The bow makers of Markneukirchen
As the art of building instruments flourished in Markneukirchen, it had several effects which not only included in a greater division of labour in violin making. In addition, related businesses evolved: manufacturers began producing strings, and bow makers opened studios which rank among the oldest and most important in Germany. Despite the fact that efforts to establish a separate guild of bow makers failed in 1790 due to opposition from the violin makers' guild, this nevertheless reflects that manufacturing bows had become its own distinct tradition in Markneukirchen.
One of the first to make bows in Germany was Christian Wilhelm Knopf (1767-1837), the pater familias of a large line of bow makers. As a brilliant master and the inventor of the metal eyelet for the frog, he continued the tradition of the European pioneers of bow makers, John Dodd (1752-1839) and François Tourte (1747–1835). C. W. Knopf's descendants went on to make names for themselves far beyond the Vogtland region; here special mention should be made of J. Wilhelm Knopf (b. 1835), whose contemporaries regarded him as the country's finest bow maker.
Hermann Richard Pfretzschner (1857–1921), son of an important Markneukirchen family of violin makers and merchants, attained international acclaim: the last major student of J. B. Vuillaume was the pioneer of French bow making standards in Germany.
August Rau (b. 1866) produced outstanding violin and cello bows which can hold their own in comparisons to French masterpieces. After his apprenticeship in Markneukirchen, he studied under Wilhelm Knopf and A. R. Weichold in Dresden before returning to his hometown to open his own workshop. He used his excellent craftsmanship to craft pernambuco wood into both light and heavy bows.
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Read more about the history of bow making in our introduction "The violin bow" ...