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GlennYorkPA

AMATI VIOLA

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I'm studying this case which surfaced recently in Canada (it was one of two posted here on MN) and we all assumed it was a violin case. Although the case has the dimensions of a violin case the cavity for the body of the instrument is a whopping 17.75". This instrument must have been like a small cello.

The inscription on the plaque reads 'Antonius et Hieronimus Amati Fratres Fecerunt Cremonenses An Dom MDCXX.

post-5422-0-32240000-1350262720_thumb.jpg

If the plaque records what was written on the label of the instrument, it was made by the brothers Amati in 1620.

Cozio only mentions the Primrose viola made by the brothers in c.1620 but it was a much smaller instrument.

Any ideas how to track down the one for which this case was made?

Glenn

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I'm studying this case which surfaced recently in Canada (it was one of two posted here on MN) and we all assumed it was a violin case. Although the case has the dimensions of a violin case the cavity for the body of the instrument is a whopping 17.75". This instrument must have been like a small cello.

The inscription on the plaque reads 'Antonius et Hieronimus Amati Fratres Fecerunt Cremonenses An Dom MDCXX.

post-5422-0-32240000-1350262720_thumb.jpg

If the plaque records what was written on the label of the instrument, it was made by the brothers Amati in 1620.

Cozio only mentions the Primrose viola made by the brothers in c.1620 but it was a much smaller instrument.

Any ideas how to track down the one for which this case was made?

Glenn

This instrument on Cozio.com seems to be the right size: http://www.cozio.com/Instrument.aspx?id=4668

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Do you know where the case originated?

Yes, the Primrose was altered (reduced).

post-17-0-86449800-1350272422_thumb.jpg

I believe the description for the larger viola listed on Cozio mentioned it was also reduced, from 47cm to 44cm.

Paul Silverthorne plays an uncut Bros. Amati c. 1620, on loan from the Royal Academy. It would probably fit in that case rather well. My notes mention a back length of scant 45cm.

Grabbed a few shots when it came in for some work a few years back. Here's one of the top.

post-17-0-18949600-1350271644_thumb.jpg

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The Amati that Walter Trampler played was around 17.5. I think that was a Brothers Amati from around that time, but I think there is some debate over that,

I have 3 violas that would probably fit that case, they get bounced around between one case.

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Glen - Can't help you with the viola - other than that the wording doesn't seem to be entirely correct for Amati Bros violins. I think ones attracting the most robust attribution have "Antonius & Hieronymus Fr. Amati/ Cremonen. Andrea/e fil. F.1xxx"

Your case however reminds me of one I have http://www.flickr.com/photos/88102141@N04/

Does yours have embossed leather? Ignore the leather handle of my case it is a later addition.

cheers

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Do you know where the case originated?

Yes, the Primrose was altered (reduced).

post-17-0-86449800-1350272422_thumb.jpg

I believe the description for the larger viola listed on Cozio mentioned it was also reduced, from 47cm to 44cm.

Paul Silverthorne plays an uncut Bros. Amati c. 1620, on loan from the Royal Academy. It would probably fit in that case rather well. My notes mention a back length of scant 45cm.

Grabbed a few shots when it came in for some work a few years back. Here's one of the top.

post-17-0-18949600-1350271644_thumb.jpg

Hi Jeffrey,

I think we might have a winner here.

The cavity dimensions of the case are:

Length: 45cm

Upper bout: 21cm

Middle bout: 14.5cm

Lower bout: 26cm

The ratios of these measurements correspond very well with the Royal Academy viola you mention.

I think it significant that the case was purchased in Haslemere (very close to London) in 1945/1946.

The buyer was a musician in the British military who emigrated to Canada in 1967.

Times were very tough in England immediately post war so I'm wondering if the owner of the viola (Royal Academy??) sold off the case but couldn't part with the instrument.

The case was obviously custom made for a particular instrument (I can't be sure when) and it would be wonderful to match them up again.

Glenn

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Glenn, is that wording correct for an Amati?? It sounds like something found on some copies produced in the 19th century . Though may be wrong.I just cant find any with that type of wording.

Hi Bob,

I'm no expert on Amati labels.

I'm just relating what is written on the brass plaque which I assume was taken from the label in the instrument.

I'm inclined to think the case, or at least the lining, is 19thC. The bow spinners are obviously late 19thC and I can't see that they are replacing earlier fittings.

