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Emily Grossman

Lost Love

December 27, 2011 at 8:26 PM

I left Fred Oster's, not with a Kittel, but with an interesting 18th century Klotz violin that fell in the right price range. Curious about how it would fit in, I brought it home for a date. All the relatives gathered round that evening, excited to be able to experience the sound of something so old. Even better, my nine-year-old nephew drew out his own violin and played Christmas carols with me while his mom and grandma worked in the kitchen. We sounded pretty! Christmas Sunday, we played our carols in front of the warm and friendly church congregation for a touching finale to the morning service. Cousin Chrissy accompanied on the piano.

Christmas day came and went. I only had one day left to make up my mind between the Flemish, the Klotz, or no violin at all. I'd been practicing upstairs in the crowded farmhouse, and could hear their personalities waking up, but I still needed one more test. Grabbing the keys to the church, I headed into town to see how they would sound in a larger room.

The building lay empty and cold. Feeling for the light switches, I brightened the room and unzipped each case carefully. First the Klotz. After a couple of notes, I went with my gut and decided I'd do better to save my money. Then the Flemish. I knew I'd said no to it already, but it had grown on me over the past couple of days. As I tightened the strings and reached for the fine tuner, my left hand bumped the tip of the bow. My normally supple and light-gripped right hand was cold and stiff, and in a flash, the Nurnberger slipped from my fingers and bounced lightly, with a thin clatter, on the concrete floor. Bow hair sprawled, the tip lay fractured from the stick, irrevocably.

"No!" The shock made my mind float out of my body, and the room began to narrow. "No! No! No!" Surely, I was having a nightmare: this happens only in nightmares. For about five minutes, I couldn't even process it. And then, like a girl over a lost puppy, I crumpled on the floor over my open case and bawled.

From Brian Lee
Posted on December 27, 2011 at 8:58 PM
Ouch. Hope that was insured. Is it something that a head spline could take care of?

Oh, and Klotzes can sound quite good if they're in decent condition (which usually isn't the case). They tend to like lower tension strings, Evah Pirazzis can take away an entire dimension of sound.

From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on December 27, 2011 at 8:42 PM
Emily, I didn't want to respond, thinking that everyone else had the same reaction as me--shock, and no words to express their own sympathetic sense of loss over this bow that came to you as the result of another bow's accident. Your phrase "like a girl who had lost her puppy" struck a special note with me, though. I have a ten year old daughter who loves animals, and twice in the past 2 weeks she had injured wild animals die in her possession. In both cases she had had them less than a day and was powerless to save them. Nonetheless, she cried bitter tears over them and ever since I've wondered with great sadness how we could have saved them. I feel the world's loss as life goes on. Your bow was also unique and your violins will never sound exactly the same without it. But other bows will enter your life with their own unique attributes and you will appreciate what they have to offer. Like me, you will probably always wonder what you could have done to save your bow. But in my experience, you can't predict what new perils are lurking. You can only keep the fragility of these instruments in your subsconsciousness as you already do.
From Lisa Van Sickle
Posted on December 27, 2011 at 9:00 PM

You, the east coast, and nice bows aren't a good combination. Sitting 2000 miles away reading this, my stomach churns for you.

From Becky Jenkinson
Posted on December 27, 2011 at 9:10 PM
Dear Emily, No doubt your bow is worth much more than mine, but my favorite bow...a Finley...a beautiful bow...had the same fate and I know that feeling of horror and sadness and almost despair. Why does a bow have to slip out of one's hands?? Anyways, David Tamblyn ( at the Soundpost in Toronto was able to skillfully repair my bow with a spline, such that I do not know the difference. It is undiscernable in balance and sound and appearance! I was so very pleased. Perhaps you will be able to find someone who can do the same for your precious bow.
From Tom Holzman
Posted on December 27, 2011 at 9:22 PM
OY! How awful.
From Rebecca Waltz
Posted on December 27, 2011 at 9:13 PM
I feel for you! Last year, my own bow slipped from my fingers, during an informal get together with friends. When I looked down and saw the terrible sight of hair splayed over the tiles, I thought, at first, that the hair had simply popped free from the tip wedge. That is, until I saw the tip still attached to the hair, but not to the bow. It's a sickening experience. My luthier did a magnificent job patching her back together with a head spline and I cannot see the split, no matter how hard I try. He made a balance adjustment for me, due to the change in weight at the tip, but it's good as new. Of course, my bow's taken a massive hit to its value, but it's a good bow and well worth the $250.00 repair bill. Besides, she's my friend. I'm sorry this happened to you and I hope you find your repair experience to be as good as mine. Becky
From marjory lange
Posted on December 27, 2011 at 10:02 PM
Emily, I am so sorry. Repair, insurance, these are for later. The grief comes first.
From David Russell
Posted on December 27, 2011 at 10:42 PM

How well I remember an afternoon in a CIM practice room as a student. Time slowed down as the bow tumbled through the air... then the sound of someone screaming NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (It was me, of course). The tip of the bow lay severed from the stick... people ran to see who was being killed... then the insurance agency saved the day... nonetheless, I know your grief. So sorry.

From Erica Thaler
Posted on December 28, 2011 at 12:40 AM
So sorry. I love your blog, and I am very sad to hear this.
From elise stanley
Posted on December 28, 2011 at 1:35 AM
Emily: Every member reading this must have the same feelings of horror, helplessness, sympathy - and also personal dread. Hugs. ee
From Emily Grossman
Posted on December 28, 2011 at 3:19 AM
Looks like a repair is in order. Cross your fingers... :)

Oh, and thank you all so much for your condolences and story-sharing. I knew you would relate to my pain.

From Joyce Lin
Posted on December 28, 2011 at 3:49 AM
I am sorry about your bow - it was like reading a horror story! I'm glad that the damage can be repaired even though the value of the bow is greatly affected, but it's like underwater real estate - no sale, no loss!

I am embarrassed to admit that my bow slipped out of my hand more times than I can remember... Most of the time, it fell on the carpet/rug, but a few times it hit the wall or the music stand... I have been lucky so far that no discernible damage has been done, but each time my heart stopped, so I can totally relate! Your blog reminded me that I really should get my instrument insured, which crosses my mind often but I keep procrastinating...

From elise stanley
Posted on December 28, 2011 at 10:25 AM
Out of curiosity: how does the insurance handle it if you repair the bow? Do you get a depreciation?
From Emily Grossman
Posted on December 28, 2011 at 1:25 PM
If I'd had insurance, I might have been able to get a check for the depreciation. That would have been a nice chunk toward a violin, but oh well...
From Patty Wiegelman
Posted on December 29, 2011 at 12:07 PM
As a newbie, I have to admit I had never heard about a "Nurnberger"...(I had to google it)When I read what happened, even though I didn't know exactly what it was, I felt instantly sick! I think everyone on this site, CAN FEEL YOUR PAIN!!! Maybe even more so, then someone who does not play an instrument. That is why I love this site so much, people understand your feelings.
I am really glad that your bow is able to be fixed, and that you wont be able to tell the difference :)
As far as the value, how we value our personal instrument or bow is priceless :)

From Charlie Gibbs
Posted on December 29, 2011 at 7:57 PM
I'm sure we can all feel your pain, even people like me who'll probably never have a bow as expensive as yours. The couple of times I've dropped my bow were fortunately onto carpet. The closest I've come to your experience was at the start of a multi-day workshop when someone dropped her bow and broke the tip before any of us had played a single note.

I know you'll always have a remnant of that pain, but at least you were able to get a good repair. It's nice when old friends can still be with you despite the ravages of time.

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