The « Angel »

ex Madrileno

Created in 1720, in the workshop of the famous Cremonese luthier Antonio Stradivari
during his famous “Golden Period”.

An enigmatic story.

The long lost “Angel” ex-Madrileno reappeared at the end of the 1950s. It owed its old name to the Spanish capital, where one of its owners lived at the time: Senor Acebal, friend of the Iberian virtuoso Carlos Sedano. Official records of the violin can be found with dealers in rare instruments, such as Rembert Wurlitzer in New York (1960), followed by John & Arthur Beare in London.

In the half-century that followed, the precious object changed homes eight times and was held by private owners for more than 35 years. “The Angel” was owned by John W. Nields (1962), in the United States, and violin hunter Jacques Français (1969).


The violin had a sojourn with Harvard professor Mark Ptashne (1981), followed by Eric Hurst (1983). It then changed hands to be played by Russian virtuoso Rimma Shushanskaya of the Birmingham Conservatory. The mythical object, which during its long existence was also placed in the expert hands of Maestro Ruggiero Ricci, is even said to have charmed Deborah Read, wife of the former American President Benjamin Franklin.


An extraordinary state of preservation.

A violin with the varnish still intact, and wood of incredible beauty.

21 September 2018

A first: the instrument is blessed by a high representative of the Vatican – Cardinal Ravasi – in Saint Mark’s Basilica. On this occasion, it is renamed: from Madrileno, it becomes “The Angel”.

2020: The Angel's tercentenary

A TV documentary is dedicated to the violin, retracing the return to its origins from Geneva to Cremona: a vagabond journey punctuated by 7 stages, and as many musical moments and artistic encounters of the most exciting, authentic and unusual kind.

Listen to the violin’s sound in a performance by Fabrizio von Arx.

About the Project

The violin of peace

For the BIG Foundation, memorable concerts have been and will continue to be a subtle yet effective way of raising awareness of its mission and projects at the local level, and above all, a noble and universal message on a global level: that of peace. If music has power, we must make this violin the greatest symbol of peace there is and use it to bring people together, help them overcome their quarrels and resentments, and bring them together.

Cultural events

When a virtuoso and an exceptional violin are brought together, it is easy to imagine unique concerts and experiences (such as incredible artistic collaborations) in places dedicated to music and beyond. Each time Fabrizio von Arx and the Stradivarius make an appearance, it can be an event in itself, as the musicality of the “duo” is breathtaking.


2020 marked the 300th anniversary of “The Angel”. The programme of festivities was upset by Covid, but out of difficulty, beauty emerges. So, a vagabond journey took shape for Fabrizio von Arx and “The Angel”, from Geneva to Cremona. Punctuated with stopovers in the Swiss and Italian Alps, concerts in places ranging from the classic to atypical, and meetings between villagers and artists, the finale was extraordinary: a memorable concert at the Museo del Violino Auditorium in Cremona, along with a temporary exhibition for the violin in the museum. A TV documentary will trace the return to origins of “The Angel”, to be broadcast both nationally and internationally.