Of Note
February 20, 2008
Library of Congress publishes the story of Nick's Guarneri Del Gesu
Photos of the Twin Violins
Photos of the Twin Violins
Michael Zirkle
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About Mrs. Goldberg's Donation of the "Baron Vitta" Guarneri Violin
by Nicholas Kitchen

I first met Miyoko Yamane Goldberg in my last two years of study with her husband Szymon Goldberg at the Curtis Institute. It was wonderful to witness the happiness and musical camaraderie shared by my teacher and Mrs. Goldberg, a pianist in her own right. They worked on, discussed, and eventually recorded numerous sonatas in their years together. In Philadelphia, Mrs. Goldberg arranged social gatherings where we all freely discussed musical ideas and enjoyed the Goldbergs' sense of humor. She also played many of his recordings, which in his typically principled fashion, he did not consider good enough to be held up as an example. Our friendship developed further during the Borromeo Quartet's annual string quartet seminar for Triton Arts Network in Tokyo.

A few years ago, after one concert in Tokyo, Mrs. Goldberg invited me to dinner and asked what I thought about performing on Mr. Goldberg's violin, the "Baron Vitta" Guarneri del Gesù, which was placed in the Smithsonian for safekeeping after he passed away in 1993. I was tremendously moved and also realized what a demanding and inspiring task it would be to play this instrument and take part in adding to Mr. Goldberg's legacy.

Thanks to the unswerving persistence by Mrs. Goldberg and the Goldbergs' close friend Anne-Marie Soulliere, legal arrangements were made so that the violin could be returned to international musical activity. On April 24, 2006, Mrs. Goldberg and I escorted the "Goldberg- Baron Vitta"Guarneri del Gesù violin from the Smithsonian to the Library of Congress, home of the Goldberg violin's "twin,"the "Kreisler" Guarneri del Gesù. These two instruments were fashioned by Guarneri out of the same pieces of wood. We played five renditions of the slow movement of the Brahms Third Violin Sonata, alternating between the two violins to compare the expressive tone of these two instruments and to provide footage for a documentary on Mr. Goldberg produced by the KNB Television in Toyama, Japan.

During this visit, the thought occurred to Mrs. Goldberg that there was no more logical and appropriate home for her late husband's violin and his papers than the Library, where the "twin" Guarneris could reside together. Unlike the Kreisler violin, however, which principally is made available for musical activities within the Library, the Goldberg-Baron Vitta violin will be involved in my performing activities both at the Library and around the world.

Five months after the visit to the Library, Mrs. Goldberg and I traveled with the"Goldberg-Baron Vitta" violin to Toyama to give a joint recital inaugurating the Szymon Goldberg Memorial Chamber Music Festival. We played in the very same hall where Mr. Goldberg played his last concert with Mrs. Goldberg. Sadly, our recital turned out to be her last concert. Shortly after this concert she succumbed to an illness she had battled with for a number of years.

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