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Johann Christoph Leidolff Vienna 1736 Cello in original condition


jacobsaunders

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A couple of years ago, I posted a thread about a Martin Mathias Fichtl, Vienna, cello, from 1746, which is what one might call with a modern view of the world a 5/4 cello, https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/340459-martin-mathias-fichtl-vienna-large-cello/

LOB 797mm. A discussion ensued (partly) about what they did back then with such large Celli. Since one shouldn’t run away with the idea that all old Viennese Celli were so large, I’m happy to present a small one by contrast, which I recently got my grubby fingers on. This is a Johann Christopf Leidolff, spelt Johan Christoph Leydolf, Vienna, from 1736, which needn't be a distraction, since baroque Austrian spelling was largely onomatopoeic. This cello has a LOB of 712mm, which would make it in 21st C jargon a 7/8 cello. It thankfully retains the original neck and bass bar. Squinting through the spike hole, the neck seems to have been fixed with 2 nails, although it’s a little dingy, and I might have to correct myself there when it’s open. I don’t know if the pegs are original, but they are certainly old. I’m quite sure that the fingerboard is a later replacement, it is of maple(?), painted black, whereas I would expect a pine fingerboard, veneered with a hardwood, if not ebony, on a Viennese Cello of the epoch.

This all raises questions about what the system was in the music of the time, where evidently two different sizes of Celli were needed, and if any Maestronetter is expert about that, I hope they will comment. It is perhaps also a reminder to anyone thinking of making a “Baroque Cello”, that there wasn’t necessarily such an animal

Leidolff 1736 label.jpg

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First to introduce Mr. Leidolff, who we met already in the Fichtl thread, since he was one of the witnesses (along with Posch) at Fichtl’s marriage, which I suppose goes to show that the violin makers back then were a tight knit community. Johann Christoph L. was the son of the maker Nicolaus L., one of the founders of the Viennese violin making “innung” (guild) in 1696. In the margin of the Viennese tax returns from 1719, Johann Christoph L. is mentioned, alongside his father, so that one could presume he took over the business about then, particularly since he obtained citizenship on the 2nd of September 1715. Judging by the surviving instruments, Leidolff, was one of the more productive Viennese makers, and judging by the tax records, one of the few who was a successfull businessman. Lütgendorff gets a bit carried away, since he claims (without documenting it) that he employed as many as ten journeymen. This seems very unlightly, since the Viennese innung, writing to the government in 1770, document that, of a total of 11 violin makers in Vienna, they only employed 7 journeymen between them. It is almost impossible to find out who worked for whom. As Anton Stephan Posch died in a traffic accident, his widow quickly married a Leidolff journeyman, in the hope of keeping the Hofgeigenmacher title, which didn’t work, since they took Stadlmann instead, and gave her a pension. Another journeymann, from whom we otherwise know nothing, Anton Weiss, inherited 50 Gulden from L. at his death. Otherwise nothing is known about individual journeymen. His sons Joseph Ferdinand and Christoph both became violin makers and presumably worked for the family firm (a third son became a musician) and inherited 300 Gulden each. The widow carried the business on after Leidolffs death on 28th June 1758, until she passed away in 1769. She left a wealth of 7,393 Gulden, which was a fortune compared to 18th C violin makers in general. The probate and other details have been collated by Dr. Hopfner in the Österreichische Musiklexicon https://www.musiklexikon.ac.at/ml/musik_L/Leidolff_Familie.xml

1000350629_Leidolf1736belly.jpg

Leidolf 1736 Back.jpg

1162567363_Leidolf1736Back.detail.jpg

Leidolf 1736 neck root.jpg

Leidolf 1736 Scroll trebel.jpg

1633597740_Leidolf1736Scrollbassl.jpg

Leidolf 1736 Scroll back.jpg

Leidolf 1736 Scroll front.jpg

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27 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

