Viola da gamba Tenor

Gasparo da Salò (Brescia, c. 1570)

Catalog 96. Viola da gamba, tenor – Gasparo da Salò – Brescia, ca. 1560-70




Gasparo da Salò at an exhibition, Austria

Comparison of the f-holes of our tenor viol with one from a certified viola by this Brescian master confirm beyond all doubt the authorship of Gasparo da Salò, thus indicating a date of origin of circa 1570. (Contrary to other cities, the labels in Brescian instruments rarely showed the date) The tenor viol will be analysed dendrochronologically as soon as it arrives from France, where it has just been purchased.

José Vázquez and the luthier, Roland Houël examining the viol on the day of arrival in Thoiry, France.
Roland was responsible for finding this viol.

José Vázquez and Roland Houël in an exhalted state after examining all of the interior of the Gasparo da Salo
tenor viola da gamba in the house of Claudine Salomon, Thoiry, France.


An extremely rare example of a tenor viola da gamba by one of the most illustrious figures in violin making of all ages, Gasparo da Salò (1542-1609), founder of the Brescia School  and teacher of Giovanni Paolo Maggini (see Nr. 99).  The body of this instrument is almost intact, containing all of the interior bracings and the transverse bars of the belly. The neck and head are recent additions, which will be replaced as soon as the instrument is given over to restoration.

The acquisition of this highly important viola da gamba, a sensational event for the collection, was made possible only by the generous contributions of several friends and supporters of Orpheon: Jürg Merki, Angelika Thomas, Peter and Susanne Bosshard, Ruth Feller and others. Tenor viols are excedingly rare, almost never coming up for sale anywhere. It is for this reason that Orpheon wishes to expressly thank these patrons for their spontaneaous offer of financial assistance toward this purchase. Without their help, this instrument may never have been heard again on any concert stage; with their help, this instrument will remain in the hands of performers for a very long time to come.


The Italian Renaissance and Early Baroque viols in concert
Music for Charles V and Philip II – Cristóbal de Morales: Clamabat autem mulier


Dendrochronology: bass: 1512-1417 treble: 1515-1435



Body length 610 mm
Upper width
Middle width mm
Lower width mm
Rib height  mm
String length mm