The Belgian violin makers committed to tradition
Brussels, Apr 17 (EFE).- The renowned luthier workshop Maison Bernard in Brussels has preserved a traditional approach to string instrument artisanship and restoration that has little changed since it first opened its doors in 1868, when Belgium was but a fledgling nation.
This commitment to preserving culture and tradition earned the family-run business a prestigious Family is Sustainability award from the Primum Familiae Vini (PFV) association this year, which is worth 100,000 euros.
The PFV is a consortium of 12 prominent family names European wine-making.
Jan and Matthijs Strick, the father and son managers of Maison Bernard, work on the instruments, some of which are hundreds of years old, with hand-held chisels, polish and rasps.
“We like to put something in the work we do to have an exclusive product in the end. This is what is really different with a factory violin,” Jan tells Efe.
He said the prize was “more than we ever could expect.”
The Maison Bernard is a perfect example of how a family business is not necessarily tied to blood. Jan took over from his mentor, Jean Bernard, who died without an heir. Jan’s son Matthijs, 29, will be the fifth generation to take the mantle.
He was initially reluctant, but eventually turned his attention to the life of a luthier after realizing that studying was not for him.
“Six years ago I started making one violin here together with my father in the shop, and it was such a nice feeling and I never stopped and each day I love coming to work and to be around the old instruments,” he tells Efe.
The most difficult task Jan recalls in his over 40 in the profession was to restore an original Stradivarius violin from 1732.