George Haddock on how Ernst got his Stradivarius

The next passage, from George Haddock’s recollections, outlines how Ernst acquired the Stradivarius which is still named after him. I’d previous thought that Andrew Fountaine bought the instrument specially for him, but Haddock makes clear that Fountaine gave Ernst one of the two Strads he already had in his collection. There are hints (HWE:64) that Ernst visited England – possibly a number of times – many years before his first public engagements in mid-1843. If this is true, then the story Haddock tells is compatible with my surmise that Ernst acquired the Ernst Strad in mid-1842 (HWE:95); if it isn’t, then this may mean that Ernst acquired his new Strad only in 1843 or 1844: 

In an earlier chapter, I referred to the first Stradivarius that had ever come before me, and which had been shewn me by Ernst on the occasion of his first visit to Leeds early in the ‘fifties. In order to show how the lives of these famous fiddles may be traced, I give the following interesting account. Approaching one hundred years ago, two very fine specimens of Stradivarius workmanship came into the possession of Mr A. Fountaine, of Narford Hall, in Sussex. The two violins he kept in a double case, where they rested, side by side, for many years. Mr Fountaine, a real enthusiast, was in the habit of inviting musical house-parties from London for the week-ends.

Among those who were most frequently invited was Ernst, and, as a great privilege, was permitted to lead the quartet party or play his solo contributions on one of these superb fiddles the one usually designated by Mr Fountaine as his “second best;” the other instrument never being permitted to be used for playing purposes, but being lifted from the case merely for admiring glances. One memorable Sunday, Ernst played so exquisitely on the “Strad” lent to him by his host, that Mr Fountaine said he must use it regularly as his solo instrument, and straightway made the artist a gift of it. This was the violin shewn me by Ernst in 1852, and which he used till the day of his death. After passing through several hands, it was the one selected twenty years later, by Madame Norman-Neruda, who was requiring such an instrument for her own concert performances.

George Haddock, Some Early Musical Recollections of G. Haddock (London: Schott and Co., 1906), No Page ref.. Quoted on violin by Antonio Stradivari, 1709 (Lady Hallé, Ernst).

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