Cheb Violin Making School

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Houslařská škola Cheb
(Cheb Violin Making School)
formerly Odborná hudební škola
(Professional School of Music)
or Odborná houslařská škola
(Professional Violin Making School)
formerly Violin Making School at Luby
formerly Violin Making School at Schönbach
originally Imperial-Royal Music School at Schönbach
(K.K. Musik-Fachschule)
EstablishedAugust 1, 1873; 145 years ago (1873-08-01)
MissionTraining of Violin-makers
OwnerPublic institution

The Cheb Violin Making School is a public institution in the Czech Republic. It is the outgrowth of the Imperial-Royal Music School, a one hundred and forty-five-year-old institution, located—from inception on August 1, 1873 until 2005—in Schönbach, a town that was renamed "Luby" in 1946. In 2005, the school moved to Cheb.[1] It is the only surviving violin-making school in the Czech Republic, and one of five in all of Europe. Schönbach [2] had been, and still is a town rich in tradition of generations of violin-making dating back to the sixteenth century.


1873–1918, Schönbach, Austria-Hungary

At the initiative of Richard, Ritter von Dotzauer (1816–1887), the K.K. Music School in Schönbach launched on August 1, 1873. Initially, students received instruction in homes, and beginning 1882, at the Schönbach Town Hall. The school was founded exclusively to train musicians. But in October 1903, under professor Josef Anton Pfluger (1874–1914), the school launched a curriculum in string instrument making: violins, guitars, and sheet music publishing. By 1908, the school was predominately filled with students learning the art of violin and guitar making. On June 24, 1911 the foundation stone was laid for the school's first building on Bahnhofstrasse and teaching in that building commenced at the start of 1912.[3]

1918–1938, Schönbach, Czechoslovakia

The musical instrument region, which included Schönbach, had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which collapsed after the end of World War I in 1918.

1938–1945, Schönbach, Germany (during the occupation)

In 1938, following the Great Depression, Germany took possession of the western region of Czechoslovakia known as the Sudetenland, and occupied it until the end of World War II. During this period, there was a sharp decline in the production of musical instruments from the region.

1946–1992, Luby, Czechoslovakia

In 1946, right after World War II, Czechoslovakia restored the pre-1938 border and, among other things, changed the town name of "Schönbach" (a German name) to "Luby" (a Czech name). In 1949, residents with German ethnicity, which included many violin-makers, were expelled from Czechoslovakia. About 1,600 Schönbach instrument makers settled in Bubenreuth of Erlangen, which before then had only about 500 residents. Bubenreuth was, at that time, in the American zone of what became West Germany. Bubenreuth eventually became known as the second Schönbach and even erected a replica of the Luthier statue of Schönbach. Since 1946, Bubenreuth became the third largest center in Germany (behind Mittenwald in Bavaria and Markneukirchen in Vogtland) for the construction of stringed and plucked instruments and accessories.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

Following the 1948 Czechoslovak coup d'état, Czechoslovakia fell under communist rule and the remaining violin making industry in Luby, supported by the Violin Making School, was nationalized under the name Cremona.

1993–2005 Luby, Czech Republic

The Violin Making School continued to train luthiers from around the globe.

2005–present, Cheb, Czech Republic

In 2005, the Violin Making School moved to Cheb.[1]

The Schönbach School[edit]

The phrase, Schönbach School, when used in the context of pioneer luthiers from Schönbach, not the formal school, generally refers to three eras of influential luthiers:

  • Violin-maker, Elias Placht (born 1690), from 1721 is considered the founder of the violin-making school of Schönbach.[13][14] The era of this school extended throughout the 18th century, when more than 40 violin makers resided in Schönbach. Master quality master instruments in Schönbach were built mainly by the Plachta family, but also by Sander, Hoyer, and Schuster families.[15]
  • Beginning in the 1900, when electricity and a railway was introduced to Schönbach, combined with a sharp rise in demand for student instruments (particularly in North American), mass production of orchestral string instruments ensued. In the following years, more than 3000 people are employed in this field. Annual production in Schönbach was around 150,000 instruments. In 1927, a statue of a luthier was erected in Schönbach to memorialize all the unknown luthiers and music instrument masters who contributed to the development of this field in Schönbach region. This era of the Schönbach School was led by Karel Müller, Wilibald Wilfer, Alfred Neudörfer, and later, Josef Pötzl.
  • In the 1970s and 1980s, the Luby School was well-represented by master luthiers Emil Lupač, Karel Zadražil, Josef Budil, Miroslav Pikart, Libor Šefl, and Jan Pötzl, all of whom had worked for the Cremona factory in Luby.

