Three Miniature Violins

24 • Three Miniature Violins

England, 19th century
20 cm, 14 cm and 14 cm long
Maple, spruce and nylon

All three violins once belonged to the noted violinist and teacher Suzanne Rosza (1923–1995). Born in Budapest to a Jewish family, she played so proficiently that by the age of 10 she was awarded a scholarship to the State Academy, Vienna, where she soon won the prestigious Kreisler Prize. Unfortunately this period also marked the advent of Hitler’s march into Austria and Rosza was strongly advised to go to London, where her teachers’ recommendations ensured a successful application to the cultural attaché at the British Embassy, resulting in visas for both Rosza and her mother. They arrived with a few clothes, Rosza’s violin, and the promise of just £1 per week subsistence, provided by the British Committe for Jewish Refugees.

At eighteen Rozsa was awarded a scholarship to the Royal College of Music where she was to first meet Martin Lovett: fellow student, future husband and founder of the world-renowned Amadeus Quartet. Rozsa founded and led numerous orchestras across the country including English Chamber and Bath Festival orchestras. She gave many solo broadcasts for the BBC, became a distinguished professor and one of Britain’s most respected teachers. She was also the owner of one of the finest collections of miniature violins.

The largest of these examples has a label inside which reads ‘T Jacklin Model Violin Maker, Hull, 1880’. Jacklin is listed in Bulmer’s trade directory of 1892 as a violin maker living at 16a Ocean Place, Hull. The maker of the two smaller violins is unknown but the craftsmanship on all three is exceptional.

Restored in 2018 by J & A Beare Ltd, widely regarded as the pre-eminent business in the field of fine antique stringed instruments.

Suzanne Rozsa in London, 1940s
Suzanne Rozsa in London, early 1940s, with her future husband, Martin Lovett (right), and other founding members of the Amadeus Quartet – Norbert Brainin (left) and Siegmund Nissel (second from left).