Stephen Barber & Sandi Harris, Lutemakers
Catalogue and Price List 2015
Gallichone / Mandora,
Having first met the late Robert Spencer back in the spring of 1973, Stephen also first encountered original mandoras in Robert's collection during that meeting, when Robert explained and demonstrated the repertoire for these 18th Century instruments after lunch at his house in South Woodford, Essex.
At that time, few people were interested in these instruments or knew much about them, so it was very inspiring and valuable to have Bob explain their significance and importance.
In the early 18th Century, although a few large theorbos survive by Schelle (1728) Alban (1704) and others, German lute makers pricipally made two types of instrument: 13-course lutes for solo music, and the Gallichone (gallichon, gallischon, mandora). The latter were used for continuo playing, although there is an extensive solo repertoire, and also duet pieces and pieces for chamber ensembles by, amongst other composers, Brescianello, Schiffelholz and Telemann. Illustrative of the general level of ignorance concerning the gallichon/mandora is that the entry on Brescianello in Grove makes no mention of the 18 sonatas he wrote for the instrument, merely that he was a violin composer. Interestingly, the only probable depiction of Silvius Leopold Weiss shows him playing a gallichone, not a theorbo, at the Dresden Opera House. There are several other 18th Century drawings, watercolours and engravings showing lutenists playing these instruments, the larger versions of which, with their typically powerful, clear tone, make excellent continuo instruments for 18th Century German music.
Current research strongly suggests that these lutes were far more widely used at this time than has been previously realised by modern makers and continuo players. We have carefully researched and measured a large number of these instruments (including all of those by Schelle), many of which have survived in original condition, from this 'lost' period of lute history, including the only known extant 6-string colascione.
1. After Sebastian Schelle, Nürnberg 1719 (Salzburg, Carolino Augusteum Museum C112)
9 ribs in plum striped with birds-eye maple; maple neck and pegbox painted
dark brown; curved rosewood fingerboard and points; dark-stained fruitwood
pegs;simple, narrow moulding along treble and bass edges of soundboard;
pegbox with closed rear and chanterelle rider. Six courses.
beautiful little lute is the earliest dated instrument by Schelle, and
one of the earliest dated gallichons, and has been much played. Its
beautiful, striking back, from prettily-figured birds-eye maple striped
with dark red plumwood (known as Zwetschge in Germany)
classic example of Schelle's signature elegant
2. After Sebastian Schelle, Nürnberg 17.. ( Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg, XXV/3)
9 ribs in poplar striped with rio rosewood; maple neck and pegbox painted
dark brown; curved ebony fingerboard and points; dark-stained fruitwood
pegs; simple, narrow moulding along treble edge of soundboard; pegbox
with closed rear and chanterelle rider. Six courses.
Very similar to, but slightly larger than the instrument above, but with no label, although quite obviously the work of Sebastian Schelle. Its pegs are identical to those of Salzburg C112 above, and similar in design to those used on 13-course baroque lutes by Schelle dated 1721 (Nürnberg GNM MIR902), 1726 (Yale No.260) , and 1744 (Nürnberg GNM MI46). It also has an ivory button identical in design to one found on the Widhalm 13-course lute (Nürnberg GNM 1755).
The interesting choice of rio rosewood in combination with poplar for
the ribs further illustrates Schelle's eclectic use of timbers, as confirmed
by Baron, who, writing in 1727, tells us that Schelle has a "large
stock of all sorts of rare, dry, and beautiful wood best suited for
3. After Simpertus Niggel, Füssen 1754 (Nürnberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum MIR895)
9 ribs in figured, flamed maple or birds-eye maple; maple neck and pegbox
painted black; curved, dark-brown stained maple fingerboard and points;
ebony pegs; delicate, elegant narrow moulding along treble edge of soundboard;
pegbox with decorative, scrolled-edge aperture, moulding across end,
and chanterelle rider. Six courses.
This instrument is in excellent original condition, and was built by
a renowned Füssen maker usually known for his basses. It has all
the 'typical' features one expects to find on a mandora, which by the
time this instrument was made, would have reached a fully-developed
form. Its back has been painted black, but this seems to have been done
in relatively modern times. A similar instrument by Niggel, a 7-course
dated 1747, is in the collection of the Museum der Stadt Füssen,
although it has an open pegbox which terminates in a square finial,
with laterally-inserted pegs.
The instrument shown above is a close copy of the original, excepting that, at the request of the player, we have veneered the neck with ebony.
Simpertus Niggel (1702 - 1759) was one of the most celebrated violin and lute-makers of Füssen, and it is known that during the heyday of his working life, he was barely able to keep up with demand for his instruments, so high was their quality and reputation. Archive documents state that a contemporary of Niggel's, Franz Stoss, had taken a number of instruments by Füssen makers to Paris to sell, and that those of Niggel had been snapped-up first. Füssen town council archives record this information, going on to say that without the Niggel instruments, Stoss would not have been able to sell the other instruments he had taken to Paris.
