A Fine Violin By Johann Adam Schonfelder, 1761.
The North German town of Neukirchen is often overlooked when one considers violins of masterful craftsmanship and artisanal quality. Sometimes, even confused outright with the Voigtland Mecha of Markneukirchen, which lies some 500 miles South East. It was home to several prolific dynasties, and a great many highly revered makers, including those of the Schonfelder family. Johann Adam Schonfelder (1707-1763) was relatively young when he expired, still at the height of his prowess, so to speak. Just two years before his passing, and at the age of 54, he crafted this fine violin, masterfully imbuing it with a rather personal and highly developed sense of style. Though Henley cites the younger Johann George Schonfelder (1750-1824) as “Undoubtedly the most skilled craftsman of his family…,” neither the craftsmanship nor complexity and maturity of this violin’s voice leaves one wanting in the slightest. At some 260 years of age, it boasts a level of character and refinement of such a special quality, the sort that one may not be able to articulate but most nonetheless acknowledge, that reinforces whimsical notions about performing on older instruments.