A 16 5/8 Inch English viola by Alfred Charles Langonet, Rustington circa 1930.

During the 1930s British viola players as a whole became increasingly interested in the sound possibility of larger instruments with George Wulme Hudson, John Wilkinson others producing a number of extremely fine instruments measuring sixteen-and-a-half inches and larger, establishing a fashion that would eventually resulted in the emergence of the Tertis Model viola. Alfred Charles Langonet’s contribution to this period of English making was the development of a long-pattern viola allowing the necessary length for a good sounding c-string but taking advantage of the narrower upper bouts to make the instrument easier to play. Stradivari himself had experimented with the long-pattern as a basis for the viola, of which the Royal Academy of Music’s 1696 “Archinto” is an example, but it seems that Langonet bypassed this entirely to produce his idealised longer model. Typically of the Langonet work of this period, the idealised attitude towards making instruments provides it with beautified Nicolo Amati soundholes on a Stradivari body, mixing the elements of Cremonese making that Langonet found most pleasing.

 

Alfred Charles Langonet joined the RAF during World War II, serving in 209 Squadron Coastal Command, and was rigger on the Catalina flying boat that spotted the Bismarck.

Alfred Charles Langonet in 1942 seated in the blister turret of his Catalina flying boat.

 

Condition notes: The viola is in an excellent state of structural preservation with the exception of the varnish, which has been fully restored.