The house of Simpertus Niggel can still be seen on Rotterstraße in Füssen.
4. After Gregori Ferdinand Wenger, Augsburg 1742 (Augsburg, Maximillianmuseum N.11-916)
9 ribs in figured maple; maple neck and pegbox painted black; curved
ebony fingerboard and points; simple ebony moulding along both treble
and bass edges of soundboard; narrow ebony half-edging; pegbox rear
with carved and pierced leaf-trail decoration, moulding across rear,
and chanterelle rider. Seven courses.
This 7-course instrument by Wenger is beautifully-proportioned, and
seems to be in original condition; it also seems to have been played
extensively. Like the Niggel, it is an example of the larger size of
5. After Gregori Ferdinand Wenger, Augsburg 1747 (Augsburg, Maximillianmuseum MIR 896) *
9 ribs in lightly-figured maple; maple neck and pegbox painted black;
curved ebony fingerboard and points; boxwood pegs; simple moulding along
treble edge of soundboard; pegbox with closed rear and chanterelle rider.
A similar but smaller-bodied instrument to the Wenger of 1742; it has
been heavily restored, but retains its original soundboard, bridge,
rose, and back. ( * currently on loan from the Germanisches Nationalmuseum,
6. After Johannes Blasius Weigert, Linz 1740 (Vienna, Kunsthistorischesmuseum SAM 719)
9 ribs, in plain maple with a light birds-eye figure, stained and varnished
dark brown; maple neck and pegbox painted black; curved, dark-brown
stained fingerboard and points; ebony pegs; simple rosewood moulding
along treble edge of belly; pegbox with closed rear and chanterelle
rider. Six courses.
Apparently built on the same mould as an 11-course lute by Weigert in
1721 (which was originally a 13-course) in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum,
Nürnberg (MIR898); it has the same details at the end of its capping-strip
7. After Johannes Schorn, Salzburg
1688 (Private collection)
£4600 (£POA with carved head as below)
This unique instrument, which is the only known surviving Colascione
with 6 single strings, is very similar to the one belonging to Godfrey
Finger, and described in the James Talbot manuscript (Finger's instrument
also has 6 single strings, but its string length is longer at 930mm).
It is in absolutely original condition, and has extensive wear-marks,
suggesting an active and substantial playing life. This is definitely
not the 3-stringed Colascione seen in many depictions of Commedia
dell 'Arte characters (of which but a few examples survive from the
17th Century) but a proper continuo instrument in its own right, which,
according to Finger, was commonly used in Bohemian musical circles.
The tunings given above are as given to Talbot by Finger when he was in London. Johannes Schorn, the maker, was a celebrated Salzburg violin maker, particularly noted for his violas d'amore; this instrument is dated from the middle of his active period.
The instrument shown above is a close copy of the original, built for Axel Weidenfeld of Oldenburg, Germany. Axel has made a special study of the Gallichon and Colascione, and also owns the Niggel Gallichon copy shown above; professor of lute and guitar at Oldenburg University, he has recorded and performed with both instruments.
We made 6 special punches to make the parchment layer of its unique rosette, and the carved lion's head is copied from that on the original. Its gut strings were specially made by Nicholas Baldock.
Johann Schorn (c. 1658 - 1718) was the earliest and most significant Salzburg court violin-maker, and because his instruments were made using Füssen methods and style, it is assumed that he received his early training there. Interestingly, however, the violins made in Salzburg are all heavily-influenced by the work of Jakob Stainer (c.1617 - 1683). Schorn (as were his sons) was employed as a musician in the court orchestra, although only his eldest son was employed as a violin-maker for the orchestra. Schorn was a prolific maker whose output was interesting and varied: for example, as well as this colascione, there are several violas d'amore (dated around 1700), a kontrabass dated 1692 and another from 1713 which has two pairs of extra soundholes cut above and below the instrument's f-holes, there survives a Hamburger Cithrinchen dated 1703 (in the Landesmuseum für Kärnten, Klagenfurt).
The text of Schorn's labels all handwritten varies quite a bit; the 1688 colascione's reads: "Joannes Schorn fecit / in Miln prope Salib. / Anno 1688", the kontrabass from 1692 reads: " JOANNES SCHORN / Fecit in Salisburg 1692" whilst the 1713 kontrabass reads : "Joannes Schorn, Hoff Musicus und Lautenmacher, Salisburgi 1713".
The lion's head carved on the original instrument - which we have copied above - is very similar to other such heads on Schorn's instruments, and seems to have been modelled on one of Jakob Stainer's; it closely resembles the head on a violin by Schorn from 1700.