our Kickstarter backers who really made this happen:

  • Debby Accuardi
  • Madeline Adkins
  • William Allmart
  • Connie Almond
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  • Christopher Downey
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