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Rare "Ritter viola", viola alta, Markneukirchen, c.1910 - Top
Rare "Ritter viola", viola alta, Markneukirchen, c.1910 - Top
Rare "Ritter viola", viola alta, Markneukirchen, c.1910 - back
Rare "Ritter viola", viola alta, Markneukirchen, c.1910 - back
Rare "Ritter viola", viola alta, Markneukirchen, c.1910 - ribs
Rare "Ritter viola", viola alta, Markneukirchen, c.1910 - ribs
Rare "Ritter viola", viola alta, Markneukirchen, c.1910 - scroll
Rare "Ritter viola", viola alta, Markneukirchen, c.1910 - scroll
Inventory No.: 4644
Provenance: Markneukirchen
Maker: Unknown
Length of back: 47.5 cm
Year: approx. 1910

Ritter viola. Viola alta, Markneukirchen, c.1910

“Song lushly steeped in melody, both piano and forte” – In the 1870s, German violist, composer and music historian Hermann Ritter went on an expedition within the realm of violin making so he could achieve the lofty ideal he defined in terms of how a viola should sound. Inspired by Antonio Bagatella’s geometric concepts, he worked with the Würzburg luthier Karl Adam Hörlein to create the viola alta, which soon came to be known as the “Ritter viola.” Even though it was warmly applauded by contemporary composers – including Richard Wagner – and heavily influenced the New German School, the instrument fell into obscurity in the 1920s. As a result, the Ritter viola presented here, which was crafted around 1910, is a true rarity which will allow sophisticated violists to play extremely interesting new interpretations while also opening the door for them to explore the literature composed especially for the viola alta. Its warm, powerful and well-balanced voice has a bewitching beauty to it – a rich voluminous sound whose character was practically made for chamber-music and church-music audiences of our time. The minor adjustments needed to play this instrument with its body length of 47.5 cm are well worth the minimal effort given the musical options it facilitates. The faithful and artisanally flawless rendering of Ritter’s style in this viola were crafted by an unknown luthier who represented the rich traditions of Markneukirchen as an epicentre of violin making. The carefully crafted purfling and golden-brown subtly antiqued varnish reflect its maker’s experienced hand and training in the Saxonian violin-making tradition. The deep flames of the maple used for the two-part back and ribs as well as the moderately and harmoniously grained spruce of the top are both magnificent tone woods, selected and handled with great aesthetic sensitivity. Amongst other things, the technical quality of this viola is evident in the perfectly executed table of the top and back – a particular challenge in an instrument which is not exactly part of a luthier’s everyday work. This Ritter viola is in perfect condition and completely free of repairs; its few traces of use are fully in keeping with its advanced age. After having been painstakingly reviewed and set up by the experts at our workshop for violin making, it is now ready to sing again with a voice that is one hundred years old while still being quite novel.

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