A 1741 Guarneri Copy From Ernst Heinrich Roth, Circa 1902-1919.
There are few places in the world with a historic tradition of violin making as long and rich as the Saxon town of Markneukirchen, stretching back to the mid 17th century and to the formation of the first associated guilds. In the same way that Chinese instruments have flooded the marketplace today and set a standard for entry level commercial instruments, 19th century making in Markneukirchen flourished and fueled the expansion of the classical music industry. By the end of the 19th century, Markneukirchen alone produced upwards of two hundred thousand violins for worldwide export annually, half of which were bound for the United States.
Ernst Heinrich Roth I (1877-1948) was well versed as a musician and studied under several violin makers across Europe, including his father, Gustav Robert Roth, who established the family workshop in 1873. In 1902 at the age of 25 he started his own firm with his cousin, Gustav August Ficker and was producing 13 grades of violins just two decades later. Roth spent a year in Cremona in 1920, ushering in a new era of refinement in not only his personal production, but that of the shop, a period which extended until 1933 when political tensions and conscriptions divided his shop. The shop would close as a result of WWII and relocate to Bubenruth, resuming production in 1954. The instruments from 1921 through 1932 are considered the most desirable but it is widely accepted that the higher end productions from the firm prior to that were made entirely by his hand alone.
The 1741 Guarneri was specifically referred to as “The Vieuxtemps” from 1921, which the internal label does not indicate - this and the absence of a firebrand and serial number indicate the violin was made between 1902 and 1919. This was the “highest level” Guarneri copy they produced. This example, though undated, features unmistakable craftsmanship and beautifully selected tonewoods. In particular, the striking one-piece back of 357mm with matching ribs. It remains in good condition, less some pitting and varnish wear commensurate with over 100 years of use, with no cracks save for a small chip to the outermost volute on the treble side of the scroll.
the sound is colorful, but clear, with supple resistance - flexible enough to perform great dynamic contrast with immediate response and gratifying complexity.