Oboe, Bassoon and other Double Reed Instruments

Le Basson Savary

Jean-Nicolas Savary (1786–1853) was an exceptional bassoon maker in the 19th century. One knowledgeable commentator of the time called him the “Stradivari of the bassoon”. The special quality of his instruments was certainly also thanks to his being a professional bassoonist himself.

During his long career, Savary kept making further developments in bassoon-making. He added keys, developed rollers to be able to glide from one key to the next, and added other aids to playing. There are over 50 bassoons by Savary extant today, and they all have different mechanisms – he did not make them in series. The inside of a Savary bassoon, however, remained constant, and so did the sound.

A team led by Lyndon Watts (former bassoon professor at HKB) and Walter Bassetto (bassoon maker) has made a replica of a Savary bassoon. (more...)

A film by Swissinfo has documented this HKB research project.

Bassoon by Savary le jeune, dated 1825, held today by the Klingendes Museum Bern. Currently on display in the exhibition “Fresh Wind”.
Bassoon by Savary le jeune, dated 1825, held today by the Klingendes Museum Bern. Currently on display in the exhibition “Fresh Wind”.

Restored oboes and bassoon

Wind instruments are especially fragile when made of wood. If we play a historical instrument, it can split the wood. Its mechanism is also subject to wear and tear. This is why historical wind instruments are generally not played. In order to make it nevertheless possible for specialist musicians to play them on exceptional occasions, we have had several woodwind instruments out of the Klingendes Museum Bern restored. (more...)

These include four oboes, a cor anglais and a bassoon:

  • Oboe by Carl Theodor Golde, Dresden ca 1850, boxwood, 11 keys, German system
    suitable for playing Schumann, Mendelssohn etc. (see video above)
  • Oboe by Thibouville-Béranger, Paris 1864–1869, ordinary French system
  • Oboe by Heckel, Biebrich 1882–1905, Palisander, the “solo oboe” model, German system
    suitable for playing Schumann’s Romances, Brahms, Mahler
  • Oboe by Joseph Pöschl, Munich first half of the 20th century, boxwood, German system
    suitable for playing Mahler, Richard Strauss etc.
  • Cor anglais by Stephan Koch, Vienna ca 1825, angled form, boxwood, 9 keys, suitable for playing Beethoven, Rossini
  • Bassoon by Savary le jeune, Paris 1825 (dated on the instrument), maple, historical S bocal, original case
    suitable for playing the French orchestral and solo literature of the time
Oboes and a cor anglais restored to playing condition
Oboes and a cor anglais restored to playing condition
Maria Raffaele plays de cor anglais using a reed that she developed for this instrument
Maria Raffaele plays de cor anglais using a reed that she developed for this instrument