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J & A Beares is proud to announce its acquisition of W E Hill and Sons

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As we celebrate J & A Beare’s 125th Anniversary, we are delighted to announce another historic landmark with the acquisition of the renowned firm, W E Hill and Sons.

Founded in 1887 by William Ebsworth Hill, W E Hill & Sons built a long and distinguished history of expertise and dealing as well as violin and bow making.

J & A Beare’s Managing director, Simon Morris, commented ‘W E Hill and Sons is synonymous with quality and expertise … for generations it was the world’s pre-eminent violin dealer … now, in our 125th year, Beare’s is proud to help our clients further by combining the historic resources of Hill’s with our own….the sought after Hill accessories will continue to be manufactured and sold’.

We are very pleased that we were able to entrust our company to J & A Beare, a firm with such a good and long-standing reputation for dealing in fine stringed instruments,” David Hill has said.

All enquiries about W E Hill and Sons should be addressed to: info@wehillandsons.london or violins@beares.com
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‘Fiddle Sticks’ exhibition opened this weekend

After the launch of the book “The Hill Bow Makers: 1880 – 1962” earlier this year, Beare’s bow restorer Derek Wilson and co-author John Milnes opened their ‘Fiddle Sticks’ exhibition in Oxford this weekend. The exhibition focuses on the story of bow making at the Hill firm and even features a recreated workshop space.

 

Bows at W.E. Hill & Sons

The firm was founded by William Ebsworth Hill, whose father, grandfather and great-grandfather had made violins, violas and cellos in London since around 1750. Four of William’s sons, Arthur, Alfred, William and Walter, joined their father in the family firm.

For nearly a century the Hill firm had London showrooms in New Bond Street, where the world’s musicians came to buy and sell historic instruments and bows by the great Italian, French and English makers.

The Hills also built a large workshop in Hanwell (Ealing), in West London, to make new instruments, bows and accessories. Eventually the firm employed up to 50 people in the two establishments.

This exhibition focuses on their success as bow makers in the period 1880-1962 and features their most influential bow maker: William Charles Retford (1875-1970).

 

The exhibition is open from 3rd – 30th September 2016 at Bate Collection, OXFORD OX1 1DB.

'Fiddle sticks' exhibition

Child Prodigy Alma Deutscher plays Carlo Bergonzi violin from Beare’s

There was more filming at Beare’s this week, this time for the BBC’s The One Show featuring child prodigy, composer, pianist and violinist, Alma Deutscher! We are delighted to be lending Alma a fine Carlo Bergonzi violin for her upcoming concert at The Henley Festival, having previously loaned her a Landolfi through the Beare’s International Violin Society.

2CELLOS borrow cellos by Stradivari and Amati for their upcoming album!

We were delighted to welcome the 2CELLOS to Beare’s last week for a tour of our workshops and to try out a selection of our finest Italian cellos in preparation for their new album with the London Symphony Orchestra.

After choosing to perform on cellos by Stradivari and Amati, they headed off to their recording at AIR Studios with conductor Robin Smith and the LSO in full force. Looking forward to hearing the album!

Timothy Ridout becomes 2016 YCAT Artist

Congratulations to Timothy Ridout for becoming a 2016 YCAT Artist and giving a wonderful performance at the Wigmore Hall last week on a fine Zanetto viola, loaned to him through the Beare’s International Violin Society.

He is pictured below with our Managing Director Steven Smith and one of our luthiers, Andrea Ortona as they made some final sound adjustments prior to his performance.

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PRESS: Benefiting from fine instruments – a partnership with Kronberg Academy

J & A Beare sponsors the Menuhin Competition London 2016

Many congratulations to all of the participants and prize winners in this year’s Menuhin Competition!

J & A Beare was delighted to be a Festival Partner of the competition in its centenary year, facilitating the loans of two Golden Period Stradivari violins.

Ziyu He, 16, from China was the young talented violinist to win the First Prize of the Senior Section. He was presented with the 1715 ‘Schneiderhan’ Stradivari violin, on loan for one year from a generous Patron of the Beare’s International Violin Society. In addition he will receive £10,000 and will be rewarded with a number of important European performance opportunities. Find out more about the violin here in our recent video with Maxim Vengerov.

As part of a brand new prize for outstanding potential, 13-year-old American/Japanese violinist and Junior Competitor Kevin Miura will also be loaned a Golden Period Stradivari violin for 18 months. The loan was made possible by the generosity of Jonathan Moulds CBE from the Jonathan Moulds Collection and was also facilitated by the Beare’s International Violin Society.

