Cremona Bestows Honorable Citizenship on Herbert Axelrod
Herbert Axelrod received a nice gift in June for his 76th birthday when Cremona's mayor bestowed honorary citizenship on the violinist, philanthropist, and collector of rare Cremonese stringed instruments. The ceremony occurred after Axelrod, who made his fortune in the tropical-fish business, donated the 1669 Stradivari known as "The Clisbee" to the local civic museum, just in time for an October exhibit in the city in which it was made. Earlier this year, Axelrod made news when he agreed to accept $18 million for the Golden Age Collection in a sale to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Other interested buyers had offered up to $55 million for the 30 rare Italians. "The [sale to the] NJSO was a dream I had for many years," says Axelrod, who hopes the sale will "put the symphony on the map." The inaugural full orchestra performance of the entire collection takes place September 10 at NJSO's 2003-2004 opening night festivities. With so many valuable 17th and 18th century violins to choose from over the years, including the Ex-Ferraresi pictured here, which was Axelrod's favorite? "When I played on these [vintage] fiddles my bad playing sounded even worse," he explains. "My favorite fiddle was [an American-made] 1976 Peresson, which was stolen by the kid I loaned it to."