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Max Abroad : The Best of Spain

Quite simply writing about the best things Spain has to offer and anything that might crop up along the way. Spain is a lot more than just sun, sand and sea...

The Royal Quartet
09 October 2019 @ 12:00

 

Among the ornate rooms and historic artworks at the Royal Palace of Madrid is a surprise for anyone who wants to catch a glimpse of music history.

Known as the Royal Quartet, the foursome of stringed instruments kept at the palace are unique examples of the work of Antonio Stradivarius, the renowned Italian instrument maker. The Royal Palace’s quartet—two violins, a cello, and a viola—are among the eleven decorated Stradivaris in known existence. 

The ivory-inlaid quartet were offered as gifts to King Felipe V in 1702 by Stradivarius, and are the only set of decorated instruments the master is known to have made. The quartet was originally a quintet and contained another viola. Both violas were stolen by French troops during the Napoleonic wars; one was recovered in the 1950s, but the other remains missing today. 

 

For most Palace visitors, the quartet is a look-but-don’t-touch experience. One group is an exception, though. The Royal Palace hosts public concerts featuring their quartet-in-residence, Cuarteto Quiroga, where visitors can see and hear these rare instruments in action. “They were created in order to make music,” explained music adviser Álvaro Guibert, “so not playing them would be denying them their fulfillment.” Since being reunited with the stolen viola, the quartet has never left the Royal Palace, and according to Guibert never will again.

A Stradivarius is among the most coveted items in the world, considered to be the best-stringed instrument ever created. The violins, violas and cellos produced by the Stradivari family during the 17th and 18th centuries are prized for their remarkable sound and incredible craftsmanship, and a new study explores the possible techniques used by Antonio Stradivari. 

A Stradivarius in pristine condition can fetch millions of dollars. In 2011, a Stradivarius violin made in 1721, named Lady Blunt after Lord Byron's granddaughter, Lady Ann Blunt, was sold at a charity auction for $15,9 M The money collected during the auction went to Japanese earthquake relief funds. 

Approximately only 600 string instruments made by Stradivari are still known to exist...

 



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