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Ernst Heinrich Roth, c.1956 Viola

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Ernst Heinrich Roth (b.1877, d.1948) was born in Markneukirchen, Germany, to a violin-maker father – Gustav Robert – who founded a violin shop in 1873. Roth learned to play violin, viola, cello, piano, and trumpet with perfect pitch, also learning excellence in craftsmanship from his father. He travelled extensively and learned from violin makers in Italy, Austria, Hungary, Russia, and France. In 1902 Roth opened his own workshop with his cousin Gustav August Ficker, working from Cremonese models of the early eighteenth century and fostering many apprentices who became well-known violin makers. Roth’s instruments were in demand and he became the most successful luthier in his family. His son Gustav Albert took up the family trade, while another son Ernst Heinrich II developed a business in the United States and through his trading company Roth was able to export violins, double basses, other string instruments, and bows to the North American market. WWII made it difficult for the Roth company to stay alive. Roth’s son eventually had to liquidate but was able to rekindle business after later relocating, and his son carries on the business still.

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