Derek Law

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About Derek Law

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  1. The 1630 Strad poster is actually later proved to be a fake Maggini with dendro dating of after 1671. As auctioned by Bonhams, it was described as c.1700 ascribed to Maggini. https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/22597/lot/210/ Despite knowing they are not by Maggini, I absolutely love the way some of the fake Maggini long violins look - the "Dumas" is my favorite (the Hill brothers loved it too - though without dendro they thought it belonged to Maggini's "third period")
  2. I was communicating with Reuning's office when buying the Brescia book, and they give me the impression that the Beare/Reuning Venetian book may take a long while.
  3. I have been wondering how a Maggini-style ~370mm would sound if strung with viola strings. Does that just sound like typical fraction-sized violas or something better? Anyone tried that?
  4. Oh now I recall why Manfio suggests 25 instruments - his vision is that a book should be like the one published by Biddulph on Guarneri del Gesu in 1994 and that book has 25 instruments.
  5. On cut downs, we probably would not end up agreeing. One of my issues are that most often Brescian cut downs are still too big. Based on the Tarisio database (which probably only covers half of what is truly out there?), after cut down Brescian violas with length of backs below 16.5” there are only this handful: - a Pellegrino one with 413mm LOB - the Gasparo at Ashmolean converted from lira da braccio with LOB 415mm - (maybe) Maggini “Lillian Fuchs” LOB 410mm - the Francesco Bertolotti composite viola at Chi Mei with LOB 415mm To me these are more instruments more of historical interest than true musician’s instruments. If cut downs are “in” probably Brothers Amati works would get a higher representation like Trampler, Kashkashian suggested above but also the Primrose he inherited from his father.
  6. Ethan - clearly you have been a viola fanatic for much longer than I do! Thanks for the post and maybe if we can come to a concept and find enough interest something eventually gets published (dreams are allowed on forums I hope!). I am a newbie on the site so my posts take about a day to actually get through. Just want to respond to two of your points. A. Why limit to 25? There is really no strong reasons other than Manfio suggested this. I think he has been thinking that 25 instruments already take full books, so it will be the max for it to be practical, Personally I feel that less is better - if it is not an encyclopedia but the best of the best classical models that new viola luthiers should get familiar with at the beginning of their careers, I am thinking maybe 12 is better (if you make one copy viola every month, it still takes a full year to just gone through 12). But recognizing that violas come in so many different sizes, I can live with 25. B. Why puritanical without cut-downs? I think some of the old instruments sound good just because they are old, something about the age that makes things sound nice and different. If the goal of the list is create great classical models/forms for contemporary makers to copy, it is better to only include instruments designed that way by the best makers themselves. It is somewhat of a "fundamentalist" approach I agree. I do find it a very useful screener to come down to a manageable shorter-list. (By the way, I just got Eric Blot's Brescia book and realize the Pellegrino Di Zanetto viola I included was in fact cut down, so I need to change that later.) One of the "cut-down" instrument I have been trying to track down information on is Lillian Fuchs' Gasparo - according to Zaslav's book ("The Viola in my Life") Lillian's instrument is 15.5", and that in the same book it references Gasparo's Kievman as the only contralto viola that has not been reduced in size -- implications that her viola is likely a cut down. I have also heard / read that that Gasparo had a major accident when Fuchs was teaching in New York. And the instrument is right now with her grand-daughter the violist Jeanne Mallow. I am fascinated by the instrument because it was the instrument Lillian used to record the Bach Suites, I just thought that instrument sound so well (of course, it is probably more because Fuchs was playing than the instrument itself). One last thing Ethan, for the instruments you mentioned, I have not heard of Mariani's violas before. On Tarisio's database I found a Ludovico Mariani's 423mm back one, and an Antonio Mariani's 1666 with decorated 439mm back with f-holes quite close together. Which maker are you referring to? Any more info is appreciated!
  7. I only developed this theory about contralto and soprano voices after listening to this historical clip when Kathleen Ferrier sang duet with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. After listening to this I felt that what I (and maybe many others) want a deep voice for viola not because viola should be contralto voice, but instead because in the string quartet there is no real tenor sound. I realize that in my mind I have always imagined viola should sound like a tenor (think Domingo) than a contralto (like Kathleen Ferrier).
  8. I included Stradivari because he actually left quite a few violas behind (compared with others born before 1700) - more than Andrea Guarneri left behind for example. I thought for reference for viola luthiers, his Tuscan-Medici ones are interesting because the molds also exist in Cremona. His violas (as I have gathered) sound like violins ... though if violas are truly analogous to "contralto" voice - maybe being closed to violins (soprano) in tonal timbre is alright - both being female voices. And they are still beautiful instruments visually. Brothers Amati I listed as Girolamo Amati since the ones I included are made after the older brother Antonio passed away.
