Annelies Steinhauer – Hilversum
“Making new instruments is the best thing there is”
Annelies Steinhauer was born in Amsterdam on 31 July 1945. In 1965 she went to the violin making school in Mittenwald in Germany. There she met the violin maker Jaap Bolink. In 1967 they left Mittenwald together, married and worked successfully in the Netherlands, England and Germany, before returning to Amsterdam in 1970. Since 1973 Annelies Steinhauer has lived and worked in Hilversum. She devotes most of her time to the construction of new instruments.
“It’s the way of life that suits me, more than purely and simply the profession. I’m doing something that gives me a lot of pleasure and that gives pleasure to others and, furthermore, I’ve always been able to combine that with bringing up the children and my other interests. I think this freedom is a great privilege which not everyone is lucky enough to have. I’m not all that ambitious, I don’t always have to be in the limelight. Just let me enjoy my work and make beautiful things and luckily, I’m able to do that.
I came into violin making from the world of music. I’ve played music since I was young, first the piano and later the violin. I began to wonder how such an instrument was made. When the moment came to choose between studying and taking a profession, I knew for certain I didn’t want to study. I’d rather do something in which I could see what I was doing, something tangible.
During a holiday I went to look at Mittenwald, where my violin had come from. Then I knew, here I would be able to combine my love of music with the need to make something permanent.
I met Jaap at the school in Mittenwald, and we’ve lived and worked together since. Making new instruments has always been our ideal and I still think that’s the best thing there is. However, we do do it separately. We share an atelier but each one has their own clientele.
We also do repairs and deal in violins, but we keep that limited. What we call our “little shop”is only open one day a week for people who don’t want to make an appointment. Sometimes we have to call a temporary halt to repair work in order to get on making new instruments. Some repairs I do with a great deal of pleasure, the less interesting jobs are also useful, good for experience.
When I’m making a new instrument I have the sound in my head and I usually get pretty close to it. You’ll probably never make the ideal instrument, but I think that’s a good thing. I continue to strive onwards not only for the ideal sound, but I think the external appearance of an instrument is also very important. I don’t allow myself to be influenced much by other instrument makers, not even the great names. Jaap is an exception, he is the only one who really inspires me. Of course, there is the tradition and you’re bound by particular dimensions, but I hate mindless imitation. It’s not that I can’t respect it if it works well, but personally I would much rather use my own imagination to create something. To me, therefore, violin making is not only a traditional craft. The craft is a means of producing what you have in your mind.
When a client orders an instrument from me, I let them choose the wood themselves. I’ve laid out a few pieces beforehand, pieces I think will suit that particular person. A photo of the wood they choose goes into the little book I make about the creation of every instrument. Clients have usually heard an instrument of mine somewhere that they have liked and they want something similar. I can’t guarantee that it will be precisely the same, therefore they are not obliged to buy. I make what I make. The only thing clients have any influence over is the colour of the varnish, the size and thickness of the neck and sometimes the pegs. Other than that, I claim total freedom.
Is there anything I don’t like about the profession? I don’t think so. Or, well… If on a “shop day” I sell a string and I don’t know the price then I have to look up the price on the list. I hate that!
Players of instruments built by Annelies Steinhauer.
Elsie Gewin, Alma Malipaard, Alexander Sillem, Els van Deinse, Biruta Bolink, Roos Bolink, Martha Chmel, Heer Verver, Hugo Jessurun, Saskia de Boer, Lizz Stockwell, Heer Oudemans, Kees Keizer, Heer de Raaf, Herman Wiegmans, Bernard van Beurden,Lodewijk de Boer, Jack Jessurun, Rani Kumar, Willemijn van de Ham, Susanna Biesma, Greet Wijzenbeek, Margret Hjaltested, Ferdinand Crijns, Guus Jeukendrup, Alied BLom, Ilan Kisch, Olga Heijtmajer, Lydi Groenewegen, Ilonka van Rosendaal, Jet v.d. Woude, Stephan Sieben, Louis van Doornum, Arnoldien van Os, Alex Verrijn Stuart, Jacobine van Dijk, Marleen van Eeten, Arthur Arnold, Susan Penneweert, Elena Vervoort, Henk Lans, Piet Groeneboom, Isabel van Keulen, Jeanny Beerkens, Thomas Welschen, Wim van der Hoeven, Henk Nederhof, Anna den Herder, Magriet Frijlink, Hajo Determann, Jonathan den Herder, Margriet Frijlink, Hajo Kraak, Gideon den Herder, Jur de Vries, Marije Hamel, Carlien Frijlink, Immanuel van Ijzerlooi, Helen-Anne Ross, Ingrid de Vries, Hanneke Buurman, Nancy van den Brandhof, Evelien Bouwmeester, Allard Hartkamp, Annemarie Visser, Friso Bouwmeester, Sarah Wijzenbeek,Eveline Nagesser, Frank Goosens, Pauli Panaanen,Saskia Wieberdink,Sebastiaan v.d. Bergh, Marinka Lipsius,Eline van Hall, Hanneke den Held, Ernst Reijseger, Palle Fuhr Jorgensen,Bas Baanders, Aukje Coster……………