A Rare American Viola By Verne S. Swan, 1944. 414mm Or 16.3.”

Verne Sturges Swan studied architecture and music at Cornell, from where he graduated in 1921 and to which he bequeathed a large collection of instruments upon his death. A number of them were instruments he had made and many out of the collection at large were sold to create a music scholarship in his name. Being self-taught, Swan would by all rights be considered an amateur American maker. However, his fabrications would develop enough personality, charm, and sophistication to earn a viola D’Amore by his hand display at the National Music Museum. He worked in upstate New York, making instruments out of Utica and using his background in architecture to learn from the fine violins he collected to inspire his making.

Though there are still instruments of his in circulation at Cornell, this viola from 1944 may be the only Verne S. Swan instrument on the open market. It features distinctly American tonewoods, complete with the imperfections: a knot in the upper bass side of the back, crafted in two pieces and measuring a total of 414mm or 16.3” in length; on the lower bass side of the back there are some inserts original to its make which presumably fill a touch of worm tracks he happened to find in the wood while crafting the instrument. The overall aesthetic impact of the instrument delivers immense character in the same fashion as some of the more desirable self-taught and later trained Italians and it boasts a competitive sound - projecting depth of color and immediate core with a fine balance of flexibility and resistance.

Detailed Measurements:

Length of back: 414mm or 16.3.”

Upper bout: 193mm.

Lower bout: 244mm.

String length: 377mm or 14.85.”

Only left in stock