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Johann Christoph Leidolff Vienna 1736 Cello in original condition


jacobsaunders

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A friend suggested to me that, should I wish to write a Leidolff thread, I should as a contrast post a more standard Leidolff, such as one sees regularly as well.

 

I already mentioned on the first page that after Leidolff died on the 28th June 1758, his widow continued his business until her death in 1769. These “opus postum” Leidolffs are every bit as common as the ones made during his natural lifetime and exactly the same. Although Lütgendorff speculates (improbably) that Leidolff had many journeymen, we only know of one, Anton Weiss, as well as two violin making sons Joseph Ferdinand and Christoph (there could be other journeymen). Much the same as Leopold Widhalm, it is important to think of Leidolff as a shop, rather than an individual person.

 

The pictured violin is from 1759, one year after Leidolffs death, and a quite typical example of the Leidolff workshop in long since “modernised” condition. The writing on the label next to the date is a repair inscription from some gentleman called “Paulus”

 

 

Leidolff 1759 Zettel datum.jpg

Leidolff 1759 Zettel teil I.jpg

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Leidolffs have a fairly recognisable outline. The top and bottom curves of the upper and lower bouts seem almost to have been plotted with a compass from the end pin/neck until almost the corner, only to have the curve abruptly stop, and go into the reverse curve a couple of centimetres before the corner, leaving almost a bump, which an ex boss of mine used to call “Hamsterbacken” (hamster cheeks). The corners, just millimetres before the ends have a slight hookish finish, which makes it impossible to finish a replacement corner with a file, one must use a knife. This leaves one with corners that I have always referred to as “Dead Pigs Noses” (with apologies to Ian Dury)

Leidolff 1759 Boden detail.jpg

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Leidolf seems to have varnished with a dark varnish which has soaked into the endgrain parts of the wood, with a dark red varnish on top of that, which has a slight blue tinge, as one discovers when trying to retouch it. The arching is high and full, with a deep fluting. The back has the, in Vienna obligatory, paper strip along the centre joint. The ribs are build around an inside form. The linings are of a slightly mahogony looking wood (I’m no talent at recognising wood species), which are let into the corner blocks with a point. The one piece bottom rib has the so called “Mittenwald notch”, which goes to show that that is a misnome. The high ribs measure 33mm at the end button and 32mm at the neck root.

 

577852889_Leidolff1759Boden.jpg

16290309_Leidolff1759Decke.jpg

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The scroll has an S shaped pegbox where the upper and lower lines seems to run fairly parallel, and the fluting goes into the bitter end of the throat, I don’t like the pegs much, but I inherited them, and I suppose I have to use them up somewhere. As all of these vaguely Stainer inspired 18th C Austrian violins, the peg box continues well beyond the A peg

Leidolff 1759 Schneckenprofil Bass.jpg

Leidolff 1759 Schneckenprofil Diskant.jpg

Leidolff Schnecke hinten.jpg

Leidolff Schnecke vorne.jpg

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Yes great addition to the post,thanks Jacob.

Viennese guild members around this time period,as you have mentioned here before that they were all fairly close knit,were they all very consistent with their outlines and forms?

Blankface,earlier in the post, mentioned how much the outline of the cello was so very similar to that of the violins.Your post above confirms this with an exception of the buttons maybe.

I was curious whether other guild members were similar in that sense.

Thanks again.

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2 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

Leidolf ..................The one piece bottom rib has the so called “Mittenwald notch”, which goes to show that that is a misnome.

Jacob, could you please post some examples of the Leidolff centering notch?  Excellent thread, BTW.  :)

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26 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

The word “Similar” is a pretty relative notion. I could imagine getting into a bitter argument about that:)

Yes I see,

I didn't mean to slight their work with a vague notion of commonality more of an inquiry

of a construction similarity influence,between them :).

watching with great interest Jacob.

 

 

 

 

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Out of curiosity,  has anyone seen an original bassbar on a Leildolff cello? And original thicknesses? I am currently restoring a cello by him, and I think the bassbar is original. I would love to compare it to another one from the same maker or city20211203_103518.heic. The thickness of the front varies from 6.3 mm to 1.8 in some parts, and it has likely been manipulated, but again it would be nice to know what the original thicknesses looked like. Thanks!

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/3/2021 at 5:24 PM, Cecilia González said:

Out of curiosity,  has anyone seen an original bassbar on a Leildolff cello? And original thicknesses? I am currently restoring a cello by him, and I think the bassbar is original. I would love to compare it to another one from the same maker or city20211203_103518.heic. The thickness of the front varies from 6.3 mm to 1.8 in some parts, and it has likely been manipulated, but again it would be nice to know what the original thicknesses looked like. Thanks!

