Lloyd Loar Mandolin Gibson F-5 # 72857: Ziebarth
Gibson F-5 # 72857 was signed by Lloyd Loar on April 12, 1923. This beautiful, all original example of a Loar F-5 mandolin was found a few years ago in the Minneapolis/St Paul area in excellent original condition, with equally nice Geib and Sons rectangular case. It also has the original Virzi Tone Producer # 10300 intact and unaltered. This mandolin was purchased new and used exclusively by Wallace Ziebarth of Minnesota who performed with the Albert Bellson Quartet. With this instrument, there is a collection of memorabilia associated with Mr. Ziebarth's career and includes music, photographs, articles and concert bills. Photograph included here shows Mr. Ziebarth holding F-5 #72857 in the top left and proceeds clockwise with Clifton Peterson on mandocello, Vergel Vanzora (who was Mr. Bellson's wife) with mandola and Albert Bellson, mandolin, circa late 1920s. Albert Bellson, formerly Alfonso Balassone, and his musically inclined brothers, Louis (father of the famous jazz drummer of the same name) and Julius (well known Gibson employee and historian) emigrated to the United States from St Angelo, Italy. The Bellson brothers eagerly transitioned to American style instruments, and all became players and very active supporters of Gibson mandolins and guitars. These gentlemen were greatly influenced by their teacher Giuseppe Pettine, an amazing virtuoso and incredibly energetic mandolin force in the early 20th century music scene in America. Pettine had arrived with his family to Providence, Rhode Island from Isernia, Italy in 1885. At that time, he was already a mandolin prodigy at the age of 9. During his career, he performed all across the US and Europe and also distributed many copies of his mandolin method. The music magazine, Cadenza (Sept, 1908), had this to say about Pettine: "There is an indescribable something about his performance that awakens a response in the soul of a true musician and Pettine unwittingly revealed the secret of his power and why his playing arouses such universal admiration when he said, 'I love my instrument.' That this love was no passing fancy is proved by his life-long devotion to the instrument. No American mandolinist has accomplished as much." It is easy to see why the Bellsons and the Ziebarths were inspired by this mandolin master. The music that these maestros championed were the works of their contemporary classical composers such as Silvio Ranieri and Raffaele Callace. In fact, Calace dedicated his mandolin Concerto, Op. 113 to Pettine, and based on examination of the stacks of well worn music that is included in Mr. Ziebarth's memorabilia, it appears this must have been in the repertoire of the Albert Bellson Quartet.
Features and appointments on Gibson F-5 # 72857 are consistent with factory specifications for this model and year and include the classic carved top and parallel tone bar construction with f-holes and long, one-piece curly maple neck (which places the bridge in the center of the f-holes); headstock inlay consisting of “The Gibson” and abalone flowerpot; pearl button tuners with notched endplate; hand-engraved tailpiece; pick guard following body points; all hardware silver plated; and a unique light Cremona shaded-sunburst varnish finish. Gibson F-5 # 72857 is excellent condition. There have been no repairs except some very gifted work to address play wear issues; this mandolin is a wonderful and original example of a 1923 F-5, the only significant wear being along the entire length of the back of neck-- the kind of wear that comes from years of skilled execution of demanding classical compositions. Consequently, the tone of this mandolin is one of a well played classical virtuoso, full and rich in every position from the dramatic soar of the bass to the pianissimo trills in the third position--simply magnificent!
When the Ziebarth mandolin came into my hands during this recording session, one would think, clearly, I would be inclined to delve into the classical mandolin repertoire for which this mandolin sings out. This was not the case that day in August. While executing some of those trills in the upper octaves, I became nostalgic for my sweetheart, who was far away at the time. I know she thinks I sing & play the Fats Waller classic "Ain't Misbehavin'" for her beloved Boxer, Elliot, but this was not the case on that day. Whether the idea of Mr. Ziebarth playing side by side with his lovely wife Vergel on mandola inspired me or if I simply found the tones romantic, I cannot say for sure. It is clear that one of the recurrent themes of my career is the connection between love and music. In this, I take great inspiration from the work of the great Renaissance painter Titian, whose "Pastoral Concert" my beloved and I gazed on in the Louvre earlier this year. This is what came to mind as I strummed on Ziebarth's mandolin and I broke into this song. So I hope the memory of the Ziebarths are honored here, as is my own love and connection with Andrea. And as for the Calace? I hope to record something of that nature on a future project!