Gallia Kastner Triumphs in
Cooper International Competition


Ex-Soldat Guarneri del Gesu

The “ex-Bazzini ex-Soldat” recreation played by Gallia Kastner is based on the original 1742 model by Joseph Guarneri “del Gesu.” Guarneri and Stradivari are considered to be the two greatest violin makers of all time. The original is currently being played by Rachel Barton Pine, who kindly loaned it to Peter R. Seman so he could make a bench copy. In addition to using a piece of 100-year-old spruce for the top, he took great care to antique the varnish to match the original.

Of the original, The Strad magazine remarked in 1910 that “…[it] bears most of the characteristics we have learnt to associate with this maker in a remarkable degree. The tone is of extraordinary beauty, and suits the violinist’s virile style admirably . . .The tone is full and rich, and noticeably deep on the G string. All the outlines of the fiddle seem to breathe life and strength.”

The original violin also has a particularly fascinating history. It is named after Marie Soldat, considered one of the finest violinists of her time, whose playing so impressed Brahms that he supported her early career and had her perform with him on numerous occasions.  Soldat (later Soldat-Röger) became a member of Brahms’s inner circle and a regular chamber music partner. Their friendship continued throughout his life.

Brahms selected this violin for Soldat in 1897 and arranged for a wealthy Viennese businessman to purchase it and loan it to her for her lifetime. Barton Pine, who has used the original since 2002, believes Brahms may have chosen this violin, in part, because its voice represents most closely what he envisioned for his concerto.