  9. Manfio is a viola luthier, pretty active online in this forum and also on Facebook. The list is just for fun - what the group feels like are the best classical violas if there were to be the "Bible" for viola makers to use as models
  10. Luis Claudio Manfio has an idea that there should be a book dedicated to violas with 25 good classical violas. Below I have generated a draft list. I first generated the list of 12 luthiers first - only luthiers in the Po River Valley (Genoa/Bologna and up) + Stainer with 3 or more violas listed on Tarisio's Cozio database are included - all born 1660 or before except I also included G.B. Guadagnini (born 1711). So the luthiers list are: 1) Andrea Amati; 2) Pellegrino Di Zanetto; 3) Gasparo da Salo; 4) Girolamo (Brothers) Amati; 5) Giovanni Paolo Maggini; 6) Jacob Stainer;; 7) Andrea Guarneri; 8) Giovanni (Brothers) Grancino; 9) Giovanni Tononi; 10) Antonio Stradivari; 11) Matteo Goffriller; 12) Giovanni Battista Guadagnini. 4 steps follow: include the most "famous" viola of each of the 12 makers ("famous" as in referenced by most sources in the Cozio database); include the most famous uncut contralto viola for each of these 12; try to fill out the range of viola sizes from 15" through 19" at 1/4" intervals as much as possible; and lastly include some "discretionary" adds. The dates below are mostly from Tarisio's database which I feel is a bit shaky, but oh well: 1. Andrea Amati "Charles IX" c.1564 Cremona at Ashmolean; LOB 469.2mm (~18.5") 2. Pellegrino Di Zanetto 1580 (?) Brescia at Chi Mei; LOB 468mm (~18.5") 3. Gasparo "Nathan Gordon" 1580 Brescia with NY Philharmonic; LOB 436mm (~17"1/4) 4. Gasparo "Kievman" c.1580 Brescia ; LOB 392mm (~15"1/2) 5. Maggini "Joyce" 1600 Brescia at Fondazione Pro Canale-Milano; LOB 426mm (~16"3/4) 6. Maggini "Dumas Tenor" 1600 Brescia; LOB 424.5mm (~16"3/4) 7. Maggini 1600 Brescia with Austria National Bank; LOB 413mm (~16"1/4) 8. Gasparo c.1609 Brescia at Ashmolean; LOB 443.8mm (~17.5") 9. Girolamo (Brothers) Amati "Stauffer" 1615 Cremona at Museo del Violino Cremona; LOB 411mm (~16"1/4) 10. Girolamo (Brothers) Amati "Wittgenstein" 1620 Cremona; LOB 430mm (~17") 11. Girolamo (Brothers) Amati c.1620 Cremona at Royal Academy of Music London; LOB 449.5mm (~17"3/4) 12. Andrea Guaneri 1664 Cremona at National Music Museum South Dakota; LOB 482mm (~19") 13. Jacob Stainer "Baron Knoop" 1670 Absam; LOB 424mm (~16"3/4) 14. Andrea Guarneri "Conte Vitale" 1676 Cremona; LOB 419mm (~16"1/2) 15. Jacob Stainer "Hammerle" 1678 Absam in the Herbert Axelrod collection (?); LOB 398mm (~15"3/4) -- note: I am not sure if this is uncut; I want to only include uncut models 16. Antonio Stradivari "Tuscan-Medici Tenor" 1690 Cremona at Istituto Cherubini Florence; LOB 478mm (~18"3/4) 17. Antonio Stradivari "Tuscan-Medici Contralto" 1690 Cremona at Library of Congress; LOB 412.2mm (~16"1/4) 18. Giovanni & Francesco Grancino 1692 Milan; LOB 420mm (~16"1/2) 19. Andrea Guarneri "Primrose, Lord Harrington" 1697 Cremona; LOB 413mm (~16"1/4) 20. Giovanni Tonini c.1699 Bologna; LOB 417mm (~16"1/2) 21. Giovanni Grancino "Max Aronoff" 1707 Milan; LOB 429mm (~17") 22. Matteo Goffriller "Funkhauser" 1710 Venice with Dextra Musica; LOB 406.7mm (~16") 23. Antonio Stradivari "Gibson, Saint Senoch" 1734 Cremona; LOB 411.5mm (~16"1/4) 24. Giovanni Battista Guadagnini "La Parmigiana" 1765 Parma; LOB 381mm (~15") 25. Giovanni Battista Guadagnini "Villa" 1781 Turin with Dextra Musica; LOB 402mm (~15"3/4) Right now there are no ~15"1/4 no ~18" violas; and from second half of the 18th century C.F. Landolfi, P.G. Mantegazza and L. Storioni are missing. Please suggest what classical violas you would swap into the list and what you would swap out! For me, I am tempted to swap in a C.F. Landolfi 1758 Milan with LOB 388mm and swap out G. Tononi's.