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Ernst Heinrich Roth: a rediscovered master


Ernst Heinrich Roth: a brief biography and company history


For over 100 years, the name Ernst Heinrich Roth has ranked among the best internationally known names in German violin making. The roots of the Bubenreuth-based workshop lead back to the Vogtland violin-making town of Markneukirchen – and to a master of the art whose major successes paradoxically led him to be profoundly underestimated.


Ernst Heinrich Roth, born in 1877, had the ideal prerequisites for attaining musical greatness. A talented musician who played several instruments and had perfect pitch, Ernst Heinrich Roth began his career by completing his training in the atelier founded by his father, Gustav Robert Roth, in 1873. He then studied under violin makers in Austria, Hungary, Russia and France and later returned to his home country with extensive knowledge of the art. His skill and musical training helped Ernst Heinrich Roth become one of the finest craftsmen of the 20th century – and one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the field.

Ernst Heinrich Roth's instruments were mostly patterned after works by Stradivari or Guarneri; his copies demonstrated aesthetic perfection and produced ideal sounds. The tops were made of fine-grained Italian spruce, and the backs were of deeply flamed maple, often as a single piece. The Ersnt Heinrich Roth violins of the 1920s and early 1930s shared these defining characteristics of violin material quality. They also shared an oil-based varnish, usually of reddish-brown colour on a golden background, and featured masterful craftsmanship applied with meticulous care.

Despite the quality of his work, the exceptional value of Ernst Heinrich Roth's master violins was long overshadowed by the major sales successes of his workshop, which he jointly founded with his cousin Gustav August Ficker in 1902. They quickly gained a foothold on the international market thanks to the broad range of quality and prices they offered. EH Roth's son Ernst Heinrich Roth II emigrated to the US in 1921 and became one of the leading instrument dealers in North America with his company, Scherl & Roth. His brother Gustav Albert Roth stayed in Germany, learned the art of violin making and took over the family business after their father died in 1948. The family fortune was expropriated in 1953, at which point they left Saxony in East Germany, the GDR, and re-established the business of “Ernst Heinrich Roth” in the Franconian town of Bubenreuth in West Germany. They were quickly able to return to the entrepreneurial successes they enjoyed before the war. Nowadays, a branch office in the Markneukirchen workshop represents the company where it first originated; business is managed by Ernst Heinrich III Roth and his son Wilhelm Roth, who were awarded the German musical instrument prize for their work in 1992 and 2009.



Related articles:

Bow maker and entrepreneur H. R. Pfretzschner

Markneukirchen: violin making in “German Cremona”

Hopf: a dynasty of Vogtland violin makers

Noteworthy families of Markneukirchen violin makers

Mittenwald violin makers - contemporary masters

How to select a violin: provenance, value and violin appraisal

Beares, J & A Beare: expertise in changing times

Contemporary violin makers - the modern artisan elite

Mirecourt's new masters: contemporary violin makers in Mirecourt

Stradivari's heirs: contemporary violin makers in Cremona

Contemporary violin makers from China and Taiwan



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Corilon violins · Lilienstrasse 2 · D-81669 Munich
Phone: +49 (0)89-444 19 619 · Fax: +49 (0)89-444 19 620
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New arrivals in our catalogue:
  • 3/4 - outstanding Stradivarius copy, approx. 1900
  • French violin, approx. 1880, probably Jerome Thibouville-Lamy
  • Charles Nicolas Bazin, fine French violin bow for E. Henry a Paris
  • Contemporary Italian master violin by Nicola Vendrame
  • French violin, J.T.L. Médio-Fino
  • Robert Barth, Stuttgart: attractive viola
  • Cello with an exquisite sound, Mittenwald, dated approximately 1850
  • German-Bohemian violin, patterend after Aegidius Klotz, approx. 1900
  • Southern German violin, approx. 1850
  • 3/4 - German 3/4 violin, August Clemens Glier
  • 1/2 - rare Mittenwald violin, Neuner & Hornsteiner
  • Italian violin, 1970, Benvenuto Botturi (certificate B. Botturi)
  • Fine violin, probably American
  • English violin with an Italian sound
  • Italian violin, late 19th century
  • Didier Nicolas (L‘Ainé), violin, approx. 1835 (certificate W.E. Hill & Sons)
  • English cello, mid 20th century
  • Old German Cello, Saxony, approx. 1900
  • French violin bow by Louis Joseph Morizot, known as Morizot père
  • Fine English violin bow by W. E. Hill & Sons
  • "Excelsior" Violin from Dresden, 1889
  • Southern German violin from the Widhalm atelier or -school
  • Italian violin, Aristide Cavalli, Cremona
  • 3/4 - old violin, rare Maggini model