Excuse Me While I Play The World’s Most Expensive Violin

, , , , | Hopeless | August 27, 2019

I took a trip to visit New York with my dad after graduating from high school. One of the places on his list for us to visit was a “rare violin shop,” since I played violin all four years and participated in the honor orchestra, as well. We made our way down the crowded streets and eventually stopped in front of a ritzy-looking, tall building. 

This sleek-looking building was not what I had pictured when I heard “rare violin shop.” I’d been imagining some street-level shop, open to the public, with some interesting and older violins on display, maybe with a luthier in the back. As we walked inside, took the elevator to the sixth floor, and stood in front of what appeared to be a private condo, I knew something felt off. I voiced my concerns to my dad as he rang the doorbell but was ignored. My dad had never been great at interpreting social standards. 

We were greeted by a receptionist who asked if we had an appointment, since they were by appointment only. I wanted the ground to swallow me whole and I was instantly hyper-aware of the sweaty, summer tourist outfits we had on. My dad eagerly told them that no, we didn’t but, gee, my daughter plays the violin with her high school orchestra and isn’t that great? And we would love to just pop inside and browse! Don’t mind us!

The receptionist gave him an odd look but took it in stride and excused herself to talk to someone behind a door. She came back with the owner, a well-dressed man, who told us that since he had no other appointments right now, he would love to give us a tour!

The starting price for a violin here, we found out, was 10k. He showed us around a very private-feeling and swanky-looking condo, pointed out a room where he casually mentioned he would chat with Joshua Bell when he came by, and opened the most interesting two-person safe I’ve ever seen to show me several multi-million-dollar violins. My jaw was on the floor the entire time. He dutifully and cheerfully answered every question my dad or I asked, and asked me questions in return about my orchestra and what pieces I liked to play, as well.

At the end, the man picked up a — lower-end, but still worth at least a million dollars! — Stradivarius and asked me to pizz a string while he held it. I very gingerly plucked a string and he triumphantly said, “There. Now you’ve played a Stradivarius.”

I don’t remember his name at this point, but to that man, I’m so glad that you ignored my dad’s bad manners and lack of social awareness and decided to take the time out of your day to show a no-appointment, non-customer around. You helped inspire me to continue loving and pursuing my instrument after high school! I still play to this day, and I’ve picked up some other instruments along the way, too!

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