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The violin makers (part 4)

Updated: May 18, 2023

Carl Friedrich I (*11.1743) is the one who started the Pfretzschner line with the most violin makers. It has been handed down that he was admitted to the guild of violin makers as master on 21.05.1766. Together with other masters of Markneukirchen he founded on 11.04.1777 the String Makers Guild for the area of Kursachsen with its seat in Markneukirchen and was one of their masters and later a kind of master in charge. At his death in 1798, the church registrar called him "mayor and foreman of the string makers, as well as master violin makers".

The experts speak of his violins as "magnificent works of German violin making with the most personal ingenuity that is characteristic of the old Vogtland school of violin making". Lütgendorff writes about him that he apparently knew Italian models, which he also imitated, but not so well that one could be tempted by his labels to mistake him for a Cremonese immigrant from Bavaria. He is known for instruments that bear the initial letters of his name on the back of the pegbox or on the back in small or large capitals. On his printed labels one can find his name and Latin indications such as "prope Violino carRespontent Romani Cramona Ao" or "Cremonien Hironimi Fili Antoni ..." or simply "Carl Friedrich Pfretzschner in Neukirchen bey Adorf". In 1773 he married Eva Regine Mönnig in Markneukirchen and had two sons, August Wilhelm I (*27.09.1784) and Christian Gottfried (*01.12.1785). Both become violin makers. Nothing else has been handed down about August Wilhelm I

Christian Gottfried is accepted as a master violin maker in the violin making guild of Markneukirchen on 20.05.1807. Experts write that he was content to make very cheap violins, as was probably his brother. Their creative period coincides exactly with the time when the violins were sold by the dozen. However, there are still some instruments made by Christian Gottfried that do not confirm this and testify to quite good craftsmanship. These are however very rare. In July 1807 Christian Gottfried married Christiana Friederike Pöllmann and soon the first son Carl Gottlob II was born in September 1807. In 1816 August Wilhelm II followed. The two sons continue the violin making tradition. In 1857 Christian Gottfried dies in Markneukirchen, he turns 71 years old. August Wilhelm II (*26.05.1816) is apprenticed to his father like his older brother. On 13.05.1845 he is accepted as a master violin maker in the guild. He was a talented and capable master, who later fell into drunkenness and is said to have died in the poorhouse. He leaves no descendants. The elder son Carl Gottlob II learns the trade from his father and is admitted to the Guild of Violin Makers in 1835. Before that he worked for 4 years each in Dresden and Hamburg. After his return he set up his own business in Markneukirchen. Due to an illness lasting more than 30 years, his work was severely impaired and often condemned to inactivity. Nevertheless he was one of the most capable and skilful violin makers of his time. He used printed labels.

Carl Pfretzschner Instrumentenmacher Neukirchen i Sachsen | 18xx

In 1835 Carl Gottlob married Christiane Caroline Ficker (daughter of master violin maker Carl Friedrich Ficker called "Ficker Hans'l" from Markneukirchen). They have three sons, Johann Richard, Carl Friedrich III and Karl Adolf. Carl Gottlob dies early at the age of 56 years. Nothing more is known about the first-born Johann Richard (1832 - 1893). The two other sons become (who would have thought it?) violin makers. Karl Adolf is born in Markneukirchen in 1849. He probably learned the craft from his father, but he did not become a master. To be honest, the violin he leaves is rather lousily cobbled together and certainly not a masterpiece.

Carl Friedrich III is the middle son of Carl Gottlob and is born in November 1845. As a pupil of his father he was encouraged to cut bridges and tailpieces at the age of 10, at 16 he was already making finished violins. After the death of his father he went to Ludwig Bausch jun. in Leipzig, where he completed his apprenticeship. As the breadwinner of his mother he was not immediately taken to military. He married Auguste Bauer in 1869, but when the war broke out (Franco-Prussian War against Napoleon) he was called to the flags and took part in the whole campaign. He was a very skilled violin maker. Together with Auguste, Carl Friedrich III had a daughter, Auguste (*1874), and two sons, Carl Friedrich IV (*1870) and Friedrich Adolf (*1872), who both initially chose the profession of violin maker and apprenticed to their father. Carl Friedrich III dies in Markneukirchen in 1924 and turns 78 years old. Auguste marries Christian Theodor Leonhard, nothing more is known about her. The eldest son Carl Friedrich IV is still learning the profession of violin maker, but whether he did it at all and to what extent is not known. Violins or other string instruments that can be traced back to him do not seem to exist any more. It seems certain, however, that he owned a carriage and earned his living at least in part from it. He married Alma Müller in 1901 and had two daughters, Marie Alma, who later married Fritz Mönnich, and Helene, who later married a Blechschmidt.

The younger brother Friedrich Adolf is the last one from this family line to learn the craft of violin making. However, he probably cannot make a good living from it either. It is the time of manufacturers and the division of labour in the production of stringed instruments and all the necessary accessories. He hangs up the trade and, probably at the turn of the century, becomes an innkeeper in the "Zum heiteren Blick". In 1903 he married Martha Ida Groh and had two sons, Adolf (*1903) and Friedrich Albert (*1908). The older son Adolf follows in his father's footsteps and also becomes an innkeeper. He later also takes over the inn "Zum heiteren Blick". Together with Else Rochler he has two sons, Friedrich (*1938) and Heinz (*1943) whose family developed the inn "Zum heiteren Blick" into a popular hotel and excursion destination in the Vogtland region and still runs it today. The line of the Pfretzschner as violin makers, however, finds its last representative in the grandfather Friedrich Adolf at the turn of the last century.

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