Giovanni Battista Guadagnini, Milan, 1754, the 'Ysaÿe'

Violin: 42430

Turin label dated 1774.

Back: One-piece

Scroll: not original

Varnish: Deep reddish-orange

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"When Eugène's Ysaÿe was young and poor he coveted a Guadagnini violin that he saw in a pawnbroker's window in Hamburg. Though he could not dream of purchasing it at that time, he went into the shop one day and asked the pawnbroker to keep it for him, as he might by chance be able to buy it at some future date, says M. A. P. The obliging pawnbroker agreed to lay it aside for a reasonable time.

All the way back to his lodging house Ysay worried over his inability to appropriate the violin at once, but on reaching the house, to his great astonishment, he found an old friend from Belgium there awaiting him. Ysaÿe immediately told him about the Guadagnini, and begged him to lend him the money to buy it.

"It's a large amount to pay," was the friend's reply, "and I haven't as much money with me."

"Would you lend it if you had?" asked the budding violinist.

"Yes, " said the friend, "for I believe in your future and in you; but, as I have said, I have not the money."

An inspiration seized Ysaÿe.

"Look here," said he, "you deal in diamonds, don't you? Well, then, just leave a few diamonds as security and get me the Guadagnini."

The friend was so taken aback by the proposal that at first he was speechless; then, realizing the life-and-death seriousness of the young violinist, he consented to leave a bag of stones as security for the instrument.

"In this way," relates Ysaÿe, "I was married to my first love among the fiddles -- my beautiful Guadagnini.""

Ysaÿe's Guadagnini, The Etude


until 1895 Eugène Ysaÿe
from 1895 Pierre Nothomb
in 1949 Mrs Edwin Harris
until 1974 Edwin Harris, Jr. and Glory Harris
1974 - 2006 Ralph Hollander
from 2006 Juilliard School of Music

Known players

Eugène Ysaÿe, Ralph Hollander


  • A Living Legacy: Historic Stringed Instruments at the Juilliard School, Lisa Robinson, Amadeus Press, New Jersey (illustrated)
  • The Guadagnini Family of Violin Makers, Ernest N. Doring, William Lewis & Son, Chicago
  • The Strad 2010 Calendar: Violin Heroes, Newsquest Specialist Media, London (illustrated)
  • The Etude, September, 1909


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