THE AMATI FOUNDATION's two primary goals are the education of children and the development of The Amati Foundation Historical Collection. Secondary goals include providing patrons a secure organization in which to donate their cherished instruments, partnering with modern makers to purchase exceptional new instruments for outstanding young performers, providing professional musicians in need of an instrument a high quality loaner, and working with modern manufacturers to secure the highest quality student instruments available.




To launch a successful professional career, a great instrument becomes an essential “tool of the trade.”  Ability and practice alone will not achieve the goal of reaching an artist’s full musical potential. Talented musicians face financial difficulty in acquiring instruments that enable them to perform to their fullest potential.
     As corporations, foundations, and individuals began collecting stringed instruments for investment purposes, the costs of rare instruments skyrocketed. Violins by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu, perhaps the most famous maker after Antonio Stradivari, sold at auction 20 years ago for a few hundred thousand dollars. They now bring in excess of $5,000,000 with some examples selling for over $10 million. This upward price pressure places rare instruments out of the reach of all but the upper echelon of performers. And even they cannot afford to purchase these instruments without great help from donors, museums, and non-profit organizations.

     Wealthy amateurs and collectors may now own more Stradivaris than professional performers. In 1981, an anonymous private collector in Singapore paid strangers—or more precisely, generous patrons of the arts or large corporations—for the privilege of playing a rare instrument. Midori, the Japanese prodigy, has played a famous Strad known as The Jupiter, courtesy of the Fuji film and camera company, which paid $3.5 million for it a few years ago and loans it to her. If Fuji were to sell The Jupiter, it may very well sell for in excess of $7 million. 

    Alongside the instruments of Amati, Stradivari, and Guarneri, many high quality instruments by craftsmen with names such as Vuillaume, Guadagnini, Gagliano, Pressenda, and Rocca are sought by professional musicians. Though not as “popular” nor publicly well-known, these makers have left artists with outstanding instruments. However, the majority of working musicians still cannot afford instruments by these makers and thus rely on foundations and patrons for these critical tools of the trade or perform on an instrument of lesser quality.

     Many of today’s exceptional musicians began their instruction with a violin, viola, cello or bass costing a few hundred dollars. They may have rented an instrument from a local music store. As their skills grew they moved up to an instrument in the $1,500 to $5,000 range. Still, some have been held back by the playability of their instruments, and many, upon previously spending what must have seemed to be an exorbitant amount of money, have been unable to move beyond this level of instrument because the next step up is usually a rare instrument or a much higher priced contemporary instrument. Financial constraints is the number one barrier that prevents an artist from purchasing an instrument that most perfectly fits their playing style and allows them to unleash their talent to connect with their audience. 

     Leading contemporary makers such as MacArthur Fellow Joseph Curtin, Gregg Alf, and Samuel Zygmuntowicz produce exceptional instruments that compare favorably with those of the old Masters. While affordable by Stradivari standards, average prices of $20,000 to $55,000 keep them out of the hands of many artists, especially those just beginning their professional careers. The Foundation believes instruments by these and other acclaimed contemporary makers offer good investment value for the future and intends to commission instruments in order to create  a comprehensive collection of concert quality instruments available for loan to Foundation participants.

Bill Townsend
Bill Townsend presents the KMFA Violin to General Manager Jack Allen. The KMFA Violin Competition and Loan Program is an annual competition open to central Texas juniors who play violin in their high school music program. The instrument is based on a 1742 Guiseppe Guarneri del Gesu violin and has a value of $10,000. It made its Carnegie Hall debut summer 2009.
KMFA Violin Competition Entry Form

     By creating a collection of instruments handcrafted by the most talented contemporary makers, notably those working in the United States, the Foundation will have a positive impact on the expansion and acceptance of contemporary instruments for professional performances, while supporting men and women who have dedicated their lives to the preservation of stringed instrument making.


John Henry Kruer and his Georges Chanot of 1837 violin, made possible by the former owner and The Amati Foundation.

Donors can earmark their gift to a particular musician.

The Amati Foundation provides instrument loan to outstanding young performers who are entering their professional training or career, yet need access to essential tools of the trade in order to achieve their maximum potential.

     The loan program enables donors to earmark donations for the purchase of an instrument for a specific individual. The Foundation works with the performer to identify a suitable instrument, and given the amount of sponsorship dollars available to the performer, conducts the transaction.

