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corilon violins

The violin bow: a brief depiction of its history


The history of the violin bow is the history of a violin's sound. A brief historical overview


The history of the violin bow is a frequently neglected chapter in the annals of violin making. To put it in other words, it is a central chapter in the history of instruments, given that it is the very history of the sound of a violin. The violin bow is what first brings the voice of a violin to life, and the composition of the stick, frog, head and horsehair reveals just as much about the instruments of a given era as the angle of a violin's arch or the violin varnish. The development of the violin and the violin bow has always followed a recurring pattern of musical and artisanal/technical factors mutually influencing one another. Every significant advance in violin making either was followed by new musical standards or created the conditions necessary for them to evolve – but at each phase, this progress could not take place until a new violin bow model emerged. With each new step in the history of making violin bows, the promise of new qualities of sound became reality. Those who wonder why the violin became a leading instrument in Europe's musical tradition can find solid answers by taking a closer look at the violin bow. We have outlined the history of the violin bow in a short series of three introductory articles:


  • Part I: The Baroque violin bow

  • Part II: The Classical violin bow

  • Part III: The modern violin bow


  • Baroque violin bow, Motek Leeuwarden, circa 1995 - frog

    Baroque violin bow, Motek Leeuwarden

    Provenance: Altea
    Maker: Motek Leeuwarden
    Weight: 56.2 g
    Year: approx. 1995

    Classical French bow, circa 1820 - frog

    French Classical bow, circa 1820

    Provenance: France
    Maker: Ecole de Gaulard
    Weight: 52.4 g
    Year: approx. 1820

    Joseph Alfred Lamy Père, violin bow 1900 circa

    Modern violin bow, J. A. Lamy Père

    Provenance: Paris
    Maker:J. A. Lamy "Père"
    Weight: 59.4 g
    Year: approx. 1900





    Related articles:

    The bow makers of Markneukirchen

    H. R. Pfretzschner – a biographical sketch

    François Xavier Tourte, founding father of the modern violin bow

    Ludwig Bausch: the "German Tourte"

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

    Eugène Nicolas Sartory – a modern classic among bow makers

    Bazin – The turbulent history of a great violin bow maker dynasty (two parts)

    Joseph Alfred Lamy Père – a key figure in modern bow making

    James Tubbs: the classic name in English bow making

    John Dodd – a legend of oyster shells and silver spoons

    New arrivals in our catalogue:
    • French viola bow stamped "N. Audinot", J. Thibouville-Lamy (certificate J. F. Raffin)
    • Excellent 19th century German violin bow by Bausch
    • German lightweight violin bow with a "Salingre" stamp, soft
    • Charming antique French violin after Antonio Stradivari
    • Georg Klotz, 1766: Fine Mittenwald violin (Georg Kloz)
    • WORKED OVER AND OPTIMIZED: Modern Italian 7/8 violin, Carlo Melloni, 1932 (certificate Eric Blot)
    • WORKED OVER AND OPTIMIZED: Italian violin in the Otello Bignami tradition
    • Good Schönbach viola, Ferdinand Fischer, 1935
    • Markneukirchen violin bow of the 1950ies, bright, fluid tone
    • Old Mittenwald violin, Josef Rieger, 1927
    • Markneukirchen viola bow, silver mounted, Arnold Stoess
    • Contemporary German soloist violin, Bernhard Gerstner, Ulm 1995
    • Fine 18th century violin, Franz Knitl, Freising, 1769
    • Excellent French violin, Collin-Mézin (fils), 1945, No. 845
    • Fernando Montavoci, rare 1936 Italian violin
    • Old, Mittenwald orchestra violin with a dark, clear tone, 1950's
    • Old, 1920's Saxon violin, Markneukirchen, bright tones
    • Mario Bedocchi, fine Italian viola (certificate by Eric Blot)
    • Aldo Zani, fine contemporary Italian viola
    • Fine Italian viola, Umberto Lanaro, Padova (certificate Robert Bein)
    • François Fent, a fine historic French viola of the late 18th century
    • Historic master violin from the Vogtland region, circa 1780-1800
    • Powerful 1920's Southern Italian violin with a radiant, brilliant sound
    • Good 1940's violin bow from Markneukirchen, warm, mellow tone