Profile

I have been making bows for about 40 years, starting with a workshop that William Salchow gave in Saratoga Springs, NY when I was 18. I grew up playing violin, then switched to guitar around 14; I went on to study Jazz Guitar at Berklee College of Music, eventually earning my degree. I continued to attend Bill Salchow’s workshops, then at University of New Hampshire, and I made mandolins and guitars, and a viola da gamba. I had a stint as a professional chef, and did well at that, but I returned to music to attend the New England Conservatory in Jazz Guitar again,then took a second Master’s degree in Composition. While I went to NEC, I worked at Boston String Instrument Co., an older shop in Boston near the Conservatory and Symphony. I wrote a number of pieces for string quartet, orchestra, piano, wind quintet, etc. Later, I taught music at a local prep school, gave a lot of guitar lessons, and gigged around as a Jazz player. I wrote pieces and gave workshops in music, including a special jazz workshop and performance for zither, in Munich, Germany.
All this time I was making bows, the sales of which often financed my musical projects. I was able to attend the first Oberlin workshop in Ohio c.1993. with the outstanding bowmaker Stéphane Thomachot, thanks to Yung Chin, who organized it, and saw my nascent talent.
When Chris Reuning moved his business from Ithaca to Boston, he needed new staff from around Boston. I was hired as the bow specialist. I worked for Reuning and Son for almost eight years, seeing and restoring many of the finest bows in Boston and the world. Peter Jarvis, a salesman and violinist there, helped me discover the nuances of bow response and adjustment. I continued to attend the Oberlin workshops for probably 12 years in a row, and, having met Stéphane Thomachot there, I was invited to his workshop in Paris to refine my skills and concept further. Working with Stéphane was inspiring, and I still work to meet the standard that he sets. The amazing Mitsuaki Sasano was working with him at the time, and Mitsu’s generous but strict direction and advice was invaluable to me.
By the year 2000, I had a daughter with my partner Beate, now my wife, and I set up in business on my own in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
First responding to a request for a baroque bow, I asked Robert Seletsky, an early music violinist and leading scholar, if I could copy one of his antique bows, which I had rehaired while at Reuning’s. The success of that and subsequent copies led to a very fruitful collaboration with Mr. Seletsky,. Since then, I have had much success making baroque bows of various kinds, but the basis of that side of my making were the two important 18th c, bows that he owns. My work with Seletsky built on the work I started with Peter Jarvis, listening to, playing, and adjusting bows to make them more responsive and resonant.
During the past five years I have taught workshops in bowmaking, some at the North Bennet St. School, where I often teach the violinmaking students the fundamentals of bow rehairing. I have had many good students there, but none so good as Mariia Gorkun, a violinist from Kyiv, Ukraine. Mariia went to school at Longy, here in Cambridge, then returned home to play in the Kyiv Opera. She had bought a bow from me, and so when she wanted to work on bows in Kyiv, she wrote me to ask advice. I was happy to share my knowledge with her, and the next summer, she attended one of my workshops. She came back every summer since then, and I realized that I would never find another assistant as good as she. We arranged a visa, and Mariia has been living here, and working in the shop since March 2016.
I continue to make bows in my shop in Cambridge, both modern and pre-modern, and I have an active life as a musician, primarily playing guitar with the band TickleJuice, a jazzy groove oriented band.

violin bowmaker in Boston Ma
Violinbowmaker David Hawthorne in Boston MA