The violin, made by Joseph Guarnerius or “del Gesu” in 1736, is owned by EWU alumnus Lynn Nelson ’69, a violin restorer from Oregon who has been active in giving back to the Music Department at Eastern. Nelson wished to give students the opportunity to play and listen to the rare violin. Junior Grace Fishel was selected as the violinist to play the instrument, which is valued at $1 million.
Facts about the del Gesu violin
- The violin is documented as having been purchased in Italy by Charles Fletcher, British violinist and collector, in the 1880s, and later sold in London.
- By 1919, it was the violin of the American virtuoso Louis Persinger who was concert master with the Belgian Royal Opera Orchestra, the Berlin Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony. Persinger was the violin teacher at Juilliard in New York for 30 years, where he taught many of the notable violinists of the following generation.
- Scientific research was done on the spruce violin top by the Center for Research and Restoration for the Museums of France at the Louvre Museum laboratory in Paris. Radio carbon testing was done by The Laboratory of Ion Beam Physics in Zurich.
- Historical research was done by the historical author and professor, Jeremy Young, PhD, and historical documentation of this violin is cited from the records of W.E. Hill and Sons of London.