Search:
corilon violins

Search

Information archive

More detailed information about stringed instruments and the history of violin making.

Enter archive

corilon violins

H. R. Pfretzschner – a biographical sketch


Hermann Richard Pfretzschner (H. R. Pfretzschner) and the French style in German bow making – notes on life and work of a renowned master and successful entrepreneur


The instrument-making trade in Markneukirchen produced some notable historic personalities, and bow maker and entrepreneur Hermann Richard Pfretzschner ranks as a leading figure amongst them. A pioneer of French bow making in Germany, H. R. Pfretzschner created new standards in his craft. His biography tells the story of the unparalleled ascent of a talented young man whose humble background was a small Saxonian atelier.

Hermann Richard Pfretzschner learned the fundamentals of bow making from his father, Carl Richard Pfretzschner. The family workshop was not one of the top names in the Vogtland region, and it specialised in producing simpler pieces. The profit to be earned from selling such bows was as modest as the demands placed on the craftsman who made them. Nevertheless, Hermann Richard Pfretzschner seems to have demonstrated a versatile talent at an early age; his gift was the sort which was witnessed now and again in his tradition-laden and wide-ranging family tree of luthiers and violin merchants. He was especially accomplished at handling wood, had a good head for business and possessed a gift for music, which let young HR Pfretzschner grow to become an outstanding violinist.

Equipped as he was with such excellent skills, H. R. Pfretzschner left his home in 1872 to apply for a position working at Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume's atelier in Paris, certainly the most important venue in the field of European violin and bow making of the day. The great French master recognized Pfretzschner's gifts – much as he had seen the unrefined and untapped talents slumbering in so many other excellent craftsmen before – and made him his employee and his last major student. This critical period lasted only a few years, a time in which the young Saxonian studied French bow making from a master who had greater knowledge of the field's secrets than anyone else.

After Vuillaume's death in 1875, HR Pfretzschner returned to the family business, eventually establishing his own atelier in 1880. His work introduced contemporary French bow making to Germany. It took special inspiration from François Nicolas Voirin, perhaps Vuillaume's most important employee who had opened his own studio only two years before Pfretzschner's arrival in Paris.

Until the turn of the century, Voirin's bows influenced H.R. Pfretzschner's work, and up until this period, Pfretzschner chose not to jeopardize his reputation or his entrepreneurial successes by experimenting with daring styles. In 1901, the Royal House of Saxony honoured the master by granting him the title "purveyor to the royal Saxonian court," which the Pfretzschner atelier proudly advertised by featuring the royal Saxonian crest in the frogs of their bows. In 1911 he was also named a purveyor to the court of the Grand Duchy of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach, and perhaps it was this now official recognition of his skill that convinced Pfretzschner to expand his range of bow models. From this point on, his bows in the early 20th century were also patterned after other models and sometimes reflected influences derived from English bow making. Hermann Richard Pfretzschner and his employees — including his sons and successors, Hermann and Berthold Pfretzschner — were capable of more than merely reaping the fruits of others' historical labour, however. Their expertise is impressively evident in the artistic bow which H. R. Pfretzschner created at the encouragement of the prominent violinist Prof. August Wilhelmj. This bow can be seen as an expression of his wide-ranging experience as a craftsman and musician, and thus it is rightfully considered the most personal part of his artistic heritage.

In 1914 H. R. Pfretzschner stepped down as the head of his atelier, leaving his sons a well-operated business. The turbulent history of the 20th century left its mark on the Pfretzschners' atelier, but today, the company is back in family hands after an intermezzo as a part of the East German companies PGH Sinfonia and VEB Musima. Once again, the company bears the founder's seal "H R PFRETZSCHNER“ as well as the royal Saxonian crest with justifiable pride.


Some examples of H.R. Pfretzschner violin bows:


H.R. Pfretzschner violin bow, approx. 1940

Tourte model, H.R. Pfretzschner violin bow


Related articles:

Morizot, père et frères: the short history of a great family of bow makers

The Ouchard dynasty of bow makers

E. Sartory: the modern classic of bow making

François Nicolas Voirin and the new French violin bow

Joseph Alfred Lamy père: a key figure in modern bow making

Charles Nicolas Bazin: the great name of Mirecourt bow making

Louis Bazin, Bazin's grandchildren: bow making in turbulent times

François Xavier Tourte, founding father of the modern violin bow

James Tubbs: the classic name in English bow making

Contemporary violin makers - the modern artisans

Overview: “The violin bow”

Eric Blot, expert of Cremona and Italian violin making

W. E. Hill & Sons – on the Mt. Parnassus of the art of violin making

Jean-François Raffin: ten hours - and not a word

Markneukirchen: violin making in “German Cremona”

Mittenwald: violin making “in the midst of the forest”

Mirecourt: the spacious home of French violin making

Hopf: a dynasty of Vogtland violin makers

On the history of industrial factories in Mirecourt

J&A Beare, Beare's and Charles Beare: expertise in changing times

Jérôme Thibouville-Lamy - JTL

Silent electric violins - a guide to technical standards and quality characteristics

Morizot, père et frères: the short history of a great family of bow makers

The Chanot family of violin makers

JB Vuillaume

The Laberte family companies

Couesnon: The third defining element in modern violin making in Mirecourt

How to select a violin, provenance, value and violin appraisal



Product categories:

Antique violins

Fine stringed instruments

German violin bows

Violas

Old cellos

3/4 violins

Cello bows



Corilon violins · Lilienstrasse 2 · D-81669 Munich
Phone: +49 (0)89-444 19 619 · Fax: +49 (0)89-444 19 620
mail@corilon.com · www.corilon.com

New arrivals in our catalogue:
  • Attractive antique c1900 German violin
  • Old French violin from Mirecourt, 1920's
  • Albert August Heberlein jun., Markneukirchen violin
  • Mittenwald violin, Thomas Fürst, approx. 1900
  • Antique French violin, turn of century
  • Markneukirchen viola, Schuster & Co.
  • Jean-Joseph Honoré Derazey: French violin (Hieronymus Köstler)
  • German student violin
  • Mittenwald violin, probably Josef Bitterer workshop
  • 1/2 - rare French violin by Mansuy
  • Mittenwald violin after Guarneri
  • Petite Central Italian violin, late 18th century
  • Excellent quality violin bow, lightweight, Markneukirchen
  • Fine English violin bow, lightweight, silver mounted
  • Dutch bass viol (viola da gamba) by Th. Dellen, Voorburg
  • Professional electric violin (silent violin): Wolfgang Löffler's "e-Strings"
  • German master violin bow, 19th century
  • 19th century French soloist violin after JB Vuillaume
  • Justin Maucotel: A splendid French violin
  • 3/4 - German violin, for Friedrich Herpel
  • Fine Stradivarius copy, Wilhelm Ficker, Markneukirchen
  • Marcus Klimke, contemporary elite master viola
  • Modern Italian violin, Dante Ottani, Padova
  • Cremonese violin, Aude B. Valentini