Erika Morini

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Erica Morini)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Erika Morini
Erika Morini 1.jpg
Morini in the early 1920s
Background information
Born(1904-01-05)January 5, 1904
Vienna, Austria
DiedNovember 1, 1995(1995-11-01) (aged 91)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Years active1916–1976

Erika Morini Siracusano (January 5, 1904 – October 31 or November 1, 1995) was a Jewish Austrian violinist.[1]

Early life and family[edit]

The young artist as child prodigy in 1917

Morini was born in Vienna, and received her first instruction from her father, Oscar Morini (originally spelled Oser or Ojser, family name Moritz), who was the director of his own music school in the Imperial capital Vienna, and completed her studies under Otakar Ševčík. Hers was a case of remarkable precocity.

Erika's mother was Malka Morini, née Weissmann. Her father was born at Czernowitz in Bukovina, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Morini had six siblings:

  • Alice Morini, pianist
  • Stella Morini, violinist
  • Haydee Morini, dancer
  • Frank Morini, art dealer
  • Albert Morini, impresario concert manager

Her cousin, Louis Morris (originally Moritz), was a clarinetist for John Philip Sousa's band (1907–21)


When she made her début in 1916, with the Leipzig Gewandhaus and the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra, under Arthur Nikisch, the critics made no allowance for her youth, but spoke of her work as the equal of that of the most famous of the younger generation of violinists. On the voyage from Europe to New York, Morini and her cousin Louis played violin and clarinet for the first class passengers aboard the ship, and were given first class accommodations on account of their popularity. Her American début at the age of seventeen in New York (January 26, 1921) was one of the musical sensations of the year, and since then she performed in the United States often, both in recital and with the foremost orchestras. Shortly after her New York début, she was presented with the Guadagnini violin which had been owned by the celebrated American Violinist Maud Powell, who had died in 1920. In March 1921, Morini made her first recordings for the Victor Talking Machine Company in Camden, New Jersey, accompanied on the piano by her sister, Alice. She resided in New York after 1938, and began spelling her first name Erica. She made her first visit to London in 1923.

Along with the Guadagnini violin, Morini also played the "Davidov" Stradivarius violin from the year 1727, named for the Russian cellist Karl Davydov. Morini’s father had purchased it for her in Paris in 1924 for $10,000.[2]

Morini retired in 1976 and reportedly never played the violin again.[2]

Morini's valuable Davidov Stradivarius (as well as paintings, letters, and her scores, complete with fingerings and other valuable notes) were stolen from her New York City apartment shortly before her death in October 1995, at the age of 91. She had been hospitalized with heart disease and was never told of the theft.[2] The crime remains unsolved.[3][4]


Morini is believed to be the last surviving recording artist who made acoustic Red Seal Records for the Victor Talking Machine Company. Four months after her death, Erica Morini was described in the journal The Strad as the “most bewitching woman violinist of this century.”

She was particularly admired for her performances of the concerto repertory, especially the concertos of Ludwig Spohr, which she helped restore to popularity. She also played and recorded the great concertos of Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms and Tchaikovsky.[5]

Morini was honored with numerous awards and prizes. She received honorary doctorates from Smith College, Massachusetts, in 1955, and from the New England Conservatory of Music, Boston, in 1963. New York City, where she died, honored her lifetime achievement with a gold medal in 1976. Despite the respect in which she was held, Morini is largely forgotten today.[6]

A stage play about Morini, The Morini Strad, by Willy Holtzman, had its world premiere in 2010.[7]


  1. ^ Harvard Dictionary of Music.
  2. ^ a b c McNearney, Allison (March 5, 2017). "Who Stole Erica Morini's $3.5 Million Stradivarius Violin". The Daily Beast. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  3. ^ Bio Morini - Arbit Records Archived October 15, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Erika Morini". Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  5. ^ Erica Morini, 91, Subtle Violinist Who Explored Concerto Range. The New York Times Obituary. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  6. ^ "Jewish women - Erika Morini". Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  7. ^ Christopher Rawson (19 Nov 2010). "'The Morini Strad' plays on artful, modest thoughts". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2012-12-15.

External links[edit]

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead. Missing or empty |title= (help)