I was meant to be a craftsman. I was born to a family of artisans.
My father was a photographer, artist and cabinetmaker who came here from
Russia. My mother was a photographer, portrait painter and a music lover. They filled our home with beauty and my young life with
the joys of music, art and crafts. In turn I was a creative child. I drew,
painted and worked with wood. At age six my mother took me to painting classes. At age ten I began violin lessons. By the end of my childhood music had captured my
heart but my soul belonged to the crafts.
As a violinist my interest in bowmaking began in college where I attempted to make a " Bach" bow to
play his Unaccompanied Violin Sonatas and Partitas. I continued to pursue violin performance in graduate school where I was a student of artists Ruth Posselt and
Richard Burgin. It was then that I had discovered my true calling. With a fascination for bows and only a modest talent for the violin, I decided
to become a bowmaker. My studies were redirected and I set up 'shop' in my apartment closet. In 1975 I completed my first bow.
After receiving my masterís degree I
accepted a job as bowmaker with Emile Baran Instruments in Decatur, Georgia. In
1980 I rented a studio in the Artist's Space of Nexus Inc. where I
independently made, repaired and studied bows. During this time I also worked
closely with the concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, William Steck,
for critiques and advice. When Mr. Steck became concertmaster of the National
Symphony Orchestra, he and others asked me to
relocate to the Washington, D.C. area to further my career. In 1983 I opened my
shop in the Torpedo Factory Art Center of Alexandria, Virginia. In 2001 I moved
to commercial district of Old Town Alexandria and now work in association with violin maker Michael
Today I continue to develop my craft. My goal is to
be a master practitioner of my craft and to be an integral part of the musical
community. I try to achieve that in the following ways by creating bows of
high level artistry and functionality, by maintaining them through the
preservation of their originality and enhancement of their usability, by
increasing my professional skills and knowledge, by diversifying my creative
output, by giving accurate and reliable appraisals and opinions on bows and by
selling my work and services through the operation of a sound business.
past three decades I have offered to bowmaking my intelligence, dedication and
skills. And in the service of music I hope to continue for many years to come
- Gold mounted 'COHEN' violin bow
accepted into the permanent collection of the Smithsonian
Musical Instrument collection, December, 2011.
- U.S. Premiere of Cello Concerto No. 2
by Krzystof Penderdki, performed by Mstislav Rostropovich with the
National Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Krzystof Pendereki. November,
1983. Instruments used in performance: 'STRAD' cello, 'COHEN' bow.
- Many world premieres of contemporary
music performed by Anna-Sophie Mutter with her 'STRAD' violin and
'COHEN' bows since 1983.
Exhibitions and Awards
- " Certificate of Eminent
Playability" Fifth International Competition and Exhibition of
The Violin Society of America. November, 1983. Salt Lake City, Utah.
- " A Regional Exhibition of
Contemporary Crafts" Atlanta, GA, 1981 Juried, cataloged
- The High Museum of Art, " Artists
of Georgia, 1980." Juried, cataloged exhibition.
- Guest speaker at Smithsonian's
National Museum of American History to introduce the art of bow
making and the " Jano Shultz" bow collection to
museum patrons. 1995.
- Interviewed on NBC's " Sunday
Today" with Al Roker, 1991.
- THE RED BOOK, Auction Price
Guide of Authentic Stringed Instruments and Bows, 2006, 2009
and 2012 Editions.
- " A Bookish Craft that Complements a Mix of Skills" , Strings Magazine, May 2013.
- " Wild Horses" WildHorse
product review, Strings Magazine, May-June 2000.
- " He Knows Bows" by Sid A.
Levy, Washington Post Magazine, 2/24/91
- " Noteworthy art...." by
Brian Crawford, Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY 1986.
- " Bow-Maker Donald Cohen" by
Donn B. Murphy and Stephen Moore, Frets Magazine, October 1985.
- " Making music-makers" by
Stephen Moore, The Alexandria Journal, 4/30/85.
- " Don Cohen takes a Bow" by
Kim Caviness, The Alexandria Port Packet, September 1984.
- " The Homeowner's Survival
Guide" by Gail Friedman, Washingtonian, July 1984.
- As Good As New" by Jane
Moss Snow, Washingtonian, February, 1993.
- " Nexus Art Show....." by
Catherine Fox, Atlanta Journal, 2/1/82.
- " Highly -skilled engineering
perfects violin bow with balance that sings" by Diane Goldsmith,
Atlanta Journal, 12/17/81.