Amazing Grace - Anthony Houska follows the creation of his beautiful German-style bow, commissioned from English maker Brian Tunnicliffe
Reproduced with kind permission of Orpheus Publications Ltd.
First printed in the Double Bassist. Issue Number 8, Spring 1999.
Brian Tunnicliffe, master bowmakerAs a dealer in fine double basses and accessories, I am often approached by prospective purchasers overseas for high quality German-style bass bows. Having heard reports that German players are clamouring for bows from the UK's Brian Tunnicliffe, I decided to commission him to make me a bow and added my name to his two-year waiting list.
Although Tunnicliffe has only been making and repairing bows since 1979, he has established a reputation as one of Britain’s leading archetiers. With more than 800 bows to his name to date, by December last year Tunnicliffe had made 84 French-pattern bows (mostly owned by English professional musicians) and 32 German models (mainly bought by players in Hamburg and Berlin).
Born in 1934 in Middleton, Lancashire, Tunnicliffe's early talent for wood- and metal-working led to an engineering job as an apprentice pattern maker, then to 24 years of teaching at various schools and technical colleges. While on a summer singing course, violinist friends suggested he turn his hand to bowmaking, and an introduction to Arthur Bultitude was arranged. Bultitude (1908-1990) was apprenticed to Wm. Hill & Sons, becoming workshop manager after the war. He never took on apprentices but did agree to look at Tunnicliffe's work. Every week, Tunnicliffe would show his work to Bultitude, who lived only six miles away from him.