Amnon Weinstein's Violins of Hope

How "Violins of Hope" came to be

In 1940s Tel Aviv, during the turbulent period when the state of Israel was founded and fought for its independence, "Violins of Hope", the world's most moving collection of instruments gradually came together at Moshe Weinstein's workshop. Survivors of the Holocaust kept bringing him their instruments or, in some cases, the instruments of their relatives who had not successfully made their way out of Europe. Simpler instruments by unknown luthiers, well-crafted pieces by German and Jewish masters as well as magnificent violins with a star-of-David inlay which had become memorials to the devastation that had occurred in Eastern European klezmer culture ― all of them found a safe haven with Amnon Weinstein, the luthier who himself had immigrated from Vilnius in 1938 and lost many members of his family.



A luthier’s grief: Amnon Weinstein restoring and researching the Violins of Hope

For over fifty years, the unintentional collection of what would later be called Violins of Hope was kept in a corner as tributes to the grief and pain which their previous owners could not bear. And as was the case in many Israeli families, the Weinsteins also needed more than a generation until Amnon Weinstein, Moshe's son and successor, mustered up the courage to address the disturbing history of this set of instruments.

After being encouraged by a German intern, Amnon Weinstein began gathering information about the instruments and the people they belonged to, and he started lovingly and painstakingly restoring the violins, some of which were badly damaged. Within a short time, he received support from his son Avshalom. A presentation and a concert in Istanbul in 2006 initiated the the project, and Violins of Hope, as it was soon called, started to take shape.

Violins of Hope today: Concerts, exhibitions and educational programmes

Since then, the voices of the approximately 60 instruments in the Violins of Hope collection have been heard at famous music festivals and concerts of renowned orchestras such as the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Cleveland Symphony – often with contributions from world-renowned soloists such as Itzhak Perlman. With its clever interplay of exhibitions and events at schools to accompany the performances, the Violins of Hope are creating unique inroads to the lives, sorrows and art of the musicians who once played them. You can find more information about the Violins of Hope project, Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein, and current events at the project's website.

Online catalogue