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The Viola: It's Importance and Evolution
Transcript of The Viola: It's Importance and Evolution
Although there is no clear inventor of the modern viola, it is estimated that it was originally created sometime during the 1500s, as evident by a painting called the Glory of Angels.
At a certain point in time, the violist was considered a "failure". Usually, within an orchestra, if someone wasn't "good" enough to play the violin, he would then play the viola. The instrument itself was seen as just a bigger violin instead of the instrument we all know and love. To change this mindset, various practitioners of the viola had to go above and beyond in order for the instrument to finally shine.
and it's evolution
The Glory of Angels by Gaudenzio Ferrari
The First Representation of the Modern Viola
It is estimated to have been painted in the start of the 1500's , as you can see it on the Santa Maria dei Miracoli
Much like the violin and other instruments, the viola
underwent many prototypes before it was able to
finally evolve into the instrument we know and love.
By Raul and Marcus (The Violists)
The Amati Family
Lionel Tertis is the prime example of genuine passion towards an instrument. Originally a violinist, Tertis decided to start playing the viola, and, as a result, found a new love. At the time (late 19th century), viola's were overshadowed by the rest of the string family, which resulted in him seeking ways in which the beauty of the viola could be heard. Throughout his lifetime, he did an innumerable amount of things that allowed the viola to develop as a solo instrument. He begged composers to write pieces for the viola, did thousands of concerts and transcribed various violin songs into viola.
Throughout the mid to late 1500s, the Amati family were very distinguished in terms of making all sorts of string instruments, not only violas. Andrea Amati was one of the very first luthiers to make violas, and this followed throughout his bloodline as his sons took upon the tradition themselves. Andrea Amati was so famous at the time, that King Charles IX of France commisioned him 38 instruments.
The viola on the left was created by Andrea Amati
after being commisioned by the King. The one on
the right was made by his two sons for the Medici family
The Guarneri Family
The Guarneri family was also very distinguished as luthiers. However, due to the reduced demand, they made very few violas. William Primrose, who is a famous violist, took a liking to Guarneri violas, and, as a result, made them his "signature" viola.
Stradivari was also made violas, and, similiar to the Guarnery family, as there was no demand for them, he made very little. Experts have managed to deduce that he had only made between 10 - 18 violas in his lifetime. Paganini later played a Stradivari viola.
William Primrose is regarded as one of, if not the best violists of all time. He originally planned to become a violinist, but hearing Tertis playing one of his many concerts led him to do otherwise. Tertis is known for his techcal prowess, as evident by his technique, bright sound and his expertise in vibrato. His signature instrument was actually a Guarneri viola. During his time, he achieved fame that no other violist had recieved before.
Carl Stamitz was an inspiring violinist and would have continued that way if not for an incident within the Manheim Orchestra. Due to this, he became a violist. As a violist, he was well known for his tenderness and regalness with the instrument. He was so popular to the point in which he played royal families and even played with Beethoven.
Nobuko Imai is a world reknowned violist who, at this point in time, made over 40 discs worth of viola pieces. She is known for her melodic and tranquil pieces, which are often compared to a human voice singing. She has played a Guarneri viola since 1988.