Stradivarius violins and Madrid’s Palacio Real
By Leticia Marie Sanchez
All Spain Photography © 2013 Leticia Marie Sanchez
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One of the largest collections of Stradivarius violins in the world can be found in…Madrid.
Madrid’s Palacio Real houses a collection of antique instruments by Antonio Stradivari that includes two violins, two cellos, and a viola. Four of the five instruments were commissioned at the same time, and this collection dubbed “the Spanish Quartet” is valued at more than 100 million euros.
During the eighteenth-century, Madrid boasted more than fifty Stradivarius violins and a royal court of internationally acclaimed musicians including Italian composer Luigi Boccherini.
King Carlos IV had a passion for the violin, an instrument that he studied as a young man in Italy. Alas, His Majesty’s musical enthusiasm did not translate into execution. Boccherini found the king’s technique rather like nails on a chalkboard. Moreover, the king’s tempo proved quite erratic. At a rehearsal, one of Carlos IV’s musicians gently suggested that the king should rest for three bars to let the others catch up. Robert Hughes, in his tome Goya, reveals Carlos IV’s swift reply:
“Kings never need wait for anyone.”