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Viola by Kurt Lothar Meisel, Lakewood, Ohio, 1955

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NMM 5620.  Viola by Kurt Lothar Meisel, Lakewood, Ohio, 1955 Bass side of viola Treble side of viola Back of viola

NMM 5620. Viola by Kurt Lothar Meisel (1929-2011), Lakewood, Ohio, 1955. Serial no. 3. Tertis model. Arthur Richardson (1882-1956), a luthier from Crediton in Devonshire, designed and developed the first Tertis model violas in 1937, for the British performer, Lionel Tertis (1876-1975). It was in 1952, while working in the violin shop of Sidney Cecil Evans in Birmingham, that Lothar was introduced to Tertis. Working from Richardson's plans, Lothar made his first Tertis model viola before moving with his parents to Ohio. Lothar's second and third Tertis model instruments (NMM 5620 and 5621) were made after the Meisel's settled in Lakewood, Ohio. Gift of Neal and Karin (Meisel) Steffenson, Owatonna, 1993.

Lothar Meisel stands in front of display case featuring his two Tertis model violas in the Cutler Gallery at the NMM (2003).

Lothar Meisel



Technical Information


  • Label text in Gothic lettering: [bird on branch] Lothar Meisel [KLM monogram over lyre] / violinmaker from Klingenthal / Germany / Lakewood-Ohio 1955 / No. 3 / TERTIS-MODEL. The bird on the label represents the family branch, known as the "Bird" Meisels.
  • Branded on bridge: OWATONNA/MINN.

Top:  two-piece, quarter-cut spruce: fine to medium grain.

Back:  two-piece, quarter-cut maple from the Carpathian area (Romania): medium curl descending slightly from center seam.

Ribs, Scroll:  maple, similar to back.

Varnish:  golden brown, lightly shaded.

Nut: ebony.

Saddle: ebony.

Pegbox and Scroll

Front view of pegbox Bass side view of pegbox Treble side view of pegbox Back view of pegbox


Back length:  427 mm
  Upper bout width:  209 mm
  Center bout width:  150 mm
  Lower bout width:  269 mm
Rib height: 39.3-45.2 mm
Total viola length: 700 mm
  Stop length:  221 mm
  Vibrating string length:  388 mm
Neck length (bottom of nut to ribs): 159 mm


Lit.:  K. Lothar Meisel with Betty Vos, The Meisel Family Violin Makers:  Klingenthal, Vogtland, Saxony (Ely, Minnesota: Singing River Publications, Inc., 2007).

The NMM preserves violins from each of eight generations of the Meisel family.

Go to Checklist of Bowed Stringed Instruments Made by Members of the Meisel Familiy

Go to the NAMM Oral History Interview Project to see a short video interview with Kurt Lothar Meisel (June 28, 2006)

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Most recent update:   March 8, 2014

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