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Emily Grossman


September 2, 2010 at 6:35 PM

Matt had a lot of instruments, and he seemed excited to show them to me, including his own fiddle, which had been set up with a flatter bridge and strings closer to the fingerboard for easy fast fiddling.  "You lose some of the projection, but that's not really an issue when you play in a band."  I noodled around on it and immediately noticed that it liked to slide.  You could feel it under your fingers when you searched for the tones.  Every violin bears the impression of the one who plays it, like a thumbprint left in clay.  If you listen to it, it will tell you where it's been.  In the previous shop, I played a violin from 1720.  The moment I touched it, I felt as though I'd stepped through a time portal, and I was playing with Bach and Mozart, all light and golden and refined.  It demanded to be played just so, and I gladly obliged. 

Matt handed me an unlabeled fiddle from somewhere in Eastern Europe.  "Oh, this one cries when you play it," I remarked as I pulled out a deep, dark wail from the lower register.  If I had more time, I would have asked it to tell me its story, why it ended up so sad.  But now I was being shown something else, and another thing.  So many violins, so little time!  And I still needed to make up my mind about the bow.

Matt was giving me handouts now.  He had a collection of his own arrangements of fiddle tunes that I could have.  And here was one of his CDs.  As though he could still see the question mark floating over my head, he went into further detail about the qualities of the Nurnberger.  In pristine condition, as though it had hardly been played, this was the perfect example of a Nurnberger.  It dated somewhere around 1930 or earlier, and was not a shop bow.  Now he was knocking the price down.  His talk was so convincing, but I didn't want any pressure to get in between me and my search for the perfect sound, so I agreed to take it out on trial instead.  My mom and I needed to meet up with my high school piano teacher, anyway, who lives nearby.  Perhaps she could provide an answer. 

Susan Akin waited to greet me at her home in Overland Park. It was so good to see her again!  We spent a little time catching up, and then she led me downstairs to her studio to sight-read some duets.  I took turns with the Hill and the Nurnberger, and the choice was beginning to become more clear.  Once I had new music in front of me, my mind left the bows and began to think about music.  This was when I was able to get the most natural feel for each one, and it suddenly became apparent which bow was the one best suited for me.

Mr. Nurnberger it is.  We celebrated with some Kansas City barbecue on our way out of town.

From Tom Holzman
Posted on September 3, 2010 at 1:19 PM

Congratulations!  I knew the story would have a happy ending.  Have a safe trip back and enjoy your new bow.

From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 3, 2010 at 1:53 PM

 Well HERE'S the burning question for me now.

Where did you eat barbeque? Was it Gates? Jack Stack? Arthur Bryants? Oklahoma Joe's?

This is a very, very important decision when in Kansas City. A lifetime memory is at stake. The wrong decision - it's tragic. The right one? Ahhhhh. (For the record, my last KC trip in July featured a stop at Jack Stack. A judicious call. But Gates and Arthur Bryants are Kansas City fixtures. Ah, so much bbq, so little time.)

Eagerly awaiting the news of your choice... 

From Cheng-Feng Chiang
Posted on September 3, 2010 at 1:48 PM

Congratulation on your purchase!  You must have spent a lot to get the non-workshop Nurnberger.  Since these bows are getting rare, dealer will not let go below $4000.

As long as a Nurnberger was made before 1930, even a workshop bow could be very good, sometimes even on par with good French bows.  I tested a CH Nurnberger stamped bow two days ago and I was amazed by what I held on my hand, so nimble and like you said "make you feel only music you play".

From meade meyer
Posted on September 3, 2010 at 3:14 PM

 I also have a Nurnberger bow!  Mine was about $2,000, and was bequeathed to a woman when her best friend died.  The woman knew that she could never put it to good use so she put it up for sale in a local music shop.  The woman who had been playing the bow had been using it since the 1920's until the day she died.

From Emily Grossman
Posted on September 3, 2010 at 5:07 PM

Terez, my piano teacher took us out to Jack Stack's.  My stomach growls at the thought of it.

Cheng-Feng, I'm smitten with this bow!  I cannot begin to describe how much joy it brings me to play difficult pieces that I couldn't play before.  I never would have guessed I was being held back by a bow.  This one catches string crossings like lightning.  Must be balanced differently than the last one.  I notice the difference most on fast spiccato arpeggios and chords.  And how it sings!  I've got my next recital all lined up...

Meade, that is such a sweet story!

From Christina C.
Posted on September 3, 2010 at 6:24 PM

Congratulations Emily. It definitely sounds as though you're inspired by your new bow & I hope it continues for many years to come.

From Cheng-Feng Chiang
Posted on September 3, 2010 at 6:47 PM


It may not be as simple as the balance change.  When I tested the CH Nurnberger, I also picked out a Bernard Ouchard and an old Lupot alongside.  These three suited me better among ~15 bows I tested that day.  The owner kindly provided me with a balance so I could weight them out later.  I found all three bows were weighted closely (57.5~59 grams) and their balance points are roughly the same.   Even so, the Nurnberger stroke differences for its feel at my hand and the ease of playing spiccato or sautille.  Maybe there is the way that the maker selected/carved the wood or some secret magic he placed on the bow...........?!

From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 3, 2010 at 10:09 PM

 >Terez, my piano teacher took us out to Jack Stack's. 

Oh, yay, my fave! (Although Gates is an institution in KC.) Mmmm, now MY stomach is grumbling at the memory...

From Cris Zulueta
Posted on September 3, 2010 at 9:59 PM

Congratulations Emily hope it turns out to be a long term relationship.

Cheng-Feng bows can be magical. Makers must knock on the bow blank asking " Hello, Any amazing bows in there?" or some other secret technique.

My latest bow has such wonderful balance and control it is suprising how easier it is to do fast down bow staccato runs. Feels so light I still can't believe it weighs 63.9 grams. It pulls a great rich powerful sound and has stunning flamed figure. All for just under two grand It's magic.

From Cheng-Feng Chiang
Posted on September 3, 2010 at 10:45 PM

Hi Chris,

So far I have little luck on picking out heavier (>62 gram) bow.  However, I do have an extra light bow (53.5 gram) that I consider better than that Nurnberger.  It is a french bow that also has beautiful flame-like figure on it and a slim, appealing frog----very artistic!!  ;-)

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