A List of Extant Historical Lutes
of the List
of the major goals of scientific research on historical instruments
is to check observations made about single examples against
information on comparable instruments, in order to undertake
classification and evaluations. In the context of his research, begun
in the late 1970s, on geometry, construction, history and
conservation of historical lutes, Friedemann Hellwig began to
assemble an annotated list of surviving instruments. In 1987 when I
assumed his post as conservator of musical instruments at the
Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg, I also took over the
administration of his list of lutes.
list has become the foundation of a database, set up with great
assistence of Sonja Leggewie and after the model of the “Viol-List”
compiled by Peter Tourin and now continued by Thomas MacCracken. It
also includes all entries found in the compilations of Pohlmann and
goal of the Lute Database is to give as comprehensive as possible an
overview of the historical lute-type instruments currently preserved
in public and private collections. The most important aspects seem to
me to be the identification of the instruments, their builders, and
their current location, in order to be able to gain a quick
impression of the surviving work of a master and the state of a
school of construction or a type of lute. The attempt has been made
to collect further information as well.
database is limited to lutes of European origin made before
approximately 1900. The list also contains lutes known from
instrument catalogs, but which must now be regarded as missing or
destroyed during WWII, as well as instruments known from auction
catalogs but whose current whereabouts are not known.
for classification, Hellwig’s graphical arrangement (proposed
in 1981) according to type of neck currently in place on the
instrument seemed to me to be the clearest. All names carry special
meaning limited to a time or region, and despite the attempts by
Spencer and Schulze-Kurz, there appears to be no generally accepted
naming system for lutes within the field of organology.
Explanation of the Database Fields
inv no: The current inventory number for instruments in public
collections. As far as they are known, any previously used numbers
are also referenced. Lost instruments are identified according to the
last known catalog in which they appear.
maker: Name of the maker in modernized, normalized spelling
(after Lütgendorff). Names of repairers, who often undertook
extensive rebuilding, are enclosed in square brackets.
place: Name of the place where the instrument was built,
according to the language spoken there.
date: Date when the instrument was built or, if no date is
available, the approximate time period. Further dates which refer to
indications of repairs or rebuilding appear in square brackets.
signatures and marks: Complete quotation of all label text, often taken from a
catalog or secondary literature. Double slash (//) denotes the start
of a new line. Indication of brand marks or pictorial symbols is in
square brackets, for instance [Anker = anchor].
type: The type of instruments according to Hellwig,
taken largely from his article, “The morphology of lutes with
extended bass strings,” Early Music (October, 1981):
447-454. A key sheet is provided for the letter designations.
rose: Classification of rosette according to Hellwig's
original key sheet (Q-Z), with indication of a triple rose, where
applicable. Sometimes the diameter of the rosette is given. In this case the key covers two pages: Roses page 1 and Roses page 2.
material: Number of ribs and material(s) of the back. Further
indications of materials are included under the rubric “Remarks.”
string disposition: Description of the string disposition commences from the
bass upwards. Arrangement of the courses on different nuts is denoted
by the slash (/), divided according to the model: 13 5x2/ 6x2 + 2x1
(thirteen courses on two nuts, the one bearing five double courses
and the other six double and two single courses of strings).
length, width and depth fields: All measurements appear in centimeters,
but they can be compared only to a limited degree since they are taken from many
different sources whose accuracy and measuring methods vary.
remarks: Indications of decorations and state of preservation.
Some are quotations from catalogs.
literature: As a rule the list cites only
the particular work from which the information was taken. A
bibliography of the lute would be an independent undertaking.
copied by: Indication of originator of the entry:
- collection: Name of the place of preservation and the collection.
Instruments in private collections are entered only generally
according to the place or region, without the name of the owner.
- AB = André Burguete (Dresden)
- AO = Dr. Annette Otterstedt (Berlin)
- AS = Andreas Schlegel (Luzern)
- CR = Christiane Rieche (Halle)
- DH = Daniel Heiman (Libertyville)
- DS = Dr. Douglas A. Smith
- EF = Prof. Dr. Esther Fontana (Leipzig)
- FH = Prof. Friedemann Hellwig (Hamburg)
- GS = Dr. Gerhard Stradner (Wien)
- HvR = Heidi von Rueden (Berlin)
- JC = Jiří Čepalák
- JF = Josef Focht (München)
- KB = Kenneth Be (Cleveland)
- KM = Klaus Martius (Nürnberg)
- MTh = Michael Thames
- SJ = Sonja Leggewie
- SP = Stewart Pollens (New York)
- PK = Peter Király
- RL = Robert Lundberg (+)
- ThD = Dr. Thomas Drescher (Basel)
- ThR = Thomas Riedmiller (Füssen)
- TR = Tiziano Rizzi
- WW = Wolfgang Wenke (Eisenach)
- UL = Urs Langenbacher (Füssen)
Revising, and Expanding the List
of this list is open to all for research purposes. At the time of
this list’s first publication (October 2002), on the World Wide
Web site of the Lute Society of America, the Lautenweltadressbuch
consisted of nearly 700 entries. For a second edition it has been
possible to correct many errors. In spite of the fact that several
instruments have been removed, since they were not real historic
members of the lute family (for instance Swedish theorboes), the list
now contains more than 820 entries.
cooperation of many specialists is vital to attaining as complete a
listing as possible of all extant historical lutes worldwide, as well
as for continuous updating and correction of its information to
reflect transfers of ownership and new discoveries. Therefore I
invite readers to contribute to the database. Please send any new
information (corrections and complementary information) about these
instruments, or about other lutes not already listed, to me via
or paper mail at: