December 31, 2008 10:01 PM Subscribe
What gives Stradivarius violins their rich ethereal tones? Scientists clash in theories, attributing the sound quality to wood density, chemical treatments, the "Little Ice Age," even the sun. The mystery continues. Current Strad owners include Itzhak Perlman and Anne-Sophie Mutter. "[T]he great violins are, ounce for ounce, among the most valuable commodities in the world... Almost alone among investments, important violins have proved immune to economic downturns." Today, top Strads can fetch more than $6 million. But some wonder whether Antonio Stradivari's violins truly deserve their "best in class" reputation.
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