Philipp Bonhoeffer started to play the violin at young age and later also started to play the viola. During his youth he played in many orchestras but eventually dedicated most of his musical activity to chamber music. Through his circle of friendships he regularly plays with accomplished professional musicians either in private chamber music sessions or in public concerts.
Since his childhood Philipp Bonhoeffer had a strong interest in old violins and in violin making. In his youth he long considered to become a violinmaker but eventually chose to study medicine instead. From young age onwards his personal circle of friendships included musicians and violinmakers. In the mid 90ties Philipp Bonhoeffer became aware of the upcoming of an exceptionally talented violin maker, Stefan-Peter Greiner. Some of Philipp Bonhoeffer’s musician friends were exchanging their Stardivarius instruments for instruments of this modern maker (http://www.greinergeigen.de). Needless to say Philipp Bonhoeffer wanted to know more about the maker and possibly acquire an instrument of his. By the time he made contact with Stefan-Peter Greiner the waiting list for instruments was already hopelessly long and the list included the most prestigious professional musicians who obviously had priority to acquire an instrument over the desires of a non professional musician like Philipp Bonhoeffer. Still, he got in touch with Stefan-Peter Greiner and against all odds he could acquire an instrument but much more importantly a very close friendship developed between the two men. Eventually, Stefan-Peter Greiner even wanted to convince Philipp Bonhoeffer to build a violin under his guidance in his workshop. Philipp Bonhoeffer long declined because of a self declared lack of talent and his huge respect for the achievements of Peter Greiner. Intrigued by the offer though, he made his own attempts in a workshop at home to build the table of one violin. When he showed these attempts to Peter Greiner, Peter Greiner famously admired the work and stated that it was excellent to serve as a board for cheese. He then said why don’t you try again.
Philipp Bonhoeffer now did not decline the offer and built his first violin under the guidance of Stefan Peter Greiner which he completed in September 2011. This violin totally outperformed the expectations of Philipp Bonhoeffer in spite of the fact that he knew the teaching skills of Stefan Peter Greiner were exceptional and that his guidance and supervision in building the instrument had been meticulous and time consuming. After this first result Philipp Bonhoeffer continued to make violins under the guidance of Peter Greiner. On the background of the engineering experience with heart valves of Philipp Bonhoeffer, he and Peter Greiner now intend to dedicate time and energy towards experimental violinmaking trying to further the understanding of the complex acoustic object the violin represents. An unlikely combination of two violinmakers (Stefan-Peter Greiner, Michael Betcher) Philipp Bonhoeffer and two biomedical engineers (Claudio Capelli, Silvia Schievano, see chapter medical innovations) have now combined their expertise to forward this project.
Philipp Bonhoeffer has a small private collection of fine violins and violas. He makes these instruments available to highly selected musicians on a personal basis.