Classical Music

Video: A Violinist, Rare Instruments Expert And A Stradivarius Visit The Studio

We hear a performance on a 1724 Stradivarius and speak with one of the world’s foremost experts on rare instruments, in town for TMF.


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First, some numbers:

600 – Roughly the number of Stradivarius violins remaining in the world

300 – Roughly the number of Stradivarius violins that Florian Leonhard has seen

180 – Roughly the number of Stradivarius violins that he has personally opened up or restored

4 – Roughly the number of Stradivarius violins that he has discovered so far in his career, discoveries that have given him goosebumps

Often called the "Sherlock Holmes of authentication," Florian Leonhard has dedicated his life to studying, restoring and making violins, with 30 years of experience and training under his belt. Today he leads his own team of restorers as part of Florian Leonhard Fine Violins, based in London and New York.

The Stradivarius expert is in Houston to share his knowledge of and passion for rare instruments at this summer's Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival, where he'll display for the public examples of his collection – including Stradivari, Guameri del Gesu, Amati, Guadagnini, Rocca, Dyotioni, Vuillaume and Gagliano violins. Among the featured instruments will be a 1735 Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu, ex Ferdinand David, once played by one of the great violinists of the 19th century.

Florian Leonhard and his colleague, violinist and collection specialist Katie Thomas, visited Houston Public Media and brought with them the 1724 Abergavenny, ex Kavakos Stradivarius, most recently owned by violin virtuoso Leonidas Kavakos, with an estimated value of close to $10 million.

Listen to Florian Leonhard talk about how a Stradivarius violin is like a Formula One race car, what he thinks about the movie The Red Violin, and more in the interview above.

And watch a video of Katie Thomas performing Kreisler's Praeludium and Allegro on the 1724 Abergavenny, ex Kavakos Stradivarius in HPM's Geary Performance Studio.

The 2017 Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival presents violin maker, restorer and authenticator, Florian Leonhard, in a free lecture, "The Modern Day Sherlock Holmes – A Study in the Process of Authentication," on Friday, June 16, 7pm. Florian Leonhard also displays of examples of his company's collection, with complimentary violin evaluations and adjustments, on Saturday, June 17, 10am – 4pm. Events take place at the University of Houston.


Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Senior Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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