The Wizard of Oz Violin Going Up for Auction, Could Fetch $20 Million



The Wizard of Oz, that timeless classic from 1939, is the film of some of the most coveted pieces of Hollywood history. From the ruby slippers, to the Cowardly Lion’s suit, artifacts from this film continue to circle the world and draw crowds of all ages. A new piece of the film will be going on auction next month, but this artifact has a history of its own. The piece is a 300-year-old violin, and experts are estimating it could bring in as much as $20 million.

The violin in question was reported to have been used in the original score for The Wizard of Oz. The instrument is a rare Stradivarius, made by the Italian family Stradivari during the 17th and 18th centuries. This particular instrument belonged to Toscha Seidel, who was widely regarded as one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century.

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Born in Odessa in 1899, Seidel studied in St. Petersburg and developed his unique style of playing. His American debut was at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1918, afterwards, he toured throughout the United States, then Europe and Australia throughout the 1920s. In the 1930s he emigrated to the United States to pursue a career in film. Seidel was involved in several films, one of his most famous being Intermezzo. The 1939 romance film followed Leslie Howard playing a violinist who falls for his accompaniment played by Ingrid Bergman. Seidel provided the violin music in place of Howard.

As far as The Wizard of Oz goes, there isn’t too much of a story behind the violinist’s involvement. MGM Oz historian John Fricke was not able to confirm that Seidel is the solo violinist in the score, but notes that “there is some glorious solo violin work in the underscoring.”. The main possibility is that Seidel was under MGM contract in February 1939, the score for The Wizard of Oz was recorded in May 1939, this was likely the result of his involvement in the production.

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The Music of Generations

Toscha Seidel

Regardless of the weight of the involvement that the violin has had in The Wizard of Oz, it still holds plenty of history and memories. Seidel continued to play his Stradivarius for almost four decades. Outside of Oz and Intermezzo, Seidel was involved in the soundtracks for The Great Waltz, Balalaika, and Melody for Three. Seidel also famously provided violin lessons to celebrated physicist Albert Einstein. The two later on played a Back double violin concerto to raise funds for German-Jewish scientists that were fleeing Nazi occupied territories.

It’s been over 15 years since an instrument from the Stradivari’s nicknamed Golden Period has been put up for auction. This particular instrument, nicknamed “da Vinci” was created in 1741 and was purchased Seidel in 1924. The violinist paid $25,000 for it, and the purchase made front-page headlines in the New York Times. Carlos Tome, a director at instrument venue Tarisio, spoke to Variety about the upcoming auction.

“It is our tremendous pleasure to present this instrument, whose exquisite voice still speaks to us through many classical recordings and film scores performed by the incomparable Toscha Seidel. We can only imagine the thrill that this instrument has generated for countless musicians and audiences over the centuries.”

Tarisio will display Seidel’s violin before auction day at London, Berlin, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and New York.

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About The Author

Caroline Miller
(148 Articles Published)

Caroline is a longtime admirer of film, music and the arts. She’s been giving movie opinions online (warranted or not) for over a decade, and putting those thoughts to Movieweb since early 2021.

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