Longtime violin bowmaker Benoit Rolland, recipient of a 2012 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant, was recently the subject of an in-depth profile in the Boston Globe that featured a close look at his life as a sought-after builder of this highly specialized tool. Longtime violin bowmaker Benoit Rolland, recipient of a 2012 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant, was recently the subject of an in-depth profile in the Boston Globe that featured a close look at his life as a sought-after builder of this highly specialized tool.

“If a musician is not comfortable with the bow, the bow becomes an obstacle, and he or she cannot be free to play,” Rolland said in the article. “On the contrary, when the musician is very comfortable playing with the bow, he or she can forget it, and then give themselves freely to the music.”

Rolland has built approximately 1,800 bows throughout his career, which he now has plans to write a book describing. He meets with musicians personally before making customized bows for them, spending hours listening to them perform to get an intimate feel of their musical personalities. Rolland is the grandson of a famous pianist who taught him how to play while Rolland was growing up in Paris.

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