     For example:  Mr. and Mrs. John Carpenter donate $40,000 to The Amati Foundation and earmark their donation to Miss Erin Moore, a 22 year old student of the cello. Mr. & Mrs. Carpenter receive a taxable benefit from their donation to the Foundation. The Foundation identifies two or three makers who can build a cello for Erin at a cost equal or less than $40,000 (including protective case and acquisition costs). Upon completion of the instrument, the ownership papers identify The Amati Foundation as owner, but the instrument is loaned to Erin on a 5 year basis, renewable until 15 years from date of initial loan. Upon completion of the 15 year loan, Erin can purchase the instrument from the Foundation at the appraised value.

     Erin is simply required to carry insurance on the instrument to protect it from damage, loss, or theft. She must deliver the instrument to The Amati Foundation or one of its representatives (often the maker who built the instrument) once every 3 years for documentation and adjustment (if needed). Other than that, the instrument is hers to use as she starts her career.

     This program accomplishes many things:

  • The donor recieves a tax benefit while providing much needed support to a young performer.
  • The Foundation receives an asset which becomes part of its loan program;
  • The performer receives the use of an outstanding instrument for use early in their career.
  • The performer may ultimately purchase the instrument once their career is established and finances are secure.
  • The proceeds of the sale enable the Foundation to purchase another instrument for loan to the next deserving musician.



Many amateur and professional players who have scaled back their playing are concerned about the future of their beloved instruments. If left to their children they worry the instrument will rot away in an attic or basement closet, or worse yet, be pawned on one of the Internet auction sites. 

     The Amati Foundation has created a model in which cherished instruments can be donated to the Foundation. In turn, the Foundation will care for the instruments and may loan them out (with approval of the patron) to professional players in need of a loaner instrument or to talented young musicians in need of a concert quality instrument to further their studies or begin their professional careers.

    Understanding that patrons may wish to bequeath an instrument to the Amati Foundation, the Foundation has developed guidelines to insure the preservation of each donor’s instrument.

  • Accurate authentication and insurance appraisals are carried out by leading dealers and experts from around the world. Certification is sought for every instrument within the Foundation’s collection.
  • The safe storage and maintenance of all instruments acquired by or donated to the Foundation is of utmost importance to the preservation of these historical pieces. 
  • Maintenance, preservation, and restoration is completed by the finest luthiers throughout the United States and Europe with regard to each luthier’s particular area of expertise.
  • A state-of-the-art humidity controlled fireproof safe, shop and maintenance facility will house collection instruments when not on loan.
  • Full insurance coverage will remain in effect on every instrument in the collection.


A violin formerly belonging to violinist Lord Yehudi Menuhin that was donated to The Amati Foundation.
An instrument by French maker Georges Chanot, circa 1897.

     Instrument donation isn't limited to rare instruments. As Mrs. Jane Warren of California wrote, "I played orchestra in elementary and high school, performing on an inexpensive German violin. It remained with me throughout my life, moving from house to house, resting silently in the hall closet or attic. I never really played it after I got married at age 20 and at 74, it's a little late to start now. After reading about The Amati Foundation in the Los Angeles Times, I decided to donate the instrument so that another child can enjoy it as much as I did."

     Mrs. Warren's violin was refurbished and is now in the hands of a young woman in Illinois who otherwise would have never had the opportunity to own her own instrument.

     The Amati Foundation currently has a waiting list of over 70 young performers who are seeking instruments to further their musical careers. In addition, we are seeking the donation of instruments made by Guarneri, Stradivari, Amati, Guadagnini, and Vuillaume for outstanding professional players who require the loan of a better instrument for recording and performance purposes. In these instances, the Foundation takes over the management and preservation of the instrument and its loan to the professional artist.






In order to assist artists who strive to keep classical music in the public eye, The Amati Foundation may occasionally loan instruments to established players and orchestras for special performances or as a replacement instrument when an existing instrument is being repaired or is unavailable. This will position the Foundation as a champion in the preservation of classical music and provide positive public exposure to help maintain name recognition among leading dealers, musicians, educational institutions, arts patrons, and those wishing to donate a vintage instrument to The Amati Foundation.

As a nonprofit organization with 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service, your donation of an instrument may be tax deductible. For information on the tax consequences of donating to The Amati Foundation, please consult your tax advisor. To arrange the donation of an instrument, or the purchase of a new instrument for The Amati Foundation, please contact us at 512-261-0761 or send us an e-mail.