Discover Benelux, Issue 54, June 2018

Page 18

Discover Benelux  |  Dutch Industry & Innovation  |  Made in the Netherlands

The Sound of Three Strings TEXT: FRANK VAN LIESHOUT  |  PHOTOS: JEROEN ELSWIJK VIOOLBOUWER

With a deep love for classical music and over 25 years of experience, violin maker Jeroen Elswijk has more than a few strings to his bow. Working for a wide range of clients, including an impressive roster of musicians performing on the international concert stage, he repairs, restores as well as builds new instruments. “What I really love about the craft of building a new violin, is how you can combine saw and chisel with intuition and science to shape the sound you want,” Jeroen Elswijk says, explaining his lifelong passion. “The more experienced you become, the more grip you have on this process.” Trading from his workshops in Haarlem and Amstelveen, Elswijk has been in the business for more than 25 years, servicing a wide range of clients, from children and amateurs to seasoned professionals. He started off at 18, building guitars and apprenticing with his father, who was one of the Netherlands’ most famous makers 18  |  Issue 54  |  June 2018

of bows for string instruments. By the time he was 20, Elswijk was accepted as an apprentice by the renowned violin maker Paul de Froe.

Stradivari “Before you start building an instrument, you need to determine the sound you want to give it,” Elswijk continues. “A violin which is used for chamber music will be different from a solo violin for the big concert halls.” To actually build the sound that he is looking for, Elswijk relies on his woodworking skills as well as a deep knowledge of the different types and thicknesses of wood he uses for the different parts of the violin. Maple is usually chosen for the back and sides of the violin. Spruce, a very light, yet strong and fine-grained wood, is used for the front. “This means it will produce a clearer sound which can carry further.” As well as the wood, the varnish and especially the primer are important as well. “Some people even say that the primer is the secret of Stradivari’s success!”

After a period of only doing repairs and restorations, Elswijk started building again about two years ago. “I’m loving it,” he smiles. “To be able to experiment with different approaches to violin making and build something that can produce such a beautiful sound, that is totally satisfying, an experience you never get bored of!

Jeroen Elswijk.

Jeroen Elswijk builds, repairs, restores, sells and leases violins, violas, cellos and bows in a wide price range: Web: www.elswijk-vioolbouw.nl