Johann Gottlob Pfretzschner, German 15″ Viola, 1787

This smaller bodied viola is labelled Johann Gottlob Pfretzschner, 1787, and has a certificate of authenticity drawn up by Jiri Hron of Prague. The back is of slab-cut maple which generally develops a slightly darker sound making it an interesting choice for violas and cellos. The instrument is loosely based on the Stainer model which was ubiquitous at the time owing to the fact that Stainer was regarded as the most important maker at that time. A fine spruce top and golden-brown varnish, now worn to a natural aged patina, completes the picture of this great little instrument.

Johann Gottlob belonged to a large family of violin makers in Neukirchen, Saxony and was regarded as one of the better exponents of both the Stainer and, later, Stradivari models of instrument that were becoming more popular. Born in the mid-1700’s, he worked in Neukirchen well into the 19th century.

This is one of these small violas that speaks well above its size. It has currently been fitted up for modern playing by our colleague, Volker Beilharz, but it bears its original neck which would make it an easy conversion to baroque form for those interested in early music performance. It has a Spirocore Tungsten ‘C’ string with Evah Pirazzi for the other three.

Reference: VA.162