A maker of over 900 bows, the Minneapolis-based archetier passed away of cancer on 27 February 2024, aged 74


Roger Zabinski

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US bow maker Roger Zabinski died of cancer on Tuesday 27 February 2024. He was 74 years old. Considered a leading bow maker of modern times, Zabinski was a member of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers and Entente International des Luthiers et Archetiers.

Zabinski was born in 1950 and earned a bachelor’s degree in music history and literature from the University of Minnesota in 1973. During his studies, he met Vaido Radamus, who trained him in violin making and introduced him to making bows.

In 1976, Zabinski met Martin Beilke, an internationally known bow maker who worked in Minneapolis. Zabinski studied with him until Beilke’s death in 1979.

He worked at Clare Givens Violins from 1978 to 1983 before specialising in bow making. In the summer of 1984, Zabinski attended the New Hampshire bow making course, learning the French methods of bow making from William Salchow.

Zabinski was elected a member of the American Federation of Violin and Bowmakers in 1985. The following year in 1986, he received his journeyman’s certificate from that same institution, and was awarded a Gold Medal for his violin bow at the Violin Society of America (VSA) International Competition. He had since received numerous Certificates of Workmanship from the VSA.

In May of 2011 of he was elected a member of the Entente Internationale des Maitres Luthiers et Archetiers d’Art. He developed composite carbon fibre bows for CodaBow.

Zabinski had made over 900 bows over the course of his career. Inspired by early French aesthetic, he used a number of models over the years, Eugène Sartory, Dominique Peccatte, and François Xavier Tourte, before working entirely with his own original pattern, developed from the spirit of the early and middle 19th-century French bow makers. A quartet of his bows is owned by the Smithsonian Institution.

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