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Classical 101

World's Most Expensive Violin Bow

Roman Malamant
Vadim Gluzman uses a bow once used by Eugène Ysaÿe and Henryk Szeryng.";

Most of us will not get past the first part of that headline, thinking, "Oh, another story about a multi-million dollar violin being auctioned off." Nope. This time, it's the BOW.

Talk to any string player and ask them about their bow. Then get something to drink and take a seat, because you're going to be awhile.

Logically, the quality of an instrument makes a huge difference in the quality of the sound. I remember the first time I played a Buffet clarinet after years of laboring on a Bundy. Wait, THIS is how it feels to play a clarinet? I then began to discover different mouthpieces, reeds, etc.  A new musical world opened up for me.

A bow is just a stick with horsehair on it to make the strings vibrate, right? Sure.  Just like your iPhone makes you Annie Leibovitz.

The bow in question was made by Francois Xavier Tourte, a member of one of France's distinguished bow-making families. Tourte's bow sold for $288,960, a world record price at auction. Reports are it was purchase by a professional musician.

Vadim Gluzman, Creative Partner and Principal Guest Artist with ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, has a pair of bows he regularly uses in concert.  One is by Dominique Peccatte was a French luthier and bow maker from the 19th century.  One of his bows sold a couple of years ago for just over $145,000.  Hey...if you want to make great music, you need great equipment.  Vadim's other bow was made by his dear friend Daniel Schmidt, whom he says knows his playing.  It was made in about 2005 after a four-year search for a piece of wood he called "agreeable."

As you can see, a bow is a very personal thing. When you hear musicians such as Vadim Gluzman play, you understand why.  He will be with ProMusica in Columbus in December as both violinist and leader to play Vivaldi's Four Seasons and A Little Daneliade for violin, piano, strings and percussion by Georgian-born composer Giya Kancheli, who is a favorite of both Gluzman and ProMusica Music Director David Danzmayr.  Don't miss your chance to see Vadim's blazing bow in action!