Carl Almenräder

Carl Almenräder (b Ronsdorf [now Wuppertal], 3 Oct 1786; d Biebrich, 14 Sept 1843) was a German bassoonist, inventor and composer. Largely self-taught, he was a professional bassoonist in Cologne from 1808. After a period with the Frankfurt Nationaltheater (1812–14) he returned to Cologne as bandmaster of the 3rd Prussian Militia, accepting a similar position in Mainz (1816), where he met the learned acoustician and theorist Gottfried Weber. His association with Weber was of the greatest importance to his subsequent career and led him to make fundamental improvements to the bassoon. In 1817 he was able to experiment in the instrument factory of B. Schotts Söhne and first published his findings in a Traité sur le perfectionnement du basson avec deux tableaux (Mainz, c1819–20), with French and German text, describing his improved 15-key bassoon. In 1820, after Weber’s departure from Mainz, Almenräder returned to Cologne where he taught and performed, and also made flutes and clarinets in his own workshop. He gave this up in 1822 to take up a position as first bassoon in the Duke of Nassau’s court orchestra at Biebrich and Wiesbaden. This enabled him to continue his research in Schott’s factory and to superintend the making of bassoons according to his design and Weber’s principles. His successive improvements were fully described by Weber in Caecilia [Mainz], ii (1825), 123–40, and ix (1828), 128–30.

Almenräder remained at Biebrich for the rest of his life, apart from several concert tours, particularly in Holland. In 1829 he published in Caecilia an article on the maintenance of bassoon reeds. In the same year J.A. Heckel, who was 17, entered Schott’s factory; Almenräder, took him into partnership in 1831. Thus the business of Heckel, still the chief German manufacturer of bassoons, was founded in Biebrich. In Mainz in 1843 Almenräder published his Fagottschule in German and French for his 17-key bassoon; this tutor, which includes reed-making instructions, has gone through many editions. His published compositions include a bassoon concerto and some chamber music with bassoon; he also left many unpublished works in manuscript.

(Lyndesay G. Langwill. “Almenraeder, Carl.” Grove Music OnlineOxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed Feb. 27, 2013, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/00648.)

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