Old Musical Instruments
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Saxophones Adolphe Sax
Fine Bassoons Heckel
Heckel German system
The design of the modern bassoon owes a great deal to the performer, teacher, and composer Carl Almenräder.
Assisted by the German acoustic researcher Gottfried Weber, he developed the 17-key bassoon with a range spanning four octaves.
Almenräder's improvements to the bassoon began with an 1823 treatise describing ways of improving intonation, response, and technical ease of playing by augmenting and rearranging the keywork.
Subsequent articles further developed his ideas. His employment at Schott gave him the freedom to construct and test instruments according to these new designs, and he published the results in Caecilia, Schott's house journal.
Almenräder continued publishing and building instruments until his death in 1846, and Ludwig van Beethoven himself requested one of the newly made instruments after hearing of the papers.
In 1831, Almenräder left Schott to start his own factory with a partner, Johann Adam Heckel.
Buffet French system
The Buffet system bassoon achieved its basic acoustical properties somewhat earlier than the Heckel.
Thereafter, it continued to develop in a more conservative manner.
While the early history of the Heckel bassoon included a complete overhaul of the instrument in both acoustics and key work, the development of the Buffet system consisted primarily of incremental improvements to the key work.
This minimalist approach of the Buffet deprived it of improved consistency of intonation, ease of operation, and increased power, which is found in Heckel bassoons, but the Buffet is considered by some to have a more vocal and expressive quality.
The conductor John Foulds lamented in 1934 the dominance of the Heckel-style bassoon, considering them too homogeneous in sound with the horn. The modern Buffet system has 22 keys with its range being the about same as the Heckel.
Though the United Kingdom once favored the French system, Buffet-system instruments are no longer made there and the last prominent British player of the French system retired in the 1980s.
However, with continued use in some regions and its distinctive tone, the Buffet continues to have a place in modern bassoon playing, particularly in France, where it is originated from.
Buffet-model bassoons are currently made in Paris by Buffet Crampon and the atelier Ducasse Romainville, France.
The Selmer Company stopped fabrication of French system bassoon a few years ago