Ludwig Bausch: the "German Tourte"

Ludwig Bausch - Ludwig Bausch and Son: Notes on life and work of the great German bowmaker and his sons

Ludwig Bausch ranks among the great masters of European bow making, craftsmen who as a rule have not received the historical respect they deserve. This oversight is astounding in light of the relevance that bows have in playing and in the historical development of violins, violas and cellos; even the best bow makers are nowhere near as well known as violin makers such as Antonio Stradivari, Pressenda and J. B. Vuillaume. The cause of this disparity is probably related to the special expertise which is needed to ascertain the quality and provenance of a bow. The problem is compounded by the uncertainty arising from the many easily reproduced replicas which bear the marks of major bow makers. The "Bausch" mark is one of the names which can be found on a number of fakes of dubious quality. Genuine works from the Bausch atelier, however, still enjoy great regard to this day, albeit largely in the elite circles of aficionados and experts. To a broader audience, this esteemed name can be seen as an inside tip.

The works of Ludwig Bausch, who was born in 1805 in Naumburg, Saxony, can rightfully claim their place in the history of the craft; Bausch brought the bow as we know it today to Germany. It was patterned after the work of the French master François Xavier Tourte but nevertheless was his own and very distinctive model. This earned him the name "German Tourte," a tribute which is certainly to be seen in the context of late 19th-century patriotism. At the same time, it is an entirely appropriate name, given the influence that Ludwig Bausch went on to have upon generations of German bow makers.

The route that led Ludwig Bausch to making bows is a question that history has left unresolved. After his apprenticeship as a violin and lute maker under Johann Benjamin Fritzsche, who was the official instrument maker for the Dresden court, Bausch settled in Dresden in 1825 but moved to Dessau in 1828. He must have taken key steps in developing his bow model at that time, probably while in contact with the great violinist, composer and teacher Louis Spohr, one of the most influential musical personalities of the day. There is no way to prove that the two masters worked together, however.

By 1839 Ludwig Bausch had become the official instrument maker of the Dessau court and moved to Leipzig, where he concentrated almost exclusively on bows. His position as the instrument maker at the court in Nassau which Bausch held in Wiesbaden from 1861-1863 was apparently not attractive enough and remained an intermezzo in his career. In 1840, after having won a silver medal at the Saxonian industrial exposition, the Bausch atelier continued along its successful path, due in part to Ludwig Bausch's sons. After Ludwig Bausch Jr. completed his apprenticeship in New York and Otto Bausch studied under Jean Vauchel, the two of them expanded the company as "Ludwig Bausch & Sohn" from 1860, and the studio quickly earned a good name for itself around the world. The promising dynasty of Bausch bow makers met a premature end when the brothers met untimely deaths — Ludwig Jr. passed away in 1871 a few weeks before his father, and Otto died in 1875. The company continued to benefit from the family's life work and was led by long-time Bausch employee Adolf Wilhelm Eduard Paulus and his son Adolf Paulus Jr. until it was closed in 1908.


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