A number of participants from the competition joined us one morning for breakfast and the chance to play some great Cremonese and Venetian instruments by Stradivari, Guarneri and others. After a talk by one of our luthiers, Alexandre Valois, some of the young participants played on four Stradivari violins for some impromptu quartets.

We were also delighted to welcome the 2016 jury to our shop one evening for a small reception and the opportunity to view and play a selection of fine instruments.

For the full list of Prize Winners, please visit http://menuhincompetition.org. The next Menuhin Competition London 2016 will take place in Geneva from 12-22 April 2018.

Janine Jansen awarded a Diapason d’Or

Many congratulations to Janine Jansen for being awarded a Diapason d’Or for her recent recording of Brahms and Bartok, recorded on a fine Stradivari violin on loan from a generous patron of the Beare’s International Violin Society.

Janine CD

Loan recipient of the Beare’s International Violin Society, Janine Jansen is pictured here with J & A Beare Managing Director Steven Smith.

 

Remembering Rostropovich…

Our Managing Director Simon Morris recounts his memories of Mstislav ‘Slava’ Rostropovich, from playing for him in a televised masterclass to selling him a Pietro Guarneri of Venice cello in 2003.

I first saw Rostropovich perform in the late 1970s when I was a teenager. He played Dvořák’s Cello Concerto and it remains one of the most extraordinary concert experiences of my life. It was not just his remarkable technique and musicianship that so impressed me but his ability to grab the audience from the first very note and hold their full atention to the very end of the piece.

I first met Rostropovich in 1981-2 when I was principal cellist at the Britten-Pears orchestra in Aldeburgh where he was conducting. A couple of years later I also played for him in a televised masterclass in Aldeburgh. That was a nerve-wracking experience… I remember the player before me starting to tune up with great panache. Slava stopped him (before the musician had actually played a proper note) and said: ‘you have such beautiful face but you make such ugly sound’. Oh dear. This was not going to be easy…

It was many years later (around 2003) when he dropped into J & A Beare on Queen Anne Street to have his cello cleaned before performing for her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace. At the time we had the most exceptional Pietro Guarneri of Venice cello for sale, which he took the opportunity to try. He was immediately smitten and so began a journey… He first took it to his London house to try it there, and then on to his Paris apartment. In Paris he asked his wife and I to compare the tone of his cello with the Guarneri, asking us to judge their respective sounds by marking our scores on a piece of paper, while he played in the next room. He looked at our ‘scores’ and said: ‘I want this cello’.

Next stop on the journey was New York and Delaware to complete the sale. After a very entertaining day I asked Slava what his next concert was. He had several performances coming up where, again, he would play Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, including a concert in Chicago. I asked him which cello he would play to which he replied: ‘Oh, this wonderful Guarneri of course’. ‘But’, I said, ‘you have only played on it for a few minutes and it is a big uncut cello with a long stop’. ‘No problem,’ he said. He was never precious about the challenges of changing instruments.

The Hill Bow Makers by Derek Wilson and John Milnes

We are pleased to announce that our bow expert, Derek Wilson, has recently co-authored a long-awaited reference book on bows made at W.E. Hill & Sons. Written in collaboration with fellow researcher John Milnes and published by the BVMA, the book presents original research, newly discovered materials and a close examination of many Hill bows. It features:

  • Maps showing the location of Hill properties
  • Labelled view of the Hanwell workshop
  • A timeline of the makers’ lives and careers
  • Photographic catalogue of the makers’ marks
  • Detailed guide to Hill bow characteristics
  • 48 excellent example of Hill bows
  • Guide to the name stamps
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    All orders can be made at the bvma.org.uk website. Standard edition £90, leather bound deluxe edition £250.

    Derek has worked in the bow workshop at J & A Beare since 2000 but began his career at W.E. Hill & Sons from the age of 16, learning bow repairing from fellow Hill bow maker Matthew Coltman and John Stagg. In 1985 Derek left Hill’s to set up a bow department for Peter Benedek in Munich, returning to the UK in 1990 and settling first on the Isle of Wight, and, from 2000, in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. He has taught on professional development courses in Toronto, Canada and West Dean, East Sussex, UK, and along with The Hill Bow Makers, is co-author with Tim Baker of the bow chapter in Musical Instruments in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford: Oxford Musical Instrument Publishing 2011).