Although I didn't spend that much time in his workshop, his influence on my career was huge.
Mr Jan Santman, a fellow countryman, born and raised in the same province (Drenthe) as I was, worked a great part of his life at the firm of Max Müller in Amsterdam. When he was in his fifties, he came back to his roots in Drenthe, and settled down in the village Beilen as an independent violinmaker.
There I met him, and he let me work in his workshop as a student on several occasions between 1983 and 1986, and encouraged me with great enthusiasm to look further in Europe, especially in France. There, he said, you will learn to combine good craftsmanship with long working-hours and to speed up your handling. How right he was. Mr Santman died in 2006.
In the old French violinmakers’ town Mirecourt I found a place to work in the workshop of Jean Jaques Pagès. He himself had worked for Etienne Vatelot in Paris for many years before starting his own workshop in Mirecourt. Making long days, he taught me to reach a high level of violinmaking in the best French tradition, which is famous all over the world.
After almost 3 years it was time to move on. Mr Pagès is still working in Mirecourt.
The great interest I always had for early music, led me to Reinhard Ossenbrunner. Being on the right spot at the right time, I started working in his workshop 1989 in Altwistedt (Germany).
It was a very successful and satisfactory apprenticeship for me. Here I definitely fell for early music, and the whole range of historical bowed instruments which comes along with it. In 2½ years time he made me ready to start my own business as an independent violmaker.
In my last year we moved to Cologne. There he still works.