On Air Now
Smooth Classics with Margherita Taylor 10pm - 1am
7 November 2017, 10:55 | Updated: 7 November 2017, 11:03
This cello was once played in the trenches of Ypres, one of the most deadly frontlines of the First World War. One hundred years later, Steven Isserlis is letting it sing again
This cello doesn’t look like a normal cello. In fact, it was originally built to be a “holiday cello” – an instrument you can pack up and take away with you so you can still practise when you’re away from home.
But in 1914 with the outbreak of war, this cello’s history dramatically changed.
The cello’s owner was Harold Triggs and, like so many other men of the time, Harold was sent to fight.
And he took his cello with him.
He took it with him to the frontline and played it in the trenches of Ypres. And he wasn’t the only one – there were other instruments in the trenches, made from ammunition boxes and pipes.
In this bleak place, people needed music.
The cello was eventually given to stringed instrument expert Charles Beare, who mentioned it to cellist Steven Isserlis.
“I immediately fell in love with it,” said Steven, “it’s got this soft, shy sound which I found really touching.
“It’s a lovely thought that this cello having stayed silent for so long has found its voice again.