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Bonham's auction coming up this week


cello_dabbler

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Since you mention the sale, lot #109 is a “Violin attributed to A. F. Mayr, Salzburg”. They even helpfully report that ”The above maker is reputed to have made Mozart's first violin”, as if it were one.

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Only recently, in the May issue of the Strad, I did a short piece on Mayr, with biographical details and pictures of a fine reference example of this first-class master, which I reproduce below, for the benefit of those who don’t receive the Strad (or don’t bother to read it if they do), so that you all know what one looks like. It would be a shame if a hapless proprietor of an online dealership were to have it rubber stamped by the post-sale pub-expertenkammer as a real one, wouldn’t it!

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Andreas Ferdinand Mayr

On the 8th of May 1719, Andreas Ferdinand Mayr married Maria Magdalena, the widow of the Salzburg Court Lute and Violin maker, Johannes Schon. This is representative of the typical system for upholding workshops of the baroque period in all craft professions and, in particular, a pillar of baroque social security concern for widows and orphaned children. In this system, the widow inherited the workshop, her new husband however the post of Court Lute & Violin Maker, and would, in his turn inherit the workshop as well, upon the demise of his new wife.

Salzburg was, until the early 19th. Century, neither “German” nor “Austrian”, but rather a Bishopric, which was a sovereign state in its own right. The contract as court maker involved servicing and re-stringing the instruments, but contained no obligation to play violin (which need not mean he didn’t). The “Hofschematismus” (a kind of role call for the orchestra) of 1757, includes Mayr as Court Maker, as well as a step-son, (Johann?) Paul Schon, and a certain Leopold Mozart as tutti-violinists.

Mayr is reported to have been born in 1693 in St. Veit (now part of Vienna). I was unable to corroborate this, although Leopold Mozart does, by reporting that Mayr was born in Vienna. Upon marrying Magdalena Schon, he had a workshop in Steingasse No. 25. They had a son, Ferdinand in 1720, and moved to Brodgasse in 1729. Maria Magdalena died in 1730, and Mayr remarried Anna Maria Troger from Tirol, with whom he had his second son, Andreas. We learn from the tax returns, that Mayr in 1742, was living with four children and 1751 that he was working with a journeyman “who is his son”.

Mayr’s main claim to fame in the violin literature is as the maker, in 1746, of Mozart’s childhood violin, which is to this day on display in the Mozart's house of birth museum in Salzburg.

The violin pictured here is a fine and typical example made by the then 33 year-old Mayr in 1726. This is often described as “Stainer Model”, although slightly annoyingly to those familiar with Stainer. The two piece back with relatively wide edgework and fluting, the ribs, built around a mould with pine blocks and maple linings. One notable feature of Mayr’s work, present on all his violins that I have seen to-date, the nicks of the f-holes appear to have been almost randomly placed, with neither rhyme nor reason, in this case well below the middle of the stem of the f-hole. The deeply cut scroll, with fluting that goes to the very end of the throat, doesn’t have a very curved peg box at all. The peg box still has the remains of an original ivory pin, between the E and D pegs, inserted to avoid the A string fouling on the E peg (a very good idea in my estimation), a feature not unusual on violins from the whole area populated by the Füssen Diaspora. Here it has, as so often, fallen foul of subsequent repairs. The whole violin is covered with the fine red oil varnish with the most slight hint of craquelure, that received the accolades of the Hill brothers in there monograph about Stradvari as near equivalent to the Cremonese.

Andreas Ferdinand Mayr died in 1764, having held the post of Court Lute and Violin Maker for almost 45 years.

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Many thanks for this interesting piece, Jacob.  I saw the Mozart violin in Salzburg a few years ago and wondered if it were authentic.  I seem to recall that it had a "modern" neck, presumably a post-Mozart replacement.

 
 
I’m not sure when you were in Salzburg, but it was repaired about 10 years ago by my colleague, Oskar Kappelmayer (Passau)
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I have to say those prices look suspiciously low to an American. $5,000 won't even buy a French bow over here!

As to the town being empty, I'd guess anyone seriously interested in the catalogue would make it a point to be around, but then I'm an overworked American orchestra player.

EDIT: teasing, of course!

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  • 2 years later...

Activating this old thread in hope someone can help me confirm the authenticity of my violin. The "original" label is very similar to one showed above. 

I am not a luthier, just a player. The sound is quite unique with many shades and colours. Also, all strings have a bit distinct voice and speak with no additional effort in double stops / polyphonic music. 

 

Unfortunately, the arch is sunk on treble side, between the right foot of the bridge and the top circle of f-hole. I want to see if it makes sense to finance the 2nd restoration. 

 

I hope that you can see the photos, taken during the 1st restoration ( I am unable to use the "Image" icon). 

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B8unfTo0KVM1cDNLRWNpVVBUcHc&usp=sharing

 

Any tips regarding "bracing" or additional support after arch restoration would be much appreciated. 

 

Please let me know if you need exact measurements  (and if yes, what in particular)... the violin is a bit longer than "standard".

 

I am also looking for a reputable appraiser to issues a written appraisal not far from Toronto, Ontario. 

 

Thank you!

Edited by rockybaroque
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Activating this old thread in hope someone can help me confirm the authenticity of my violin. The "original" label is very similar to one showed above.

I am not a luthier, just a player. The sound is quite unique with many shades and colours. Also, all strings have a bit distinct voice and speak with no additional effort in double stops / polyphonic music.

Unfortunately, the arch is sunk on treble side, between the right foot of the bridge and the top circle of f-hole. I want to see if it makes sense to finance the 2nd restoration.

I hope that you can see the photos, taken during the 1st restoration ( I am unable to use the "Image" icon).

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B8unfTo0KVM1cDNLRWNpVVBUcHc&usp=sharing

Any tips regarding "bracing" or additional support after arch restoration would be much appreciated.

Please let me know if you need exact measurements (and if yes, what in particular)... the violin is a bit longer than "standard".

I am also looking for a reputable appraiser to issues a written appraisal not far from Toronto, Ontario.

Thank you!

Michael Remenyi Sr. at Remenyi House of Music in Toronto would be your best option for the appraisal. I'm not sure it'll end up being a Mayr...the scroll is quiet different from Jacob's authentic example, among other aspects and as you mentored the label, you'll notice yours is missing the boarder shown on Jacob's example. The edges of labels can get damaged when one, for whatever reason, would try to remove it. Cutting back the boarder can leave a fresh looking label should one wish to do such a thing..for whatever reason...

Hopefully Jacob can give you his opinion of the instrument...my neck is getting sore looking at the sideways photos...

DGSR☺

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Activating this old thread in hope someone can help me confirm the authenticity of my violin. The "original" label is very similar to one showed above.

Your violin is certainly not a Mayr. It seems much more like some Klingenthaler violin that might have been revarnished. It seems to have been gutted inside, and re-”blocked” and lined.

A year or two ago I wrote an article for the “Strad” about Mayr, and think I posted it here, and I'm afraid I dont have time to “search” for it just now.

Edit: Oh! I just found it, post #3 above!! :)

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Thank you Mr. Saunders for such a quick response! 

 

That resolves one part of the mystery. So it seems that the 1st label is fake (or taken from the original).

I wonder why Mr. Jungman left his label in 1942? Was it a common practice in Germany to leave a label after repair? 

 

Apart from 2 paper labels, there is a diagonal handwriting in ink the top right corner of the back. It appears to be German, but is not readable anymore.... city name and year, perhaps?  

 

Okay, so I have got a great sounding and depressed Klingenthal violin.

 

I guess this is better than non-depressed Klingon violin, eh?  :( 

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