John & Arthur Beares


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Beare's Blog

Violin Project at International Musicians Seminar Prussia Cove

At IMS Prussia Cove the violin made by renowned luthiers and friends of J&A Beare, Stefan-Peter Greiner and Mark Jennings, in collaboration with the talented musicians in residence, was finally completed. On Sunday 24th September it made its concert debut in the expert hands of James Clark, playing at the Open Chamber Music Concert in Penryn.
Here’s a chance to re-trace the steps of this fascinating 13-day project and read what James had to say about it all.

DAY 13 : Concert debut

STRINGS Magazine: A Neighborhood Stroll

String-Instrument Resources within Walking Distance of my London Home

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Mark Robinson at J & A Beare

…”John & Arthur Beare is at No. 30, a late-Georgian building like most of the others on the block. The front door—like the prime minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street—is jet black. This lends it a particular gravitas, further enhanced by an equally distinguished metal name plate. Step inside, and if it’s a rehair, repair, or quick consultation you’re after, you’ll transact your business in the main reception area. (The repair work is done in busy workshops on the second and third floors of the building.)

But should you be in search of an instrument, continue up to the graceful second-floor showroom, with its red oriental carpets, fireplace, high windows, and wall of violins, violas, and cellos. It’s a room that speaks of tradition, and indeed J&A Beare, or Beare’s as it’s usually known, has been in business since 1892.

These days, Beare’s is run by Simon Morris and Steven Smith, who first met each other in the National Youth Symphony of Great Britain. Many years later, their violin-dealing business, Morris & Smith, merged with Beare’s and in 2012, they took the helm as joint managing directors. That year Beare’s also sold the “Vieuxtemps” Guarneri del Gesù for over $16 million, a record for a private sale.

Morris traces Beare’s history for me, describing how the shop had been on Broadwick Street in Soho for decades, but the steady transformation of Soho into a dining and nightlife destination curtailed walk-in traffic and upped the rent. In 2000, Beare’s relocated to the more spacious building on Queen Anne Street, taking with them a reputation for expertise in valuing and selling instruments at the top end of the market. As Morris notes, the job of valuing and certifying instruments is made easier by the fact that “Beare’s has records going back decades.”…

W. E. Hill and Sons

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Since 1762, the name Hill has represented a combination of craftsmanship and the highest standards of expertise that the firm continues to offer, with a long and distinguished history of instrument and bow making.

The owners and directors of W. E. Hill & Sons – Simon Morris, Steven Smith, Stefan-Peter Greiner, Derek Wilson, and Robert Brewer Young – have broad experience in expertise, appraisal, violin and bow making, restoration, and conservation.

The year 2018 marked the return of W. E. Hill & Sons to London. The new workshop is located in the historic coach house and stables of Burgh House in Hampstead, London, which dates back to 1704.

Using the resources provided by the Hill archive, access to rare instruments and centuries of experience allows W. E. Hill & Sons to provide the music world with the finest instruments, bows, and accessories.

All enquiries about W. E. Hill and Sons should be addressed to:

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 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).