The connection between participant and instrument maker has been important all through musical historical past. This was notably evident when Giovanni Battista Viotti arrived in Paris in 1782, having firmly established himself as an eminent violinist, instructor and composer. Musicians of the time had been pushing the boundaries of instrumental strategies and looking for a extra various vary of expression of their enjoying kinds. Viotti, being a number one pioneer in his discipline, was naturally on the forefront of this growth. Set towards the backdrop of eighteenth century improvements and The French Revolution, bow makers had been experimenting with new supplies and designs because the starting of the classical interval. Of the ensuing Transitional classical bows, the Cramer design proved to be the preferred. With an extended, concave stick in addition to a heavier and taller head, this was step one in direction of reaching these new beliefs. Nevertheless, for Viotti the Cramer mannequin nonetheless didn’t go far sufficient.
When Viotti heard of the good popularity of François Xavier Tourte and his household, he seized upon the bow maker’s experience to assist design a bow that mirrored his creative aspirations. Their assembly, described by the Belgian musicologist François-Joseph Fétis in 1856, was set to be probably the most necessary collaborations within the historical past of string instrument making. There have been a number of profound modifications made to the design by Tourte, which adopted on from the Cramer mannequin. Along with the lengthened and concave stick, the pinnacle was lightened while retaining its energy. Because of new strategies in chopping and curving of the stick, the grain ran uniformly alongside the size of the stick permitting for better stiffness and energy, the ferule and the unfold wedge had been invented to unfold the hair extra broadly, and the perfect distance between the bow hair and stick was established. Metallic fittings and head plates additionally made the bow extra sturdy. Whereas sources are restricted, there’s proof to recommend that Viotti had explicit enter with flattening the ribbon of the bow hair. The pre-eminence of pernambuco because the wooden of selection additionally performed an enormous position in creating extra responsiveness, flexibility and great thing about tone.
Geared up with the revolutionary new bow, Viotti went on to take the musical world by storm. He developed a brand new model of enjoying which eclipsed that of his contemporaries. Gamers who didn’t change their method had been left behind and regarded old school. Some even selected to retire, such because the distinguished Maddalena Lombardi-Sirmen – a disciple of Tartini and one of many best violinists of her technology. Viotti was now capable of maintain the sound extra evenly all through the bow, producing a fuller and extra legato tone. The better pressure and elasticity allowed for springing strokes similar to sautillé and ricochet, in addition to extra chunk for martelé stokes. Nevertheless, it was with the legato and broader strokes that Viotti had essentially the most influence. The obsessive and virtually cultish following by different violinists, together with Louis Spohr meant that lighter springing stokes even went out of style for some time. As a substitute, legato on-the-string articulations had been extremely favoured, particularly the broad detaché bow stroke performed within the higher half of the bow.
The legato model of enjoying was carefully linked to beliefs within the early Romantic motion which favoured a singing and lyrical expression in sound and supply. That is evident in a lot of Viotti’s compositions the place he wouldn’t solely showcase the brand new bow strokes but in addition his aptitude for Italianate singing melodies. A bel canto model in instrumental composition was rising in parallel developments in piano writing by, amongst others, the pianist Hélène de Montgeroult. Like Viotti, Montgeroult was enormously influential in piano enjoying and composition along with her 114 Études de difficultés progressives, printed in 1816. Within the preface of the compendium, she advocated the imitation of the singer’s artwork, a lot akin to the cantabile model Viotti was championing on the violin. As duo companions, the 2 loved an in depth musical rapport and friendship and they’d spend time improvising collectively in addition to giving concert events. Their affect on one another was all of the better for the brand new prospects of expression afforded by the brand new devices of the time.
By the early nineteenth century, Tourte’s bow was now so inextricably linked to the good violinist that’s was described in Michel Woldemar’s 1798 violin methodology as L’archet de Viotti. Following the custom of the time, bows would usually be named after the good gamers – the Corelli, Tartini and Cramer bows all being earlier fashions – whereas the bow makers themselves would stay nameless. It was solely after the 1750s that archetiers started to stamp their bows with the intention to acquire their very own identification and popularity. Viotti’s new enjoying model, intrinsically linked to the Tourte bow, was consolidated by its instant uptake by the Paris Conservatoire, established in 1795. Viotti is taken into account to be the founding father of the nineteenth century French violin faculty and his legacy was continued by violinists similar to Rodolphe Kreutzer, Pierre Rode and Pierre Baillot. Their études are nonetheless utilized by college students right now and stay a cornerstone of violin pedagogy. The Tourte bow, carefully related to the French violin faculty, was firmly established as the usual bow design and favoured above all others. The illustrious popularity of French bow making was thereby completely cemented.
The importance of the partnership between Viotti and Tourte remains to be related to the fashionable day, the place parallels might be drawn between right now’s luthiers and gamers. The mutual sharing of expertise and concepts is a connection that can at all times stay necessary into the longer term.
Sophie Rosa’s new disc – during which she performs Viotti’s Violin Sonata, demonstrating new bowing strategies and the change in model of enjoying – is out on Rubicon Classics on the finish of February. The disc additionally consists of sonatas by Weber, Mendelssohn and the world premiere recording of Sonata in A minor Op.2, No.3 by Hélène de Montgeroult, a French composer who was working across the flip of the nineteenth century and the primary ever feminine professor to be appointed on the Paris Conservatoire.