The young Russian virtuoso violinist Alena Baeva is to be given the opportunity to play a magnificent violin made by Antonio Stradivari in Cremona in 1697. The violin is known as the Molitor Stradivarius, and has been played in the past by eminent violinists including Elmar Oliveira and Anne-Akiko Meyers. The violin, which is a particularly fine and well- preserved example of Stradivaris work from the late 1690s, will be made available through the generosity of Russian businessman and philanthropist Maxim Viktorov, and the arrangement will be facilitated by London violin specialists Ingles & Hayday
. Mr. Viktorov's collection includes more than 10 rare musical instruments, the highlights of which are the 'Ex-Paganini' violin by Carlo Bergonzi and the 'Ex- Vieuxtemps' violin by Guarneri del Gesu.
Tim Ingles, Director of Ingles & Hayday, commented: the Molitor is a magnificent Stradivari with a great history, and has been enjoyed and appreciated by violinists and collectors alike over its 317 year history. This is a wonderful opportunity to bring together one of the masterpieces of 17th century violin making and one of the brightest young stars of the concert platform.
The first recorded owner of the Molitor is Madame Juliette Récamier (1777-1849), a prominent socialite and patron of the arts in 19th century Paris, who also owned another Stradivari violin made in 1727. In 1804 both violins passed to a young General in Napoleons army, Count Gabriel-Jean-Joseph Molitor (1770-1849). Count Molitor was a musician of some stature as well as a distinguished soldier, who was appointed a Marshal of France and Grand Chancellor of the Légion d'honneur. After his death the violins remained in the possession of the Molitor family for nearly 70 years.
In 1917 the Molitor was sold Monsieur J. Mazeran through the Paris dealer Caressa & Français. Then, in 1929 it was acquired by the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia from the French dealer Charles Enel. During its time at the Curtis Institute the violin was loaned to several students including Jascha Brodsky. In 1936 the Molitor was sold to W. E. Hill & Sons in London, who sold it in the following year to the discerning collector R. A. Bower of Somerset. During his lifetime Bower owned over 20 Stradivari violins, including La Pucelle and the Lady Blunt.
In 1957 E.R. Voigt sold the 'Molitor' to William Anderson of Londonderry in Northern Ireland, and after his death, it was sold by his sister in 1988 for £209,000. The violin was acquired by the violinist Elmar Oliveira at Christies in 1989. Oliveira, the first American violinist to win the gold medal at the Tchaikovsky Competition, enjoyed a distinguished career as a soloist and played and recorded with the violin until 1994, when he exchanged the violin for the Stretton Guarneri with Albert Stern, an American prodigy who had a successful career as a Hollywood recording artist. Stern offered the violin at auction in 2010, where it achieved a world record price of $3.6m and was bought by the violinist Anne Akiko Meyers.
Alena Baeva was born in 1985 into a musical family. She began to play the violin at the age of five and studied at the Moscow Conservatoire from 2002-2007. In 2003 she was invited by Mstislav Rostropovich to study in France, and since 2007 she has participated at the Seiji Ozawa Academy in Switzerland. She has attended various master-classes, including those of Ida Haendel and Maxim Vengerov.
Alena Baeva won first prizes at competitions in Novosibirsk, Warsaw, Germany and at the Henryk Wieniawski competition in Poznań. She won the Grand Prix at the Moscow International Niccol Paganini Competition (2004), giving her the right to perform on the Ex- Wieniawski Stradivarius violin, as well as the Gold Medal and audience prize at the International Violin Competition in Sendai (2007).
The highlights of Ms. Baevas 2013-2014 season included the opening violin recital in the Mariinsky Concert Hall in St. Petersburg, an appearance with Yuri Bashmet and the English Chamber Orchestra in Cadogan Hall, London, and a tour with Orchestre National de Lille under Jean Claude Casadesus. In February 2014 Alena Baeva performed Shostakovichs Second Violin Concerto in the Salle Pleyel in Paris, accompanied by the Mariinsky Orchestra under Valery Gergiev.
Ms. Baevas discography includes recordings of concertos by Bruch and Shostakovich with the Russian National Orchestra (Pentatone Classics), concertos by Szymanowski (DUX) and sonatas by Poulenc, Prokofiev and Debussy (SIMC). Her most recent recording was of Schuberts Erlkönig with Yuri Bashmet, released by Sony Classics in 2013.