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Viola by Kurt Lothar Meisel, Lakewood, Ohio, 1956

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NMM 5621.  Viola by Kurt Lothar Meisel, Lakewood, Ohio, 1956 Bass side of viola Back of viola

NMM 5621. Viola by Kurt Lothar Meisel (1929-2011), Lakewood, Ohio, 1956. Serial no. 4. Revised 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 Kurt Lothar and Patricia A. Meisel, Owatonna, Minnesota, 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] / violin maker, from Klingenthal, / "TERTIS-MODEL" Germany / Lakewood Ohio 1956 No. 4. 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: medium to wide grain.

Back:  two-piece, quarter-cut maple from Bosnia: broad curl descending slightly from center seam.

Ribs, Scroll:  maple, similar to back.

Varnish:  orange-brown oil varnish, slightly 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:  425 mm
  Upper bout width:  207 mm
  Center bout width:  153 mm
  Lower bout width:  268 mm
Rib height: 38.2-44.5 mm
Total viola length: 690 mm
    Vibrating string length:  382 mm
Neck length (bottom of nut to ribs): 149 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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