Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/172

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156

��TOURTE.

��all the modern forms of staccato must have been impossible, and the nuances of piano and forte extremely limited ; a rawness, especially on the treble strings, and a monotony which to our ears would be intolerable, must have deformed the performances of the best of violinists. The violin, under Tourte's bow, became a different instrument : and subsequent bow-makers have exclusively copied him, the value of their pro- ductions depending on the success with which they have applied his principles.

Setting aside for the moment the actual model- ling of the Tourte stick, an examination of Tourte's own bows proves -that his first care was to select wood of fine but strong texture, and perfectly straight grain, and his second to give it a permanent and regular bend. This was effected by subjecting it in a state of flexion to a moderate heat for a considerable time. To apply a sufficient degree of heat to the very marrow of the stick without rendering the ex- terior brittle, is the most difficult part of the bow-maker's art: cheap and bad bows have never been thoroughly heated, and their curva- ture is therefore not permanent. Tourte's first experiments are said to have been made on the staves of old sugar hogsheads from Brazil. This is not unlikely : probably the bent slabs of Brazil wood employed for this purpose had ac- quired a certain additional elasticity from the combined effect of exposure to tropical heat and the absorption of the saccharine juices : and in connection with the latter it has been suggested that the dark colour of the Tourte sticks is not wholly attributable to age, but partly to some preparation applied to them in the process of heating. The writer cannot agree with this suggestion, especially as some of Tourte's finest bows are extremely pale in colour. Be this as it may, it is certain that the greater elasticity which he secured in the stick by the choice and preparation of the wood enabled him to carry out to the fullest extent the method of bending the stick of the bow the reverse way, that is, inwards, and thus to realise what had long been the desideratum of violinists, a bow which should be strong and elastic without being heavy. By thus increasing and econo- mising the resistance of the stick he liberated the player's thumb and fingers from much use- less weight. By a series, no doubt, of patient experiments, he determined the right curvature for the stick, and the rule for tapering it gradually towards the point, 1 so as to have the centre of gravity in the right place, or in other words to 'balance' properly over the string in the hand of the player. He determined the true length of the stick, and the height of the point and the nut, in all which particulars the bow-makers of his time seem to have erred on the side of excess. Lastly, he invented the method of spreading the hairs and fixing them on the face of the nut by means of a moveable

1 Mathematically Investigated, Tourte's bow. when unstrung, is found to form a logarithmic curve, the ordiuates of which increase In arithmetical proportion, and the abscissa* in geometrical pro- portion.

��TOWER DRUMS.

band of metal fitting on a slide of mother-of- pearl. The bow, as we have it, is therefore the creation of the genius of Tourte.

Tourte's improvements in the bow were effected after 1775. Tradition says that he was materially assisted in his work by the advice of Viotti, who arrived in Paris in 1782. Nothing is more likely; for only an accom- plished violinist could have formulated the de- mands which the Tourte bow was constructed to satisfy. Viotti no doubt contributed to bring the Tourte bow into general use, and it is certain that it quickly drove the old bar- barous bows completely from the field, and that in Paris there at once arose a school of bow-makers which has never been excelled.

For the excellent bows which thus became for the first time obtainable, violinists were willing to pay considerable sums. Tourte charged 12 louis cl'or for his best bows mounted in gold. As the makers increased in number the prices fell ; but the extreme rarity of fine Pernambuco wood perfectly straight in grain has always contributed to keep up the price of the very best bows. Tourte's bows, of which during a long life he made an immense number, are common enough ; but owing to the great number of al- most equally good ones which were made by his successors, only extraordinary specimens fetch very high prices. A very fine Tourte has been recently sold for 30: common ones vary in price from 5 to 10. It is a singular fact that there is no difference of opinion among violinists as to Tourte's merits. His bows are universally preferred to all others: and they show no signs of wearing out. Tourte never stamped his bows. Genuine ones are sometimes found stamped with the name, but this is the work of some other hand. His original nuts are usually of tortoise shell, finely mounted in gold, but wanting the metallic slide on the stick, which was introduced by Lupot.

Like Stradivari and Nicholas Amati, Tourte continued to work to within a very few years of his death, at an advanced age. His atelier was on the fourth floor of No. 10, Quai de 1'Ecole : after making bows all day he would descend in the evening, and recreate himself by angling for gudgeon in the Seine. His peaceful career came to an end in April 1835, in his 88th y ear nearly the same age as that attained by the two famous violin-makers of Cremona above mentioned. [E.J.P.]

TOWER DRUMS, THE. Handel frequently borrowed a pair of kettledrums from the Master- General of the Ordnance for his own perform- ances of his oratorios ; and as they were kept in the Tower of London, they were usually called 'the Tower Drums.' They were in fre- quent request after his death, including the Commemoration Festival in Westminster Abbey in 1784. Dr. Burney, in his account of this Festival, says they were taken by Marlborough at the battle of Malplaquet in 1 709.

A much larger pair, 39 and 35 inches in diameter, were made expressly for that Festival

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