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February 2014
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Notorious: A Stolen Strad

Frank Almond

Frank Almond

Hear the violin, Wednesday 11:45 AM

“I was screaming,” recalled Milwaukee violinist Frank Almond. Paralyzed by Taser gun, Almond watched helplessly as three thieves made off with the priceless Stradivari violin. Almond, who plays concertmaster for the Milwaukee Symphony, had just finished playing Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time when assailants cornered him in the parking lot, stealing the violin which had been loaned to him by an anonymous collector.

When this type of theft occurs, there are a couple scenarios that keep a musician up at night. Though the 1715 Strad is virtually worthless to the average thug—anyone qualified to work on it or fetch the 5 million dollar price tag would know that it’s stolen—there’s no shortage of dim-witted criminals. The first concern is whether the violin will be properly handled. Unfortunately, having a more sophisticated thief is equally worrisome: if he’s working with a high-end buyer, the instrument could be lost for a generation or more.

1715 ex-Lipinski by Stradivari

1715 ex-Lipinski by Stradivari

Happily these thugs were the dim-witted sort. The three were arrested by Milwaukee police on February 3rd; the violin was recovered on the 6th and returned unharmed to Frank Almond on Friday, February 7.

On Wednesday, February 12, hear the violin that made international headlines. WFMT will play a recording of Philip Lasser’s Berceuse fantasque with violinist Frank Almond and the ex-Lipinski Strad during the eleven o’clock hour.

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