January 16, 2024

MSM students play a historic violin from 1764 that once belonged to Mozart

Mozart’s Costa violin came to MSM for a day in December 2023, on loan from the International Mozarteum Foundation.

MSM string students were given the opportunity to play this Italian master violin that belonged to Mozart from 1782 to 1791. His widow is said to have referred to the violin, saying that he played it frequently, including using it in performances in Vienna. It is named after the famous violin maker Pietro Antonio Dalla Costa.

The instrument has had several owners over the years, most recently Dr. Nicola Leibinger-Kammüller, who purchased it in 2013 and donated it that year to the International Mozarteum Foundation. The instrument has since toured the world, giving music students and aficionados the opportunity to experience this exceptional instrument.

“To hear Mozart’s music on his instrument is and remains an extraordinary experience,” says Johannes Honsig-Erlenburg, President of the International Mozarteum Foundation. “We are grateful and delighted that the International Mozarteum Foundation can make this possible,” he says.

MSM student Elaine He called the violin “exquisite…I appreciate this experience and the Costa violin is so powerful!” she told Nicholas Mann, Chair of the MSM Strings Program, after the event.

“It is an eye-opening experience to play on it, and I felt very lucky to connect with Mozart in this way,” she said.

MSM strings students, faculty members, and representatives of the International Mozarteum Foundation pose with Mozart's violin.

About the violin

The instrument’s original manufacture label is clearly visible on the violin: “Pietro Antonio dalla Costa / fece in Trevisio Anno 1764.”

According to the website of Tarisio Fine Instruments and Bows, experts are of the opinion that Mozart’s Costa violin is original and complete in all essential parts: back, ribs, top, scroll, and varnish. The whole instrument is in a good and absolutely playable condition. The body measures 357 mm in length, with a maximum width of 204 mm and a minimum width of 112 mm. The top, as usual, is made from spruce, and the back is made from beautifully flamed maple wood.

According to a letter written to A. Phillips Hill on August 8, 1923, by Karl Heinkel, the instrument was in Mozart’s house, purchased from Constanze von Nissen by Anton Andre. Henkel’s father was helping Mr. Andre put Mozart’s documents in order, and Mr. Andre, not realizing their value, gave Mr. Henkel many of the old manuscripts and the violin. According to Henkel, Mr. Andre claimed that Mozart’s widow had told him that the dalla Costa violin had belonged to Mozart and that Mozart had played it often.


SLIDE SHOW: Performing with Mozart's Costa violin, made in 1764

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