I was born in Utrecht, Netherlands in 1956 on a car-free Sunday.
I started playing the violin at 10 years old with my teacher To Doornekamp. She inspired me with her patience and kindness; I think she played a big part in my budding love-affair with the violin. I played in the orchestra of de Utrechtse Muziekschool and switched to viola in order to play in the Baroque Ensemble there.
After secondary school I went to London to study Violinmaking at the London College of Furniture (1976-79) . We were instructed in the art of making but also restoring and tool-skills with the wonderful Hearold Hearne, who had just retired from a lifelong job at Hill’s, a master restorer (who also built RAF gliders during WW2 entirely made of wood)
In ’79 I got a job doing restoration and repair at Ealing Strings in London where I worked for over 2 years. Restoring is a job I enjoy to this day. I also kept making new violins , inspired by all the beautiful instruments which came through the shop including all four instruments of the Amadeus Quartet. Sound adjustment was one of the very interesting parts of the work (apart from learning how to make proper English tea at break time and listening to endless cricket matches on the radio)
In 1982 I moved to Chartres in France, working freelance for Paris violin shops and building up experience making more violins. M Etienne Vatelot helped me a lot, buying several instruments, including the first Viola I made at college in London. Merci Monsieur Vatelot!
I met David Ley, a magical Harpsichord maker, then living and working in the Chateau de Maintenon, who became a life long friend. Thanks to his encouragement I made my first Baroque Violin in 1985, using my own judgement as to how these instrument must have been set-up and what sound they could produce. I used my experience restoring 17th and 18th Century instruments. This was an instant success and I could become a full-time maker, 10 years after starting that first Viola at college. In France I made many violin and bowmaking friends and enjoyed the trappings of a busy craftsman with newspaper articles, chatshows on France-Musique and many concerts of my clients. My workshop even appeared on a Christmas-special of CNN to cheer up America during the Gulf War.
Not resting on my laurels I made a move to Dublin in 1996 where I set-up a workshop on the 6th floor of the old sugar mill already mentioned (Workshop page). This was a very different environment but equally exciting as I met with a vibrant Classical Music Scene, great orchestras, talented students and to top it all a lively Traditional Music Movement with a seemingly endless supply of musicians. Within no time I was busy building instruments for local players, mainly with modern set-up.
Now in 2021, after a whole year of musical performance inactivity due to the epidemic and a slowing down of my work, I look back on a wonderful diverse career. I continue to dream up and make violins, violas and cellos and look forward to welcoming musicians in my workshop again!
To be continued
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