Personal history.


         Guus, born in Holland in 1953, lived in the television and radio city Hilversum (30 km south of Amsterdam) where his father was a senior sound engineer in the studios of Radio Hilversum.  Being the seventh of a musical family of twelve children, he enjoyed listening to classical music and played the mouth harmonica at kindergarten age.  A little later he sang in the local church choir.  By the time his voice broke, he played the soprano saxophone and held the first seat in Holland's best concert band for twelve years.  He also played in a small ensemble of ten men for weddings, dances and parties.

          After primary school, Guus continued his education at technical school where he specialised in fitting and turning, carpentry and architecture.  He was a qualified carpenter in the building trade rebuilding National Trust and heritage buildings as well as building new modern buildings.  The general atmosphere of the building industry and working in the harsh climatic conditions did not induce him to stay so he searched for an alternative.  Guus' father suggested the piano trade as he met tuners in the studios.  In early 1970 Guus became apprenticed as a piano technician-tuner and restorer with G.A.Goldschmeding in Amsterdam, Holland's most prestigious piano house.  The firm, established since 1872, had six branches throughout the country and employed some sixty full-time on-road tuners.  Amsterdam head office and head workshop employed nine full-time technicians/tuners, of which Guus was one and three cabinet makers.  Every opportunity was given to Guus to learn the trade to its fullest extent and he became skilled in action mechanism repairs, regulating grand and upright action mechanisms, tuning and voicing, making soundboards, bridges, tuning pin-blocks, spinning copper-wound bass strings, cabinet making and French polishing.  Guus was a keen and fast learner during his full-time employment and continued working most nights until late catching the last train home.  He also spent his Saturdays and holidays working and learning as the workshop supervisor (who was also the caretaker) lived next door.  During the same period, he also undertook a three year evening course studying piano technology in Amsterdam and received his diploma.


          After that time, he was keen to expand his experience.  He resigned from Goldschmeding and became employed by H.Sierat in Hilversum.  Sierat himself being the managing director, tuned for the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, Conservatorium and television studios.  His tuning standard was of the highest calibre and he polished Guus' tuning skills to the same standard.  Guus was a valued employee and became responsible for some thirty Steinway, Bechstein and Yamaha grand pianos and some upright pianos for the television studios in Hilversum and numerous grands and uprights for the Music College as well as private clients.  After eight months of intense tuning, he gained tremendous experience but missed the variety of restoration work he had with Goldschmeding and consequently rejoined the firm.

                  Through the piano trade Guus befriended a professional violin maker in 1974.  The violin maker taught Guus his fine craft during evenings, weekends and holidays.  There was unfortunately no opportunity for full-time employment in the violin trade in Holland but Guus was offered full-time employment in the violin trade in Adelaide and migrated to Australia in early 1977, being able to speak only a little English.  Six months later his employer left South Australia, Guus became self-employed and has since that time continued with violin making/repairing and restoring/tuning pianos.  Guus tuned for the ASO, ABC and at major concert venues in Adelaide.

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