Jan van der Sangen

In the beginning of the eighties warehouse Het Veem was turned into a collective place for small scale business and art workshops. Piano workshop Toets Des Tijds started its activities in this building. It ranged from building copies of historical pianos, to maintenance of the instruments, technical studies and preparing pianos for private use or concert performances. From 1990 onward chief restorer Jan van der Sangen was permanently associated with the pianoworkshop of Rien Hasselaar(†), considered then as the ‘Nestor’ of restoration professionals in Amsterdam. He was specialised in early fortepianos, Viennese Flügel as well as early square pianos of the period 1795 – 1850, whereas in the Toets Des Tijds workshop there was a focus on pianos built after that period till modern times. In those years of cooperation and exchange between the two workshops the building of copies of two historical instruments was initiated and succesfully realised: the first one after an original oakwood instrument, built in Fulda, Germany (probably by a pupil of Walter, a famous fortepiano maker), and familiar to composers as Mozart in that time (1790 – 1795). This first Toets Des Tijds instrument was sold to the ‘Academía de Música Antigua’ in Mexico City soon after it was finished.

The second one was an exact copy of a Viennese fortepiano grand, originally built between 1816 and 1825 by Joseph Böhm and surely familiar to composers like Beethoven. The Böhm still remains in our workshop and is frequently used for concerts. Both these projects were realised in the Toets Des Tijds between 1990 and 2000. The diversity and skill of cabinetmakers and metalworkers in building Het Veem contributed important elements for both of the instruments.

From 2006 till today workshop Toets Des Tijds has been the centre of an annual concert series; performances of classical and modern music in the central hall of Het Veem, just in front of the doors of the workshop. Also the other three grand pianos: two Broadwoods and an Ibach have been frequently used for these concert series.