Steinhausen: a scientist or just an amateur?

June 21, 2007 at 06:38 PM · It is a very small book which makes you think about all the natural movements occurring in bowing. The author was a doctor who studied the perfect production of sound based on the perfect combinaion of the natural movements.

The basical concept of the book is the division between big and powerful movements occurring in the right elbow and the small and passive (not active) movements in the hand and wrist to produce a right angle movement of the bow on the strings.

This book was in the same time praised and criticized (just because the author was not a professional violinist ) by Flesh in his book.

I think S. was a great scientist who for the first time put on a scientific bases the movements involved in bowing and which before his book were taken for granted.

Opinion about this awesome book!


Replies (21)

June 22, 2007 at 06:22 PM · Hey guys....

How is it possible none knows Steinhausen?

June 22, 2007 at 07:24 PM · Sorry, never heard of him before this.

June 24, 2007 at 08:53 PM · I'm reviving this thread because I'm hoping other people have heard of Steinhausen. I'm afraid I have never read his work (where do you find it?), but I know of it second-hand from teachers.

My basic thought. I've learned some bowing concepts which may be attributed to his work, and I hope to be able to acquire the book and read for myself to understand his entire contribution.

June 24, 2007 at 10:05 PM · My dear kimberlee,

unfortunately I have just a very old and precious italian edition of this work edited by Guglielmo Zanibon, Padua and the title is Dr. F. A. Steinhausen: "Fisiologia della Condotta dell'Arco sugli Strumenti a Corda".

The book was written in 1902 with the useful suggestions of his brother in law who was a pupil of Joachim.

I don't know if you can have the chance to find an edition in English and probably it would be useless to scan my italian version for you.

Good luck! :)

June 28, 2007 at 04:00 AM · Ah Hah! Joachim . . . now a lightbulb is going off--didn't Auer have something to say about Steinhausen in his "Violin the Way I Teach It". . . my copy is packed away because I'm moving in a month or I would check it.

Remind me . . . what did Auer have to say?

June 28, 2007 at 04:32 AM · Steinhausen....the very name conjures up images of a high, old house on a hill in some gloomy Germanic/ east European quarter of some forgotten backwoods province of who knows where. You go up to the front door, take a deep breath, and raise the enormous, tarnished brass door knocker and let it fall with a hollow "clang!".

After an eternity of waiting in the icy breeze, no sound but the whistling and sighing of the wind, you hear ominous, slow, basso profundo footsteps approaching the door from within. With a crack and a slow creak the door is suddenly swung open, revealing a sallow-faced old gentleman who stares at you with baleful eyes.

"Yyy...eeesssss?" he asks.

You gulp, dryly. "Is Dr Steinhausen in?", you ask.

For a long time the butler stares at you, darkly, saying nothing. Finally he blinks slowly, and you see his mouth start to open. "Shhhhteinnnn Hooowwwzzzennnn!!!" is all he says.

He ushers you in to the dark house with a pale hand.....

June 28, 2007 at 04:29 AM · And someone thinks up a song and dance called the Time Warp and has a hit movie?

June 28, 2007 at 04:24 AM · Exactly.

June 28, 2007 at 05:23 AM · That's Professor Steinhausen at 1:05.

June 28, 2007 at 11:22 PM · Dear Kimberlee

I wouldn't trust Auer.

He had just the chance to have pupils as Milstein or Heifetz.

But the same Milstein said that he was not a nothing special as teacher.

Flesh was a much better pedagogue. He mentioned S. in his book. the art of playing violin

June 29, 2007 at 02:49 AM · Okay, now this is really starting to remind me of what I learned . . . especially the part about the creepy old house in Eastern Europe. Thanks, Jon. I'll go to bed having nightmares of Dr. Steinhausen now.

Antonio. My pedagogues have come through Flesch and also through Auer. I'm afraid I'm an Auer disciple. But, I'm always looking for new violin knowlege. I'm fascinated by all the variations and colors a violin can make. If someone's got a new trick, I like to give it a try before I shoot it down. I think you can learn from anyone. I learn more about playing the violin from average audience members (not technique, obviously) than I do at lessons sometimes. So, I'm interested in what Steinhausen has to say, and when I get my hands on a copy of the book, I'll give it a look.

Oh, yeah, I mistitled Auer's book (oops--Violin As I Teach It).

June 29, 2007 at 01:17 PM · Hey Kimberlee,

what have I to hear?

Dr Steinhausen was not Dr Frankenstein!

June 29, 2007 at 08:11 PM · Antonio--

What do you mean? And, which way did Steinhausen suggest arching the bow---concave or convex towards the bridge? I've learned both ways.

June 30, 2007 at 06:51 AM · the tilting of the bow should be ever toward the fingerboard and when the arm is lowered to give weight to the bow the mechanism works so that the wrist bends and becomes in line with the arm, the fingers bend and in consequence of this, because the contact point of the thumb should be ever the same, the bow rotate toward the bridge even though it won't never rech the tilting toward the bridge but at least in forte the wood of the bow will be in line with the hair.

That is the scientific way of bowing.

June 30, 2007 at 09:11 AM · when you say 'ever' I guess you mean 'always' .. as opposed to 'never' .... ??

I tend to go for an 'away from the bridge' (if we are generalizing) tilt of the bow stick (in lower half) but I don't think everyone agrees with that.....?

June 30, 2007 at 10:26 AM · teresa with ever I meant always.

The mechanism works in this way:

never stick toward the bridge!!

(with the exception of (1) down picchettato and (2)playing with the stick)

The tilting toward or away from the bridge depends on the weight you give to the arm:

1) in suspension (piano) the hand naturally hangs from the arm and the fingers are spreaded and the tilting is naturally toward the fingerboard.

2) giving weight /or pressure, (I prefer the former) to the arm the wrist puts in line with the arm and the fingers bend and the bow tilts in the direction of the bridge (it is just the natural consequence), even though the stick is never toward the bridge.

My teacher told me that this is the general mechanism taught as in Bruxelles as in Tel Aviv as everywhere there is a little bit of good sense.

June 30, 2007 at 07:52 PM · I didn't mean the tilt of the bow, I meant bow path. What is the "scientific" way to bow across the f holes to produce the best sound, according to Steinhausen? Concave or convex to the bridge? Perfectly strait bowing is a myth imho.

July 1, 2007 at 11:38 PM · Greetings,

Antonio, where did Milstein say Auer was `nothing special as a teacher?`



July 2, 2007 at 12:24 PM · Here it is:

And I agree with the great Milstein! about to consider myth teachers who have just the luck to teach to such awesome violinists.

Everyone at a certain point should be independent from his teacher and also critic about some suggestions, I guess.


July 2, 2007 at 12:27 PM · Ah Stephen,

Don't forget Auer was the same who considered "unplayable" the Tchaikovski Concerto when the composer dedicated it to him!


July 2, 2007 at 10:54 PM · Greetings,

non sequiter.

Try reading Milstein`s biography. One can get an accurate impresison of what he actually thought from that.

Incidentally, Auer changed his mind about the Tchiakovsky.


Buri, not Stephen.

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