Benoît Rolland often says “A bow is not born until it is played. I know that my task is accomplished when a musician forgets the bow in her or his hand, and only feels the music.”
For over 37 years, French master bow maker Benoît Rolland has created bows for the finest musicians including the likes of Anne-Sophie Mutter, Christian Tetzlaff and Julia Fischer. Benoît Rolland designs each bow with a specific playing style and sound in mind. His knowledge of traditional French bow making combined with an understanding of the instrument as a performing violinist, allows him to create bows that fulfil performers expectations of exceptional playability, refined aesthetics and sound projection.
Benoît Rolland: Creating fine bows is not a mere matter of craftsmanship, but a capacity to design into a unique piece of wood both responsiveness to a musician’s style and to the instrument. Each good bow is a sculpture in movement, a concept of embedded music.”
The strength, power and sense of flexibility experienced when using his bows is remarkable. Renowned players often praise the warmth and wide range of expression and technique they are able to achieve in performance. Another exciting feature is their evenness, as they are responsive along the entire length of the bow. Every stroke will be secure and stable. Sautillé, spiccatos, and staccatos become easy to play!
Only the most outstanding parts of the wood, in terms of their musical qualities, are sculpted into Rolland bows. The woods are chosen not only for their beauty, but first according to the response and sound potential that their fibres offer. From the moment of opening a log to finishing the bow, each piece of wood is purposely selected and prepared to serve the goal desired in each bow.
Benoît Rolland experiments with new designs and materials to create violin, viola, and cello bows for the twenty-first century. As a talented violinist who undertook rigorous training steeped in the tradition of nineteenth-century bow design, Rolland brings a unique perspective and keen understanding of musicianship to his work. Prized by contemporary musicians for rivaling the quality of the revered bows of the nineteenth century, his beautifully crafted bows combine the sensitivity, speed, and robust power of the older pieces while also offering new dimensions of tonal brilliance that satisfy the highest artistic demands. Before making a bow for a particular musician, he listens to recordings or live performances in order to create a finished product that perfectly matches the individual player’s personal playing style and also brings out an extraordinary richness of tone and color in the instrument. That understanding is only part of why Rolland won a MacArthur genius grant (video below). He's revered for his knowledge of traditional bow-making skills but also for his innovations. His most recent invention is an updated "frog" . "It's much more stable," Rolland says, "so it's easier to play, more responsive, the sound is fuller — most of the time, not all of the time. So it's an improvement I think is interesting. And this frog is adjustable on any existing stick."
Developed over a long period of contemplation, and in collaboration with artists at the highest levels of classical music performance and pedagogy, the new frog angles the bow hair at 15 degrees without modifying the balance point of the bow. Conventionally, the frog is square to the hair ribbon, requiring the player to tilt their wrist back in order to use the full width of the bow hair. With a minimal change in the bow’s geometry that will be invisible to the audience, the Galliane frog makes the use of the full width immediately accessible, without requiring musicians to make any changes in their technique. This provides more evenness and traction in the stroke of the bow and makes the most difficult spiccatos and staccatos playing easier. Additionally, it expands the range of sensations that transfer from the instrument to the player, increasing the potential musical expressiveness of the performer and the fullness of the sound of the playing. It also greatly helps in reducing damage to the bow and broken hairs inherent to bow tilting. The Galliane frog will be offered both as an option accompanying Rolland fine bows and as an option to fit onto all existing bows. As one of Benoit’s greatest supporters, Anne-Sophie Mutter has already ordered a new bow fitted with a Galliane frog. No doubt many musicians will follow suit.
The Galliane frog (pictured right) is the most revolutionary introduction in bow making since Tourte. It can be fitted on any bow at Cardiff Violins. Please enquire at 029 20 22 77 61.
An American expert wrote about Rolland Bows: "They are a fine investment and can be considered the eventual equals of Peccattes' and Tourtes."
Are you struggling with the technical difficulties of advanced bowing techniques? Visit Cardiff Violins now for your chance to experience the exceptional quality and agility of Benoit Rolland's bows and Galliane frogs! Your playing will take on a new lease of life with one of his bows in your hand! Due to the very high demand of Benoit’s bows, please ring 029 20 22 77 61 for an appointment and to make sure we have some in stock.
These are just a few of Benoit’s customers :
Video below features Anne-Sophie Mutter, a long term customer of Benoit's!
Cardff Violins Testimonials:
Nicola Thomas PPRNCM
"I had no intention of purchasing a bow, however, when I visited Cardiff Violins and tried a Benoit Rolland I loved the sound it made and the fact that it seemed to suit the cello I play. I bought it! The Rolland has become my fulltime bow and I love finding more and more possibilities from this wonderful piece of craftsmanship.’’