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 François Xavier Tourte (1748-1843) was the son of a luthier, Pierre, and his older brother Léonard was a bowmaker as well. As bowmaking could not provide much for the family, Tourte chose the more promising career of a watchmaker at the age of 8. However, his passion towards bowmaking did not fade and he continued to research on the side about bow's eyelet and screw and about new materials such as ivory and tortoiseshell. After his father passed away when Tourte was 16, he quit his watchmaker job and concentrated on bowmaking with his brother.

 Tourte started by researching about the wood materials used to make bows. Until then, snakewood, ironwood and amourette were commonly used, but he experimented with various other materials from around the world. He even used the barrel which was used to import sugar, although this material was later used for making canes. After much research, he found that pernambuco was the best suited material to make bows with. Pernambuco is found in Brazil's state of Pernambuco and is a species of Brazilian timbre tree in the pea family. From the 16th century, Brazil, rich with golds and diamonds, was colonised by Europeans especially by the Portuguese, and the goods were being transported to Europe by specially made galleons with cannons. To have them withstand strong winds and storms, pernambuco woods were used, for their density, to make the galleons more sturdy and stable. When pernambuco was later found to be usable as dyes, they began to make their way to France, which is how Tourte first encountered the material.

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 At the age of 34, Tourte made friends with violinists and composers Giovanni Battista Viotti and Rodolphe Kreutzer, with whom Tourte collaborated in making the modern bow. During this period, various styles of pieces and different playing techniques were being performed that they felt the need for a bow that would be more suitable for the varied repertoires. Firstly, the frog and the head were made to be the same height so that the stick would be more stable throughout. The bow was then concavely arched to be able to play virtuoso pieces like Viotti's and Tourte came up with a metal ring called the ferrule to resolve both Viotti and Kreutzer's dissatisfaction of the hair being unstable. Thanks to this innovation, it became possible for the hair on the bow to be thinly and evenly spread. Also, a metal plate was placed on the frog, changing from an open frog to a covered one, and a wrapping on the stick was introduced to stabilise its weight. Most of his bows' heel plates show three pins, which symbolised the slogan "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" of the French Revolution which he secretly supported.

 After further research, he concluded, when he was around 50 years old, that the best stick lengths for violin bows, viola bows and cello bows were 73cm, 72.5cm, 70cm, respectively, and their bow weights to be 60g, 70g, and 80g, respectively. Until today, this is the definitive model of the modern bow and are still believed to be the best. Tourte continued to research and make bows until his death at the age of 87.

 This ‘ex Sartory’ Tourte bow has been kept by Eugène Sartory, the leading bowmaker of the 20th century, for his research and is now owned and performed by violinist Masafumi Hori. This bow, with its swan shaped head, is Tourte's earlier work and has elegance and beauty that no words could describe. Bowmakers such as Sartory, his master Alfred Lamy and his master François Voirin made their bows based on Tourte's earlier works like this bow. The fact that Dominique Peccatte and Villaume workshop followed Tourte's later works shows that Tourte was the innovator and truly had an important influence on the modern bow.

 François Xavier Tourte has indeed made history in bowmaking and is an unrivaled master of the modern bow.

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HORI, Masafumi    Violinist

Masafumi Hori started playing the violin at the age of five and after graduating from Kyoto Municipal Kyoto Horikawa Senior High School of Music, he went to Freiburg to study with Ulrich Grehling and Wolfgang Marschner at the University of Music Freiburg, from where he also received his Master′s degree in 1973. The following year, he became the First Concertmaster of Das Staatsorchester Darmstadt.

After performing Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo in 1979, Masafumi was appointed as its concertmaster the same year. He is currently the Solo Concertmaster of the orchestra.
In addition to his performing career, Masafumi serves as a judge for numerous international competitions such as Geneva International Music Competition, Forval Scholarship Stradivarius Concours, International Violin Competition Leopold Mozart, and ʻLudwig Spohrʼ International Violin Competition. He is also a professor at Toho Gakuen School of Music.

KAJIMOTO    โ http://www.kajimotomusic.com/


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