First to introduce Mr. Leidolff, who we met already in the Fichtl thread, since he was one of the witnesses (along with Posch) at Fichtl’s marriage, which I suppose goes to show that the violin makers back then were a tight knit community. Johann Christoph L. was the son of the maker Nicolaus L., one of the founders of the Viennese violin making “innung” (guild) in 1696. In the margin of the Viennese tax returns from 1719, Johann Christoph L. is mentioned, alongside his father, so that one could presume he took over the business about then, particularly since he obtained citizenship on the 2nd of September 1715. Judging by the surviving instruments, Leidolff, was one of the more productive Viennese makers, and judging by the tax records, one of the few who was a successfull businessman. Lütgendorff gets a bit carried away, since he claims (without documenting it) that he employed as many as ten journeymen. This seems very unlightly, since the Viennese innung, writing to the government in 1770, document that, of a total of 11 violin makers in Vienna, they only employed 7 journeymen between them. It is almost impossible to find out who worked for whom. As Anton Stephan Posch died in a traffic accident, his widow quickly married a Leidolff journeyman, in the hope of keeping the Hofgeigenmacher title, which didn’t work, since they took Stadlmann instead, and gave her a pension. Another journeymann, from whom we otherwise know nothing, Anton Weiss, inherited 50 Gulden from L. at his death. Otherwise nothing is known about individual journeymen. His sons Joseph Ferdinand and Christoph both became violin makers and presumably worked for the family firm (a third son became a musician) and inherited 300 Gulden each. The widow carried the business on after Leidolffs death on 28th June 1758, until she passed away in 1769. She left a wealth of 7,393 Gulden, which was a fortune compared to 18th C violin makers in general. The probate and other details have been collated by Dr. Hopfner in the Österreichische Musiklexicon https://www.musiklexikon.ac.at/ml/musik_L/Leidolff_Familie.xml

1000350629_Leidolf1736belly.jpg

Leidolf 1736 Back.jpg

1162567363_Leidolf1736Back.detail.jpg

Leidolf 1736 neck root.jpg

Leidolf 1736 Scroll trebel.jpg

1633597740_Leidolf1736Scrollbassl.jpg

Leidolf 1736 Scroll back.jpg

Leidolf 1736 Scroll front.jpg

So black, so beautiful, thank you!

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9 minutes ago, deans said:

That's a good question. But perhaps they were just willing to accommodate different sized people, as many makers are now. 

My hunch was that different sorts/sizes of celli had different musical roles, and I was hoping that someone would read this thread, that knows more about that than me

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1 hour ago, jacobsaunders said:

As Anton Stephan Posch died in a traffic accident, his widow quickly married a Leidolff journeyman, in the hope of keeping the Hofgeigenmacher title, which didn’t work, since they took Stadlmann instead, and gave her a pension. Another journeymann, from whom we otherwise know nothing, Anton Weiss, inherited 50 Gulden from L. at his death. Otherwise nothing is known about individual journeymen.

I think you may have mixed up some details here.

Franz Anton Weiß was a Leidolff apprentice, and inherited 50 Gulden from JC Leidolff.  

The widowed Catherina Posch intended to marry Weiß, in hopes of keeping the Hofgeigenmacher title.  Weiß faced competition from two other makers, Johann Joseph Stadlmann and Michael Andreas Pärtl.  Stadlmann was favored by the court because of his craftsmanship and because he was already a Viennese citizen ("Bürger").  Stadlmann also made several concessions in his court appointment application, such as his willingness to not apply for pay raises in the future.

This and other Stadlmann details are covered in Beatrix Darmstädter's article "Neues zu den Biographien der Lautenmacher- und Musikerfamilien Posch und Stadlmann." 

So far evidence on only one JC Leidolff apprentice/journeyman (Weiß) has turned up. 

 

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14 minutes ago, Hempel said:

I think you may have mixed up some details here.

Franz Anton Weiß was a Leidolff apprentice, and inherited 50 Gulden from JC Leidolff.  

The widowed Catherina Posch intended to marry Weiß, in hopes of keeping the Hofgeigenmacher title.  Weiß faced competition from two other makers, Johann Joseph Stadlmann and Michael Andreas Pärtl.  Stadlmann was favored by the court because of his craftsmanship and because he was already a Viennese citizen ("Bürger").  Stadlmann also made several concessions in his court appointment application, such as his willingness to not apply for pay raises in the future.

This and other Stadlmann details are covered in Beatrix Darmstädter's article "Neues zu den Biographien der Lautenmacher- und Musikerfamilien Posch und Stadlmann." 

So far evidence on only one JC Leidolff apprentice/journeyman (Weiß) has turned up. 

