Noteworthy families of Markneukirchen violin makers
Vogtland violin making is not to be equated with the large number of cheap instruments that were sold throughout the world in the 18th and 19th centuries. Markneukirchen was the home of – and the venue for training – several international violin makers and violin-making masters who worked in such places as the U.S., Russia and numerous major European cities. Many of those who remained in the Vogtland region, however, also shared the same high standards of quality and solid innovation.
One of the most prominent families of violin makers in Markneukirchen was the Heberleins, who created a strong international name for themselves. Their most famous member is Heinrich Theodor Heberlein jr. (1843-1910), who was renowned for the excellent quality of his instruments and was awarded multiple honours, including Knight of the Saxonian Albrecht Order. Johann Gottlob Heberlein (1782-1856) was a good violinist and a craftsman who enjoyed experimentation. In 1813 he joined forces with a manufacturer of brass instruments to make a brass violin – an interesting, “interdisciplinary” chapter in the history of Markneukirchen instruments!
Johann Gottfried Hamm (1744-1817) was also part of a large family of Markneukirchen violin makers and was one of the few who was successful with his fake Italian labels. Indeed, his meticulous work, especially his pieces which featured partial inlays with ivory trim, was often incorrectly attributed to Italian schools.
The name of the family Roth stands for producing industrial and yet quality-conscious Markneukirchen violins. Gustav Robert Roth (b. 1852) learned his trade in the famous Leipzig studio of Ludwig Christian August Bausch. In 1873 he founded a factory of stringed instruments and jointly managed it with his son Ernst Heinrich Roth (1877-1948) from 1900 onward. Ernst Heinrich was an outstanding violin maker who perfected his art during his extensive travels through Europe. Another member of the family, violin maker Otto Roth, created a truly unique piece for the opera orchestra in Chicago: a huge bass violin with a body measuring 2.10 m and an overall height of 4.20 m. The Roth company is still operating, and further information about the history of the Roth family can be found on the its website.
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Hopf: a dynasty of Vogtland violin makers