cello is back, and being restored.
A valued cello that became subject of a diplomatic
squabble has been returned to Armenia after 18
On January 12, the Ministry of Culture and Youth
Affairs of Armenia officially received the cello
from the Ukraine, where it has been a hostage
of paperwork. Ukrainian officials have maintained
that instrument was brought to the city of Lvov
without proper documents and therefore could not
leave their country.
The matter became a point of legal lobbying by
Armenian diplomats in the Ukraine and by cultural
officials in Armenia.
Why the fuss? Because this is no ordinary cello,
but is in fact the workmanship of famed Italian
master Andrea Guarneri, who made the instrument
in 1685 in Cremona.
In 1948, the cello was purchased (for 2,000 rubles)
by Armenian authorities for the State Collection
of rare musical instruments.
In 1982, it was placed at the disposal of cellist
Bagratuni took the cello to the United States
when he went there to study.
In 1996, Bagratuni's wife, Nina Khoma, took the
cello to Lvov to perform in a concert. And it
stayed there, because it didn't have the proper
passport for returning to Armenia.
Since 1996 Martin Yeritsyan, professor of Yerevan
State Conservatory, violinist and a violin master,
had been applying to the Ministry of Culture with
the request of bringing the instrument back to
"It took eight years to prove that the cello
is a treasure belonging to our country,"
Yeritsyan says. "By the efforts of the ambassador
of Armenia to Ukraine Armen Khachatryan and his
deputy Gevorg Mehranyan it became possible to
prove who this cello really does belong to."
Yeritsyan says that the matter was successfully
resolved also thanks to assistance of the head
of Armenian Community of Lvov Karlos Sargsyan.
The instrument is now under Yeritisyan's care
while he is restoring it. The instrument is valued
at about $60,000.
And while the restoration is at work, documents
are also being prepared to avoid any future confusion
about its value or its ownership.
According to information presented by the Ministry
of Culture, starting from 1997 another four instruments
of the collection of rare bow-instruments have
been brought back to Armenia from CIS countries,
Germany and England. Some cultural items currently
in Lebanon are also being sought.
The State Collection, valued in the millions,
includes violins made in the 1760s by Giovanni
Battista Guadagnini and by Pietro Giacomo Rogeri.
"Completing its 'Odyssey' the violoncello,
which is the property of Armenia, has been returned
to Armenia and it is a remarkable episode in our
cultural life," said Ambassador Khachatryan.
"Our country and people became richer with
this great and priceless cultural valueable."