The Originals

The August Grenser: My August Grenser copy is based on the five key clarinet in Eric Hoeprich’s collection. I was fortunate enough to play it several times. It is a wonderful instrument with a warm focused sound. It is equipped with double holes to facilitate low c sharp and also on the lowest joint, allowing for low F sharp. It very likely started life with four keys and the fifth was added after it was completed. It was built around 1780.

The Lotz: The clarinet and basset horn came of age in Mozart’s Vienna under the tutelage of Theodor Lotz. He revolutionized the design of the clarinet.The only surviving Lotz clarinet is in Geneva. It has five keys and is boxwood with ivory rings and brass keys. The bore is relatively large and the finger holes are a very confortable distance apart. It is quite slender. It is very possibly the finest clarinet ever made. It played around A=435-440 so adjustments need to be made to produce copies at 430.

The Griesbachers: I have examined seven of the nine surviving Griesbachers that I know of. For the most part they were lovingly played and cared for as long as was musically possible. The wood is worn from playing, but otherwise they are in remarkably good condition. The earliest instrument seems very similar to the Lotz, but the later instruments went in a somewhat different direction. His instruments have relatively narrow bores and extremely closely spaced finger holes so they are very comfortable for those with smaller hands. The keys are mounted in wooden blocks rather than the brass saddles used by other Viennese makers. Based on the couple I have been able to check for pitch, they are even a bit higher than the Lotz,  I use the measurements from all seven instruments to produce my copies.

The Basset Horn: My Viennese basset horns are based on measurements from three Lotz instruments and two Griesbachers. The numbers vary slightly from horn to horn, with the most notable difference being the shape of the box.

The Griessling & Schlott: I have had the pleasure of playing one and examining five Griessling & Schlott clarinets. Most clarinet repertoire was first played on Viennese instruments, but Carl Baermann, the most important clarinetist after Anton Stadler, used instruments by these Berlin makers.


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