Arabella Steinbacher Granted Use of 1718 "Ex-Benno Walter" Stradivarius
Granted by a Swiss foundation, the German violinist will now perform on this 303-year-old instrument, crafted during the famed luthier’s Golden Period
Antonio Stradivari made almost a thousand instruments, about 650 of which survived.
The 1718 "Ex-Benno Walter" was made during a pinnacle of the violin maker’s career called his "Golden Period" — which was roughly from 1700-1720.
The violin’s history is illustrious, having passed down from those like the Prince of Donau-Eschingen, whose family was amongst the earliest admirers of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Other recorded owners include Baron Ludwig (Louis) von Eichthal in the late 19th century, who bequeathed it to violinist Benno Walter whose name is still attached to the instrument. After being sold to W.E. Hill & Sons by Walter’s son, the instrument made a trip to Europe before Bernhard Sinsheimer bought it in the 20th century, taking it to the US.
The violin later made its way to Deszö Szigeti, uncle to violinist Joseph Szigeti; hence, the violin is also known as the "Ex-Deszö Szigeti." Landing in New York in 1931, Deszö played with the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic for 29 years.
There is a subtle connection between the "Ex-Benno Walter" and Steinbacher. She was named after Richard Strauss' opera "Arabella," and Benno Walter was Strauss' violin teacher and cousin of Strauss' father.
"Maybe it is because of my name, which my parents gave me as great Strauss lovers, that his music touches me so much," said Steinbacher in a program for her 2018 CD recording with Lawrence Foster and WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne.
"Born into a world full of singing, as a child I used to sit under the grand piano in my 'music cave' while my father rehearsed with singers. The famous duet from 'Arabella,' which my parents engraved in our banisters, has accompanied me since I can remember."
Steinbacher is the recipient of many awards for her acclaimed recordings, among them include two ECHO Klassik awards. In 2015, she was nominated for the Editor’s Choice "Artist of the Year" Award by Gramophone Magazine.
Steinbacher previously played on the 1716 "Booth" Stradivarius provided by the Nippon Music Foundation.
"I am extremely happy and grateful to play from now on the beautiful Stradivarius named 'Ex Benno Walter' (1718) — generously provided by a Swiss Foundation," she wrote on her Facebook page. "Looking forward to starting a new musical relationship with this amazing instrument."