Award-winning Hungarian cellist Istvan Vardai has been granted an extended loan of the 1673 Stradivari ‘Du pre-Harrell’ cello. The instrument was purchased in a recent auction by an anonymous benefactor.
Among previous musicians to play the instrument, which is one of less than 65 cellos in existence from the legendary instrument-maker, was Jacqueline du Pre. Du Pre was one of the most celebrated cellists of the 20th century, perhaps best known for her 1965 recording of Elgar’s Cello Concerto when she was only 20. Her interpretation of the concerto was so popular that she made several appearances in successive years at the Proms to play the piece, and her recording is still widely considered as the definitive interpretation.
She played the 1673 Stradivarius early in her career,changing later to the 1712 Davidov Stradivarius, on which she recorded the Elgar Concerto. Her career was cut short by illness and she died in 1987 after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.
Other recent owners of the instrument have included Lynn Harrell and Nina Kotova.
Vardai has won several major competitions, including the 2014 ARD International Music Competition and the 2008 Geneva International Music Competition. He studied at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest and in Vienna and already has an impressive international list of appearances with orchestras and conductors.