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io8
THE VIOLA.
between the deeper tuning of the instrument and its dimensions, which are only about one-seventh greater than those of the violin. Tenors were formerly made in several sizes. The ponderous instruments of Gaspar da Salo and other Italian makers are of greater interest to collectors than of practical utility, requiring arms of exceptional length to play them. The large sized Violas were known as the "Viola tenore", and the ordinary sized instrument as the "Viola alto", and the two had often separate parts assigned to them in the same composition, down to the time of Handel. Hence the survival of the two names Alto and Tenor, applied in our own day to the same instrument.
The rich and sympathetic quality of tone of the viola renders it eminently suited for the performance of Noc­turnes, Elegies, and melodies of a pathetic or tragic character. Some beautiful compositions have been spe­cially written for it, and it is to be regretted that these are so very seldom heard in public.
From the penetrating character of the tone, new violas are invariably harsher than new violins or violoncellos, but fortunately several good makers of the last century have left a number of instruments which have now become matured, and the demand being so much less than for violins, a good medium sized viola may often be obtained at about half the cost of a violin of the same quality.
Mr. Hermann Ritter of Heidelberg has in recent years endeavoured to revive the large tenor under the name of Ritter's Viola Alta. Several of these instruments have been made, and they have been used with good effect at the Bayreuth Wagner Festivals.
Vidal's measurements of a Stradivarius Viola dated 1723, are as follows: —
in.
Length of body (from base of button to tail pin) i6s/16
Breadth (upper bouts).........75/10
(lower „ ).........915/32
(inner „ ).........55/!}2
Height of ribs (upper bouts)........ll7/s2
(lower „ )........i9/18
NB. For Guide through Viola Literature see page 179.
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