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corilon violins

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


Notes on Jean-François Raffin, one of the leading experts for French violin bows worldwide


Jean-François Raffin ranks among the most highly regarded experts for French bows, and together with his teacher, Bernard Georges Louis Millant, he published the reference work “L'Archet.” Born in Paris on 20 May 1947, J.F. Raffin began his career during a period in which French violin and bow making was undergoing profound changes. After World War II, France's musical history experienced a long phase of stagnation in which many instrument makers could not re-attain their previous greatness. One example of this is the history of the prominent Bazin family of bow makers. Their story also serves as an illustration of how the artisan trade reoriented in the 1950s to 1970s, an epoch which shaped the path of J.F. Raffin. In 1968, as a young man, J.F. Raffin travelled to Mirecourt to begin his apprenticeship under Jean Eulry (28 June 1910-5 May 1986), the great master teacher in modern violin making. As Jean-François Raffin later described in “L'Archet,” his training there was entirely in keeping with the old French craftsman tradition: “ten hours straight at the bench and ... «not a word».” In 1970 the National School of Violin Making was founded, and by the time J.F. Raffin graduated in 1971 as one of the first ever to complete the program, a new period had already dawned.

Jean-François Raffin initially worked as a journeyman for Etienne Vatelot (b. 13 November 1925), the founder of the Mirecourt violin-making school, but within short order he was hired by Bernard Millant (b. 13 May 1929) in Paris in 1972. There he learned the art of making bows, which would emerge as his true calling. In the seventeen years he spent under Millant, Raffin studied the old masters of bow making; he later opened his own shop in 1989 in Rue de Rome No. 68, remaining right in Bernard Millant's neighbourhood. His wide-ranging knowledge of French bow making helped J.F. Raffin quickly become a sought-after expert, so much so that his own work, which was patterned after the classics of the 19th century, faded into the background. In 1996 he was appointed an appraiser at the appellate court. The highlights of Jean-François Raffin's lifetime oeuvre include his appraisals and restorations of historic master bows, as well as his extensive two-volume work “L'Archet,” which was written from 1996-2000. As a teacher, he also influenced many important bow makers of the younger generation. A look at J.F. Raffin's website (www.jfraffin.fr) gives readers a glance at the current projects of a man who remains active even in retirement.

Jean-François Raffin · 10 Rue de Constantinople · 78008 Paris · FRANCE
Phone: +33 1 55 30 01 47 · info@jfraffin.fr

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New arrivals in our catalogue:
  • Fine master violin by Marcus Klimke, contemporary elite violin maker (certificate Markus Klimke)
  • Excellent French violin bow, Morizot Frères (certificate J.F. Raffin)
  • Fine Italian violin by Mario Gadda, approx. 1960 (certificate Mario Gadda)
  • Fine French master violin, Victor Aubry, Paris 1944
  • WORKED OVER AND TONALLY OPTIMIZED: Ernst Heinrich Roth, fine 1955 violin - Guarnerius model
  • Antique German Saxon violin with a bright, warm tone
  • Antique French 3/4 cello by J.T.L., approx. 1880
  • Good German violin bow, W. E. Dörfler
  • Fine French violin bow by E. Sartory (certificate J.F. Raffin)
  • Fine English violin bow by Frank Napier / W.E. Hill & Sons (certificate Hieronymus Köstler)
  • Mario Gadda, Italian violin after Oreste Candi, 1984 (certificate Mario Gadda)
  • Mario Gadda workshop, Italian violin after Stefano Scarampella
  • Old, 1940's Saxon violin, Markneukirchen, bright warm tones
  • Powerful older silver-mounted violin bow, Germany, by Klaus Ringer
  • Modern violin made in the French style, probably Czech or Hungarian
  • Antique Markneukirchen violin, by Schuster & Co. approx. 1900/1910
  • Antique German violin from Saxony, approx. 1920
  • Old, silver mounted violin bow, after Lupot - noble, classy tone
  • Lothar Seifert, German master violin bow, silver
  • Good quality 1980's German viola bow, silver mounted - warm, large tone
  • Interesting English violin bow, stamped Dodd, 19th century
  • Antique 19th century Mittenwald violin, approx. 1870
  • 3/4 - German student violin, Bubenreuth, 1970ies
  • Rare German-English violin, Arnold Voigt, approx. 1890