top of page
Tourte (Standard Edition)

Tourte (Standard Edition)


Standard Edition



  • 223 pages
  • high definition photographs of 92 bows made by François Xavier Tourte
  • numerous documents never published
  • About this publication

    François Tourte is a towering figure in bowmaking whose advances in the bow’s form arrived at “the modern bow”. For almost 250 years this bow remains unsurpassed both in terms of its use by the greatest stringed instrument players and its artistic creation – its beauty. This book shows him in the tumultuous times of late 18th century Paris where he lived and worked for much of his career on the rue du Chantre – just around the corner from various calamitous events leading up to and continuing after The Revolution, which commenced in 1789. Tourte’s lifespan was divided precisely in two by that chaotic but also glorious time. “The Rights of Man and of The Citizen” changed the lives of the French in large measure while Tourte continued his bowmaking, by the very early 1800s installed on the Quai de l’École where he enjoyed a view of the Pont Neuf from his 4th floor apartment. Lucy Sante describes the Paris of this time – not at all the glamorous metropolis we know today – and Parisians’ way of life then. This is essential for understanding the seemingly simple artisan as he gave expression to his ingenuity and creativity. Gabriel Schaff untangles the complex Tourte family background and provides an enlarged perspective on the oral histories associated with the Tourte family. The places of François Tourte’s children and extended family in his life and career are explored in detail. In describing Tourte’s bows and their evolution, Paul Childs presents Tourte as both an artist and a scientist in his domain, raising the bow to a status of enduring importance. Many fine bows are presented in photos and discussed. Isaac Salchow’s penetrating observations underscore the changes in Tourte’s working methods over time, presented in words and photography. Elements heretofore unknown are presented elegantly.

  • Contributors

    Paul Childs is an expert and dealer of classic French bows and has written the monographs The Bowmakers of the Peccatte Family and Jean Pierre Marie Persoit: His Life and Work, as well as numerous articles for magazines and online publications. He has spoken at conferences both in the U.S. and internationally and in 2008 produced in association with The Royal Academy of Music in London a major exhibition on the bows of François Tourte. Paul has a Masters degree in violin performance from the Manhattan School of Music and worked extensively as a freelance violinist in New York. He lives in Westchester County and Paris with his wife, Bérit Schumann and son Karl.


    Gabriel Schaff is a violinist, historian, educator, and an internationally recognized author of books and articles pertaining to stringed instruments, bows, and the music written for them. His book "The Essential Guide to Bows of the Violin Family" was hailed as an unprecedented and valuable combination of historical, theoretical, and practical information on all aspects of bows. For the Beethoven@250 commemorations, he crafted a series of lectures on the 3 compositional periods, presented by the Stamford (CT) Symphony and Ferguson Library. His article, "Rediscovering Haydn's Three Original Violin Sonatas," has been published in Australia's Stringendo Magazine. Mr. Schaff is a professional violinist in New York City and founder of the Englewood Chamber Players, a nonprofit dedicated to presenting community educational concerts.


    Lucy Sante’s books include Low Life, Evidence, The Factory of Facts, Kill All Your Darlings, The Other Paris, and Maybe the People Would Be the Times. She has been a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books since 1981 and has written for a wide variety of other publications. Her awards include a Whiting Writers Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Grammy (for album notes), an Infinity Award in Writing from the International Center of Photography, and Guggenheim and Cullman fellowships. She teaches writing and the history of photography at Bard College.


    Isaac Salchow began his apprenticeship in 1992 with the “Dean of American Bowmaking”: Isaac’s grandfather, William Salchow. From the beginning, Isaac was drawn to the unrivaled playability and aesthetics of the Old French Masters. After years of detailed observation of various working styles, as well as association with many of the world’s top musicians, Isaac has become one of the most sought-after experts, bowmakers, dealers, and lecturers worldwide. In 2009, he took over the Salchow business and enjoys continuing the family tradition of bowmaking in New York City.

bottom of page