Les compositeurs de musiques de films

Musiques de films

Pour en savoir plus sur les compositeurs de musiques de films et leurs créations, parcourez les pages suivantes !

La critique de film d'Alix

Critiques de films

Le Top 100 des plus belles musiques de films

Les 100 + belles BO de films

Est-ce possible ? Possible, oui bien sûr mais raisonnable, beaucoup moins.

LE SITE EST EN COURS DE MODIFICATION (changement d’hébergeur).


Put your heart into a bleeding matter



An open letter to the Prime Minister of Canada

“Words are harsh and sentences are violent,
But never as much as the facts they denounce.”

Mr. Prime Minister of Canada,

Once again I notice that a barbarous behaviour, the slaughtering of juvenile seals, a practice inherited from another time, is still carried on in your beautiful country. How can you put up with the fact that such vicious practices still exist and why do you still authorise – and promote – barbary for sordid financial and partial reasons ? You claim to be the leader of a civilised and modern country, aware of the responsibilities mankind has to take upon itself to try and preserve our environment but you are just showing us how you prefer the lack of courage to the strength of character, the small lobby groups to the opinion of the great majority of people, death to life : instead of giving an example of a tolerant, magnanimous and understanding government, confident in its abilities and authority, able to make the difference between good and bad and to enforce the law, to set the example for future generations by committing yourself to follow the only direction allowing mankind, the fauna and the flora to survive all over our planet, to support the right to live in freedom and happiness even as a juvenile seal, instead of all this, you clearly choose to turn the opinion of the world against yourself and thus to put your country on the dock because of your terrifying behaviour regarding nature and animals. My family, my friends, my colleagues and all the people I know are so shocked and disgusted by your backward-looking attitude that we all doubt your country is still a beautiful nation and a great democracy. You can count on me, Mr. Prime Minister, to hold the attention of all these people (and of many more, take it from someone having a small but effective influence) so that they protest, in some firm, legal and definitive way or another, and show their rejection and their disgust at your casualness. The conviction of fighting for a right and urgent cause can lead to many excesses and you will soon have to become aware of it, and especially to take it into account and change your tack. But how many innocent and peaceful creatures will have to be disembowelled until then ?

Mr. Prime Minister, I honestly believe that authorising seal hunting in Canada will lead to important and serious repercussions for you and your government, and therefore for the whole country (including Quebec, of course) on marketing, economical and financial levels. These are arguments you might hear as they belong to the only law you’re willing to respect, economy, that is the law of the money and the private interests. The ancient practices of some communities are out of place today. If not, then why were privileges abolished ? Why were the guillotine, the gallows pole, the quartering, the stake, the stoning and the crucifixion banned ? They too were traditions deeply rooted in the everyday lives of local populations, the paradox being that entire families depended on these traditions to survive. And these practices also had staunch supporters. But thanks to detractors, fortunately, the Revolution happened… There may then still be some hope for us.

Mr. Prime Minister, why did you send Canadian soldiers over to the beaches of Normandy to save France, Europe and the World from the hideous yoke of nazism only to give way to another form of barbary, just as hideous, a new slaughtering of innocent creature, even if they are animals ? Yes, I do dare compare the behaviour of a man capable of taking a hook and without any remorse driving it into the skull of scared juvenile seals while looking straight into their eyes with the pleasure nazi officers took while hypocritically inviting prisoners to take a shower : “It’s for your own good,” they would say… Yes, I do dare compare your government letting it happen, your stance on this question and the reasons you pathetically adduce to try and justify your being deaf to the cries of revolt from the people with the indifference and the killer negligence of the leaders who were fooled and who only saw the idealistic promises of a better world made by some killer dictator who had nevertheless so much affection for those little ones he would tenderly hold in his arms… Yes, both the reasonings are similar because they are based on the same cold and emotionless motives, which are using of all pretences to legitimate violence and aggression, which are behaviours deriving from distorted, sick and corrupt minds to say the least. Authorising any form of killing, closing your eyes or looking away from injustice, all this make you guilty of a crime and you will one day have to face the judgement of the brave. The world is watching you, Mr. Prime Minister, and punishing your behaviour far more than you can imagine. Does that leave you unconcerned too ?

