Sprenger Geigenbau is the oldest shop for stringed instruments in Switzerland. The original workshop was established in 1917 by the dynasty founder Fritz Sprenger in St. Gallen (Saint Gall or Saint Gallen), then situated at Metzgergasse. Some years later the atelier moved to Neugasse. It is currently led in fourth generation by Raffael Sprenger.
A second shop was opened in 1998 in Bern, where Andreas Kürzi, Martin Köhler and Elisabeth Veit are on hand to offer you expert help and advice.
Thanks to its long tradition, Sprenger Geigenbau has built up an impressive collection of instruments and bows, as well as a constantly growing knowledge which has been passed on from generation to generation.
The company’s founder, Fritz Sprenger, is born in Arbon, in the Canton of Thurgau in 1879. He has a strong interest in violin making already whilst at school.
At the age of 23 he begins his career in earnest. By 1904 though self-taught, he has built four violins, the last of which attracts the attention of the Zurich based maker J.E. Züst. Züst is so enthusiastic about this violin that he immediately offers Fritz Sprenger a position in his shop. He works with Züst for eight years.
In 1917 Fritz Sprenger opens his own business in St. Gallen, next to the market place.
In his working life, he builds approximately 70 violins a large number of which are still played and appreciated today. He dies in St. Gallen at the age of 57.
Arnold Sprenger is born in St. Gallen in 1912. He gets his training as a violin maker in his father’s Fritz workshop. Then he spends some time abroad for further training.
At the end of 1947 he passes the exam to the Swiss federal violin making master. In the following years, he increasingly specializes himself in the restoration and repair of old stringed instruments.
With the support and competence of Arnold Sprenger, the textile industrialist Rolf Habisreutinger builds his world-famous Stradivari collection, today’s “Stradivari-Stiftung Habisreutinger”. Many of the foundations fantastic instruments by Antonio Stradivari go through Arnold Sprenger’s atelier and are restored and maintained here.
Arnold Sprenger chairs the Association of Swiss Master Violin Makers (now SVGB) for more than 20 years. He dies in St. Gallen in 1992.
Christoph Sprenger represents the 3rd generation of Sprenger Geigenbau. He is born in St. Gallen in 1946 as the son of Arnold Sprenger. Between 1964 and 1968 Christoph attends the Swiss violin making school in Brienz. Afterwards, Christoph Sprenger continues his education in various violin making workshops.
In 1971 he starts working in his father’s workshop. After having successfully passed the Swiss Master exam, Christoph Sprenger specializes in the care, restoration and repair of fine old instruments.
In 1981 he takes over the management from his father Arnold. Even after taking over the company, Christoph maintains a constant exchange with professional colleagues all over the world and thus keeps his knowledge up to date.
Christoph Sprenger is retired. However, his very broad and deep knowledge is still important for our shop. His opinion is often consulted for expertise and valuations.
Raffael Sprenger is born in 1976 to Christoph Sprenger. From 1997 to 2002 he attends the world-famous violin making school in Cremona. In the world’s most traditional “violin town”, where the spirit of Stradivarius, Guarneris and Amatis can still be felt, he sets the foundation for his work at Sprenger Geigenbau.
In order to specialize himself in the restoration of stringed instruments, he deepens his skills in workshops in Bern and St. Gallen, before moving to renowned ateliers in London and Germany. Since summer 2005 he is working at the workshop in St. Gallen, which he takes over in 2012.
Thanks to his long-term stays abroad, Raffael has excellent contacts with both younger and renowned violin makers around the world. These contacts are an excellent addition to the existing experience of Sprenger Geigenbau.
Raffael Sprenger was a board member of the Swiss Association of Violin and Bow Makers (SVGB). Furthermore, he was a member and expert of the board at a federal exam for violin making masters.