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Rudolf Riedl (born 1920), attended from 1935 to 1937[10][16]
  • Otto Mettal (born 1910)[10]


  1. ^ a b Musikfachschule, Egerer Zeitung, Vol. 61, Issue No. 5, May 2010, pg. 82
  2. ^ How Austria Promotes Her Small Industries, by Edwin G. Cooley, Saturday Evening Post September 16, 1911, pg. 30
  3. ^ Heimatbuch der Musikstadt Schönbach (Music City Schönbach), edited by the Festival Committee for the 650-Year Celebration of Schöenbach, published in Bubenreuth (1969) OCLC 615201359
  4. ^ Vision Bubenreutheum. Musik und Integration, by Chrisian Hoyer, de:Bundesinstitut für Kultur und Geschichte der Deutschen im östlichen Europa
  5. ^ Musik und Integration, Der Museumsverein "Bubenreutheum" – eine Bilanz zwischen Vision und Realität, by Chrisian Hoyer, Museum heute (periodical), Fakten – Tendenzen – Hilfen (2011), pps. 21–23 ISSN 0944-8497
  6. ^ Sudeten German Home Collections from A to Z, edited by Klaus Mohr (retrieved 24 September 2013)
  7. ^ Violin-making museum (retrieved 24 September 2013)
  8. ^ Die Heimatsammlungen der Sudeten — und Ostdeutschen in Bayern: ein Führer zu 86 Heimatsammlungen mit 182 Abbildungen und Einzelkarten, edited by Michael Henker, Munich State Office for the Non-governmental museums in Bavaria (2009), pg. 25 OCLC 643058769
  9. ^ Fünf Jahrhunderte Deutscher Musikinstrumentenbau (Five Centuries of German musical instruments), by de:Hermann Moeck (1987) OCLC 18454978, 75107738 ISBN 3-87549-030-4
  10. ^ a b c Deutsche Bogenmacher (German bow makers) — Book 1 1783–1945; Book 2 1945–2000, by Klaus Grünke, Hans-Karl Schmidt & Wolfgang Zunterer, Obersöchering: Wolfgang Zunterer (publisher) OCLC 159872332, 313743919, 123302328 ISBN 3-00-005839-7
  11. ^ Gemeinde Bubenreuth, Die Geschichte eines Dorfes (Bubenreuth: The history of a village),
  12. ^ Bubenreuth einst und heut (Bubenreuth then and today), by Heinz Reiss (1993) OCLC 165094668
  13. ^ Umění houslařů (Art of Violin Makers), by Vladimir Pilar & Frantisek Sramek, Prague: Panton (1986), pg. 28 OCLC 16708108
  14. ^ Der Musikinstrumentenbau und die Musikfachschule in Graslitz von den Anfängen bis 1945, by Bad Nauheim, Bad Nauheim: Günter Dullat (publisher) (1997), pg. 33 OCLC 40953814
  15. ^ The Violin Makers of Bohemia: Including Craftsmen of Moravia and Slovakia, by Karel Jalovec, London: Anglo-Italian Publication (1959) OCLC 1654419
  16. ^ The Brompton’s Book of Violin & Bow Makers, edited by John Dilworth & John Milnes, London: Usk Publishing (2012) OCLC 818410546


Other violin-making schools[edit]

  • State School for Violin Making and Plucked Instruments in Mittenwald, Germany
  • Ecole Internationale de Lutherie, Marche-en-Famenne, Belgium
  • ILSA, International Lutherie School Antwerpen, Belgium
  • Ecole Nationale de Lutherie, Mirecourt, France
  • The Swiss School of Violin Making, Brienz
  • Ikaalinen Handicraft and Industrial Arts Institute, Ikaalinen, Finland