In Focus: A 1932 tenor viola by Jacint Pinto

Front body

Jordi Pinto examines an unusual tenor viola made by his own great-uncle, Jacint Pinto

Violas have always been in constant evolution since the earliest times. There has always been a demand for a viola small enough to be played without extra effort, but big enough to have a powerful sound. How to solve the puzzle?

Ramón Parramon (1880–1955) thought the modern viola sound was closer to that of violins than cellos, so he took inspiration from the 1690 ‘Medici, Tuscan’ Stradivari tenor viola to create a full-sounding viola with its own personality. Two important musicians endorsed this new instrument: Pablo Casals openly backed the tenor viola, as can be seen in some of The Strad’s advertisements of the 1930s; and Bernardino Gálvez Bellido – the cello soloist of the Pau Casals Orchestra – played it in many concerts around Spain and even in France…

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