Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987) is universally acknowledged as the greatest violinist ever since. This gold bow once owned and played by Heifetz was made by his close friend, the renowned bow maker and jeweller Henryk Kaston (1910-2010) who gave it to Heifetz as a gift. The gold-mounted bow is ornate and exquisite, the frog set with precious stones and the button with relief portraits of Beethoven, Heifetz, Brahms and Auer. Kaston made two gold bows of this kind, of which one was given to Heifetz and the other is now in the collection of the state museum of California.
Henryk Kaston was one of the most venerable figures on the 20th-century New York music scene. Polish-born Henryk Kaston had been a violinist since young. In early 1940s, he joined the Cleveland Orchestra after having arrived in the U.S. Later he played in the violin section in the orchestra of New York's Metropolitan Opera for more than 35 years. During the 1960s, he worked as a resident bow expert at the Rembert Wurlitzer shop and became a highly esteemed bow maker and restorer. Many of the replacement fittings that he made were so well crafted that they later passed as original. Kaston made bows for some of the great violin virtuosos, including Heifetz, Kreisler, Stern and Shlomo Mintz, and a quartet of his presentation bows is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution. Kaston also made great contribution to the discovery and research of Tourte. Owing to his exhaustive search in the French archives for biographical information on the Tourte family and the discovery of numerous unpublished documents, this significant figure of bow making was gradually known by the world. Kaston's knowledge of bows was prodigious and many dealers and violinists such as the late Jacques Francais and Stern have heavily relied upon his expertise.
Heifetz gave this Kaston bow to Dr. Herbert Axelrod, the author of his biography Heifetz. Herbert Axelrod was a legendary figure in 20th-century America, who enjoyed a multifaceted career as a leading expert in tropical fish, entrepreneur, stringed instrument collector and philanthropist. Axelrod later gave this bow to Matthew Trusler, which Trusler used to perform on. On graduating from Philadelphia's Curtis Institute in 1998, the Times declared of Matthew Trusler that 'we might just have an authentic, though British, virtuoso.' Since then Trusler has developed a reputation as one of Britain's leading violinists, performing with many of the world's great orchestras, and receiving huge critical acclaim for his diverse recordings. Trusler holds a teaching post at the Malmö Academy in Sweden. In 2021, the year of the 120th anniversary of Heifetz’s birth, the Kaston bow joined the collection of the Yu Art Foundation. The precious bow of the great violin virtuoso endues us with not only the material treasure passed on through generations of great players and collectors, but also the immaterial fortune imbued with the master’s artistic life and spiritual heritage.