Théophile and Frédéric Schwartz ran a very successful business in Strasbourg in the early 19th century. Frédéric was primarily a bowmaker, and his bows are very highly regarded. Théophile focused on instrument-making, also working to a very high standard, but without achieving the same level of recognition.
Although nominally French, this violin owes little to the Parisian or Mirecourt traditions. It’s a remarkable instrument, very individual, beautifully made, and using the finest materials. It’s very distinctive with its double purfling and ornate detail on the back – the arching is very flat, the front and back are both one-piece, and the varnish is exceptional. All of which adds up to a very classy instrument – all the more special for its condition, which is near mint. There are no cracks or damages, and the corners and edges are very well preserved.
Sound-wise the violin is also something of a knockout. The sound is very solistic, powerful, clear and focused with a big dynamic range. However, no virtue in a big sound if it’s not beautiful too! Fortunately this instrument has it all – excellent tonal quality, nice and broad in the lower register, nutty in the middle, crisp and carrying throughout. It’s also quite resistant and can cope with heavy bow pressure. Not a violin for drawing-room scraping, but if you need a serious concert instrument at an affordable price, this one gets my vote.
Dimensions: Length of back 35.9mm, stop 130/195mm
Certificate: JJ Rampal, Paris 2015
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