Mr. Prime Minister, my country, France, is not qualified at all to be moralising the rest of the world : bullfighting, nothing more than legal public slaughtering sessions which thousands of men, women and children enjoy watching; the use of fishing nets not conforming to standards; battery farming; the small number of wolves disturbing shepards (who, by the way, should be provided with means to get equipped with dogs and surveillance systems); the dolphin disturbing someone during his holidays (!) and other examples play down the impact of this protest letter. I mean so little when compared to the decisions the leaders have to take, these leaders seemingly being the only ones to “know what to do” and privileged enough to “defend the nation’s best interests”… But the matters at stake now and those to come exist at world level, and the people who do not understand that will continue to contemplate their own navels and eventually endure the same fate as the rest of mankind, the revenge nature is planning for us. Are you one of those people practising mental masturbation, Mr. Prime Minister, or are you in fact really clever, able to think by yourself and can you show a little political courage by cutting yourself out of all this pressure ? Are you finally going to react at least for once in your life for a just cause ? Open up your eyes : seal hunting must be prohibited !

I am obviously not fooling myself as to what will become of this letter and whether you will ever read it, Mr. Prime Minister. But for now, the image and the reputation of your beautiful country are melting away faster than the ice floe in the sun and I am wondering, considering that you don’t have any humanity or compassion in you for the victims of those torturers, how you treat your own people, your family and friends… Considering the little interest you show on maintaining life in general and most specifically the peaceful lives of the seals, you seem to me really deprived from any feelings worthy of any human being living in the 21st century. I feel ashamed for those who voted for you, I am crying at the fate you have in store for the juvenile seals and I pity you for your cowardice because if you really believed in what you’re standing for, I’d like to see you take a shovel and relentlessly hit the head of a juvenile seal. Could you do this without feeling sick in front of your own children or grandchildren, in front of cameras or on the sly ? Are you one of those people, or are you just an accomplice, a passive supporter, a contemptuous bystander, because if this is what you are then shame on you, on your status as a human being. You are not worth it.

Sincerely not yours.


Ein Aufschrei gegen Todesschreie


Offener Brief an den Ministerpräsidenten von Kanada

« Die Worte sind hart und die Sätze gewaltig. Aber nie so sehr wie die damit denunzierten die Taten.’
Sehr geehrter Herr Ministerpräsident,

Einmal mehr muss ich feststellen, dass es mit der grausamen Jagd auf Jungrobben, die eigentlich längst zur Vergangenheit zählen sollte, in Ihrem wunderbaren Land weitergeht. Wie können Sie ein so perverses Vorgehen nimmer noch zulassen und nach wie vor die Genehmigung für die Barbarei erteilen – und dies sogar fördern! – nur aus gemeinen finanziellen und parteilichen Gründen? Sie behaupten, an der Spitze eines zivilisierten, modernen Landes zu stehen, sich der Verantwortung bewusst zu sein, die der Mensch übernehmen muss, um unsere Umwelt zu erhalten, Sie aber beweisen eher Mutlosigkeit als Charakterstärke, bevorzugen der mehrheitlichen Meinung lieber einflussreiche Lobbys, haben den Tod lieber als das Leben: anstatt als tolerante, großmütige und verständnisvolle Regierung mit gutem Beispiel voranzugehen und zu zeigen, dass sie sich ihrer Kompetenzen und ihrer Autorität sicher ist, dass sie das Gute vom Bösen zu unterscheiden und die allgemeinen Rechte durchzusetzen versteht, anstatt den kommenden Generationen beispielgebend voranzugehen und den einzigen Weg einzuschlagen, der es der Menschheit, der Tier- und der Pflanzenwelt erlauben wird, auf unserem Planeten zu überleben, nämlich das Recht auf ein freies und glückliches Leben, auch wenn es sich um eine Jungrobbe handelt, zu unterstützen, stattdessen entscheiden Sie sich eindeutig dafür, sich wegen Ihres schauerlichen Verhaltens der Natur und der Tierwelt gegenüber mit der Weltöffentlichkeit zu verfeinden und Ihr Land auf die Anklagebank zu schicken. Meine Familie, meine Freunde, meine Bekannten und Arbeitskollegen sind von Ihrer altmodischen Haltung dermaßen schockiert und angeekelt, dass wir uns ernsthaft die Frage stellen, ob Ihr Land wirklich noch ein prachtvoller Staat und eine bedeutende Demokratie ist. Sie können sich darauf verlassen, Herr Ministerpräsident, dass ich all diese Personen (und andere mehr, Sie dürfen mit meinem geringen, aber wirksamen Einfluss rechnen) dazu bewegen werde, auf die eine oder andere, aber auf sichere, legale und bestimmte Weise Ablehnung und Empörung Ihrer Nachlässigkeit gegenüber zum Ausdruck zu bringen. Die Überzeugung einer guten und dringenden Sache zu dienen, führt zu vielen Ausschweifungen, und Sie werden sich dessen schließlich und endlich bewusst werden, und es vor allem einkalkulieren und richtigstellen müssen. Wie viele unschuldige und friedfertige Geschöpfe werden aber in der Zwischenzeit geschlachtet und massakriert werden?

