Frank Almond and the Stolen Lipinski, with Pianist Jeannie Yu

Frank Almond, photo by Nigel Parry

The Conservatory Artist Series at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance is pleased to bring violinist Frank Almond to campus on Feb. 2, appearing in recital at White Recital Hall in the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center.

Frank Almond currently serves as the concertmaster for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, as well as maintaining an active schedule of solo and chamber music performances in the US and abroad. He usually plays on a violin by Antonio Stradivari, the “Lipinski,” made in 1715. This violin has had a very dramatic history, from its first owner, Italian violinist and composer Giuseppe Tartini, who used it when writing his famous work Devil’s Trill Sonata, to being stored in a bank vault for more than a decade (1996 – 2008) when it was then lent to Frank Almond.

On Jan. 27, 2014 at around 10:20 p.m. the violin was stolen from Mr. Almond in an armed robbery after a concert, where the assailant assaulted him with a stun gun before fleeing the scene with the instrument. The violin was recovered nine days later, and the story continues to make headlines around the world. It was the subject of a major investigative feature in Vanity Fair.

In addition to his numerous performing engagements, Frank Almond founded and directs the Frankly Music Chamber Series based in Milwaukee, now in its 13th season. This series brings classical music to a much wider audience than the traditional concert hall, as the artists fulfill their artistic mission of “providing outstanding chamber music in our unique format, combining exceptional performances with educational and social elements.” This series features many of Almond’s Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra colleagues as well as other special guest artists throughout the year.

Jeannie Yu, photo courtesy Frank Almond

At age 17, Almond was one of the youngest prizewinners in the history of the Nicolo Paganini Competition in Genoa, Italy, and five years later was one of two American prizewinners at the Eighth International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, which was documented in an award-winning PBS film. Mr. Almond holds two degrees from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Dorothy DeLay. He has held academic positions at San Diego University, Texas Christian University, Northwestern University, and is currently on the faculty as artist/teacher of violin at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.

Since 2014 Almond has been presenting a series of concerts and master classes both in the US and abroad commemorating the 300th birthday of the “Lipinski,” featuring works from his 2013 recording A Violin’s Life: Music for the ‘Lipinski’ Stradivari and 2016’s A Violin’s Life, Vol. 2, both of which chronicle the extraordinary history of this violin and its associations.

His concert on the UMKC campus will feature three of these works with important ties to the Lipinski violin. The first, Violin Sonata in G Minor (“Devil’s Trill”), was composed by the first owner of the violin, Giuseppe Tartini. This is Tartini’s best known piece, and would eventually become the basis for Chopin’s Prelude No. 27. Noted for its challenging technical passages, Tartini composed this work after he had dreamed the Devil had appeared to him, asking for violin lessons. At the end of the day, Tartini handed the Devil his violin to test his skill, and the Devil immediately began to play with such virtuosity that Tartini was blown away and compelled to compose this piece. Despite having said that this sonata was his favorite, Tartini later wrote that it was “so inferior to what I had heard, that if I could have subsisted on other means, I would have broken my violin and abandoned music forever.”

Appearing with Mr. Almond will be pianist Jeannie Yu. Dr. Yu has performed as a soloist with the Flint Symphony, Portland Symphony, Marina del Rey-Westchester Symphony, Des Moines Symphony, Des Moines Brandenburg Symphony, the Xiamen Symphony Orchestra in China, Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra, Festival City Symphony and the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra.

Other works on the concert include Amanda Maier-Röntgen’s Sonata in B Minor for Violin and Piano, J.S. Bach’s Partita in D Minor for Solo Violin, BWV 1004, and Strauss’ Violin Sonata, Op. 18.


Frank Almond performs Feb. 2, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. in White Recital Hall.
Tickets are $25; $10 for UMKC faculty, staff, and all students with UMKC or student ID.
Events are subject to change without notice. Please be sure to check our online events calendar for the most updated information, conservatory.umkc.edu

–Jessica Riggins

About The Author: Contributing Writer

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