Music: Unplayed Sfrads

Few living ears have ever heard the three greatest Stradivarius violins. "The Messiah" Strad rests in Oxford's Ashmolean Museum; the equally famed "Alard" is owned by an English collector who does not fiddle with it. The third great Strad, "The Earl of Plymouth," was found in 1925 in an old storeroom on the Earl's estate. Fritz Kreisler bought the "Earl" in 1928.

Last week 71-year-old Fritz Kreisler sold his Strad for less than its assessed value of $80,000. The buyer was a onetime child prodigy named Dorotha Powers, who quit concert playing in 1937 when she married a wealthy businessman, now...

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