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Special Violin Finds New Life In Instrument Drive For City Schools

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Neglected music instruments are finding a second life after a radio station launched a drive to collect and donate instruments to city schools.

And as CBS2's Kristine Johnson reported, among the donations is one very special violin.

For nearly 70 years the violin has been one of Joseph Feingold's most treasured possessions, giving him endless hours of joy.

"I just loved producing music," Feingold said.

The 92-year-old Polish immigrant and his violin share a rich and deep history.

"It became a matter of survival," he said.

After the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, Feingold fled to the East, but was arrested by the Russians and spent six years in a Siberian work camp.

"It was extremely cold; the coldest place on earth," he said.

After liberation, Feingold was in a displaced person's camp, where he bought the violin on the black market, paid for with a carton of American cigarettes -- a valuable commodity.

"With a carton you could buy God knows what, and that's what cost the violin: a carton of cigarettes," he said.

Feingold said playing brought back happy memories of playing music with his family, some of whom died in concentration camps.

"I played and played and played," he said. "I wanted to recreate what was still in my mind, my memory."

But as Feingold aged, it became too hard to play. So when he heard about the instrument drive, he decided to donate it.

"I said 'Ah! Good idea," he said.

Grahm Parker, head of WQXR, a sponsor of the program, said Feingold's violin is just one of more than 3,000 instruments that were donated.

"People did not want to just put it out with the trash," Parker said "They really wanted to know that someone else was going to play the instrument."

The instruments were repaired and are about to be distributed to schools, Johnson reported.

"They're not going to be sitting in a warehouse any more, they're going to be in a school being played every single day which is really exciting," said

Feingold said he hopes whoever gets his violin will stick with it, but the most important thing is that it be played again.

"I wanted the violin to be used. Play it, and then invite me to a concert," he said.

The drive is over for now, but WQXR said it's very likely another will soon be in the works.

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