Herr Ministerpräsident, ich glaube allen Ernstes, dass die weitere Zulassung der Robbenjagd in Kanada für Sie und Ihre Regierung, und damit für das ganze Land (einschlieβlich Québec natürlich) schlimme und ernsthafte Auswirkungen in der Wirtschaft und im Marketing-Bereich sowie auf finanzieller Ebene nach sich ziehen wird. Das sind also eine ganze Reihe Argumente, die Sie vielleicht nur in Bezug auf das einzige Gesetz sehen, das in Ihren Augen zählt, nämlich das der ‘Wirtschaft’, kurz gesagt, das des Geldes und der individuellen Interessen. Die uralten Praktiken gewisser Lebensgemeinschaften sind heute nicht mehr angesagt, denn warum sonst wurden die Privilegien aufgehoben? Warum wurden die Guillotine, das Schafott, die Vierteilung, der Scheiterhaufen, die Steinigung, die Kreuzigung abgeschafft? In der Bevölkerung waren das auch je nach Ort fest verankerte Traditionen des täglichen Lebens, paradoxerweise war das Überleben ganzer Familien davon abhängig, diese Praktiken hatten also auch ihre erbitterten Anhänger… Zum Glück gab es Leute, die dagegen waren, und so kam es zur Revolution… Was uns betrifft, so ist die Hoffnung vielleicht doch nicht in unendliche Ferne gerückt.

Herr Ministerpräsident, warum wurden Kanadier an den Strand der Normandie geschickt, um Frankreich, Europa und die Welt vom entsetzlichen Joch des Nazismus zu befreien, wenn stattdessen eine andere, genauso schändliche Form von Barbarei zugelassen wird, nämlich ein neuerliches Massaker von Unschuldigen, auch wenn es sich um Tiere handelt? Ja, ich wage es, das Verhalten eines Mannes, der in der Lage ist, ohne schlechtes Gewissen und ohne mit der Wimper zu zucken einen Haken in den Schädel einer verängstigten Jungrobbe zu bohren, mit der Ergötzung des Nazioffiziers zu vergleichen, der einen Deportierten heuchlerisch aufforderte, unter die Dusche zu gehen: « das wird Ihnen guttun » sagte er ihm… Ja, ich wage es, die Nichteinmischung Ihrer Regierung, Ihre Stellungnahmen zu dieser Frage und die jämmerlichen Gründe, die Sie vorbringen, um Ihre Taubheit dem Aufschrei der Bevölkerung gegenüber zu rechtfertigen, mit der Gleichgültigkeit und der wohlmeinenden, tödlichen wirkenden Nachlässigkeit der getäuschten Regierungsmitglieder zu vergleichen, die nur die idyllischen Versprechungen für eine bessere Welt sahen, die ein gewisser mörderischer Diktator gemacht hatte, der jedoch mit den lieben Kleinen, die er zärtlich in seine Arme nahm, so nett war… Ja, die Vorgehensweisen ähneln sich, denn sie beruhen auf demselben kaltblütigen Kalkül, das nicht das geringste Gefühl kennt, d.h. es werden alle möglichen Vorwände benutzt, um Gewalt und Aggression zu rechtfertigen, und das ist ein Verhalten, das auf eine ganz abartige, krankhafte und korrupte Geisteshaltung zurückzuführen ist. Jede Form von Gemetzel zu genehmigen, die Augen zu verschlieβen und seine Aufmerksamkeit von der Ungerechtigkeit abzuwenden, lässt an einem Verbrechen schuldig werden und führt eines Tages vor das Gericht der Gerechten. Der Welt schaut auf Sie und sanktioniert Ihr Verhalten, Herr Ministerpräsident, weit mehr als Sie es ahnen können. Lässt Sie das auch gleichgültig?

