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Brussels violin doctor receives prestigious award for family businesses

Jan and Matthijs Strick can spend 100,000 euros on the further development of their violin studio in Brussels. They were chosen as the winner of the VFP award by a dozen of the best wine families on the planet.

It is a great boost for the owners of Maison Bernard, who are much appreciated in the string world. Top violinists from all over the world come to the Brussels Sablon to have their damaged Stradivarius or Guarneri repaired or restored by Jan Strick (59). Thanks to the in-house bow maker Pierre Guillaume, the address for violinists like Vadim Repin is a one-stop shop.

Strick learned the trade in the iconic French string village of Mirecourt and at the age of seventeen joined Maison Bernard, which was originally from Liège. In the eighties of the last century he took over that company from the childless Jacques Bernard and now has the oldest violin workshop in Europe.

Stradivarius

Jan Strick, the owner of Maison Bernard and the father of Matthijs.
© BELGA_HANDOUT

In addition to repair and restoration, Maison Bernard also makes violins and Jan Strick acts as an appraiser of string instruments for auction houses and insurance companies. Recently the company was commissioned to restore an invaluable Stradivarius.

Strick receives the prize of the Primum Familiae Vini (PFV), an exclusive association of twelve of the most renowned family wineries on the planet. Members include the family behind the Pol Roger champagne house, the Bordeaux baron Philippe de Rothschild and Marchesi Antinori, the owner of a number of super Tuscan wineries. Last week, the auction house Sotheby’s announced that it would auction a box containing twelve top bottles from all PFV members. The expected proceeds are between 41,000 and 117,000 euros.

Maison Bernard’s studio at the Brussels Sablon.
© BELGA_HANDOUT

Last year, the PFV created a new award that recognizes companies that, like the illustrious wineries, are family businesses. Maison Bernard was named the winner on Monday from a long list of candidates. Strick sees it primarily as a reward for family businesses ‘which have the disadvantage that they are always small and have to compete with the big giants’.

Next generation

Succession is traditionally a tricky issue in family businesses. It is never certain in advance whether a descendant of the next generation can and will continue the business. At Maison Bernard, Jan Strick has arranged the succession in the person of his son Matthijs.


When Matthijs said five years ago that he was coming to work in the business, my whole world got going again.

Jan Strick

Owner Maison Bernard

Matthijs Strick decided to work in the business of his father Jan five years ago.
© BELGA_HANDOUT

When Matthijs (29) said to his father five years ago that he wanted to stop his studies in Leuven to come and work in the business, it was a landslide for father Strick. Instead of gradually thinking about phasing out, ‘my whole world got going again’. The most important thing, according to Jan Strick, is ‘that the succession should really be the choice of the new generation, of free will’.

The family primarily invests the prize money in a study trip and internship for Matthijs with the legendary violin dealer Kenneth Warren (and son). The prize also gives Jan the opportunity to complete a book about the old Flemish violin school between 1650 and 1750. In addition, the Stricks can now also turn to the twelve PFV families for advice.


Here everything is very slow. What we do here is all for the long term.

Jan Strick

Owner Maison Bernard

Strick sees with sorrow how musicians suffer from the corona crisis. But Maison Bernard largely ignores this misery. ‘Everything is very slow here. What we do here is all for the long term. We are holding up well. ‘

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