Links we Like: The Price of Art

This week in Links we Like, we view the financial influences of the arts. Business transactions are a vital part of the music industry: raising funds for arts organizations, purchasing instruments/music materials, buying tickets and recordings, etc. Such an observation is a striking one in a time when our economy is placing more and more pressure on the arts. These stories all show how money can shape perspectives on music and experiencing the arts.

“The Mona Lisa of Violins”: The value and beauty of the da Vinci masterpiece are undeniable, hence why the analogy to one particular Guarneri violin, known as the “Vieuxtemps,” is an appropriate one. A lesser-known brand than its contemporary Stradivarius, many violinists find the sound of a Guarneri to have richer, fuller tone. The “Vieuxtemps,” named after its most famous owner Henri Vieuxtemps, has been kept in pristine condition for centuries, and consequently carries a price tag of $18 million. If sold, the “Vieuxtemps” will become the most expensive instrument owned in the world. Among those who have had the chance to perform on the violin are Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, and most recently Joshua Bell with the Chicago Symphony (click here to watch a video of Joshua Bell playing and discussing the “Vieuxtemps”). To read more about the sale and the violin, click here.

The Guarneri "Vieuxtemps" violin (courtesy of

Let the Proms Begin!!! The UK’s largest music festival, the BBC Proms, began this past Friday, marking the 115th season for the concert series. The BBC Symphony Orchestra kicked off the festival with an explosive performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8. Notable performances include Die Meistersinger starring Bryn Terfel, Simon Boccanegra with Placido Domingo, Hilary Hahn performing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major, and Mahler’s Symphony No.4 with the World Orchestra for Peace and Valery Gergiev. The title of the festival comes from the festival’s most die-hard fans: the “prommers”. These devotees sit/stand in line for hours on end to receive discounted tickets in the standing space of the Royal Albert Hall. This “promming” has come to define the festival, and creates an atmosphere filled with a boisterous excitement not commonly found in classical scenarios. The read more about the concert series, visit the Proms website.

The Royal Albert Hall (courtesy of

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Loot! Arts organizations are putting on the gloves as they vie for a $200,000 grant being offered by American Express in an online voting contest. The organization that wins the most votes will receive the grant. Among the organizations competing for the grants are the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and StoryCorps. To read more on the contest, click here.

The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (courtesy of