Reconstructing a lute by Sixtus Rauwolf

Jonathan Santa Maria Bouquet

The focus of this project is to reconstruct a lute as originally made by Sixtus Rauwolf. Rauwolf was a lute maker active in Augsburg from 1577 until ca.1625; only six of his lutes are known at the present time, and all of them have been altered to keep up with musical trends throughout the last four centuries. These six instruments encompass the entire extant corpus of the lute making tradition of the late Renaissance in Augsburg. The reconstruction of this lute strives to achieve a conceivable historical correctness. Yet, without any Rauwolf lute in original condition available, or any other lute made in the same city as a means of comparison, and due to the lack of tangible evidence of how he conceived and constructed his instruments, the enterprise of reconstructing an archetypical Rauwolf lute in its intended shape and style is essentially a combination of historical research and creative process.

To understand Sixtus Rauwolf and his work, part of this research aimed to gather biographical, archival and published material, as well as an in-depth study of the documentation of the known extant lutes by Rauwolf held in public and private collections: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Musikmuseet in Copenhagen, The Fugger Museum in Babenhausen, Scenkonstmuseet in Stockholm, and two more in private collections in London. In addition, the research process is solidly based on a thorough study of the lute, its characteristics and construction, during the late Renaissance in Europe through printed music and treatises, iconography, and the extant lutes of that period. Nevertheless, none of these resources suffice individually; the separate pieces of information gathered through research underwent a cross examination, and the unanswered questions were solved by means of a creative process reliant also in lute-making experience and ergonomics. The final result of this project is materialized in the construction of a fully functional lute, as newly-made by Sixtus Rauwolf.

 Edinburgh College of Art thesis and dissertation collection

Reconstructing a lute by Sixtus Rauwolf

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