Herr Ministerpräsident, Frankreich, mein Land, hat nicht das Recht, den Rest der Welt zu belehren: der Stierkampf, der nur eine legale Schlachtshow ist, an der sich massenhaft Männer, Frauen und Kinder ergötzen; die Benutzung nicht konformer Fischernetze; die Legebatterien; die Hand voll Wölfe, die den Schäfer beunruhigen (dem man die nötigen Mittel zur Verfügung stellen sollte, um sich mit Hunden und Überwachungspersonal auszustatten); der Delphin, der den Urlauber (!) stört, und weitere Beispiele, schränken die Wirkung meiner hier auf das Papier gebrachten Forderungen ein. Ich bedeute so wenig im Vergleich zu den Vorsitzenden der Groβmächte, die die Entscheidungen treffen, die anscheinend die Einzigen sind, die „wissen, was zu tun ist“ und die das Privileg der „Verteidigung der nationalen Interessen“ besitzen. Die gegenwärtigen und zukünftigen Probleme betreffen die ganze Welt; diejenigen, welche das nicht verstanden haben, werden mit der Nabelschau weitermachen und auf alle Fälle das selbe Schicksal wie die übrige Menschheit erfahren, nämlich jenes, das die rachsüchtige Natur für uns bereithält. Gehören Sie, Herr Ministerpräsident, zu jenen, die intellektuelle Selbstbefriedigung betreiben, oder sind Sie wirklich intelligent und fähig, selbst nachzudenken und ein bisschen politischen Mut zu zeigen, indem Sie sich nicht von allen möglichen Leuten unter Druck setzen lassen? Setzen Sie sich doch wenigstens einmal in Ihrem Leben für eine gute Sache ein, machen Sie also Ihre Augen auf: die Robbenjagd muss verboten werden !
Ich mache mir natürlich überhaupt keine Illusion mit diesem Brief, den Sie, Herr Ministerpräsident wahrscheinlich nie lesen werden. Zu dieser Stunde handelt es sich jedoch um das Markenzeichen und den Ruf Ihres wunderschönen Landes, die schneller als Packeis in der Sonne dahinschmelzen und ich frage mich angesichts Ihrer mangelnden Menschlichkeit und Ihres mangelnden Mitgefühls für die Opfer der ungebärdeten Peiniger, wie Sie mit Ihren eigenen Familienmitgliedern und Freunden umgehen… Angesichts der geringen Achtung, die Sie für die Aufrechterhaltung des Lebens im Allgemeinen und ein zukünftiges friedliches Leben der Robben im Besonderen übrig haben, habe ich den Eindruck, dass Sie nicht das geringste Gefühl besitzen, das eines menschlichen Wesens des 21. Jahrhunderts würdig ist. Ich schäme mich für Ihre Wähler, ich weine wegen des Schicksals, das Sie den Jungrobben bescheren und ich habe nur wenig Mitleid für Ihre Feigheit, denn würden Sie Ihre Stellung mit Überzeugung vertreten, würde ich Sie gerne mit einem Pickel in der Hand sehen, wie Sie verbissen auf den Kopf einer Jungrobbe einschlagen. Könnten Sie es ohne Herzklopfen vor Ihren Kindern und Enkelkindern, vor laufenden Kameras oder auch nur im Geheimen tun? Gehören Sie wirklich zu denen oder sind Sie ein gewöhnlicher Helfershelfer, ein passiver Verbündeter, ein verächtlicher Zuschauer, denn, wenn das der Fall ist, schäme ich mich für Sie, ich schäme mich dafür, dass Sie ein Mann sind. Sie sind dessen nicht würdig.

Hochverachtungsvoll !

