Stolen Stradivarius violin owner relieved Frank Almond not badly hurt

Frank Almond plays the Lipinski Stradivarius in 2008.

Alison Sherwood Frank Almond plays the Lipinski Stradivarius in 2008

Stolen Stradivarius violin’s owner relieved Frank Almond not badly hurt

The owner of a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin stolen from Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond during an armed robbery last week has released a statement expressing relief that Almond was not permanently injured in the attack.

Almond posted the owner’s statement in his Non Divisi column online at her request.

“Due to my devastation at the attack on you, Frank, and the theft of the violin, I feel compelled to write this,” the owner writes. “First, I’m so happy that you are safe.”

“Frank, I could never have guessed that after all you have done, you would be physically attacked. I’m so sorry.”

Almond was mugged in the parking lot at Wisconsin Lutheran College Jan. 27 after performing a Frankly Music concert. The robber attacked Almond with a stun gun and fled with the instrument.

The violin is known as the Lipinski Strad in reference to a former owner, the great Polish violinist Karol Lipinski. It was crafted in 1715 in Cremona, Italy. During a news conference following the robbery, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn called the rare violin “priceless” and characterized its value as in the “high seven figures.”

A $100,000 rewardhas been offered for information that results in the safe return of the violin.

Since Almond began playing the Lipinski Strad publicly in 2008, the owner has requested anonymity, though she signs her note “Char.” She describes herself as “just a person who loved her family violin with all its memories and three hundred years of history more than the many opportunities to sell it. My heart is broken.”

She thanks Almond for the public stewardship of the instrument:

“As a non-violinist, non-public figure, it has felt more natural to me to remain relatively anonymous. Not expecting the violin to participate in this tendency, I had the good fortune to find Frank to take loving care of it every day and to use his musicality and virtuosity to express his vision with its glorious voice. That he was concertmaster of the MSO was especially appropriate, as another goal was to give Milwaukee the gift of being able to hear the violin frequently. He has also acted as its human face and voice, giving interviews exploring his thoughts and feelings on getting to know this violin. He has put remarkable effort, talent and enthusiasm into making the first modern recordings of the Lipinski.”

Several of Almond’s friends, including MSO president Mark Niehaus, have described the violinist as very cautious about the security of the Lipinski Strad.

The owner also expressed gratitude to the Milwaukee Police Department and other law enforcement agencies, and to the MSO itself, and appealed to anyone who knows anything about the robbery to come forward.

Anyone with information on the violin or the robbery is asked to call Milwaukee police at (414) 935-7360. People who wish to remain anonymous can call the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at (414) 226-7838.