I have only just noticed your post, I’m afraid. The OP cello has the original bar (and neck). If you still need it, I will have to do some measurements, pics etc.

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On 12/3/2021 at 5:24 PM, Cecilia González said:

Out of curiosity,  has anyone seen an original bassbar on a Leildolff cello? And original thicknesses? I am currently restoring a cello by him, and I think the bassbar is original. I would love to compare it to another one from the same maker or city20211203_103518.heic. The thickness of the front varies from 6.3 mm to 1.8 in some parts, and it has likely been manipulated, but again it would be nice to know what the original thicknesses looked like. Thanks!

Dear Cecilia,

I had been planing on writing an essay on the Leydolf (Leidolff) 1736 cello back first, but haven’t got around to it yet. Since you ask about the original bass bar, we can look at that first.

 

The belly of the cello, as I got it, was pretty comprehensively stoved in. I don’t know if it had been run over, or if someone had fallen on it. Once I had separated it from the ribs, it was in 6 pieces (3 in the meantime). It had a sound post crack from the saddle to the top lobe of the f hole which someone had “repaired” by inserting a 2 to 3 mm wide strip of pine into it, and more of a sound post plank (not let in) than a sound post patch, with the grain lines going at roughly 90° to the rest of the belly. These had massively distorted the arching, to the point that the upper treble f wing stood almost a centimetre proud of the surrounding belly. I have removed all of that, and the arching has almost gone back to where it should be now.

 

These old Vienese instruments, those with original bars, have a penchant to chose finely grown wood with narrow annual rings for the belly, but coarsely grown wood with wide, hard annual rings (vulgo: Floorboard) for the bars. I am not advocating anything, just observing. I don’t know why they did this, but I have seen it so often, that they must have had some rational for doing so.

 

This bar is 15mm high in the middle, and 6mm high at both the top and the bottom. The profile of the bar is almost flat, which I have tried to demonstrate by holding a straight edge on it (photo). The bar is 9 mm thick at the middle, and 8,5mm at the bottom, 10,5mm at the top. The distance from the centre joint to the inside of the bar is 33mm in the middle, 28mm at the top, and 40mm at the bottom. Leidolff has glued some coarse canvas prophylactically on each end of the bar, so either he had had some bad experience with that, or was a belt and braces man. The belly thicknesses are 5mm-ish in the middle and 2mm-ish around the edges.

 

Please speak up if you need any more information.

1982286706_Leydolfbassbarganz.jpg

88802600_Leydolfbassbarstraightedge.jpg

1677872975_LeydolfBassbarcanvaspatch.jpg

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  • 1 year later...

I recently felt obliged to resuscitate this thread as a further Leidolff Cello walked uninvited into the shop. This time, it is a Joseph Ferdinand, who I presume was Johann Christoph’s son, (although that isn’t documented beyond doubt). Probably the most up-to-date information on the Leidolff family, is the essay by Dr. Hopfner in the Österreichische Musiklexicon; Leidolff (Leydolf), Family Nicolaus (musiklexikon.ac.at) I discovered by accident, and to my surprise that this article translates itself into English with a right mouse click.

 

Of all the Leidolff family, there are two that one regularly sees, Johann Christoph and his son(?) Joseph Ferdinand, although those of Johann Christoph are far more common. This cello and the OP Johann Christoph one from 1736 are to a large degree similar although Joseph Ferdinand’s arching, although high, is less high than that of the Johann Christoph example.

 

Joseph Ferdinand worked on his own account, evidently successfully, since his tax returns from 1767 showed a sum of 10 Gulden p.a., which puts him at the forefront of Viennese violin makers.

 

Johann Christoph passed away on the 28th June 1758, although his widow, Maria Elisabeth (nee Aichinger) continued the business until her death of pneumonia (? “Lunglsucht") in 1769. Her tax return fell from 10 Gulden p.a down to 2 Gulden in 1767, the same year that Joseph Ferdinand recorded a sum of 10 Gulden. In this year (1767) however, he gave his shop up to Marianus Petz, for reasons unknown to me. Perhaps he had to concentrate on helping his mum(?), or perhaps he was unwell. He is recorded as a maker as late as 1791 in the “Wiener Zeitung” though