 

sorry, I thought they were two different ones, careless of me

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1 hour ago, jacobsaunders said:

sorry, I thought they were two different ones, careless of me

 

Since you mention Widhalm's application to return to Vienna c 1770, there is some evidence that Widhalm MAY have apprenticed with Leidolff. 

I have no idea how prevalent the Leidolff surname is in Austria or Germany, but a Johann Leidolff appears as a witness to the marriage to Thomas Piringer and Rosina Lorenbacher in St. Bernhard in 1688, 34 years prior to Leopold's Widhalm's birth there.   

In 1749, Conrad Werl (Fichtl's apprentice) marries Regina Lorenbacher from St. Bernhard.

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11 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

My hunch was that different sorts/sizes of celli had different musical roles, and I was hoping that someone would read this thread, that knows more about that than me

To my knowledge there is nowhere in scores noted ‘for big cello’ or ‘for small cello’.
 

I would also think that this came more from not strictly standardized sizes for bigger instruments, just as it continues today for violas. Somehow it seems that the idea of, how did the Italians call their big cellos? Bassetto still existed in various workshops. With a supposedly long string length, the bigger variation was certainly not used by acrobatic cello players which emerged in the romantic music era. 

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11 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

Lütgendorff gets a bit carried away, since he claims (without documenting it) that he employed as many as ten journeymen.

Didn’t check the article written by Lutgendorff but maybe he meant that altogether over the years he employed 10 journeymen. (Meaning not simultaneously)

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Ok here comes the Quanz Quote:

"Wer auf dem Violoncell nicht nur accompagniret, sondern auch Solo spielet, thut sehr wohl, wenn er zwey besondere Instrumente hat; eines zum Solo, das andere zum Ripienspielen, bey große Musiken. Das letztere muß größer, und mit dickern Saiten bezogen seyn, als das erstere. Wollte man mit einem kleinen und schwach bezogenen Instrumente beydes verrichten; so würde das accompagnement in einer zahlreichen Musik gar keine Wirkung thun. Der zum Ripienspielen bestimmte Bogen, muß auch stärker, und mit schwarzen Haaren als von welchen die Seyten schärfer, als von den weißen angegriffen werden, bezogen seyn." Kap. XVII, Abschn. IV, §1.

 

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@jacobsaunders what I find very interesting on your instrument is the relatively high neck overstand, and the fact that it has no wedge shaped fingerboard. If it is indeed the original neck, then I am very surprised at these features on such an early instrument. It does seem as if projection was increased at the button and root (is that the correct term?) of the neck, where a small wedge seems to have been added. I'm very curious as to what you'll find regarding the neck construction and its possible authenticity t the instrument, when you open the cello. 

I also have a quaestion regarding the varnish. It is so shiny: has it been french polished or is this a characteristic of this kind of varnishing?

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20 minutes ago, baroquecello said:

Ok here comes the Quanz Quote:

"Wer auf dem Violoncell nicht nur accompagniret, sondern auch Solo spielet, thut sehr wohl, wenn er zwey besondere Instrumente hat; eines zum Solo, das andere zum Ripienspielen, bey große Musiken. Das letztere muß größer, und mit dickern Saiten bezogen seyn, als das erstere. Wollte man mit einem kleinen und schwach bezogenen Instrumente beydes verrichten; so würde das accompagnement in einer zahlreichen Musik gar keine Wirkung thun. Der zum Ripienspielen bestimmte Bogen, muß auch stärker, und mit schwarzen Haaren als von welchen die Seyten schärfer, als von den weißen angegriffen werden, bezogen seyn." Kap. XVII, Abschn. IV, §1.

 

thank-you, that is more what I thought. One needed the smaller one for the more soloistic bits, and the larger one for doing the bass part of the harmony (if you agree with my sumary). This makes sense, since Leidolf and Fichtl were personal freinds and neighbours, and would have had a market for both sorts of cello

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Thanks for sharing this! I found it very interesting in many ways.

At first I‘m assuming that there are only very few Celli existing from this period and this origin, and very probably much more less in such an undisturbed condition. Therefore it would be interesting to know if there is more known about its history, previous owners etc, in case that the actual possessor doesn’t want to keep this private.

Another observation is that the Cello is nearly exactly an enlargement of a violin by this maker family, while others of the period are usually showing a slightly altered model of different proportions than at smaller instruments.

