Want to buy a Stradivarius?

Or a Guarneri? An Amati? You can (if you have the money)! According to this article in the NY Times, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra is selling their "Golden Age Collection" of some 30 string instruments due to financial trouble. They would like you to loan the instruments back to their musicians though. The orchestra bought the instruments in 2003 in order to secure its financial future. A sad thing they have to sell them so soon again. The real point is that this shows the importance of investors in today's orchestral practice, including the problems this brings along. For example...

...there has been a lot of controversy about the real value of this collection and the ethics of the deal. The question here is: should an orchestra own instruments this expensive? "Investors" (kings, churches) have always been a part of music, that's not the issue. The real issue is whether orchestras can afford to bear the financial risks involved with owning such instruments, especially a large collection. After all the business of an orchestra is music, not investments. Furthermore, the great majority of orchestras are non-profit organisations, whereas investing in instruments clearly is a 'profit-business' (and a highly risky one at that). An orchestra needs quality instruments, that's a fact, but the instruments by Stradivarius et. al have become collectors items, and that's a different business altogether.


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