The Web Bassoon Resource Site Only

History of the Bassoon

Development and Makers  (18th Century)

(1678 - 1707)
I.C. Denner (1655-1707)- maker of oboes, recorders, and bassoons. Johann Christoph Denner, member of the largest family within the guild of "Wildruf-und Horndreher" (hunt-lure and bone-turners), enjoyed considerable fame during his lifetime. He was self-taught as a musician and is probably the dulcian/bassoon maker portrayed in the famous Weigel woodcut (1698). It was reported that he also made cornetts, "schalmei" and "stockflote" (cane recorder) and that he was able to play expertly all the instruments he built. In 1912 F. Weigmann made him the hero of his operetta "Der Klarinettenmacher".

According to J.D.Doppelmayr (1730), a family friend, "at the beginning of this century, to the delight of music-lovers, he invented new sorts of wind instruments, the so-called clarinet, the racket-bassoon known from earlier times, also producing improved chalumeaux". He is credited for inventing the clarinet by adding keys to the chalumeaux.

(1696 - 1721)
Andreas Eichentopf (1670-1721). According to Rubardt, "the technical and musical perfection of his contrabassoon testify to a great master".

(1707 - 1735)
I. Denner (1681-1735), eldest of Johann Christoph's nine children. Jakob Denner made oboes, recorders, chalumeau, flutes, and bassoons. He was primarily a performer, "his oboe-playing being considered the finest ever heard in Nurnberg, being active also at the courts of Ansbach, Byreuth, Sulzbach, Hildburghausen, and often at Frankfurt."

(1710 - 1749)
Johann Heinrich Eichentopf (1686-1769), son of Andreas Eichentopf. Johann Heinrich is the probable inventor, according to Heyde, of a flute-cork tuning device, oboe da caccia with bent bore incorporating slits and reinforcing rib, and brass bell. He made alto-recorders, tenor recorders, flutes, oboes, oboe d'amore, oboe da caccia, bassoons, octave bassoons, quart bassoons, horns, trumpets, and trombones.

(1736 - 1764)
Johann David Denner (1704-1764), son of Jakob Denner. Johann David trained under his father as hunt-lure and bone-turner. He was described as "musician, oboe, bassoon and recorder maker".

(1744 - 1798)
Carl Augustin Grenser (1720-1807), born the son of a farmer in Wiehe / Thruinger, moved to Dresden in 1739 and opened a business as an independent instrument maker. Carl Augustin constructed oboes, tenor oboes, english horns, bassoons, octave-bassoons, basset-horns, serpents, jagdzinks (German hunting horns), piccolos, flutes, clarinets and bass clarinets.

(1765 - 1783)
Prudent Thierriot (died around 1783), Paris, in accordance to the current fashion signed his instruments with his given name rather than his family name. Prudent constructed flutes, pitchpipes, flageolets, oboes, clarinets and bassoons.

(1796 - 1813)
Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Grenser (1764-1813), nephew and apprentice of Carl Augustin Grenser, was also the composer of an octet employing pairs of octave, tenor and bass bassoons. His surviving instruments are numerous. In 1843 , the Rotterdam music instrument dealer, Plattner, still stocked 14 flutes, four oboes, 22 clarinets, three bassoons, four bass-horns, and one serpent.

Johann Heinrich is credited with inventing the 'clarinett-bass' (a bassoon-shaped eight-keyed bass clarinet descending to Bb) and, on the bassoon, with relocating the c wing-key tone-hole higher to obtain the d. Additional instruments that he built include alto recorders, oboe de' amore, english horns, basset-horns, octave bassoons, jagdrufs (bird-calling instruments used while hunting), and hifthorns (bugles).