Annelies Steinhauer - Hilversum

"Making new instruments is the best thing there is"

Annelies Steinhauer was born in Amsterdam on 31 Juli 1945. In 1965 she went to the violin making school in Mittenwald in Germany. There she met the violin maker Jaap Bolink. In 1967 the left Mittenwald together, married and worked succesfuly in the Netherlands, England and Germany, before returning to Amsterdam in 1970. Sinds 1973 Annelis Steinhauer has lived and worked in Hilversum. She mainly makes 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, futhermore, I've always been able to combine that with bringing up the children an my other intersts. I think this freedom is a great privilege which not everyone is lucky enough to have. I'm not all that ambitous, I don't always have to be in the limelight. Just let me enjoy my work and make beautiful things. 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 piano and later violin. I began to wonder how such an instrument was made. When the moment cake 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 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. We each do that for ourselfs, however. We share an atelier but we each have our own clientele.

We also do repairs and deal, but we do restrict that. What we call our "litle 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 to get on making ne instruments. Some repairs I do with agreat deal of pleasure, the less interesting jobs are also useful, good for experience.

When I'm making a ne instrument I have the sound in my head and I usualy get pretty close to it. You'll probably never make the ideal instrument, but it's a good thing, I think, to continoue to strive to. Not only for the ideal sound, I think the external appearance of an instrument is very important, too. I don't allow myself to be influenced much by other instument 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 unthinking 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 are 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 liked. They want to have something like it. I don'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. Ihave to look it up in a pricelist. I hate that!