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Muzika! A Celebration of Czech and Slovak Music


Lute by Thomas Edlinger, Prague, 1728

NMM 10213. Lute by Thomas Edlinger, Prague, 1728. Ex coll.: Carl Des Fours Walderode, Hrubý Rohozec Castle, Bohemia (Czech Republic). Purchase funds gift of Margaret Ann Everist, Sioux City, Iowa, 2002.

NMM 10213.  Lute by Thomas Edlinger, Prague, 1728. Back view of Edlinger lute.

This lute bears two labels which indicate that it was made by Magno Tieffenbrucker, the prominent Venetian maker, and modified by Edlinger. It is now believed, however, that the instrument, with its back of eleven bird's-eye maple ribs, was made in its entirety by Edlinger.

Although he may have sought to increase the value of the instrument by inserting the label of the old master whose work he emulated, Edlinger, himself, was one of the great lute makers. He was the first to extend the range of the Baroque lute to thirteen courses, of which the lowest two are on a bass "rider." This instrument and its companion, 10214, are among the best preserved of this classic type, for which the last notable works for lute were written by Sylvius Leopold Weiss and other contemporaries of J. S. Bach.

Rose in Edlinger lute, NMM 10213

The lute's beautifully cut triple rose was not made by Edlinger, but was taken from an early Italian Renaissance lute.

Bass side view of lute made by Thomas Edlinger in 1728. Treble side view of Edlinger lute.

Bass and treble side views of the lute.

This lute, along with another built in Venice or Padua, ca. 1600 (NMM 10214), was stored in the attic of Hrubý Rohozec castle in northern Bohemia during the 19th century. Perched high on a hillside overlooking the Jizera River valley on the outskirts of Turnov, now but an hour's drive northeast of Prague, the Hrubý Rohozec castle was founded about 1280, as an early Gothic castle, with a moat on the north and west sides. A Renaissance reconstruction took place at the beginning of the 17th century, when the moat was filled and gardens planted. The castle underwent a third, and final, Empire-style reconstruction in 1822, as seen above in a 19th-century painting.

The same castle, as it appears today (photo by Z. Pykalová).

Hrubý Rohozec castle in northern Bohemia as depicted in a 19th century painting.

Hrubý Rohozec castle in northern Bohemia



Carl Des Fours Walderode and his wife, Johanna Kammerlander, in 1979

On August 17, 1907, Nikolaus Graf Des Fours Walderode wrote from Vienna to Albert Fuchs, a Professor of Music in Dresden whose book, Taxe der Streichinstrumente (Values of Stringed Instruments), had just been published, asking, in German, about two lutes that had been kept in his Bohemian castle, "for a very long time." They had, in fact, been listed in an 18th-century inventory with the label texts that can still be seen inside the instruments today.

After World War II, Carl Des Fours Walderode (shown above holding the Museum's Edlinger lute) brought the lutes to Vienna. On July 28, 1954, Des Fours loaned them to the Sammlung alter Musikinstrumente at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

On June 12, 1979, Carl Des Fours Walderode retrieved the instruments from the Vienna museum. Two days later, he transferred legal title to his wife, Johanna Kammerlander. The photo above shows Carl and Johanna with the two lutes shortly before they were placed in a climate-controlled area built to house the famous art collection of the Prince of Liechtenstein, a family friend, in Schloss Vaduz, the castle overlooking Vaduz, the major town in the principality of Liechtenstein. There the lutes remained until their acquisition by the National Music Museum in 2002. Both lutes retain their original, fitted, leather-covered wooden cases with iron hardware. The Edlinger case is also reinforced with brass studs.

Front of pegbox on Edlinger lute. Back of pegbox on Edlinger lute.

Front and back views of the lute's pegbox. The first single course crosses a chantrelle rider; the twelfth and thirteenth double courses are guided by a bass rider. The instrument was repaired in 1907 by Rudolf Heckel of Dresden, whose repair label is preserved inside the lute. Heckel may be responsible for the rather unrefined open fretwork (Art Nouveau style) on the back of the pegbox (similar to that on NMM 10214).

According to Robert Lundberg (d. 2001), who examined this instrument while it was on loan to the the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (1954-1979), "this lute is one of the few which has a 13-course neck, fingerboard, pegbox, and bridge all by one maker." Several photographs accompany a discussion of it in Lundberg's posthumously published book, Historical Lute Construction (Tacoma, Washington: Guild of American Luthiers, 2002).

Bridge on Edlinger lute, NMM 10213

Close-up of bridge on Edlinger lute.

Capping strip on Edlinger lute, NMM 10213

The capping strip at the bottom of the lute body may have been widened.

For additional information, click here to access a list of publications about this instrument.

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Most recent update: December 7, 2013

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