A Stradivari Census

By analyzing data from the Cozio archive, we can track the movement of important instruments across borders over time.

By Jason Price September 28, 2022

This week’s Carteggio is adapted from a lecture I gave in Switzerland earlier this year about the migration of important instruments to America in the first half of the 20th century. I started with two basic premises: one, violins follow violinists, and two, violins follow the money. Below are text excerpts and photos from the lecture video, which you may view in its entirety at the bottom of the page.

I followed the migrations of nine European musicians to America, including Jascha Heifetz, Gregor Piatigorsky and Toscha Seidel. And using data from the Cozio archive I tracked the movements of instruments and created what I called a “Stradivari census”. The results are fascinating. Here is a graph of where Stradivari instruments ‘lived’ during the first half of the century:

Analyzing the data showed the dramatic displacement of Stradivari instruments to America in the early 20th century years and the gradual decline of instruments in Europe. In particular, the decade 1920 to 1930 saw America double its ownership of Stradivari instruments.

I also explained some context to the data in the Cozio archive. Over 75% of the data in the archive is not displayed publicly and the public interface is really only the tip of the iceberg. There are tens of thousands of instruments which we don’t or can’t make available publicly for various reasons.

The data in the archive reveals some fascinating trends and details about the supply of instruments to the New World.

I also took a close look at some of the instruments that migrated to America. Here is some interesting provenance information from the interior of Gregor Piatigorsky’s 1725 ‘Baudiot’ Stradivari cello that came to America in 1948.

Baudoit Stradivari Cello

Ultimately, this data can help make predictions for where the future might be headed. The last thirty years have seen an impressive migration of important instruments to Asia.

Increase of migration of important instruments to Asia

I greatly enjoyed putting this lecture together and I hope you will enjoy this data-driven view of instruments’ movements over the last century.

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