If the wording corresponds to to a fake label, maybe we are looking at a spurious instrument. Ouch.

Glenn

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I'd wonder how accurately a brass case plate would follow the wording on a label... wouldn't really know. Not my area. I'd also suspect that the brass plates might be more unreliable than labels... the proportions of the interior, the circa date of the case, and the origin make this situation interesting, however.

In any case (excuse the pun), the academy's viola measurements are roughly 45 cm scant (back length), 21.3 cm (UB), 14.4 cm (MB), and 26.1 cm (LB).

The website indicates that it came to the academy from John Ruston's collection. The website does not mention a date, but I imagine the academy took possession in the late 19th century.

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I'd wonder how accurately a brass case plate would follow the wording on a label... wouldn't really know. Not my area. I'd also suspect that the brass plates might be more unreliable than labels... the proportions of the interior, the circa date of the case, and the origin make this situation interesting, however.

In any case (excuse the pun), the academy's viola measurements are roughly 45 cm scant (back length), 21.3 cm (UB), 14.4 cm (MB), and 26.1 cm (LB).

The website indicates that it came to the academy from John Ruston's collection. The website does not mention a date, but I imagine the academy took possession in the late 19th century.

Jeffrey,

Wasn't it the practice to make a set of 5 instruments when a set was ordered? There was a large and small viola. At least early on.

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How very interesting - I play the Royal Academy's Amati viola - I have done for the last 30 years. It looks as if this case would have fitted the instrument when it had a less angled (and shorter) neck therefore perhaps before the early C19 when I think these changes were generally made.

The viola was left to the RAM in 1906 I believe, along with the other instruments from John Rutson's collection, the Archinto Stradivarius viola, five other 'Strad' violins and five Amati violas. As for its history before then nothing is really known though it does fit the description of the tenor viola sold when Paganini's collection was sold in London sometime in the late C19.

It has a beautiful old Hill case, still stored at the RAM, mohogany and brass fittings inside, walnut veneer outside. I use a BAM!

The label says:

Antonio & Hieronymus Fr. Amati

Cremonen Andreae Fil. F 1620

(all printed except for the last two figures).

It is in Cozio, no 3702 with some nice photos.

If anyone wants to hear it in New York, I shall be giving a recital for the New York Viola Society on Sunday 21st October:

Sunday October 21st at 8pm.

Church of Christ and St. Stephen's

(West 69th Street between Columbus and Broadway)

8.00pm

Paul Silverthorne - Viola

Aglaia Tarantino - Piano

Beethoven Sonata in F (Horn Sonata arr. Silverthorne)

Shostakovich - Sonata Op 147

-----------

Schubert - Sonata in A minor (Arpeggione)

Stravinsky - Suite Italienne (Dushkin/Silverthorne)

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How very interesting - I play the Royal Academy's Amati viola - I have done for the last 30 years. It looks as if this case would have fitted the instrument when it had a less angled (and shorter) neck therefore perhaps before the early C19 when I think these changes were generally made.

Hello Paul! Welcome! Great to have you here!

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How very interesting - I play the Royal Academy's Amati viola - I have done for the last 30 years. It looks as if this case would have fitted the instrument when it had a less angled (and shorter) neck therefore perhaps before the early C19 when I think these changes were generally made.

The viola was left to the RAM in 1906 I believe, along with the other instruments from John Rutson's collection, the Archinto Stradivarius viola, five other 'Strad' violins and five Amati violas. As for its history before then nothing is really known though it does fit the description of the tenor viola sold when Paganini's collection was sold in London sometime in the late C19.

It has a beautiful old Hill case, still stored at the RAM, mohogany and brass fittings inside, walnut veneer outside. I use a BAM!

The label says:

Antonio & Hieronymus Fr. Amati

Cremonen Andreae Fil. F 1620

(all printed except for the last two figures).

It is in Cozio, no 3702 with some nice photos.

If anyone wants to hear it in New York, I shall be giving a recital for the New York Viola Society on Sunday 21st October:

Sunday October 21st at 8pm.

Church of Christ and St. Stephen's

(West 69th Street between Columbus and Broadway)

8.00pm

Paul Silverthorne - Viola

Aglaia Tarantino - Piano

Beethoven Sonata in F (Horn Sonata arr. Silverthorne)

Shostakovich - Sonata Op 147

-----------

Schubert - Sonata in A minor (Arpeggione)

Stravinsky - Suite Italienne (Dushkin/Silverthorne)

Welcome, Paul, and thanks so much for chiming in!

