And the little violin made it home safe and sound.
If you've been following the drama of the Stradivarius snatched last week from Frank Almond, concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, you know that police found it Wednesday night in a suitcase in the attic of a Milwaukee home. Three people have been arrested.
In the days since the violin's abduction, a lot has been said about its monetary value ($5 million) and its historical value (built in 1715 by the famous Italian artisan Antonio Stradivari).
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Less has been said about its true value, which is as a living thing.
That sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?
Not if you've ever loved a musical instrument.
Shortly after the Strad was stolen, Almond told a reporter that his connection to it was like "a primary human relationship, with all its twists and turns."
You don't have to play an instrument as grand as a Stradivarius to get that, to comprehend an instrument as a partner in a relationship. You touch it, hold it, talk to it, curse when it won't do what you want and adore it when it does.
Losing that relationship can feel like a death or a divorce.
My mandolin was once stolen — more on that later — and I felt like someone had kidnapped my dog or sliced off my fingers. When it went missing, so did some part of me.
Many musicians have a stolen-instrument story. Steve Doyle, a teacher at the Old Town School of Folk Music, tells this one:
On a snowy night in 1995, his two guitars were ripped off from his locked van in a Chicago alley. One was a 1935 National guitar, the other a Gibson that he'd bought at the age of 16 with all of his savings.
After the guitars vanished, he decided not to be so attached to instruments.
"I started thinking they're just objects," he said. "It's just a hunk of metal and wood, screw it."
Then one day almost 10 years later, he walked into a Chicago music store and felt his heart jump.
"Holy !@#!" he thought. "That's my guitar."
There was the old National, with its case. He bought it back, with help from his band. Since then he has felt a rekindling of the old romance for the hunks of metal and wood.
"It's like I got this old friend back," he said. "I miss the other one to this day."
Chicago musician Ronnie Malley tells the story of his stolen oud. (Think of it as a Middle Eastern lute.)
Malley was in a restaurant just outside Paris, with an oud from Chicago, when another musician, who loved the same oud, walked in.