The Bernard Magrez
In 2010, Bernard Magrez created the Bernard Magrez Foundation, followed in 2011 by the Bernard Magrez Cultural Institute for art sponsorship.
The Institute comprises an exhibition centre, which is located in Bordeaux at Château Labottière, where superb exhibitions are held throughout the year and cultural events take place every week. A residence for artists has also been made available to support the development of young artists in the art world.
Bernard Magrez himself is an art-lover and owns a large collection of works which are exhibited according to period at Château Labottière in Bordeaux.
Bernard Magrez’s mission for the Institute has been to make contemporary creation accessible to all members of the public through the organisation and support of cultural events. This involves encounters and interaction with artists, together with the setting up of a programme of orders and acquisitions. Help to produce unpublished works is also given by providing accommodation and setting up workshops for young artists and also by the awarding of art prizes.
The Bernard Magrez
Set up as an endowment fund, the Bernard Magrez Cultural Institute is a private art sponsorship initiative.
The Bernard Magrez Cultural Institute has sought to create a bridge linking tradition with innovation, while providing a platform for interaction where anybody can participate in what is a unique cultural experience.
The Bernard Magrez Cultural Institute has thus created a new, original space for the dissemination of culture, encounters, interaction and creation, and succeeded in making today’s art more accessible to all and easier to understand and appreciate within a setting that is devoted to the pleasure and reverence of the arts.
The Château Pape
One of the missions of the Bernard Magrez Foundation is to help artists who practise the most challenging professions. Four musicians were thus selected. These were already experienced performers but all four showed great promise for the future. The foundation entrusted each of them with musical instruments deemed “World Treasures”, which had been acquired by the foundation.
- A Stradivarius violin designed by Antonio Stradivarius in 1713 during the instrument’s golden period. This was entrusted to Nicolas Dautricourt.
- A cello dating from 1788 by Ferdinando Gagliano, considered the top luthier in cello production. This one was entrusted to Camille Thomas.
- A Casini viola from 1660 which was entrusted to Lise Berthaud.
- A Nicolas Lupot violin made in 1795, which was entrusted to Guillaume Chilemme.
Château Pape Clément is the only sponsor in the world to own four “World Treasure” musical instruments.
- Nicolas Dautricourt
- Camille Thomas
- Guillaume Chilemme
- Lise Berthaud
“To trace the journey made by the Château Fombrauge Stradivarius, which I have the great honour to play, is unfortunately an impossible exercise. Having been made in 1713 in its master’s workshop in Cremona in northern Italy, it most probably travelled across Europe. Exactly where depended on whatever its different owners had decided, but it finally reached London, where it stayed quite a long time in a luthier’s workshop, before becoming the property of Mr Magrez in 2010. It certainly wouldn’t seem inappropriate to consider this last stage as the beginning of a new lease of life for it, a kind of rebirth.
A rebirth but also a new artistic lease of life, since the instrument had tragically been abandoned and forgotten for many years. My first encounter with it, in December 2013, was on the initiative of Mr Magrez, who was at the time looking for a possible violinist who might “accept” to continue their career on his Stradivarius! That was exactly how it was put, and I was literally jumping up and down with excitement!
You’d have to be crazy to turn down such an offer, I said to myself as if I was actually thinking it over! I naturally replied that I’d be over the moon to take up the offer. We then met (Mr Magrez, Mrs Daquin and me), in the presence of that mythical violin. At the end of the meeting I was informed that I had been chosen as the lucky candidate.”
“In the life of a musician, there are moments when luck comes your way. Such a moment came when I first met Bernard Magrez and played the first notes on his wonderful Ferdinand Gagliano cello, which was made in Naples in 1788. Playing that mythical instrument profoundly changed my life.
By way of analogy, it’s something like a Formula 1 driver, who can achieve a far greater performance with a top racing car than with a 2CV. The unique sonority produced by this instrument both elevates the musician and moves the audience. It possesses outstanding qualities: its timbre is warm and beautiful, its bass sound is rich, its range of high notes is expressive and it has wonderful power. In my career as a soloist, I have sometimes played to audiences of 2,000 people; I’ve also needed to play above the sound level of an 80-piece orchestra or above the powerful sound of a piano. These were great challenges. My cello must be able to respond to these challenges, and so I’m hugely lucky to be able to perform at the present time with this Gagliano.
I’d also say that being in possession of a 228-year-old instrument is just mind-blowing. And knowing that it has survived all those years and given so much pleasure in different eras with its different sonorities is an amazing source of inspiration. It’s difficult to trace with any certainty its exact history from the time it left the luthier’s workshop in Naples in 1788. It was apparently played at the beginning of the 20th century by the great German virtuoso Hugo Becker. What a privilege it is to perform on a cello that is steeped in history and which has lived through great moments in the past!
Finally, I’m very proud to play a cello called Château Pape-Clément. Music, like wine, requires the constant pursuit of excellence and tireless effort. Musical instruments, like great wine, have the distinction of improving with age. They are the result of a very special savoir-faire, and few of them stand out above the rest. Sometimes their genius is born of something ineffable gleaned from nature, such as a high-quality 100-year-old piece of wood to make the instrument, or vines that grow in a special terroir. There’s something magical in all that. Music for me is expression, communication and transmission. This instrument represents all of those things and has become, since that wonderful encounter, my strength in my inexorable quest for Beauty and the Absolute in music.”
“The violin made by the great 18th century French luthier Nicolas Lupot, and which I’ve had the great privilege to play for several months now, is one of the most beautiful instruments I’ve ever had the occasion to play.
But beyond its exceptional and hypnotic beauty, this instrument has led to a radical turning point in my approach to sound.
Chance has it that during the last fifteen years, I played an instrument, also a French one (made by the luthier Andrea Castagneri, belonging to the Ecole Vieux Paris) made scarcely 50 years before Lupot’s violin. Everything is different about these two violins, especially their timbre and sonority. While the Castagneri possessed pure, clear sound, the timbre of Lupot’s has a depth and generosity that I have rarely heard. The bass strings give a sound that is both warm and sombre, almost close to the tones of a viola, whereas the E chord is both broad and bright.
This instrument allows me to shape the sound in a way that I’ve never been able to do before.
Its richness of sonority enables me to widen my choice of interpretation.”
“1660! Older than J.S Bach! Each time I open my case I still can’t believe that this viola has lived through so many eras. It’s a wonderful adventure to play on another instrument, and I’m just starting to master this one and explore the full array of its timbres. I have to try and tame its strong personality, and I can feel it responding to my playing. It produces a naturally very rich, profound sound which is amazingly inspiring. In lending me this Antonio Casini and allowing me to perform with this perfect companion, Mr Magrez has given me a wonderful opportunity.”
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