I can hardly believe that the owner of this viola (which seems a good candidate for this case) would write in to the forum and also be present in the US to demonstrate this rare instrument. Unfortunately, I live too far away to attend the recital but I'm sure it will be well attended.

It seems all the RAM's Christmases came together in 1906 when it was gifted six Strads and five Amati violas. The mind boggles.

So, are you saying there is a possibility that it is a tenor viola and may have belonged to Paganini?

If you or anyone has the opportunity to photograph the case that Hills made for your viola, I would love to include it in the second edition of my book 'The Art & History of Violin Cases'. I know it isn't a violin case but I'll stretch a point. At least it isn't a cello case :D

Good luck with the concert.

Glenn

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Jeffrey,

Wasn't it the practice to make a set of 5 instruments when a set was ordered? There was a large and small viola. At least early on.

I believe that could be so... the violin size varied I believe. This question could probably be best answered by Bruce, if he's around.

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I thought the Amati workshop produced two sizes of violins, a large viola and a large ( by todays standards) cello. Did the Amati family make smaller violas too?Are there any small ones that have survived?

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I thought the Amati workshop produced two sizes of violins, a large viola and a large ( by todays standards) cello. Did the Amati family make smaller violas too?Are there any small ones that have survived?

Again... probably best answered by Bruce or Roger. Without doing some poking around, I'm not sure when the alto size first appeared or which city they appeared in.

I believe the text for one of the Amati violas listed on Cozio mentions it began life at a whopping 47 cm. The academy's instrument is uncut at 45 cm. It well could be large, and larger!!

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47 cm, I can't even imagine!

They were usually even bigger. The surviving examples by Stradivari, A. Guarneri, and (I believe) Stainer are all >48 cm.

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I think it significant that the case was purchased in Haslemere (very close to London) in 1945/1946.

The buyer was a musician in the British military who emigrated to Canada in 1967.

Times were very tough in England immediately post war so I'm wondering if the owner of the viola (Royal Academy??) sold off the case but couldn't part with the instrument.

Glenn, How are you?

Haslemere could be very important for you because this is where the Dolmetsch family lived and had their business. They had an amazingly large collection of early instruments (now the collection at the Horniman Museum) as well as being dealers and makers. I expect it has something to do with them!

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Glenn, How are you?

Haslemere could be very important for you because this is where the Dolmetsch family lived and had their business. They had an amazingly large collection of early instruments (now the collection at the Horniman Museum) as well as being dealers and makers. I expect it has something to do with them!

Hi Ben, I'm fine, thanks.

I'm delighted to read your occasional posts and to see you are sharing your wealth of knowledge with the forum.

A while back, I mentioned here your idea that early English violins were built, like a suit, according to the measurements of the player.

The idea was greeted with skepticism.

I mention it because one wonders what race of giants commissioned these mega violas. I imagine they were played between the knees like a cello.

I appreciate your reference to Haslemere and the Dolmetsch family. The imagination runs riot conjuring the idea of a disgruntled staff member selling a dusty old leather case to buy provision when post war rations ran out.

Take care

Glenn

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A while back, I mentioned here your idea that early English violins were built, like a suit, according to the measurements of the player.

The idea was greeted with skepticism.

Glenn,

Oh dear - sorry to scupper you but you must have misheard - that is specifically in reference to English viola da gamba, where every single one appears to have unique measurements, but indeed the earliest English makers violin makers appear to have kept to standard sizes, just like everyone else (although in the seventeenth-century they often opted for a violin about an inch smaller than normal). Its certainly not a claim I ever made in respect of the violin - you can read more on this here http://www.academia.edu/149099/The_Geometry_of_Early_English_Viols and here http://www.academia.edu/1119976/The_Geometry_of_the_English_Viol_Geometrical_Sequence_for_a_Treble_VIol_by_John_Hoskin_s_1609

On the subject of this case, I'm not certain that there is that much intruge. Just like old cases of any generation, better ones come along and these become curiosities, without much practical value until they become an antiquarian curiosity with limited utilitarian value. You are, after all, probably the first person in a century to recognise the cultural importance of the violin case!

With all best wishes,

Ben

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