Mehr Infos (Achtung, echte und grausame Bilder)

Tierschutz : Nachrichten von der Front/aus erster Hand

Übersetzung dieser Website: Irene BESSON – Paris – France / Traductions version allemande : Irene Besson


He’s one of the best…


A tribute to Elmer Bernstein

Film music is today a genre just as important as other previous types of music such as baroque, classical, romantic, jazz… and Elmer Bernstein is a truly great composer. His works are both rich and complete and while intricately detailed they are also, paradoxically, beautifully simple.

Nowadays, however, it appears difficult for the younger generation to appreciate the full extent of his talent. Melodies are no longer fashionable and young people no longer have the same listening potential. Today’s modern music is somewhat limited to rather ordinary orchestral harmonisation (if any), thudding electronic sounds and a general lack of musical culture. This is, no doubt, resulting directly from the monotonous banging sounds played on radio and TV as a result of purely economic interests involved in the production of easy, basic music which is so popular today. Just listen to some of today’s contemporary music and you become aware of the exaggerated loud bass, the absence of any memorable melodies (if by chance there are any lyrics, they are elementary and often badly performed) and an almost total absence of harmonisation, all of this swamped by a deafening percussion beating at an extremely boring regular tempo !

Nowadays anyone can do anything in the name of music. What happens when such music is transposed onto the screen ? It by no means enriches the images we see, it simply overshadows them. This is, in fact, just the opposite of what film music is intended for. Moreover, most of the sounds in such music are electronic or electric, often resulting in deformed sounds which young people hear eventually making them unable to appreciating the true quality of simple acoustic sounds or of a four note chord, and let’s not talk about digital recordings making such interpretations sound so empty. What is better than listening to the natural sound of an analogical recording : it takes us closer to rhythm, movement, nature and people ! This is, no doubt, why Elmer Bernstein’s music is so different – it is but the opposite of most of today’s dull and boring music.

It is so much alive, created thanks to his gift in music, his love of music and his search for perfection. He composed it not only so that it merged with the film it was written for but mostly to add to the emotions it evokes. Better still, Elmer Bernstein’s compositions become even richer when heard with the actual film. It shows the lively interaction that exist between both of them : the music is essential to the film which in turn is essential to the music. The composer brings together technical and complex elements to create orchestrations with ultimate grace and lightness which are characteristics of both his professionalism and his originality. He is a Master of the art of musical composition. For a lot of different reasons his works are true models for the future generations of listeners, composers and instrumentalists to follow. In my own opinion, the essential characteristics of his work are in the wonderful harmony of the strings, the wind instruments and the percussion and the exchanges between the melodies, counterpoints and rhythm sections, all done so naturally, so smoothly and so harmoniously.

Elmer Bernstein has definitely established his own « school » of music, creating an example which was followed by many film music composers all around the world : the perfect and seventh chords, the atypical rhythm, the violin E-string played in unison, the rapid and staccato in the brass section, the superb richness of the sound (made by using the timbre and other characteristics of the instruments which merge perfectly together), the changes in key as unexpected as spontaneous, the rhythm breaks, the incredible accentuations, the rare instruments and inspired interpretations. When hearing the performance the listener is immediately transported into the « Bernstein sound », the « Bernstein style », the « Bernstein music ». The original sound of Elmer Bernstein will last forever and should be taught in schools and universities specialising in the music from the 20th and 21st centuries. To show our appreciation of his inventive genius, his works and his talent, which are as impressive and as vast as those of other great erudite music composers, Elmer Bernstein’s name should appear on the list of the great Masters.

If Mozart was alive today, I’m sure he would write film music. No doubt he too would love this great art to which Elmer Bernstein gave so many compositions and so much nobility. Should Mozart have been reincarnated perhaps his name would have been “Bernstein”. I personally have been teaching music theory for fifteen years to students of all ages at a music school in France. The theory I teach and which I thought would lead to the ability to reading written music and to the understanding of what music really is, both technically and emotionally, was based mainly on Elmer Bernstein’s compositions. These compositions provided me with true examples of melodic structures which are rich both in harmony and rhythm. Music should not be labelled nor appreciated according to the school in which it is categorised – classical, jazz, old or new… The concept of different musics doesn’t exist, it’s just Music, something merging vibrations together. Music should be felt by the instrumentalist and the listener; it should convey strong emotions. That is why I encouraged instrumentalists to play the works of Elmer Bernstein.

