Carlos Prieto has traveled the world over playing his cello for enthusiastic audiences and when he travels he always buys a full-fare ticket for his cello, but he would often have a problem.
"The employees never knew how to issue a ticket for a cello, until my wife came up with the brilliant idea of giving my cello a name. It’s called Miss Cello Prieto," he said.
Prieto’s intelligence and humor shone through constantly as we spoke. He told me story after story about his cello with a very fine lineage. In fact, the cello was, after many crossings, finally smuggled out of Nazi Germany by its Jewish owner.
"In the border the Nazi police just waved him by," Preito said. "And this is how this Stradivari cello left Germany, never to return."
That "him" who got the cello out of Germany happens to have a strong classical music pedigree. It was Francesco Mendelssohn, the grand grand nephew of the composer Felix Mendelssohn.
If you’re thinking this cello’s history could warrant a book of its own, you’re right, and it has.
"'The Adventures of a Cello' refers to the history of my cello," Prieto said. "Ever since it got into my hands I became interested in knowing a little bit about its history."
So after ten years of research he wrote a history of that cello. It’s one of nine books Prieto has written, and he’ll be signing copies Friday at 7 p.m. at the downtown UTSA’s Buena Vista Theater.