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Labeled Gasparo da Salo, in Brescia, length of back: 17 3/8 in. (441 mm) with case (3)
Alfred Schmid Nachf.
Léon Eugene Barzin
David Kates
The Kates Family

The first documentation associated with the Gasparo Bertolotti da Salò viola is in 1934 when the instrument was with the Munich firm of Alfred Schmid. The oral tradition relates that the viola was purchased in that year by Léon E. Barzin and sold shortly after to David Kates.
Barzin was the principal violist for the New York Philharmonic under both William Mengelberg and Arturo Toscanini. Encouraged to pursue conducting by Toscanini he joined the American Orchestral Society and became its associate conductor in 1929. In 1930 he founded the National Orchestra Association, America's first teaching orchestra, and along with Lincoln Kirstein and George Balanchine created the New York City Ballet in 1946.

David Kates was born in New York City in June of 1910. The son of an immigrant tailor, Kates's association with the New York Philharmonic began in 1925 when at the age of fifteen he won the coveted Philharmonic Symphony Scholarship allowing him to study with René Pollain and Gaston Déthier and perform with the likes of Georges Enesco and Myra Hess. After graduating from Monroe High School in the Bronx in 1929 he joined the National Orchestra Association where he studied under its founder and pedagogue Léon Barzin. In 1932 Kates joined the St. Louis Symphony under Vladimir Golschmann but by 1933 he had returned to his native New York to play for Arturo Toscanini who had chosen him for the Philharmonic.
In Kates's 43 year career with the "New York Phil" he became its associate principal violist and played under the batons of Toscanini, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Leon Botstein, Leonard Bernstein and Pierre Boulez to name a few.

Kates was one of the founding members of the New York Chamber Ensemble, later to become Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble under Dimitri Mitropoulos, and traveled in a rich musical circle forging professional and social relationships with colleagues like Stanley Drucker, Paige Brook, Felix Galamir, and members of the Tokyo and Julliard String Quartets. The consummate musician he was deeply involved in the Alumni of Philharmonic Scholarship Winners that continued the scholarship program that gave him his start as a professional musician. After his retirement in 1976 Kates continued to perform with regional symphonies with a more relaxed schedule. His philanthropic support of the musical arts continued with his charitable giving to endowed scholarships at Bard College, Peabody Conservatory and LaGuardia High School at Lincoln Center.

The viola by Gasparo Bertolotti da Salò was his primary instrument throughout his career. His talent as a violist and this instrument's tonal quality became one of the facets of the New York Philharmonic's unique sound for most of the 43 years he occupied the section. Upon his death in 2004, the instrument has remained in the possession of the Kates family.

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Lot Essay

Sold with the following documents and images; a certificate, Alfred Schmid Nachf., Munich, November 25, 1934; a letter of the same dated November 20, 1934; an appraisal, Jacques Francais, New York, September 11, 1980; another of the same dated June 30, 1983; two vintage black and white photographs of the instrument; copies of the vintage photographs imaged in the catalogue.

A dendrochronology analysis by John Topham, Redhill, UK, January 26, 2010 in which he wrote, The results show that the date of the youngest rings present on the bass and treble sides of the front were AD 1572 and AD 1571 respectively. His analysis showed a significant cross-match with the treble side of the front of a cello by Gasparo da Salò that was exhibited in the Liutai in Brescia exhibition in 2007 and he wrote,...the similarities can almost suggest the pieces came from the same tree.

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