In 1986, at the UNESCO Centre in Paris, this resulted in an orchestra consisting of young musicians, which I conducted, giving an excellent performance during the finale of a National Orchestral Competition for young French musicians. I’m sure that the music of Big Jake, True Grit, Katie Elder or many others are still alive in the memories of the young people who are now grown-ups. Elmer Bernstein’s compositions, so lively and affirmative and bursting with energy and emotion, give us a true “joie de vivre” and take us sometimes into deep thoughts and meditation, and other times into sadness and nostalgia, but they always convey, and always will, an immense feeling of happiness to the listeners. American cinema, so popular world-wide for a large numbre of very sound reasons, owes much of its success to its excellent film-music composers (Bill Conti, Lalo Schifrin, Henry Mancini, John Barry, Georges Delerue, to name but a few).

Elmer Bernstein has contributed to the fame and appreciation of some of the best things in American culture: talent, work, intelligence, imagination, creation, devotion, self-sacrifice, hope, sharing, generosity… love! Elmer Bernstein’s music is not simply added to the film, it makes the film, it is the film! By successfully merging together so many musical influences and thanks to his immense and varied musical abilities, Elmer Bernstein’s compositions reflect his true qualities and should be used as an example for everyone, whether musicians or not. By this I mean the qualities which lead to the making of great men, great musicians, and which bring out the best in us.
Many, many thanks Mr Elmer Bernstein, you will always be remembered as a true, unique example to follow.
P.S. I’ve never had the chance nor the opportunity to meet Mr Bernstein, but through his compositions, I feel like I have always known him.


The official site of Elmer Bernstein, click here


The bow and the Franco-Belgian school of music



Are instrument making and bow making changing jobs ? Some argue changes should be brought to adapt to new technologies, while others predict their disappearance due to the hegemony of electronics. When Andrea Amati was born on that beautiful morning of 1511 in Italy, his parents were not yet aware their son would revolutionise the music world. A conscientious instrument maker, he endeavoured to train his own sons, Antonio and Girolamo, the first of the famous instrument maker dynasty from Cremone. He was one of the first to give the word “violin” its full meaning as it was created around 1523. Then Niccolo, his grandson and maybe the most famous member of the family, trained his students on the job and gave them a heck of a training, the one which produced the greatest instrument makers of all times : Antonio Stradivari (Stradivarius in its Latin form, Strad for the initiates) and Andrea Guarneri (Guarnerius) whose grandson, also trained by Stradivari, created the famous violins which are still outstanding instruments 300 years later. Numerous families lived by and for the violin, the viola, the cello, the double bass : Guadagninis, Testores, Magginis, … Some very fine French instrument makers also feature among the finest instrument makers : Vuillaume, Lupot (who paid real attention to the back of the violins made of either one or two pieces of maple), two instrument makers regarded as the French Stradivariuses, not forgetting the famous innovative bows made by Tourte (Paganini’s talent required a special bow and Kreutzer as well as Viotti were ardent admirers of the Parisian bowmakers); Bernadel and more recently Bauer, Vatelot and Dupuy were also great master instrument makers…

If Italy was where instrument making was born, France and Belgium were where violin learning technique was developed. First of all thanks to Lully and his famous Violons du Roy and also thanks to a new generation of teacher emerging in the middle of the 19th century. Great performers and teachers at the academies of music in Paris, Liege and Brussels – probably influenced by Italian musicians who had settled down in Paris, among whom a wild and much talented Paganini – composed this very outstanding violin school based on a simple principle : the search for the perfect sound. These amazing teachers named Rode, Kreutzer (to whom Beethoven dedicated his famous sonata) and Baillot are very well known by violin players because they were also composers ; their Melodies, Sonatas, Studies, Capriccios and other stylistic compositions and their work on technical virtuosity were performed by their students who in turn became the ambassadors of this violin school : Bériot, Dancla, Mazas, Féréol, Vieuxtemps (who helped through his concerts bring the violin to the attention of the Quebec public),Marsick, Poland’s Wieniawski or Ysaÿe and his student Crickboom, among other phenomena… The latter have passed this tradition on almost to this day : Grumiaux, Francescatti, Menuhin, Stern, Zuckerman, Perlman… as well as my master Roger André : some very fine people indeed ! You can find a non-exhaustive list of violin players here : http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violoniste.

