A Stradivarius, stolen and missing for 35 years, once again thrills audiences

A stolen Stradivarius is back thrilling audiences with its sweet sounds after being missing for 35 years.

The 'Ames Stradivarius' was bought by renowned virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg in 1943. It was made by Antonio Stradivari in 1734.

Totenberg's former student Mira Wang had the honor of giving the first concert performance with the instrument since it was stolen from Totenberg's dressing room in 1980.

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Roman Totenberg's stolen Stradivarius violin
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Roman Totenberg's stolen Stradivarius violin

The Ames Stradivarius violin, that was stolen in 1980 from the late virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, is seen in the borough of Manhattan in New York, U.S., March 13, 2017.

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Violinist Mira Wang plays the Ames Stradivarius violin, that was stolen in 1980 from the late virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, in the borough of Manhattan in New York, U.S., March 13, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

The Ames Stradivarius violin, that was stolen in 1980 from the late virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, is seen in the borough of Manhattan in New York, U.S., March 13, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Violinist Mira Wang plays the Ames Stradivarius violin, that was stolen in 1980 from the late virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, in the borough of Manhattan in New York, U.S., March 13, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Violinist Mira Wang holds the Ames Stradivarius violin, that was stolen in 1980 from the late virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, in the borough of Manhattan in New York, U.S., March 13, 2017.

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

The Ames Stradivarius violin, that was stolen in 1980 from the late virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, is seen in the borough of Manhattan in New York, U.S., March 13, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Phillip Injeian, a master violin maker, points to specific points on the Ames Stradivarius violin during a news conference in New York August 6, 2015. U.S. authorities said Thursday they plan to announce the recovery of a rare Stradivarius violin that was stolen in 1980 from the late virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg after a performance. A spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara confirmed that authorities would hold a ceremony to turn the violin over to Totenberg's family after the FBI recovered it in June. 

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

The Ames Stradivarius violin is seen during a news conference as Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks in New York, August 6, 2015. U.S. authorities said Thursday they plan to announce the recovery of a rare Stradivarius violin that was stolen in 1980 from the late virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg after a performance. A spokeswoman for Bharara confirmed that authorities would hold a ceremony to turn the violin over to Totenberg's family after the FBI recovered it in June. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The Ames Stradivarius violin is placed for viewing during a news conference in New York August 6, 2015. U.S. authorities said Thursday they plan to announce the recovery of a rare Stradivarius violin that was stolen in 1980 from the late virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg after a performance. A spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara confirmed that authorities would hold a ceremony to turn the violin over to Totenberg's family after the FBI recovered it in June. 

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Phillip Injeian, a master violin maker, points to specific points on the Ames Stradivarius violin during a news conference in New York August 6, 2015. U.S. authorities said Thursday they plan to announce the recovery of a rare Stradivarius violin that was stolen in 1980 from the late virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg after a performance. A spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara confirmed that authorities would hold a ceremony to turn the violin over to Totenberg's family after the FBI recovered it in June. 

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

The Ames Stradivarius violin is placed for viewing during a news conference in New York August 6, 2015. U.S. authorities said Thursday they plan to announce the recovery of a rare Stradivarius violin that was stolen in 1980 from the late virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg after a performance. A spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara confirmed that authorities would hold a ceremony to turn the violin over to Totenberg's family after the FBI recovered it in June. 

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

The Ames Stradivarius violin is seen in an undated handout picture released by the FBI. U.S. authorities said Thursday they plan to announce the recovery of the Ames Stradivarius that was stolen in 1980 from the late virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg after a performance. The violin was stolen in 1980 after Roman Totenberg, then director of the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts, delivered a performance at the school.

(REUTERS/FBI/Handout)

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"It means a great deal to me that I can use the violin, to be the first one who would bring it to the public. I often think of Roman and think about, he's looking at me from above. And so there's a complication in the emotions, there's a pressure, there's joy, there is a lot of sorrow that he could never see this or hear this and I wish he was with us," said violinist and Roman Totenberg's former student, Mira Wang.

Totenberg had a long and distinguished career performing on the world's greatest concert stages. He never saw the instrument again and passed away in 2012 at the age of 101.

In 2015, the lost violin was finally recovered. Philip Johnson, also a former student of Totenberg, died in 2011 and left the instrument to his wife who took the violin to a specialist who immediately recognized it for what it was: the valuable Stradivarius that had been stolen 35 years earlier.

Totenberg's daughters Jill, Nina and Amy, say that while the final decision on what to do with the violin is still being worked out, the choice of Wang to give the first concert with the instrument was a choice they all agreed with.

"We call Mira our fourth sister. She was my father's protégé. He's certainly had many beloved students but she was so close and to all of us, to him, and this is just the most wonderful extension of his playing," said Roman Totenberg's daughter, Amy Totenberg.

The daughters say the sound of the Stradivarius brings back their late father's presence.

"Another reincarnation, there's no doubt. But there were also times when we have been so moved we've cried and I'm sure all three of us will cry at some point and have to really sort of pull ourselves together, or not pull ourselves together," added Roman Totenberg's daughter, Jill Totenberg.

Around 550 Stradivarius instruments remain in existence. One violin sold for a record $15.9 million (USD) at auction in 2011.

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