The instrument bears its original label on the inside bass-side back. The large printed label reads 'Anton Lutz, Schönbach in Böhmen, Post Falkenane. 1878'. The final two figures of the year being hand written.
This is a violin shaped instrument with a swell two-piece back. The ribs show a strong wide flame that descends slightly from the front. The back shows a similar flame although less well pronounced. The scroll is of plane maple. The table is made from spruce of a remarkably strong, ultra-wide grain that narrows to a wide grain at the centre. The peg-box is fitted with four separate machines. The instrument is covered in a gorgeous red-brown spirit varnish over a yellow ground.
It addition to the splendid choice of materials and excellent workmanship we particularly like the fact that the instrument bears the makers original label and has all the original varnish. Also to its credit is the fact that it possesses its original scroll and original machine heads and aside from one replaced section of wood on the lower bass side table it is in an overall amazing condition.
Yes - from an aficionado's perspective it is a most rewarding and refreshing instrument to be able to examine.
We see relatively very few master craftsmen made double basses from this region and this period in violin making history.
A vast number of the incalculable number of instruments produced along the Western most tip of Bohemia were made by a whole family either in a small workshop or within their own home on a divisional type basis. The social conditions were often poor and although the demand for these instruments was high the resulting quality was very low.
From a pure player's perspective it is a very comfortable instrument to play and once again from a pure player's perspective the sound is truly awesome.
Voluminous sound. Deep, dark and very tonally rich also sum it up very nicely.
Yes and it is a truly fascinating one.
According to a close friend of the former owner, the former owner is now in his 90's and was a former Major in the orchestra of the Prague State Opera. At the time all the players in the P.S.O had a Russian Civil Service rank and were identified by a non-combative number. Due to the owner's age and his reluctance to reveal his true identity for fear of reprisal from the Russia government - it was incredibly difficult to get any information out of him at all. Having said that - he did reminisce much about playing under the legendry Herbert von Karajan (b-1908, d-1989), recording for Supraphon under Karel Ancerel (b-1908, d-1973) and playing a lot of the glorious music written by his countrymen - composers such as Janacek, Smetana, Dvoŕák, Martinú and Zalenka.
Yes that's a good idea. Lets simply call him "George". It is in fact one of the many names and aliases that he used throughout his life but it still respects his wish to remain anonymous.
George is of Bohemian decent. During the uprising of 1968 known as the "Prague Spring" George publicly supported the non-violent reforms and loosening of the Soviet restrictions that were in place on the freedom of speech, media, music, literature and travel. This new liberalizing model of socialism had been facilitated by Alexander Dubcek - the newly appointed leader of the Czech Communist Party - however Leonid Brezhnev the Soviet leader quickly introduced a new doctrine to prevent any Eastern European country rejecting Communism in this way. After only a few months, the uprising was suppressed by an invasion of some 500,000 Warsaw Pact troops in which many Czechs and Slovaks were killed and wounded. Fearing for his own safety George fled with his Lutz double bass to England where he was able to gain a position in the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra which is where he stayed for approximately four years. In about 1972 George moved down to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra where he remained for the next 15 years.
Yes - he bought it in Brno which is the second largest city in the Czech Republic by both population and area.
At the same time that we purchased the Lutz from George we managed to acquire a very fine H.R. Pfretchner bow from him.
Yes he used it in the Prague State Opera and throughout his life.
The bow bears the brand MAJ.N.D-32 which denotes George's rank, his initials and as mentioned previously his non-combative number.
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 Anton (1) Lutz was born in Luby (Schönbach) in 1814 and died in 1896. The entry is only 1.25 lines long but importantly provides a positive view about his work and as follows 'Professional work on violins, cellos and double basses.'
The two volume Encyclopaedia of Violin Makers by Karel Jalovec which was first published in GB by Paul Hamlyn Ltd in 1976 records the following; 'Lutz Anton (1): Vienna. b. 31. 10. 1814, d. 14. 1. 1896. Son of Ignaz L. (1). Senior partner in the firm A. Lutz & Co. in Vienna, which sold the better sorts of instruments from Schönbach and Graslitz. The best specimens (his own instruments) were varnished according to the model copied. He was the teacher of his two sons, Johann (11) and Vincenz.
Yes the dates do suggest that this is possible. The Jalovek provides the following entry; 'Lutz Anton (11); Schönbach. b. 1850 in Schönbach, d. c. 1910. Son and pupil of Johann L. (1). A very prolific v.m., who unfortunately became mentally ill.'
Dilworth only records his date and place of death as follows; 'd. 1938 Luby'.
There is always room for further research.
The Violin Makers of Bohemia by Karel Jalovec (Anglo-Italian Publication Ltd. No date of publishing given.) lists eighteen makers with the name Lutz and a further two with a slightly different spelling.
For anybody in the market for a good quality instrument - this master craftsman made Bohemian instrument by Anton Lutz really does offer a great many qualities. We really do like the fact that the instrument has its original label, has been well made and has been made using choice materials. We are also delighted to see that the instrument still retains its original varnish and that the quality of the varnish is on an extremely high level. Moving on to the question of the sound we can assure you that the instrument vibrates well and that it possesses power coupled with great tonal quality. If you should need any more reason to desire this instrument then it comes complete with an established provenance of playing both the opera and orchestral repertoire in no less than three top class European orchestras.
This is indeed a splendid instrument. In terms of value - if you wanted to buy the equivalent named English instrument you would have to fork out at least double the cost of what we are asking here.
LOB (length of back) - 114.0cm (44.87in)
Width across upper bouts - 52.8cm (20.75in)
Width across middle bouts - 40.6cm (16.00in)
Width across lower bouts - 69.3cm (27.26in)
Depth of lower ribs inc both plates - 20.8cm (8.20in)
Body Stop - 60.4cm (23.75in)
String length - 105.5cm (41.50in)
Review compiled by: Anthony Houska - MD The Contrabass Shoppe Ltd.
Review completion date: 01st February 2016.