The Morpurgo violin: a refugee violin.
A few years ago a 90-something years old lovely lady and her three daughters came to our workshop in Tel Aviv. Seniora Morpurgo and her daughters brought us the much treasured violin of Gualtiero Morpurgo, the head of the family from Milan, Italy.
The Morpurgos are an ancient and respected Jewish family. They go back some 500 years in the north of Italy. When still a young child, Gualtiero'smotherhanded him a violin:
"You may not become a famous violinist, but the music will help you in desperate moments of life, and will widen your horizons. Do not give up, sooner or later it will prove me right".
That moment arrived without warning. Gualtiero's motherwas forced to board the first train, wagon 06 at the Central Station in Milan. Destination: Auschwitz. Her son, Gualtiero was sent to a forced labor camp and loyal to his mother – took the violin along and often found hope and strength while playing Bach's Partitas with frozen fingers after a long day's work in harsh conditions.
Born in Ancona, Gualtiero graduated engineering school and worked in the shipyards of Genoa. When the war ended he volunteered to use his engineering skills to build and set up ships for Aliya Bet, helping survivors of the war sail illegally to Palestine. For this he was awarded in 1992 the Medal of Jerusalem by Yitzhak Rabin.
Gualtiero never stopped playing. He was 97 when he could play no more and put his life-long companion in its case. After his death in 2012 his widow and three daughters attended the Violins of Hope concert in Rome and decided that this is where it belongs – in the hands of devoted musicians in fine concert halls.