Tuesday September 22, 2020
Silvio Dalla Torre
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Müller Bow

August Müller published this article about the double bass bow in the
Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, No. 29, on 07.10./1848:

"The bow for the double bass, according to my experience, must absolutely have the weight necessary to support the required pressure against the highly tensioned strings of the instrument. It is really incomprehensible to me that anyone could have any doubt about the matter, since the size of the double bass and
the force with which it must be handled make apparent what is necessary.

Double bass bows are often so light that they are scarcely heavier than a stalwart cello bow. And people think that this gentle dove has the power and endurance needed to manage our colossal violin?

I played with a bow of this sort for a long time
in order to convince myself completely of its inadequacy. It seemed at first to be very good and to provide excellent power in playing. But
this is just an illusion, soon you discover that in
the long term it is not at all suitable for providing
the necessary vehemence or for promoting the
power of the double bass player.

The bow which I have found in my experience to be best suited to the purpose is almost the same length as a cello bow and is constructed in exactly the same way as such a one, except that it is at least twice as thick and heavy. It must be made of weighty American pernambuco or of logwood. The head may not be too low, and must be at least as high again as that of a violoncello bow. The frog is made of black wood (the so-called ebony). The hair is always from black horses, giving preference to the thickest and strongest. It is then spread out as widely as possible. This is a bow that everyone must applaud, one that knows the instrument for which it is intended."

From contemporary reports it is clear that Müller´s large and intensive sound was very convincing. None less than Hector Berlioz wrote in his Mémoires about Müller:

"There is a remarkable artist in the Darmstadt orchestra. His name is Müller... Instead of making a big show, which he could easily do, playing runs and arpeggios of excessive difficulty with a grotesque effect, he sings nobly and plangently on the enormous instrument, and produces the most beautiful notes, which he colours with artistry and feeling. I heard him play a wonderful Adagio, causing a critical audience to become deeply moved."

Müller was involved in the festival for the unveiling of the Mozart monument in Salzburg in September 1842, including in the performance of Mozart´s aria "Per questa bella mano", which was reported as follows:

"At these festivities, Mr. August Müller contributed an enormous amount to the success of the ensemble pieces with his omnipotent tone, combined with his discretely excellent interpretation and eminent proficiency."