Leidolff JF Belly.jpg

Leidolf JF Back.jpg

Leidolff JF scrollprofil diskant.jpg

Leidolff JF Scroll front.jpg

Leidolff JF Scroll back.jpg

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The label is typical of Viennese labels from the 18th C, in that it is hand written to imitate print. One may discern this by comparing identical letters, and noting minor differences. These labels were written by people who did this professionally in advance, and included the number 17, the last two numbers to be added when the label was used. This label seems to have come loose at some stage, and been stuck back a little crooked, so that the second christian name “Ferdinand” has jumped a couple of millimeters up. I’m afraid that I cannot read the last two numbers of the date

 

Leidolff JF label.jpg

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35 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

The label is typical of Viennese labels from the 18th C, in that it is hand written to imitate print. One may discern this by comparing identical letters, and noting minor differences. These labels were written by people who did this professionally in advance, and included the number 17, the last two numbers to be added when the label was used. This label seems to have come loose at some stage, and been stuck back a little crooked, so that the second christian name “Ferdinand” has jumped a couple of millimeters up. I’m afraid that I cannot read the last two numbers of the date

 

Leidolff JF label.jpg

Thanks for sharing this. Maybe I've shown my (former) Josephus Ferdinandus violin before, but to compare it, here once more. The last numbers of the damaged label were nearly faded away, too, but I thought I could read a "6" for the decade at least.

As a detail, I thought that the ff were worn out by a soundpost setter around the nicks, resulting in this somehow rounded opening, but the cello seems to have the same feature.

IMG_2868.JPG

IMG_7575.JPG

IMG_7576.JPG

IMG_7579.JPG

IMG_7583.JPG

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Nice cello! Is it small also, like the cello that inspired the thread?

Addition: I find this thread highly interesting from the point of view of historical performance practice. Just in the last two days, on facebook, I'm having a discussion on the topic of Quantz recommendation with a (I believe) string maker and a well known cellist in that field, regarding Quantz' recommendation of the thickness of strings. Quantz writes that a cellist needs two cellos: a bigger one with thicker strings for orchestra, and a smaller one with thinner strings for solo playing. Our discussion is that it seems weird for a smaller cello at the same pitch as the larger cello to have thinner strings than the larger one. One would expect the inverse.

In my opinion, if assumed correct, Quantz recommendation can be used for extrapolating what was thought of as an acceptable sound in baroque playing, and base on that a recommendation of a more exact string gauge than currently possible. Currently, you just experiment and then use what you like. Which is what you should do always, but if the starting point is different, more concrete, then one may discover new things.

The diametre of the strings has a great impact on how the instrument sounds and reacts. Therefore it is interesting to know what the preference was in earlier times, so that one may make an educated guess as to how the music may have sounded an was played originally. From Quantz observation, it is clear that people in baroque were very aware of this and used it depending on the function of the instrument. The larger celli were not considered to be used for soli, and the smaller celli were considered inferior for orchestral work. Surely, these things were in constant flux, but if I look at the three different Viennese Celli that Jacob has presented here, if their sizes do give a certain almost standard for larger and smaller celli for Vienna in the first 40 years of the 18th century, then a little experimentation with string thickness on two of these celli would help go a long way in getting closer to something of an answer. One could find a maximum thickness for the larger celli and a minimum for the saller that gives a satisfactory result (and this is, ofcourse subjective, although I can think of one parametre (constant tone production of the same timbre, without squeeking and crackling) relatively absolute) It could at least make our guesses to what historical stringing might have looked like better "well-educated guesses" than before.

So it would be interesting to see if one can find more celli from Vienna from that period, and if they corroborate the  theory of two different, almost standard sizes. That alone, detached from the whole string gauge theme, would be interesting enough to know. In the end, it would just be a matter of statistcs; record measurements of every single viennese or possibly viennese Cello in original-ish condition one can find. And if it doesn't corroborate the two sizes, then that also is useful information.

I'm starting to wonder if this (Sizes of Viennese Cellos Ca 1700-1750) might make for a good theme for a doctoral thesis. If only a day had 28 hours!

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13 hours ago, baroquecello said:

Nice cello! Is it small also, like the cello that inspired the thread?

 

The Joseph Ferdinand Cello has (within tolerances) roughly modern 4/4 dimensions

LOB; 75,4cm

Belly stop;41,3cm

The neck is a Viennese patent (screwed) neck, presumably from the 19th C.

I had always understood that wound strings make a shorter string length possible, perhaps you can ask your facebook correspondent that

Although I can't read the date, I am assuming that the Joseph Ferdinand cello is somewhat later, perhaaps 1760s ish

 

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