Sure, it’s a delight to play the violin. But after 40 years of playing professionally and for fun, Pierre Holstein, aka Fiddlerman, has been through both sunshine and rain.
We sat down with him to talk about those not so fun moments when things went wrong.
—I’ll never forget the time when my friend’s mom was picking us up from a rehearsal. We were around 12 years old and sat down in the back seat, not knowing that the mother had leaned the violin up against the car. As she was backing up, we heard a crunch.
—What was that? she wondered.
—Probably a beer can, my friend said.
—Even though the violin was in a case, it was totally destroyed. It was a horrible feeling and there were some tears shed that day, for sure.
Another story is about Fiddlerman’s rare Nurnberger violin bow. He had left it for a rehair at a well-known workshop in Copenhagen, Denmark. When he came to pick it up, the luthier told him that the tip had broken during the rehair.
—The bow had suddenly lost its value. Sure, I could still use it but the bow was now worth several thousand dollars less.
—The sad part was that the luthier refused to take responsibility, even though he admitted to breaking my bow.
Another time it was Fiddlerman himself that screwed up, while on tour in Sweden with famous pianist Robert Wells. It was early in the morning, the musicians were on the tour bus on their way to the next town, when Robert Wells suddenly received a phone call.
—Is Pierre Holstein on the bus? We found his violin in the hotel lobby!
—It was the hotel concierge that called, Fiddlerman remembers. My instrument was luckily put in a taxi, that met up with the bus at the next lunch stop!
Everyone who knows Fiddlerman is aware of his youthful spirit. Years ago, he used to have a habit of spinning his violin in the air. But once, during an orchestra rehearsal, the violin spun out of his hands by mistake.
—My violin ended up by the conductor's feet, after having bounced on the floor a few times. The whole orchestra was dead quiet in shock, and my face turned bright red from embarrassment. To everyone's surprise, the violin was intact.
—Needless to say, I haven’t thrown the violin up in the air since that time, Fiddlerman laughs.
One of Fiddlerman’s big interests is to renovate houses and woodworking. This has resulted in a few scars and minor accidents.
Once he got a deep cut on his thumb and the bleeding wouldn’t stop. The timing was poor since Fiddlerman was the section leader in a symphony orchestra and had a difficult solo.
He asked some colleagues if they could play the solo part. Since they didn’t have time to prepare, they said no.
—To prevent the thumb from bleeding through the bandaid, I put lots of bandage with several layers of thick silver tape on top. My left thumb had the size of a chicken drumstick and was sticking straight up in the air.
—Unfortunately, the silver tape didn’t do the trick. During the concert, blood started running down to my underarm, underneath my tux shirt. I tried to patch it up during the break, with no luck.
—At least my colleagues had something to talk about for the next week!