Handelsbanken Classic Instruments

Handelsbanken Classic Instruments consists of eight high class musical instruments that have been purchased so that a greater number of prominent young musicians have the opportunity to use and make the most of a first class instrument for a long period of time.

Violin from 1756

In 2010, the first instrument was acquired, a violin made 1756 by the famous Italian instrument builder Januarius Gagliano.

Instrument description

Cremona, Brescia, Milan, Venice… the names of the cities of northern Italy have, of course, a particularly magical ring for violinists and other connoisseurs of history’s finest stringed instruments. But since the early 18th century there has also been a strong tradition of making outstanding stringed instrument a little further south in Italy. This is associated particularly with the Gagliano family.

The least-known member of the family is probably the founder, Alessandro. After having worked for the masters Amati and Stradivari in Cremona, he brought his expertise back to his home city of Naples. Alessandro’s second son Januarius (in Italian: Gennaro) was active from about 1740 to 1780, and fewer of his instruments have survived. Those that do exist, however, are real connoisseurs’ instruments. They are normally have reddish orange- or reddish brown-coloured varnish, setting them apart from the lighter golden-yellow colour that became common among the Gagliano family’s violins in the later 18th century.

Violin from 1766

2011 year´s instrument is a fine 18th century example by the master Nicola Gagliano, from Naples. The violin is a Gagliano original in terms of all its essential parts, such as the top plate, the back plate, the ribs, scroll and varnish.

The instrument has a fictitious label with the following text: Ferdinandus Gagliano Filius Nicolai fecit Neap. 1766

Instrument description

Top plate: of spruce, in 2 parts, narrow to broad annual rings outwards.Back plate: of maple, well-flamed with narrow, rising flames.Ribs: of maple, well-flamed with narrow, rising flames.Scroll: of maple, well-flamed with slightly less distinct flames than the back plate.Varnish: yellow-orange of fine classic quality, on a golden base.Measurements in millimetres: 352.5/205.5/163.5

The previous owner was a Danish violinist, who was a member of the Royal Danish Orchestra in Copenhagen. The musician in question was a student of Peder Møller, the tutor at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, for whom Carl Nielsen wrote his violin concerto.

The violin was bought in 1944 from the violin-maker Pauli Merling in Copenhagen. After the Second World War, the then owner went on a concert tour to France, Germany and later the US. In America, there were also master classes and studies under the great Jascha Heifetz. The violin was used as a concert instrument by the previous owner throughout their career until the end of the 1960s.

Viola from ca 1800

In 2012, the third instrument was acquired: a viola made around 1800 by Giuseppe, Antonio and Giovanni Gagliano.

Instrument description

  • The back plate is in two parts of marbled maple with an irregular pattern that runs more or less horizontally.
  • The sides have medium-width flames.
  • A simple scroll.
  • The top plate is in two parts of spruce with close grain in the middle and irregular thinning towards the ribs.
  • The varnish is a golden brown colour.
  • This viola is a beautiful example of the maker’s work, in the style of the instruments made by the Grancino brothers in Milan in the late 17th century.
  • It measures 42.1 cm in length of body, with widths of 19.7 cm and 23.8 cm bare.

Cello from 1700

In 2013, another masterpiece was added to Handelsbanken Classic Instrument – a cello, made by Januarius Gagliano. Together with instruments from previous years, this forms a string quartet. What is unique about this string quartet is that all the instruments were made by the renowned Gagliano family in the late 18th century.

Instrument description

The back in two pieces of maple with flames of medium width sloping very slightly upwards from the centre joint; the sides and scroll of matching wood; the table in two pieces of spruce of medium grain, narrower at the centre and broadening slightly towards the flanks; the varnish of a light amber-orange colour.

This cello is a fine and characteristic example of the marker’s work, and measures 74.9 cm in length of body, with widths of 33.9 cm and 43.0 cm.

Piano Steinway & Sons

In 2014 a grand piano was added to the collection – a Steinway & Sons B-211.

Instrument description

Since Steinway & Sons was founded in 1853, the company’s goal has always been to make the finest grand pianos in the world. This objective of creating the best possible instrument is what makes a Steinway the unique piano that it is. Today, 98 per cent of the world’s concert pianists use a Steinway, and 97 per cent use one on a daily basis. 97 per cent of concert halls throughout the world use at least one grand piano from Steinway & Sons.

Craftsmanship and quality

Steinway’s constant principle has been never to compromise with quality under any circumstances. This means that the company selects only the best materials and takes all the time that it needs to ensure the best tone and lasting quality. This also explains why no more than 1,200 instruments per year are built.

Tone and touch

You don’t need to be a professional pianist to hear the difference between a Steinway and other makes of grand piano. Its special tone is obtained by selecting first-class materials and devoting a great deal of time to ‘voicing’ the instrument.

Naturally, it is essential that the grand piano is impeccably constructed, so that the instrument can emit perfect notes. This is why Steinway & Sons is the only piano-maker to ensure that the inner and the outer frames are glued together (instead of a “box in a box” construction). The soundboard that lies on the inner frame has such a resilience that even the slightest vibration can be picked up by the audience sitting in the back row of the second balcony in a large concert hall! The touch on a Steinway is quite unique.

The manner in which the mechanism is constructed and the keys are weighted means that a unique precision is attained. This not only means that the piano can be played unusually quietly or loudly, but above all that subtleties of tone can be almost infinitely varied.

Double bass from ca 1830

A double bass made in England in around 1830.

Instrument description

  • Two-piece back plate in fine flamed maple. Ribs and scroll in the same material.
  • Two-piece top plate in medium- to broad-grained spruce. Yellow-orange varnish on a golden background.
  • Measures 42.1 cm in length of body.
  • Width of top plate, upper bout: 52.5 cm.
  • Width of top plate: lower bout: 69 cm.

Violin from 1731

In 2016 we bought a violin made in Bologna by Joannes Florenus Guidantus in 1731.

Instrument description

  • The top plate is in two parts, made of spruce with medium-broad to broad annual rings.
  • The back plate is in two parts, made of flamy-grained maple – as are the ribs and scroll.
  • The varnish is of a golden yellow colour on a golden background.
  • Measures 357mm in length of body.

Violin from 1750

A violin made in Venice by Michele Deconet in 1750.

Instrument description

  • The two-piece back plate is made of flame-grained maple – as are the ribs and scroll.
  • The two-piece top plate is made of alpine spruce, with medium to fine annual rings.
  • The varnish is of a golden yellow colour on a golden background.
  • The body measures 356mm in length.