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Orchestra bow uniformity?

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Anton Avis, Apr 26, 2018.


  1. Anton Avis

    Anton Avis

    Dec 13, 2016
    I recently heard that some orchestras demand a French or German bow. I've even heard that some German orchestras only accept people who use German bows. Is this true?
     
  2. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

    Apr 2, 2013
    Tennessee
    Look at clips of the Berlin or Vienna Philharmonic. I don't see anyone there playing French. Whether or not it's written policy, I think it's understood that if you want to play in those orchestras, you play German (plus, be ridiculously virtuosic and driven).

    I don't recall hearing of an orchestra that demands French bows, but there may be somewhere.
     
  3. Yes, but it's rarely stated as an official requirement. The vast majority of German orchestras are still using German bows exclusively, but they all have differing opinions about french bow applicants. Some will refuse them automatically, some might require the player to learn the German system upon employment, and some are even open to having a mixed section. If you are indeed a french bow player looking to audition in Germany, I would strongly suggest asking members of the bass sections directly about it. Most of them will tell you to forget it.

    There are a few mixed sections in Germany, but not many. It's usually because a principal player decided to switch after securing tenure.

    Most American orchestras once had a similar attitude. Orchestras like Philadelphia and Boston were all-French, while New York was all-German. As screened auditions became the norm (beginning around the 1970's -- incidentally, the same point when the number of women in orchestras blew up), it became more and more difficult to sort players in such a superficial manner. By now, nearly every major orchestra in the US is mixed.

    Many, if not most, German orchestras still hold un-screened auditions.

    Bienvenue en France.
     
  4. Neil Pye

    Neil Pye

    Apr 13, 2016
    Horsham, UK
    Most good audition panels will have at least one member who can hear the difference, especially in excerpts, so I doubt that screened auditions will have made much difference, to be honest. There may well be no explicit demand these days, although I think the Berlin Phil still makes it pretty clear, but there will be internal pressure to maintain one or the other in most cases. Given the number of eminently qualified players auditioning, most European orchestras can pick who they want for whatever reasons they want.
     
  5. wathaet

    wathaet

    May 27, 2007
    And you come to this conclusion how exactly?
     
  6. Neil Pye

    Neil Pye

    Apr 13, 2016
    Horsham, UK
    Well, if I can hear the difference, a real musician will definitely be able to
     
  7. Neil Pye

    Neil Pye

    Apr 13, 2016
    Horsham, UK
    And the real point I was making was that orchestras these days have so much choice, with so many great players auditioning, that they can choose whoever they want for whatever reason they want. Screened auditions will make no odds.
     
  8. wathaet

    wathaet

    May 27, 2007
    I assure you, this is not the case when you are listening to job-ready players in an audition situation. You CAN, at times, hear if someone is going all out german-school or one of several old school US ways of playing, but a BSO off stroke does not always equal a french bow. Plus behind a screen sitting in a hall, you tend to hear less fine detail.

    Paul made an excellent point about the correlation between the screen and when you starded to see a lot more women getting hired. I can say from personal experience that the screen matters in this regard even in these days.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2018
  9. If I can tell what kind of bow is behind the screen, I don’t want that player in my section. The best players have better control than that.
     
  10. wathaet

    wathaet

    May 27, 2007
    Precisely
     
  11. Neil Pye

    Neil Pye

    Apr 13, 2016
    Horsham, UK
    With respect, I don't think it's a control issue. I think a German bow just sounds different
     
  12. Depends on the stick. My German Seifert cranks on the E string as well or better than my French Prochownik.
     

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