This is a rare early Pfretzschner with some unusual features, made as a copy of an earlier French bow. A great bow for classical repertoire, with a beautiful and luminous tone.

HR Pfretzschner, more properly referred to as Richard Pfretzschner, was one of a number of German makers to visit the Vuillaume shop. He was only there for a year, but it changed his life, and the course of German bow making. While his primary influence was the work of Voirin, this bow seems to nod more in the direction of the later bows made by Maline. Unusual also to find wood to wood mounts – other features are equally French, such as the pinned adjuster, the tapered pearl slide, the pinned 2-part heel plate and the rounded ferrule.

All in all an intriguing piece of work, most likely dating from Pfretzschner’s earliest years as an independent maker.

The stick is of round section deep red pednambuco, mouts are silver and ebony. Condition generally excellent, though the pin is missing from the adjuster, and the upper edges of the frog are typically nibbled.

Show a bow addict a really fine Pfretzschner or Knopf and they get a strange kind of gleam in their eye – there’s something about these bows that sets them apart, particularly in their playing qualities. Maybe it’s the sense of being in on a secret, maybe it’s an acquired taste, but I suffer from it badly!

I love this bow – it’s everything a German bow is meant not to be. Subtle, super-refined and slender, with an extraordinary clarity and liveliness of sound. It’s quite a light player – not Voirin light, but definitely not the right choice for Berg and Stockhausen. Perfect for earlier repertoire where nuance and sublime tone are what’s required, it has a certain magic which can’t be put into words.

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