Piet Molenaar

Piet (Peter) Molenaar. Violin maker, born at Indonesia, of Dutch parents, 2 Aug 1903, naturalized Canadian 1957, died 1994. He was educated in Holland and his prime interest was chemistry, but he also studied violin in The Hague and, ca 1919, with Alfred Indig.

Piet Molenaar

Piet (Peter) Molenaar. Violin maker, born at Indonesia, of Dutch parents, 2 Aug 1903, naturalized Canadian 1957, died 1994. He was educated in Holland and his prime interest was chemistry, but he also studied violin in The Hague and, ca 1919, with Alfred Indig. He began making violins in 1916 but it was not until 1926 that he entered into a professional apprenticeship with Joseph Vedral of The Hague. He undertook further studies in Paris in 1936 and set himself up as a dealer, luthier, and repairman in Groningen, Holland, the following year. At about that time he began a prolonged study of the techniques and varnishes of the Cremona masters. He moved to Amsterdam in 1946 and emigrated to Canada in 1951, setting up shop in Toronto. His researches, which are explained in his book Stradivari-Cremona Mystery Disclosed (Toronto 1985), persuaded him that Stradivari and Guarneri deliberately gave their instruments a chipped-varnish finish to make them look old. Molenaar has duplicated this finish on his own instruments. He has built some 300 violins and about a dozen violas and cellos, all of European maple and spruce and finished with his own colours and varnishes. In 1948 the cellist Paul Tortelier wrote commending him for a cello he had made for Regina Wijnalda, a chamber music partner of Dame Myra Hess. The Indig Quartet, led by the aforementioned Alfred Indig (a member of the Budapest Quartet prior to 1923), performed on a set of instruments made by Molenaar. Molenaar retired in 1976 but continued to build one or two instruments a year. In 2000, Stratford violin maker Henry Riedstra, who had apprenticed with Molinaar in Toronto (1978-84), and Molinaar's son Alfred revised and published a second edition of Molenaar's book on violin varnish.