Pöpel and Kurzendörffer: The Mists of Time Demystified

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Just three Vogtland instruments exist from before 1700. All violas, they were made by two of the founders of the region’s first violin making guild.Klaus Martius  explores what we know about the mysterious Johann Adam Pöpel and Johann Adam Kurzendörffer

In the musical instrument collection of Nuremberg’s Germanic National Museum there are two instruments of the violin family that are of particular interest: the violas of Johann Adam Pöpel and Johann Adam Kurzendörffer. In 2019 the musical instrument museum of Markneukirchen acquired a second viola attributed to Pöpel, giving a chance to re-appraise the other two instruments alongside it, and examine what they can tell us about the fledgling violin making traditions of the region. For there is no doubt among musicologists and violin historians that these three violas represent the oldest surviving violin-family instruments built in the Vogtland region, or in western Bohemia.

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