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Classicsonline Home » Artists » » Telmanyi, Emil

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Emil Telmanyi (1892 - 1988)


Telmányi’s name cannot be mentioned without reference to the so-called Vega ‘Bach bow’: an extraordinary contrivance with adjustable hair tension, developed by Vestergaard, in which the bow stick could be made to curve in a convex direction allowing all four strings of the violin to be played simultaneously.

Telmányi asserted, as Albert Schweitzer had previously alleged, that Bach’s unaccompanied violin works could not be reproduced faithfully using a modern, concave bow. In his article
Problems in Bach’s Unaccompanied Violin Music (The Musical Times, January 1955) he drew attention to convex bows depicted in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century paintings, suggesting that these allowed all four strings of the violin to be touched by the hair of the bow at the same time. He and Schweitzer both believed that performing the multiple-stop chords in repertoire such as Bach’s famous Chaconne in an arpeggiated fashion was not what Bach intended and, indeed, not entirely satisfying for audiences. Telmányi’s special ‘Bach’ bow was manufactured for him after a number of abortive attempts with various luthiers; the end-product satisfied his quest, but cannot realistically be considered to have any certain historical foundation. Surviving bows of Bach’s era do not conform to Telmányi’s specifications; moreover, Schweitzer’s early experiments in this field only succeeded after complex mechanical adaptations to a surviving curved bow!

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Discography



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