Viola by Victor Unsworth, Bristol, circa 1980
About Victor UnsworthVictor Unsworth was a student at the Royal Manchester College of Music, learning viola with Frederick Riddle. He had trained as a luthier prior to his studies and made several instruments whilst at music college, including one for his teacher.
After graduation, Unsworth worked as both a player and maker in Bristol and then Gothenburg, finally returning to England and focussing on his making career.
A relatively prolific maker, all of the examples we have seen have been of excellent quality. Unsworth clearly had an excellent eye for the finest details of the Cremonese masters as his instruments are extremely well observed.
About the violaThe viola was made around 1980 and is modelled after the 1696 Stradivari `Archinto´. This instrument was famously part of the quartet of Strads put together by Count Giuseppe Archinto of Milan and later found its way to England, eventually ending up in the collection of the Royal Academy of Music. Widely thought to be one of the finest Stradivari violas in existence, the `Archinto´ is an excellent model to take as inspiration.
The viola has a two piece back of highly figured maple, the figuration descending slightly towards the centre joint. The front is two pieces of straight-grained spruce and the varnish captures something of the famous red colour of the original.
The viola has a length of back of 410 mm or 16 and 1/4 inches.
How does it sound?Just as Unsworth has captured the Archinto Strad in model and varnish, he has also distilled something of the tonal characteristics of Strad violas. This isn´t a dark, Brescian sounding instrument: instead it has excellent projection and a generous, open sound.
ConditionThe viola is in excellent original condition.
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