In writing this short article I have attempted to give an outline of the history of the viola and in doing so illustrate the influences which have given direction to my own work as a Luthier specializing in making new violas.
The subject of viola size has been an area of controversy and confusion, not least among recent generations of luthiers.
I was recently asked the question: ‘Why are there different sizes for the viola when both the cello and violin are represented by just a single size.’ This question is central to the issue of viola size and represents an inheritance that is worth preserving, but one that could be better understood.
These short essays are a way for me to set down in my own mind a clearer picture of the fuller complexity of the viola as we know it today, and, without ignoring the classical aesthetic, my reasoning for endeavouring to establish an individual pattern. I am writing from the point of view of a maker engaged in the everyday activity of making new instruments, rather than that of a historical researcher.
Why new design? With more talented luthiers working now than ever before, I find it difficult to comprehend why we still work in a period in which a copyist culture predominates, one in which originality is often found wanting.