Saturday, 22 September 2012

"Goebbels" Violin

On 22 February 1943, Josef Goebbels gave a violin to a 23-year-old Japanese violinist named Nejiko Suwa.  Goebbels said it was a Stradivarius, though we don't know which violin, where it came form or even whether it was a Strad at all. What we can be sure of, it was not "Goebbels' " violin.  It may have been one of thousands of objects misappropriated: the Goebbels connection gives it notoriety. Whatever the background, Ms Suwa defended it with her life. As the Third Reich collapsed, she guarded it even as she slept. She had to jump from trains under bombardment, and cross the Atlantic when she, as a Japanese national, was taken prisoner by the Americans. But still she treasured the instrument. When she finally returned to Japan, she told the press, “I have risked my life to protect it.” That, I think, counts for something. Whoever the original owners were, by protecting the violin, Ms Suwa preserved something greater than "just" a violin. As a child prodigy, she'd played Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. Returning to the US in 1951, she used the "Goebbels" violin to play Mendelssohn again.  Read the article in the NYT HERE. (with sound clips)

No comments: