Gaspard Duiffoprugcar [Tieffenbrucker] was a member of a German family of instrument builders from the village of Tieffenbruck, near Roßhaupten in Bavaria.1For more on Duiffoprugcar see Henry Coutagne, Gaspard Duiffoproucart et des luthiers lyonnais du XVIe siècle (Paris: Fischbacher, 1893). In 1810, Choren and Fayolle, in their Dictionnaire historique des musiciens artistes et amateurs, provided a biographical portrait of Duiffoprugcar’s early career in France:
DUIFFOPRUGCAR, (Gaspard), famous luthier, born in the Tyrol region of Italy toward the end of the fifteenth century. After traveling to Germany, he came to settle in Bologna in the first years of the sixteenth century. François I, King of France, having come to this city in 1515 to establish a charter with Pope Leo X, heard of Duiffoprugcar’s superior talents and made such advantageous offers to this artist as to convince him to come and settle in Paris; the latter accepted them. It appears that the plan of the French monarch was to have the instruments necessary for the service of his chambre and his chapel made in a manner worthy of his age and of his magnificence. It further seems that the cloudy climate of the capital did not suit this artist as he asked for and obtained permission to retire to Lyons, where he probably ended his career. He was still there in 1520.2Al. Choron and F. Fayolle, Dictionnaire historique des musiciens artistes et amateurs, morts ou vivans, qui se sont illustrés en une partie quelconque de la musique et des arts qui y sont relatifs, tels que compositeurs, ecrivains didactiques, théoriciens, poëtes, acteurs lyriques, chanteurs, instrumentistes, luthiers, facteurs, graveurs, imprimeurs de musique, etc. ; avec des renseignemens sur les théâtres, conservatoires, et autres établissemens dont cet art est l’objet. Précédé d’un sommaire de l’histoire de la musique, vol. 1 (Paris: Valade and Lenormant, 1810), 194–95: “DUIFFOPRUGCAR, (Gaspard), célèbre luthier, né dans le Tyrol Italien vers la fin du quinzième siècle, après avoir voyagé en Allemagne, vint se fixer à Bologne dans les premières années du seizième siècle, François I, roi de France, étant venu en cette ville, en 1515, pour établir le concordat avec le pape Léon X, entend parler des talens supérieurs de Duiffoprugcar, fit des offres si avantageuses à cet artiste pour le déterminer à venir s’établir à Paris, que ce dernier les accepta. Il paraît que le dessein du monarque français était de faire fabriquer les instrumens nécessaires au service de sa chambre et de sa chapelle d’un manière digne de son siècle et de sa magnificence. Il paraît encore que le climat nébuleux de la capitale ne convenant point à cet artiste, il demanda et obtint la permission de se retirer à Lyon, où, probablement, il termina sa carrière, il y était encore en 1520.”
No definitive evidence has yet to surface connecting Duiffoprugcar’s relocation to France to overtures from King François I; as was typical in the nineteenth century, Choren and Fayolle do not provide citations. François I certainly met Pope Leo X in Bologna in 1515. During this sojourn the French king recruited Leonardo da Vinci, who lived in France until his death in 1519. As I will discuss below, another branch of the Duiffoprugcar family had a workshop in Bologna, so Garpard Duiffoprugcar’s relocation to this city would have been a logical choice.
It is tempting to imagine musicians at the French court performing on instruments made by Duiffoprugcar. French court records list two musicians as viol players beginning in 1529. Pierre D’Auxerre is documented in payment records as a multi-instrumentalist, including as a performer on viols, for the French court between 1529 and 1572. Jehan Bellac, another court musician who performed on viols among other instruments, likewise appears in court documents between 1529 and 1560.3For documentation of these and other musicians who played viol at the French court in the sixteenth century, see https://thefrenchconsortproject.com/payment-records-for-viol-players-at-the-french-court/ It was only after Duiffoprugcar relocated to France that the French court began to employ these two joüeurs de violle. We lack definitive evidence of who made viols for the French court or where the court acquired them, but mounting evidence points to the transfer of the viol from Italy to France.4See, for example, our Timeline of Viols in Sixteenth-Century France. https://thefrenchconsortproject.com/timeline-of-viols-in-sixteenth-century-france/ Perhaps Duiffoprugcar was a central agent in this transfer.
Duiffoprugcar settled in Lyons in 1533 and became a naturalized French subject in 1558. King Henri II issued “Lettres de naturalité pour Gaspard Dieffenbruger” from Paris in January 1558. The “Lettres de naturalité” begin:
Henri, by the grace of God, King of France, to all present and to come, health. Knowing that we received the humble supplication of our dear and well-loved Caspar Dieffenbruger (German, lute maker, native of Fressin, imperial city in Germany) containing that it has been a long time since he left the place of his birth to come to live in our city of Lyons, where he is at present residing with firm and entire deliberation to live there and to end his days under our obedience and as our true and natural subject if our good pleasure is to hold and receive . . . 5Archives départementales du Rhône, B, Livre du roi, fol. 43.2 and following, 1532–1550: “Henri par la grâce de Dieu, roy de France, à tous présents et advenir, salut. Scavoir faisons nous avoir receu humble supplicacion de nostre cher et bien amé Caspar Dieffenbruger, alleman, faiseur de lutz, natif de Fressin, ville impérialle en Allemaigne, contenant qu’il y a ja longtemps qu’il a laissé ledict lieu de sa nativité pour venir se habiter en nostre ville de Lyon où il est à présent résidant avec ferme et entière délibéracion de y vivre et finir ses jours soulz nostre obéissance et comme notre vrai et naturel subjest si nostre bon plaisir est pour tel tenir et recepvoir . . .”
While evidence is lacking to connect Duiffoprugcar to François I, the fact that Henri II, the second son and successor of François I, referred to him as “dear and well-loved” suggests a royal connection to the Duiffoprugcar workshop and approbation of Duiffoprugcar’s talents as a luthier.
Pierre Woeiriot de Bouzey engraved the following portrait of Duiffoprugcar in 1565, six years before his death.
Among the cluttered pile of string instruments depicted in his portrait is at least one five-string viol with turned-out corners—a distinctive feature on many French Renaissance viols—in the lower right of the image. A colored version of this engraving survives in the front of a manuscript lutebook owned by Philipp Hainhofer (1578–1647), a diplomat, political correspondent, and art collector from Augsburg. Hainhofer is known today for his curation of his own Kunstschränke (curiosity cabinets) and for acquiring objects for the Kunstkammer (art room or curiosity cabinet) of humanist nobles. These curiosity cabinets often included collections of musical instruments and chests of viols.6See chapter 4 of Rebecca Cypess, Curious and Modern Inventions Instrumental Music as Discovery in Galileo’s Italy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016). The lute manuscript, today held in the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, was assembled in Augsburg around 1604.
It is possible that Duiffoprugcar became acquainted with five-string viols before he permanently relocated to Lyons. Both German and French sources describe five-string viols, albeit with different tuning systems. In Martin Agricola’s treatise Musica Instrumentalis deudsch (first published in 1529), he presents fretted “grossen Geigen” with either five or six strings tuned in fourths with a third.7Martin Agricola, Musica instrumentalis deudsch, ynn welcher begriffen ist, wie man nach dem Gesange auff mancherley Pfeiffen lernen sol, auch wie auff die Orgel, Harffen, Lauten, Geigen, vnd allerley Instrument vnd Seytenspiel, nach der rechtgegründten Tabelthur sey abzusetzen (Wittenberg: G. Rhaw, 1529). After multiple reprints, Agricola released an extensively revised edition of his treatise in 1545. In it he introduces the “grosse welsche geigen” (large foreign, i.e. Italian, geigen), a family of instruments that has frets with four or five strings tuned in fourths with a third.8Martin Agricola, Musica instrumentalis deudsch, ynn welcher begriffen ist, wie man nach dem Gesange auff mancherley Pfeiffen lernen sol, auch wie auff die Orgel, Harffen, Lauten, Geigen, vnd allerley Instrument vnd Seytenspiel, nach der rechtgegründten Tabelthur sey abzusetzen (Wittenberg: Georg Rhau, 1545). Hans Gerle, in his Musica Teutsch auff die grossen und kleinen geygen (German Music for Large and Small Geygen) first published in 1532, likewise claims that the fretted “grossen Geygen” (i.e. viols), have five or six strings tuned in fourths with a third.9Hans Gerle, Musica Teusch/auff die grossen und kleinen Geygen/ auch Lautten/ welchermaßen die mit grundt und Art jrer Composicion/auß dem gesang in die Tabulatur zu ordnen vnd zu setzen ist/sampt verborgener Applicacion vnd Kunst/darin ein ytlicher Liebhaber und anfenger berürtes Instrument so darzu naigung dregt an ein sunderlichen Meyster mensurlich durch Tegliche Ubung leychtlich kumen kann […] (Nürnberg: Hieronymus Formschneider, 1532) 2nd ed. 1537; 3rd ed., 1546. Gerle included a woodcut depicting both a five-string viol and a six-string viol.10For more on these and other sixteenth-century German treatises, see Bettina Hoffmann, The Viola da Gamba (London: Routledge, 2018), 90–97.
Intabulations for five-string viols, which survive in these German sources and which existed in a now-lost French source, reflect the popularity of amateur consort playing by the middle of the sixteenth century. Following his introductory treatise on how to play viols, Gerle includes intabulations (in German lute tablature) of German Tenorieder and Psalm settings for consorts of four viols. Like Claude Gervaise, who intabulated ten chansons for viol consort using French lute tablature (and also presented the same chansons in mensural notation) in his lost Premier livre de violle contenant dix chansons (Paris, c. 1547; 2nd. ed. 1554), Gerle intabulated examples from genres that appealed to bourgeois amateur musicking. Both Gerle and Gervaise published tutors aimed at helping the amateur public quickly get up to speed with playing consort music socially. By presenting the four-part settings in tablature instead of in mensural notation, both authors allowed amateur musicians to skirt hours of instruction in music theory and in learning how to read mensural notation. Gerle responded to changing tastes of bourgeois consumers in his 1546 publication Musica und Tabulatur auff die Instrume[n]t der kleinen und grossen Geygen auch Lautten; he intabulated French chansons.11Hans Gerle, Musica und Tabulatur auff die Instrume[n]t der kleinen und grossen Geygen auch Lautten: welcher massen die mit grundt und art irer Composition aus dem Gesang in die Tabulatur zu ordnen und zu setzen ist (Nürnberg: J. Formschneyder, 1546). In 1523 or 1524, a Bavarian of the merchant class named Jorg Weltzell also intabulated, among other pieces like dances and the the “Cum sancto spiritu” from Josquin’s Missa De Beata Virgine, German Tenorlieder (again using German lute tablature) in a notebook.12Jorg Weltzell, “Mathematik- und tabulaturbuch des Jorg Weltzell” (1523–1524) Universitätsbibliotek Munich, 4° Cod. ms. 718. Full text accessible online: https://epub.ub.uni-muenchen.de/24888/ For more on this manuscript see Ian Woodfield, The Early History of the Viol (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 111–115. Bettina Hoffman decodes his tunings (fourths with a third), which are identical to Gerle’s tunings.13Bettina Hoffmann, The Viola da Gamba (London: Routledge, 2018), 120–121. Again Weltzell’s manuscript preserves intabulations of consort music of four-part songs suitable for bourgeois musicking.
Gaspard Duiffoprugcar was living in Lyons when the Huguenot Lyonnais composer Philibert Jambe de Fer (1515–1566) published his L’Épitome musical des tons, sons et accordz, es voix humaines, fleustes d’Alleman, flesustes à neuf trous, violes, & violons (1556). In the chapter about violes, he asserts that it was “an instrument played by gentlemen, merchants, and other men of virtue.”14Philibert Jambe de Fer, L’Épitome musical (Lyons: 1556), 62: “Nous appellons violes c’elles desquelles les gentilz hommes, marchantz, & autres gens de vertuz passent leur temps.” Once again the amateur status of the instrument is affirmed. With his shop in Lyons and a renowned family name of lute and viol builders, Duiffoprugcar would have been poised to sell five-string viols to the bourgeois “men of virtue” described by Jambe de Fer. Perhaps the viol with ornate marquetry depicted in Jambe de Fer’s treatise was modeled after one of the renowned luthier’s instruments.
Although five-string viols were tuned differently in Germany and in France, Gaspard Duiffoprugcar presents a point of intersection between the two traditions of performing on five-string viols in amateur consort playing.
The Duiffoprugcar workshop in Lyons also maintained strong ties to an Italian branch of this family of luthiers and instrument wholesalers. Due in part to the propensity of family members to name their sons after themselves and in part to an incomplete historical record, the family lineage has been the topic of much scholarly debate and confusion. The elder Ulrich (I) [Odorico, Rigo] Tieffenbrucker (d. before 1560) established the Italian branch in Venice and Bologna. Ulrich (I) had three sons: Magno (I), Ulrich (II) [Odorico, Rigo), and Jacob.15For more on the Venetian branch of the family, see Stefano Pio, “The Tieffenbrucker family and its collaborators,” in Viol and Lute Makers, Venice, 1490–1630, ed. by Stefano Pio, 262–343 (Venice: Venice Research, 2011); Giulo M. Ongaro, “The Tieffenbruckers and the Business of Lute-Making in Sixteenth-Century Venice,” The Galpin Society Journal 44 (1991): 46–54. Ulrich (II) Tieffenbrucker was described as a “lute maker” in a 1567 document and had an instrument workshop in Venice called all’Albero verde (The Green Tree). Magno (I) had a workshop named all’Aquila negra (The Black Eagle) in Venice and produced three sons: Magno (II), Moisé, and Abraam. After the death of Magno (I), his two sons Magno (II) and Moisé ran The Black Eagle workshop.
The two brothers bought Abraam out of the family business because he seems to have been equally poorly suited at handling his personal finances as he was talented at attracting legal trouble. Although all three brothers were accused of Lutheran heresy by a servant in 1565, they were not subjected to any consequences at that time. Abraam, however, was again accused of Lutheran heresy by the Inquisition in 1575, and witnesses stated that he travelled regularly to “French lands” carrying several hundred ducats worth of lutes. This time Abraam was accused by the family of the painter Domenico Misani of marrying and abandoning Misani’s daughter. He appears to have went into hiding, and a Father Inquisitor charged with locating Abraam corresponded to the court of Venice in a letter about the matter:
With the great secrecy and diligence of which I am capable and in response to the orders given to me by your honor, I have looked and looked for Abraam lautarao but never found him. It is true, however, that 19 or 20 days ago someone alerted me of the presence of a lute player, not a maker, who trades lutes with Lyons and transports five or six hundred scudi of them there at a time. His name is Simonetto, a small and false man, and from what I hear he does not have a good reputation with regards to his faith. It could be him, the one about whom you have written me, having changed his name. In my opinion it would be better that you not only write his name, as you already did, but his features, where he comes from, and if he has family and where, because that is how we will find information about him. If he is the one you are looking for, we can arrest him on his way back from Lyons. I write this offering from my heart and I send back the [??] of your holiness according to your orders. Vicenza, August 6, 1575.16Quoted in Stefano Pio, “The Tieffenbrucker family and its collaborators,” in Viol and Lute Makers of Venice 1490–1630, ed. Stefano Pio (Venice: Venice Research, 2012), 278–279: “Con quella maggior segretezza et diligenza a me possible conforme alla comissione datami da lei per due sue amorevolissime, è stato cercato et ricercato Abraham lautaro, né mai è stato ritrovato, è vero però che 19 o 20 giorni sono si passati di qui da quando son avisato uno che suona di liuto, no fa liuti, ma che fa mercantie et porta a Lione liuti per cinque et seicento scudi per volta, il cui nome è Simonetto uomo picciolo contrafatto et per quanto sento, non di troppa buona fama intorna alla fede, et potria esser questo, di cui ella mi scrive, et che si fosse mutato il nome, poi al mio giudizio sarà ben fatto che non solamente mi scriva il nome come ha scritto per tra adesso, ma anco le fatezze sue, di che paese è, et se qui ha famiglia, o dove, perché per tal via si potrà meglio venir all’intento suo, et se questo sopradetto fusse quello che si cerca, nel ritorno suo, che egli farà da Lione, si potrà esseguirgli contro: in questo mentre m’offerisco di cuore, et gli rimando la [?] de i SS Clarizzimi secondo l’ordine suo. Vicenza lì 6 agosto 1575.”
Relying on this letter and other documentary evidence, Stefano Pio has argued that Abraam was using the identity of Simonetto, which he appropriated from the deceased trader of lutes known as Simone of Vicenza or Simone Cerdonis. While living, this Simone was both a commercial partner and a friend of the Tieffenbrucker family. According to Pio’s argument, then, Simonetto/Abraam was avoiding Venice by exporting lutes by land routes from Vincenza to Lyons, where he had family connections through his uncle Gaspard’s shop. Although Gaspard Duiffoprugcar had died in Lyons in 1571, his son Johann [Jean] continued to operate the workshop in Lyons from his father’s death until at least 1585.17Ian Harwood and Giulio Ongaro, “Tieffenbrucker” Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 3 Jan. 2021. https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.27940 Another of Gaspard’s sons, also named Gaspard, moved to Paris upon the death of his father and established a workshop on rue Pot-de-Feu. If the two branches of the family maintained a working relationship, then it is probable that the Duiffoprugcars living in France imported instruments (or wholesale parts) from their Italian relatives and sold them in their shops.18For the most complete family tree of the Venetian branch of the Duiffoprugcar luthiers, see Stefano Toffolo and Maria Pia Pedani, “Una famiglia di liutai tedeschi a Venezia: i Tieffenbrucker,” Il Fronimo XIII (1985): 56–62.
Pio has further discovered two Brescian documents that provide evidence suggesting that Simonetto/Abraam, while en route from Vicenza to Lyons, stopped in Brescia to purchase bowed string instruments from Gasparo da Salò. Both documents identify Simone dal Liuto as purchaser of two violins from Gasparo da Salò in 1580, five years after the letter between a Father Inquisitor and the court of Venice.19Stefano Pio, “The Tieffenbrucker family and its collaborators,” in Viol and Lute Makers of Venice 1490–1630, ed. Stefano Pio (Venice: Venice Research, 2012), 277–283. Gasparo da Salò further lamented in 1588 that “my business does not go to France as usual” (. . . per non andar l’arte mia nella Franza secundo il solito . . .) suggesting that the death of Simone dal Liuto around 1580 interrupted this trade route of instruments between Brescia and France.20Stefano Pio, “The Tieffenbrucker family and its collaborators,” in Viol and Lute Makers of Venice 1490–1630, ed. Stefano Pio (Venice: Venice Research, 2012), 282–83. If it is true that Abraam Tieffenbrucker, in hiding from the Inquisition, adopted the name of his deceased lute-playing friend Simone dal Liuto, and if it is true that Abraam was the purchaser of bowed string instruments from the shop of Gasparo da Salò, then it is likely that Gaspard Duiffoprugcar (and after his death, his sons) sold Venetian lutes and Brescian bowed instruments in France. In a future blog post I will provide an overview of the extensive evidence of the circulation of Italian bowed string instruments in sixteenth-century France, but for now it will suffice to point out that inventories made after the death of Parisian facteurs d’instruments in the 1580s prove that Brescian bowed string instruments, especially violins, and Venetian lutes were sold in France.21For two examples, see: 01 October 1587 Inventory after death of Claude Denis, facteur d’instruments: Archives nationales, Minutier central des notaires de Paris, Document XXII; 11 October 1589 Inventory after death of Robert Denis le jeune, facteur d’instruments: Archives nationales, Minutier central des notaires de Paris, Document XXIII. Comparing their appraised values to the values provided for domestic instruments in these inventories suggests that Italian stringed instruments were highly prized in sixteenth-century France.
The Peter Tourin/Thomas MacCracken list of extant historical viols lists twelve surviving viols attributed to Gasparo da Salò. The attribution of some of these instruments has been disputed. While many of these viols are hourglass- or guitar-shaped instruments, several are instruments with turned-out corners, like most depictions of French Renaissance viols.22For another instrument with turned-out corners attributed to da Salò, see the tenor or lyra viol in the cité de la musique collection https://collectionsdumusee.philharmoniedeparis.fr/doc/MUSEE/0161773 Other Brescian instrument builders of the sixteenth-century also produced viols with turned-out corners (See this previous blog post about Micheli viols). The instrument attributed to Gasparo da Salò in the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford University (pictured below), for example, has turned-out corners.
John Pringle made technical drawings of this instrument in 1979. It has a carved central integral bass bar and lacks a soundpost plate, suggesting it did not originally have a soundpost. The soundholes are reminiscent of those on a five-string French viol depicted by Jacques Cellier for Françoys Merlin sometime between 1583 and 1585:
Françoys Merlin was the controlleur général of house of the recently deceased Marie-Élizabeth of France, the daughter of Charles IX.
While many lutes attributed to the Tieffenbrucker family survive, only three viols attributed to Gaspard Duiffoprugcar have survived, and all three have been discredited. One of these instruments is known as the “Plan de Paris,” or “Map of Paris,” viol, which is today part of the collection of the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Brussels.
The “Plan de Paris” viol was purchased by Victor Mahillon for the collection of the Brussels Conservatoire from a M. Depret of Nice in 1889. Luthier and restorer Shem Mackey, in a recent article in Early Music, has offered convincing evidence that “the shape and construction details of this viol place it firmly in the second half of the 1600s and within the French/English style of making.” He further argued that “There is no doubt that the greater portion of this viol was made by Michel Colichon.”23Shem Mackey, “The ‘Plan de Paris’: who made this viol?,” Early Music 47 no. 4 (2019): 479–97. Despite his attribution, Mackey concedes that “The general layout and design of this pegbox would suggest that it may have originally belonged to a five-string viol.”24Shem Mackey, “The ‘Plan de Paris’: who made this viol?,” Early Music 47 no. 4 (2019): 481.
The two other viols attributed to Duiffoprugcar also both have similar elaborate ornamentation. One of these instruments in the Hague and the other in a private collection.
Mackey argues that while “the similarity of the marquetry and carvings might suggest a similar origin,” “the same cannot be said of the instruments themselves.” He posits the existence of now-lost additional decorated viols and asks: “Is it likely that all three were acquired and/or constructed with a view to creating a set of instruments united through decoration, using them as a canvas?”25Shem Mackey, “The ‘Plan de Paris’: who made this viol?,” Early Music 47 no. 4 (2019): 494.
Are any parts of any of these viols therefore related in any way to Gaspard Duiffoprugcar? At this time it remains impossible to state with certainty. The “Plan de Paris” viol includes a handwritten inscription on the back: “This viola da gamba was made by Duiffoprugcar in Paris in 1515 and belonged to François I. By Dr. de Chox de Fayolle. 1830” followed by the signature of the nineteenth-century French luthier Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume.26Shem Mackey, “The ‘Plan de Paris’: who made this viol?,” Early Music 47 no. 4 (2019): 479: “Cette Viole da Gambe faite par Duiffoprugcar à Paris en 1515 a appartenu à François premier. Par la Dre de Chox de Fayolle. 1830” The inscription in pencil is difficult to read today and Mackey relies on an exhibition catalog. I believe it more likely reads “Drs. Choren and Fayolle,” the authors of the nineteenth-century dictionary entry on Duiffoprugcar that began this essay. It became fashionable in the nineteenth century for French luthiers like Vuillaume to put false labels in violins reading “Gaspard Duiffoprugcar,” some of whom even carved a scroll in his likeness based on the bearded engraving produced in the sixteenth century. While none of these three viols are examples of the craftsmanship of Duiffoprugcar, perhaps the originally five-string peg-box of the “Plan de Paris” viol was repurposed by Michel Colichon sometime between c. 1683 and 1693 from a dilapidated viol by Duiffoprugcar. Mackay, while creating an eloquent argument for Collichon’s involvement in the construction of this viol, still admits that the instrument is “without question, a composite.”27Shem Mackey, “The ‘Plan de Paris’: who made this viol?,” Early Music 47 no. 4 (2019): 479. While the answers we seek elude us, they nevertheless remain important modes of inquiry. These three viols are the only extant viols that were at one point attributed to Gaspard Duiffoprugcar. If any of their parts were created by Duiffoprugcar, they would represent the only surviving components of historical viols created in sixteenth-century France. Then again, perhaps these “French” viols were imported Italian instruments made by a Bavarian family network.