Regarding the size I would agree with what was written before, different sizes for different musical purposes; but I also like the idea that such instruments, which weren’t a very common work, were „custom made“ for the requirements of a special client.

The pegs are IMO from the 19th century; I have a small collection of south German pegs from this period (s.photo, two of the most similar). Unfortunately my internet connection is actually down, so I can’t post the pegs from the Schreinzer collection to get an idea how original pegs might have looked.

894BB49C-4FA4-47C3-9969-FB189CA98966.jpeg

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23 minutes ago, baroquecello said:

I also have a quaestion regarding the varnish. It is so shiny: has it been french polished or is this a characteristic of this kind of varnishing?

In my experience certain types of this varnish (there were some slightly different) can be very shiny without any special polish, just by careful cleaning.

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@jacobsaunders yes, I would agree with your summary.

I must say that I am very excited about seeing these two instruments (the Fichtl and the Leydolff) right next to each other and, especially the leydolff, in close to original condition. This should be a treasure trove of information for makers and musicians alike, that are interested in historical performance practise. It would certainly be great to have drawings and measurements from these instruments for replicating. But also, in the light of the Quanz quote, I think to own the two as a combination should be highly interesting to prominent early music players. Or maybe the instruments would deserve preservation in a museams collection? Personally, I've not seen two different instruments from different makers but within such a short timeframe and from the same Kulturkreis together, corroborating so well the main written source that we have for exactly this time frame (albeit in Berlin circles). Very exciting somehow!

And I very much enjoy looking at the scroll and peg box of this cello.

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1736 is an interesting date for a violoncello from this region. It is rather close to the time when treatises like Majer (1732) described the violoncello only as an instrument played across the chest with a strap (da spalla). This is exclusive in all the German language treatises from the last quarter of the 17th century up to about the time of this cello. it is likely that Quantz was already describing different circumstances as he is a bit later.   But there are other examples of important cellists from this period like Vandini (associated with Vivaldi) who apparently played cello solos in a gamba position with underhand bowing. So it is not impossible that this cello would have been played in a similar way. Perhaps because of its slightly small size it is more likely that it was intended to be played da spalla. There is an enormous variety of sizes of cello like instruments from German speaking lands at this time as would be very obvious if you visit somewhere like the museum in Nuremburg. I suspect most except the very large ones were played da spalla and I say that against my own interests as a player of violoncelli da gamba! The nomenclature of all these instruments is completely unhelpful-bass geig, violone, viola da basso etc etc.

Not sure from the photo but is there an extra piece at the bottom of the heel of the neck to raise the overstand apart from the little shim?

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6 hours ago, baroquecello said:

@jacobsaunders what I find very interesting on your instrument is the relatively high neck overstand, and the fact that it has no wedge shaped fingerboard. If it is indeed the original neck, then I am very surprised at these features on such an early instrument. It does seem as if projection was increased at the button and root (is that the correct term?) of the neck, where a small wedge seems to have been added. I'm very curious as to what you'll find regarding the neck construction and its possible authenticity t the instrument, when you open the cello. 

I also have a quaestion regarding the varnish. It is so shiny: has it been french polished or is this a characteristic of this kind of varnishing?

 

2 hours ago, Mark Caudle said:

 

Not sure from the photo but is there an extra piece at the bottom of the heel of the neck to raise the overstand apart from the little shim?

These old Viennese Celli (I have some Stadlmann bits in the cupboard too) have an “Überstand” (for want of a better word) in the 10 to 15mm range, and then a (mild) wedge shaped fingerboard, invariably pine with some ebonised hardwood veneer. Anyone who has tried to make a new “Baroque” cello, will know that it doesn’t really work otherwise. If one tries to make it without an “überstand” one will finish up with a real doorstep of a neck. Although I would hesitate to call myself a “cellist”, I have played cello since I was 8 years old, and always have to argue with people who make them like that, ‘cos one feels like a spastic, trying to play it. Also the genuine original old ones have this “uberstand" as a matter of fact.

Please be patient, because I’m still working out exactly how it must have been. I believe the button has at some stage been broken off and just glued back on. There is about a mm of new wood stuck on the end of the neck root at the button. My current diagnosis is that the neck must have broken off at some stage (with button), and someone has glued the neck back on at a steeper angle (weather on purpose or not), and reduced the size of the button to meet up with the neck root again, vis. the button would originally have been considerably larger than it is now.

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