Wednesday, 7 December 2011

German violin-making dynasty celebrated in Bluegrass Unlimited

In the December 2011 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine, Dick Kimmel (above right) contributes an article on a nine-generation dynasty of German violin makers, with special reference to the last member, (Kurt) Lothar Meisel, born in 1929 in Klingenthal, near the Czech border.

Lothar Meisel qualified as an assistant violin maker before leaving Klingenthal in 1949, working subsequently in West Germany, in England, and finally in the USA, where he settled in Minnesota (Kimmel's home state). He made over 240 instruments, which are highly regarded; some are played by American old-time and bluegrass fiddlers. A collection of his instruments is in the National Music Museum, University of South Dakota, in Vermillion, SD. He also co-authored a history of the luthiers of his family (see photo above left).

Lothar Meisel made his last violin in 2005 and died on 22 September this year. Obituaries can be found on the internet. Dick Kimmel (who as chairman of the IBMA international committee encouraged the developments that led to the founding of the EBMA), has performed bluegrass and old-time music many times in Europe.