US & Canada

Stolen Stradivarius violin returns to the stage

Violinist Mira Wang plays the Ames Stradivarius violin in Manhattan. New York. March 13, 2017 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mira Wang emigrated from China to study with Roman Totenberg

A rare and valuable Stradivarius violin has returned to the concert stage in New York more than 36 years after it was stolen.

The instrument was played at a private concert by Mira Wang, a student of its former owner, virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg.

The violin was taken from Totenberg's dressing room in Massachusetts in 1980 but was recovered in 2015.

His three daughters were in the audience on Monday.

Roman Totenberg died in 2012 at the age of 101. He had been a child prodigy in his native Poland and bought the 18th-Century instrument - known as the Ames Stradivarius - in 1943.

Violins created by Antonio Stradivari are considered amongst the world's finest and can be worth millions.

The violin vanished while Totenberg was greeting well-wishers after a concert.

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Media captionThe violin was made in Italy in 1734 by Antonio Stradivari

It only reappeared in 2015 when a woman had it appraised after inheriting it from her late husband. The man, a former pupil of Totenberg, had been suspected of taking it, but was never charged because of lack of evidence.

Ms Wang said the concert was tinged with sadness as Totenberg had not lived to hear the violin played again.

"It means a great deal to me that I can use the violin, to be the first one who would bring it to the public," she said.

In the audience were Totenberg's three daughters, Jill, Amy and Nina.

"We call Mira our fourth sister," Amy Totenberg told Reuters news agency.

"She was my father's protege. He has certainly had many beloved students but she was so close and to all of us, to him, and this is just the most wonderful extension of his playing that she would be here and could do it."

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