The most costly musical instruments of all time

For everyone who has a handful of million pounds or bucks going spare, and for the rest of us…. below is our guide to the world’s most costly instruments, from Charlie Parker’s saxophone to Rostropovich’s cello.

Most highly-priced devices ever

1. Louis XV distinctive harp

Influenced by the Rococo style of French King Louis XV’s time, this ornate harp from Lyon & Healy has been nicknamed the Rolls Royce of harps, and not just due to the fact it seems to be so spectacular: the seem is apparently crystal clear. A worthy addition to any palatial ballroom, it carries a value tag of $189 000 (approximately £144, 000).

2. Casablanca ‘As Time Goes By’ Piano

The most expensive piano at any time offered at auction (for $3.4 million), this wooden upright with only 55 keys is a hugely symbolic portion of the film Casablanca. Indeed, it’s the piano that Dooley Wilson’s Sam is participating in when Ingrid Bergman utters that unforgettable line ‘Play it Sam, play ‘As Time Goes By’.

With its intricate gold and inexperienced Moroccan design it seems to be really distinctive. Beneath the keyboard, it truly is a a little fewer glamorous scenario. Chewing gum is stuck to it: a souvenir from 1 of the actors seemingly. Its audio, nonetheless, stays a secret, given that the piano has by no means really been performed. In fact, Dooley Wilson was a talented musician. But the piano tunes was performed by the offstage pianist Elliot Carpenter although Wilson acted out his portion.

Attention-grabbing to be aware that another really pricey piano arrived up for sale in September 2023. The instrument in question was the Yamaha child grand piano used by Queen singer and songwriter Freddie Mercury to compose a raft of the band’s most significant hits including ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

Mercury’s Yamaha went up for auction along with many other personal objects belonging to the fantastic guy. It duly fetched an extraordinary £1.7 million, becoming one of the most high-priced pianos of all time.

3. ‘Messiah’ Stradivarius Violin

Priced at $20 million, the so-referred to as ‘Messiah’ was produced by Antonio Stradivari in 1716, when the Italian violin-maker was at the height of his powers. Having said that, it owes its fame and cost mostly to the like-new situation in which it has survived.

The instrument’s varnish is virtually unworn, its carving is nonetheless razor sharp and the painted edge do the job on the scroll is nonetheless intact, the explanation currently being that, compared with other Strads, which were being routinely performed, this a person has normally been a collector’s piece.

4. Duport Stradivarius Cello

Named following one particular of its initial proprietors, the 19th century cellist Jean-Louis Duport, this 1711 instrument has passed through some fairly illustrious fingers. In actuality, Napoleon Bonaparte himself the moment had a go at holding it. A dent – nevertheless noticeable on the cello – is rumoured to have resulted from his tough managing while straddling the instrument with his boots.

Apart from Duport, its gamers have bundled the 19th century French cellist August Franchomme. He explained of the instrument: ‘The more I contemplate it and the much more I engage in it, the additional prodigious I discover it. What opulent wood! What impressive varnish and what tasteful, ideal workmanship! …Its tone is incredibly total, pure, sleek and distinguished and it has a stunning uniformity.’

Much more recently, the cello was valued at all over $20 million. It has been owned by Mstislav Rostropovich, who performed it until finally his death in 2007. at?v=Ml14kGHCBg0

5. Signed Fender Stratocaster guitar

Subsequent in our checklist of most high priced instruments is an intriguing addition.

Here’s an oddity amongst guitars in that this a single was not owned by any popular musicians or featured on any famous recordings. It was, however, signed by an eye-watering roll connect with of stars, which include Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Site, Keith Richards, David Gilmour, Pete Townshend and Jeff Beck.

Auctioned off in 2005 by the charity Access Out To Asia, an organisation established to provide support and help to the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, which killed above 200,000 persons, it was bought for $2.7 million – the largest sum ever paid out for a guitar.

Far more of the most high priced instruments at any time

6. Charlie Parker Grafton Alto Saxophone

This was the saxophone that jazz legend Charlie Parker (a single of the finest jazz saxophone gamers ever) played in a 1953 overall performance at Massey Corridor. The other musicians ended up trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, pianist Bud Powell, bassist Charles Mingus, and drummer Max Roach. As the story goes, they experienced not rehearsed jointly before their effectiveness with Parker. He then rocked up to the location with no his instrument, having a short while ago pawned it (some say to obtain heroin).

At the final moment, just one of the musicians in the quintet supposedly observed the plastic saxophone for Parker to participate in and the ensuing overall performance went down in historical past as just one of the finest jazz performances at any time.

Produced of product acrylic, the instrument fetched $140,000 at auction in 1994. This is the highest sum at any time compensated for a saxophone. It can be currently on show at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas Town – Charlie Parker’s household town. at?v=MjY1NPUUp9U

7. Macdonald Stradivarius Viola

The rate tag – $45 million at the past weigh-in – is rather staggering. But, like the ‘Messiah’ violin, the Macdonald viola owes some of its benefit to its preservation. Held generally in storage, the 1719 instrument skipped out on decades’ worth of dress in and tear. That will have assisted it to develop into one particular of the world’s most cherished and pricey devices.

Then there is the rarity value, provided that Stradivari only made about 15 violas entirely. Not only is the Macdonald 1 of only 11 Strad violas that even now survive now, but it is the only a single in the planet that isn’t owned by a museum, foundation, or govt, and hence obtainable for non-public purchase. Tempted?

8. Steinway & Sons ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ Piano

Carrying a $2.5 million price tag tag, this is the to start with Steinway & Sons piano impressed by a musical composition: Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Made by Paul Wyse, it is adorned with visuals of figures from Russian musical record and folklore, the intention becoming to explain to the tale, not only of Mussorgsky’s piano suite, ‘but of anything encompassing it,’ as Wyse put it.

9. ‘Lady Blunt’ Stradivarius violin

Sold to Lady Anne Blunt – the daughter of Ada Lovelace and grand daughter of Lord Byron – in the late 1800s, this 1721 instrument is pretty much as perfectly-preserved as the ‘Messiah’, provided that it has observed reasonably minimal use. Individuals who have actually performed it involve the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, whose functionality at the instrument’s 1971 auction at Sotheby’s can be witnessed beneath.

At that auction, the Lady Blunt fetched a then-record-breaking $200,000 (£84,000). But which is however really a little bit fewer than the in the vicinity of-$15.9 million (£10 million) it fetched in the wake of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami to increase funds for the Nippon Foundation’s reduction fund. That substantial sum of cash brought massive benefits – as nicely as catapulting the ‘Lady Blunt’ into the checklist of the world’s most costly instruments.

Emotion spendy? Have a study of our spherical-up of the greatest tracks about funds.

10. Lausanne Cathedral Pipe Organ

Inaugurated in December 2003, and costing 6 million Swiss Francs (about £5 million),the Lausanne Cathedral Pipe Organ (pictured) is one of the most lavish and exclusive devices of its kind in the globe. For a person detail, it is really the 1st pipe organ to have been intended by a designer: a process that took ten a long time. Additionally, it is really the initial organ to comprise all four of the primary organ designs (classical, French symphony, Baroque and German romantique), which offers it an amazing flexibility.