The well researched double volume Deutsche Bogenmacher by Klaus Grünke, C. Hans-Karl Schmidt and Wolfgang Zunterer published by Eigenverlag der Autoren in 2000 (ISBN 3-00-005839-7) stipulates Louis Lowendall's dates as b-1842, d-1918 and records that his family name was Löwenthal. It also records that in 1866 he opened a company in Dresden to manufacturer musical instruments called the ‘Lowendall Star Works’ which he moved to Berlin in 1889.
Obviously being an encyclopaedia on the bow makers of Germany it focuses on bow production rather than on violin making and as such suggests that many of the bows branded Lowendall were supplied by August Moritz Knopf (b-1857, d-?).
Unfortunately when we compared the entries in five different reference works we found that there was a quite a bit of date and event contradiction.
The Brompton's Book of Violin and Bow Makers by John Dilworth published in 2012 by Usk Publishing (ISBN 978-0-9573499-0-2) records that Lowendall founded his business in Berlin in 1855 and that he expanded into America by opening a branch in 1867. Dilworth goes on to mention that due to the American's having a problem pronouncing his surname it was at this point that he anglicised it to Lowendall.
German & Austrian Violin Makers by Karl Jalovec which was first published in GB by Paul Hamlyn Ltd in 1976 records that Lowendall's first name was Ludwig. Although it is not stated - one would have presumed that the name was anglicised to Louis at the same time that he changed his family name from Löwenthal to Lowendall.
The Universal Dictionary of Violin and Bow Makers by William Henley published by Amati Publishing Ltd in 1973 (third edition) records that although Lowendall returned to live in Dresden in 1873 he continued to make regular trips to both America and England.
Yes indeed and in order to supply the many orders that flooded in he employed a large number of artisans to make instruments in different models, grades and qualities.
Copies of Stradivarius, Güanerius, Maggini and Gasparo da Salo were produced.
Many instruments were both labelled and bore the model name that denoted the grade branded on to the back of the peg-box; Lowendall's Imperial Violin, Lowendall's Celebrated Conservatory Violin or Lowendall's Grand Concert Violin.
No indeed he wasn't.
In addition to the trade type instruments produced Lowendall employed a number of highly skilled craftsmen to construct instruments of much, much finer quality. These instruments generally followed Stradivarius models and were accurately made and finished in a red varnish of particularly fine quality.
Both Henley and Dilworth record that he was awarded a silver medal at the “London Inventions Exhibition”. Although neither authors provide a date for this event presumably it was the ‘International Inventions Exhibition’ that was held in South Kensington in 1885.
Both Henley and Dilworth record that he won a silver medal at an exhibition held in Bologna but both fail to name or provide a year for this event. The Jalovec records that his workshop in Berlin “won many medals at exhibitions” but fails to provide any listing.
Henley records that the building that he purchased in 1889 occupied four floors and was “spacious”. Both Henley & Dilworth record that it was located at 121 Reichenberger Strasse, Berlin.
Yes indeed. In fact our boffins here at The Contrabass Shoppe all believe this to be one of the nicest and best preserved examples that they have ever seen. The well flamed maple back and matching ribs and the straight even grained spruce front demonstrate that this is an instrument of quality. The beautifully translucent deep blood-red spirit varnish over a yellow ground also strongly signifies the splendid quality of this instrument.
Unfortunately the instrument doesn't have a makers label. What is does display however is the Lowendall logo on the back button and the city name BERLIN in capital letters positioned a centimetre below the convex line of the back button purfilling.
Although the brand is partially worn it consists of a capital “L” within a wreath of laurel leaves. At the top of the wreath there is a small gap that breaks what would otherwise be a full circle. At the bottom of the wreath there is a small bow.
With a length of back statistic of 110.5cm and a string length stat of only 104.1cm you'll just love how manageable and easy this instrument is to play.
Yes – the bass sports a seriously fine set up which includes a new slim-feel “D” neck, a top quality fingerboard from Germany, a top quality Chevalets Despieu bridge, a pair of ebony bridge adjusters, a top quality sound post and one of our über functional English pattern brass endpin units.
Yes indeed. The pegbox has been adorned with a set of English made brass machines. The hand made machines have been set on brass half plates and are beautifully precise and super smooth to turn.
Internally we have washed out any body cracks, reglued and secured with sudds as necessary. We have also replaced the upper block and fitted a new bass bar of the correct length and depth.
Yes indeed. A1 structural condition it is.
The sound is full and rounded with just the right amount of punch and projection.
If you are currently in the process of trying to get one of those coveted positions in an opera, symphony or chamber orchestra then the playability, good looks and sound of this instrument is certain to help you along very nicely indeed.
Louis Lowendall was a violin maker, dealer and entrepreneur who saw a gap in the market for well made instruments that wouldn’t cost a fortune to buy. He is well recognised and credited with the production of many thousands of trade to good trade type instruments that were made by artisans in large workshops that he opened in both Germany and America. When ready these instruments were exported all over the world. Lowendall is also credited with the production of some better quality instruments of which we believe this really splendid instrument is representative.
We feel sure that you will be well impressed with the quality and volume of sound that this smallish instrument produces. With a very advantageous string length of only 104.1cm the instrument feels good and is easy to play too. As for the value aspect we are confident that you won't find a better-presented old instrument of this quality for this sort of money.
LOB (length of back) - 110.5cm (43.50in)
Width across upper bouts - 51.3cm (20.20in)
Width across middle bouts - 35.6cm (14.00in)
Width across lower bouts - 63.7cm (25.85in)
Depth of lower ribs inc both plates - 21.7cm (8.30in)
Body stop - 59.6cm (23.49in)
String length - 104.1cm (41.00in)
Review compiled by: Anthony Houska - MD The Contrabass Shoppe Ltd.
Review completion date: 11th January 2015