The German Musical Instrument Award for 2018, due to be presented for the 28th time at the Frankfurt Musikmesse (11th to 14th April 2018) are a vote for the traditional instrument sector, being awarded to Wappenbratsche (Escutcheon Viola) by Steffen Friedel Streichinstrumentenbau and the Oboe Model 155 AM by Gebrüder Mönnig Holzblasinstrumente GmbH.
The awards ceremony will be held for invited guests in the ‘Rotunde’ of the Festhalle on 13th April 2018.
The extravagant design of Steffen Friedel’s Wappenbratsche viola is inspired by the F-holes of a Campanula by H. Bleffert and the peg box of the 1720 ‘Gillott’ Dancing Masters violin by A. Stradivari. Steffen Friedel has followed an unusual career path. Before turning to music, worked as a mechanic in the metal industry and as a geology technician for hydrogeology. In 2009, he began to train as a violin maker. In 2010, he became self-employed, in 2016 he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in string-instrument making and, at the beginning of 2018, passed the master craftsman’s examination in violin making. Steffen Friedel makes violins, violas and cellos in the traditional Italian style.
The ‘Wappenbratsche’ viola (body length: 415 mm) is made of high-grade Tyrolean spruce for the top and Bosnian maple for the back. The instrument is finished in linseed-oil varnish based on dammar and copal.
The Oboe Model 155 AM, Gebrüder Mönnig Holzblasinstrumente GmbH, from Markneukirchen also comes from a company with an interesting history. Until the 1950s, Gebrüder Mönnig was considered to be the world’s leading oboe manufacturer, with its bassoons and clarinets also firmly established in the world’s biggest orchestras. Under the post-war Communist regime and inevitable nationalisation, the company suffered what is euphemistically described as a period of ‘stagnation’ and a considerable decline in reputation and image. Things changed after 1990 and Gebrüder Mönnig are once again supplying instruments to some of the world’s leading musicians.
The Model 155 AM oboe is made of untreated, polished Grenadilla wood with gold-plated mechanical parts and is fitted almost completely with silicone-coated cork pads. The adjustment screws are all made of ‘Nirosta’ stainless steel and, in certain cases, have Teflon inserts.