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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
    • Outstanding Czech Violin by Mathias Heinicke, student of Eugeni Degani in Venice, 1911
    • German Violin by Ludwig Gläsel jr., Markneukirchen
    • Recommendable Italian violin, 1970's, probably Giudici - warm, golden sound
    • 3/4 - old German 3/4 violin after Stradivarius, dark tone
    • Old German violin, c.1900, with a warm, large sound
    • Outstanding German violin, Saxony approx. 1910
    • Ernst Heinrich Roth, Markneukirchen, fine 1922 violin - Guarnerius model
    • Powerful Mittenwald violin from the Mittenwald violin-making school, 1960's
    • Outstanding Markneukirchen violin bow, approx. 1910
    • French violin bow by Louis Joseph Morizot, known as Morizot père
    • WORKED OVER/ NEW SOUND SAMPLE: 3/4 - violin, elegant French "Copie de Stradivari"
    • Fine German violin bow, Knopf workshop, approx. 1890
    • Old French violin bow, J.T.L. "Sarasate maitre" model
    • Modern French soloist viola, Jacques Camurat, Paris 1958
    • STOLEN: Léon Victor Mougenot 1912, French violin,
    • Justin Maucotel: A powerful French violin, c.1840
    • Excellent French violin, Collin-Mézin (fils), 1936, No. 671
    • François Fent, a fine historic French viola of the late 18th century (certificate Hieronymus Köstler)
    • Franco Albanelli, 1991: A fine contemporary Italian violin (certificate Hieronymus Köstler)
    • Fine French violin bow by E. Sartory (certificate J.F. Raffin)
    • Giuseppe Pedrazzini, fine Italian violin (certificate J. & A. Beare)
    • 3/4 - Antique French Médio-Fino 3/4 violin, approx. 1870
    • Fine German master bow
    • Modern Mittenwald viola, Matthias Klotz 1982