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Images from the Study-Storage Collections

Two 19th-century Mute Violins

Front:  NMM 1300. Violin (mute), England, ca. 1850-1900.
Back:  NMM 4130.  Violin (mute), Markneukirchen and/or Schönbach (Luby), Bohemia, ca. 1870-1910.

Front: NMM 1300. Violin (mute), England, ca. 1850-1900. Mute violin possibly constructed from remains of an early 19th-century English violin, whose scroll, neck, tailpiece, and ebony peg might have been recycled. Anchor-shaped outline with handrest for higher playing positions. Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.

Back: NMM 4130. Violin (mute), Markneukirchen and/or Schönbach (Luby), ca. 1870-1910. Cornerless, guitar-shaped frame cut from one piece of plain maple, with separate, arched maple brace set into top at bridge position. Gift of William E. Gribbon, Greenfield, Massachusetts, 1987.

Mute violins, which have no resonating chamber to amplify the sound, were built so that individuals could practice without disturbing their neighbors.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's father, Leopold (1719-1787), described similar such "practice violins" in his famous violin tutor, A Treatise on the Fundamental Principles of Violin Playing, first published in Augsburg in 1756, the year that Wolfgang was born.

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