- Watson Forbes
A large viola introduced in 1876 by the German violist Hermann Ritter (b Wismar, Mecklenburg, 16 Sept 1849; d Würzburg, 25 Jan 1926). He studied music at the Hochschule in Berlin and art and history at Heidelberg University. The history of musical instruments attracted him, and profiting by some practical hints in A. Bagatella’s Regole per la costruzione di violini (Padua, 1786), he devoted some time to constructing a large viola. This new instrument, built in Würzburg by K.A. Hörlein (1829–1902), was an exact enlargement of a violin based on the same acoustical properties (the normal viola being a compromise). Tuned like the viola, it had a large body (c48 cm long) intended to improve resonance and tonal brilliance, in contrast to the characteristically veiled and slightly nasal quality of smaller violas. Ritter toured extensively, writing and arranging a great deal of music for his instrument. In ...