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Here you can see a very well preserved viola by Johann Gottfried Pfretzschner from 1772. Johann Gottfried was born in Markneukirchen in 1733 as the first son of Johann Elias Pfretzschner.  He probably learned the violin making trade from his father and was accepted as a master violin maker in the Markneukirchen guild on October 5, 1751. Together with his wife Maria Sophie (née Müller) he had a son, Carl Wilhelm, who was born in 1766. Johann Gottfried dies early at the age of only 38.


According to Lütgendorff, he was one of the Neukirchen violin makers who liked to cite "Cremona" as the place of origin or to name Jacob Stainer as the inventor of the violin. He seems to have been talented and probably knew Italian instruments as well. The instrument shown here bears a printed label with the inscription:


Johann Gottfried Pfretzschner,

invented by Jacob Steiner in Absam,

prope Oenipuntum. Ao. 1772


This note is interesting in several respects. First, Stainer is spelled with "ei", although according to Lüttgendorff a similar note from 1768 is known on which Stainer is spelled "correctly". Prope Oenipontum (near Innsbruck) also wrote Stainer on his labels. On the one here, however, it is clearly written with "u" instead of "o". He probably used many different slips of paper. However, the date, 1772, is particularly striking. Johann Gottfried died on 09.08.1771. Presumably (and here one can really only speculate) he had still begun the instrument and someone else (perhaps his brother Johann Carl) finished it and then sold it. 


The instrument came from the estate of a French music professor who probably played it a lot throughout his life, but did not take very good care of it. The shape of the viola resembles a Hopf model. The whole, slightly flamed maple back and also the top are strongly arched. As with all Pfretzschners, the scroll is not really nicely worked. The dark yellow-brown varnish is in very good condition.


The instrument is not for sale.


Body: 39,5 cm

neck scale: 14,4 cm

body scale: 21,3 cm

upper bout: 18,0 cm

middle bail: 11,8 cm

lower bout: 22.2 cm


Johann Gottfried Pfretzschner - 1772

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