The German school (represented by Joachim), the Russian school (represented by Milstein), the Japanese and American school (represented by the Suzuki method) and other violin schools founded thanks to these instrument artists who drove the art into a corner through their concerts, their lessons as well as their compositions. You will never hear anything better ! I can testify : it is impossible to forget Roger André’s ‘twist of the wrist’, my master and an amazing teacher in Chatou and Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Yvelines, France) but above all First Solo Violin at the Opéra de Paris. He would play so well you’d almost forget the instrument : the musician’s touch, his “style”, would allow him to create a sound with a rare deepness and sweetness, such as these of the greatest but of which lack today’s numerous violin players who, despite an obvious brilliant left-hand technique, are nervous, cold, lacking personality, some 21st century androids. Maybe because they are looking for the performance at all cost, the easy fame and the money coming with it, instead of absorbing the music first in order to live it from the inside by adjusting their philosophy, their approach of the world and the way they develop their human qualities so they would have something to say and to tell one day with their instruments !

Indeed, this Franco-Belgian school of violin would allow each and every one to develop their own personality and approach of the music through training in the technique and musicality of the instrument, all this in an amazing environment full of exchanges and encounters. That was how it was back then, you would build yourself according to your environment, sometimes enduring it : life’s complications, wars, poverty… all you have to do is watch Menuhin’s or Gitlis’s path to realise that. There was less jealousy and more collaboration. The teaching was extremely demanding and hard ; it was based on the search for a beautiful simple clear sound : having a perfect holding of the bow was thus an absolute requirement. ‘An iron hand with a velvet wrist’, that was what André loved saying. So here we are then : a violin player’s bow is as important as the violin itself. Therefore, the bowmaker has a major role in the success of the duo instrument/player. Listen to this, young violin players (and alto and bass players too, although I cannot be absolutely positive as I don’t play these instruments), never neglect your right hand ! And should you decide to learn how to play the violin, look for a follower of the Franco-Belgian school or at least someone who knows why this amazing violin school exists !

Bows are made of Pernambouco wood found since the beginning of time in Brazil. But this wood has become a rare commodity due to the deforestation of the Amazon and the over-use of it for several centuries. Even medicine got interested in this wood which was said to have therapeutic properties. But how can research go on without any raw material ? An article published in Quebec magazine ‘La Scena musicale’ in March 2004 explains : ‘The attempts made to preserve this rare wood go back to 1605, when the Proclamation over the Pernambouco wood was signed by Philip II of Portugal.’ This could explain why more and more instrument makers prefer designing and making bows in carbon fibre, although this element has yet to prove major sound qualities compared to its wooden ancestor ! In fact, it all depends on the person who is going to use it and on what they want (or are able) to do with it… To learn more about the making of these not yet very much used bows (but this is all changing very fast because of China’s overproduction), visit the German website http://arcus-bow.de. As far as I’m concerned, I only swear by noble materials, therefore I would prefer a wooden bow even of a poor quality to a carbon fibre one even though I am told they are fantastic. But there again, I am biased of course.

The making of a bow, like the making of a violin, requires great qualities : patience, skill, a concern for precision, the love of wood, sustained thinking, focus, continuance in effort, managing disappointments because there are some (you have to wait until your product is used by a talented musician on a daily basis to know whether it is a success, knowing it would then be too late to change anything). There is a school in France – well, it actually is the best school in the whole world, so famous in fact that its graduates are spread all over the planet – in which apprentices with a professional calling are trained : the Ecole Nationale de Lutherie in Mirecourt (Vosges, France). Dammit, if I was 17 or 18 right now, I wouldn’t think twice about it. But it’s hard to do everything in one lifetime (not to mention to do everything right), isn’t it ? For more information : http://www.ac-nancy-metz.fr/pres-etab/vuillaume/poirot/1slorraine/lutherie. Bow have changed a lot all along the centuries. In the beginning, they looked very different and really had the shape of a bow (that is why the term remained). Stradivarius around 1700 and then François Tourte (1748-1835) were the ones who perfected them.

Translated by Natacha GILLARDEAU – Paris – France / Traductions version anglaise de Natacha Gillardeau


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