The MacArthur ‘Genius’ Bow Maker Who Makes Violins Sing

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Over the past four decades, Benoit Rolland has made more than 1,400 bows for violins, violas and cellos.

Benoit Rolland acknowledges that the violin reigns supreme as the star of the strings, capable of fetching millions of dollars at auction. But what about the bow? "A violin with no bow is not a violin, that's clear," says Rolland.

"A lot of people, even some instrumentalists, in our younger years we believe that the violin is of paramount importance and the bow is just a tool," says Elita Kang, assistant concert master of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. "But the bow is just as important as the violin because that is our breath. That's how we draw the sound out of the instrument, so without a fine bow that's responsive and flexible and finely made, we can't express ourselves fully."

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