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November 25, 2020

The Life of a Cello

A JOURNEY OF UNEXPECTED TURNS

SUBMISSION BY LONG TIME FREMONT SYMPHONY SUPPORTER CARYL DOCKTER

There is a fascinating connection between Starla Breshears (cellist of the Little Stars Trio, who performed a recital for the Guild in January 2017) and the world-renowned cellist Christine Walevska. The connection is a superb 1/8-size cello made by the 19th-century luthier Auguste Sebastien Philippe Bernardel. The whole story, which spans some 60 years, was covered in the L. A. Times (available on the internet) and a version appeared in the October 9, 2020 issue of The Week.

Walevska’s father was a dealer in fine instruments, and he presented his daughter with an exceptional 1/8-size Bernardel cello in 1953 when she was 8 years old. The child fell in love with the instrument and never again had to be urged to practice. When she was ready to move on to a 1/4-size cello, the Bernardel went back to the shop. Some years later the cello was stolen from the shop and disappeared.

Fast forward 60 years. Starla Breshears’ father, a piano teacher in Chico, is looking for a really good 1/8-size cello for his daughter and learns of one from a Los Angeles music store that rents for $150 a month. He calls, but the store owner says he will only rent the instrument to an exceptional student and would have to hear Starla play. The parents and three young children pile in the car and drive to Los Angeles, where Starla is handed the cello and proceeds to play for two hours. The cello goes home with them.

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Starla Breshears Cellist via Facebook

C Walevska LA Times.JPG
The mystery of a stolen rare cello has a surprise ending - LA Times

By STACY PERMAN
JULY 22, 20204 AM

Download PDF of article here.
NEW YORK —  It was Sept. 14, 2013, when a mysterious email bearing the subject line “Is this your first cello?” landed in Christine Walevska’s inbox.
The renowned cello virtuoso, however, checked her emails infrequently. Walevska prefers more personal contact.

Decades spent touring the world had taught her that you could really only take the full measure of someone’s intentions by speaking with them — also, she didn’t like to type....More

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