A 17-inch viola by Rüdolf Hös, Munich circa 1685

Rüdolf Hös was born to an important family of instrument makers in Füssen in 1640, but was sent away to apprentice in Rome sometime around 1663. His application for citizenship of the city of Munich states that he spent 19 years in Italy, working in Bologna and Venice before his return to Germany. Here he worked briefly in Munich, then Augsburg, and returned to Munich to become instrument maker to the Ducal Court, probably in response to the death of Jacob Stainer, who had been supplying the court with instruments up to at least 1680.

The viola is a direct response to Stainer’s large violas, with a similar rib depth and scale, but it is somewhat narrower, making it an eminently more playable instrument. There are sound Italianate features to the instrument, but in this case I feel that his nineteen years in Italy enhance the sale of the instrument, and not its price, since the viola is strongly Northern European in design. That said, his German contemporaries from Füssen who remained in Italy include Matteo Goffriller and David Tecchler.

Altogether a charming historic instrument of considerable rarity with the expected sound of a great 17-inch viola. The present setup optimises a longer string length, to take full advantage of the size. Some restorations, and priced accordingly.