Monday, January 23, 2017

When it Comes to Bocals, Length Matters!

Since the middle of 2015 I've been working relatively frequently on a Grenser bassoon. This instrument, to the uninitiated, is likely the most common instrument in use today to perform music from about the 1770s to the 1830s. While there are copies out there of other instruments from the same time period, the original Saxon instruments stamped Grenser or Grenser/Wiesner which survive exist in large numbers and consistently display good craftsmanship. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that the bassoons from Grenser's workshop were used widely by the early 19th century leaving no doubt that the instrument's popularity today is warranted.

Unfortunately, while many originals exist in fine condition they suffer from the same symptoms which have marred the instrument copying process of older bassoons: only very few survive with an original bocal. In fact, I know of only one Grenser/Wiesner instrument which does: that of my former teacher, Donna Agrell. Donna's instrument came to her not only with two original bocals, but with six original reeds! Although I could write more about it here, she has recently completed her Ph.D thesis which contains a detailed description of the instrument as well as its first owner, so I highly encourage those who are interested in learning more to seek it out.
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