Ernest Oscar Schmidt was born in 1891 in Markneukirchen, Germany. He was the son of Ernst Reinhold Schmidt (1857-1928), who ran the renowned E. R. Schmidt & Co. Violin Makers workshop in Markneukirchen. Oscar studied with his father before moving to the United States in 1908 to establish a business in Cleveland, Ohio with his brother Reinhold W. Schmidt (b. 1885), also a violin maker. The Schmidt brothers imported and sold their father's instruments in Ohio, while also building their own. Oscar Schmidt is known for his fine copies of instruments by Stradivari and Pressenda, as well as instruments in the style of J. B. Vuillaume.