Thomas Martin's parents, on seeing their son's growing interest in music and especially the lower string sound, bought him his first double bass back in 1953. The seller, C David Horine, took the proceeds and opened the Bass Viol Shop in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.
In addition to his studies on the instrument, young Thomas used to spend after school time and weekends at the shop nurturing what was to become a lifelong fascination with the instrument itself. Who were the great makers of the past? Who made the best ones? Why? How do they work? What tools are used? How do different woods sound? How do different ways of making affect the sound? What is the difference between a round or flat back? These and many other questions came to mind and many found answers.
Tom went on to become one of the leading players on the double bass, holding leading positions with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Academy of St. Martin's Chamber Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and of course, two great periods with the London Symphony Orchestra. His five C.D.'s of the music of Bottesini have met with great critical acclaim (these C.D.'s can be ordered through Tom Martin as advertised on this site). To wrote a detailed article titled, "In Search of Bottesini" which can be found on the site.
Tom taught for many years at London’s Guildhall School of Music and is now professor at the Royal College of Music in London. He is “International Chair of Double Bass” at Glasgow’s Royal Scottish Academy of Music where he visits regularly. Tom is famed for making numerous solo and master-class appearances all over the World. It is a great endorsement to his teaching abilities that many of his past students now span the globe in leading positions.
His friendship with several of the leading contemporary makers led to a keen interest in the art of the Luthier. Some twenty years ago Tom began studies in the craft under the influence of the prominent restorer and expert Andrew Dipper, former instructor at the International School of Violin Making - "A Stradivari"- in Cremona, Italy.
The instruments which came out of the Tom Martin workshop over the years that followed were small in number owing to the heavy working schedule as a player and teacher, but those made have found an appreciative and select group of owners from many of the greatest orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, B.B.C. Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, and in leading ensembles in Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Spain, U.S.A. and Japan.
To date Thomas Martin has produced over 160 double basses and a number of fine violas and cellos.
Thomas Martin worked as editor on the Giovanni Bottesini, 'Messa da Rquiem'. With Double Bass virtuoso Thomas Martin stepping into conductor's shoes in Bottesini's unjustly neglected Requiem, this is one of the major releases of the season, which will be sure to generate wide interest.
As the years went on, Tom's fascination with the instrument itself continued to grow. This has led to a "revolving collection" of many of the finest double basses in the World passing through his hands, which have all found appreciative homes.
Of course all these instruments have provided a great education for Tom who is now considered to be one of the leading experts on the double basses of the masters. His expertise is now sought by many players and dealers from around the World, and has now become a regular contributor with articles on the subject of basses and makers in the Strad and Double Bassist magazines.