Mozart: Bassoon Concerto KV 191

The authoritative edition of Mozart’s bassoon concerto KV 191 is published by Bärenreiter with cadenzas by Jane Gower. One of the most popular performing editions was edited by Walter Guetter and is published by TrevCo. A classic edition is published by Universal, edited with cadenzas by Milan Turkovic. There are many editions and cadenzas available from TrevCo-Varner Music.

For recordings, the classics include Sherman Walt with the Boston Symphony, Klaus Thunemann with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Bernard Garfield with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Willard Elliot with the Chicago Symphony, Maurice Allard with the Mozart Academy Orchestra in Salzburg, and Leonard Sharrow with Toscanini and the NBC Symphony.

Danny Bond’s subtle classical bassoon version with the Academy of Ancient Music is a delight, as is Jane Gower’s elegant performance. Any chance to hear Concertgebouw, especially with the virtuoso Gustavo Núñez is essential. Frank Morelli recorded a crystal clear rendition with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. The consummate technique of the young David McGill with the Cleveland Orchestra is not to be missed. And, Dag Jensen is always a pleasure to hear.


Here are some iTunes links:


The Dulcian: precursor to the bassoon

Dulcian Michael Praetorius, Syntagma Musicum: De Organographia, 1618 (Theatrum Instrumentorum, X)

The dulcian was invented during the Renaissance (16th century) and was used through the 17th century. A very good introduction to the dulcian and the history of the precursor to the bassoon can be found here. And, here is a website dedicated to the dulcian.

Bass_Linz (Bass dulcian, model Linz, by Guntram Wolf)

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,

Eugène Jancourt


A bel canto bassoonist!

Jancourt, (Louis Marie) Eugène (b Château-Thierry, Aisne, 15 Dec 1815; d Boulogne-sur-Seine, 29 Jan 1901). French bassoonist and teacher. After completing his studies at the Paris Conservatoire with François René Gebauer in 1836, he enjoyed a brilliant career as a bassoonist until 1869, occupying the most important orchestral positions in Paris. At the same time he made frequent appearances as a soloist, making good the lack of a suitable repertory by composing and arranging much music for his instrument. He also carried out over a period of years a number of improvements to the bassoon, in collaboration with various Paris makers. These were adopted at the Conservatoire, where he taught (1875–91), and subsequently became standardized on the French instrument. The most prolific composer of all time for the bassoon, Jancourt published 116 works, including numerous solo pieces, works for wind band, and a Grande méthode (Paris, 1847) containing studies and duet sonatas. These still represent a legacy of unique value. His playing was notable for its purity and for a charm of sound which, in its resemblance to the human voice, avoided all elements of the grotesque.

(William Waterhouse. “Jancourt, Eugène.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed January 12, 2013,

The Bassoon by James Kopp

From the publisher:

This welcome volume encompasses the entire history of the bassoon, from its origins five centuries ago to its place in twenty-first-century music. James Kopp draws on new archival research and many years’ experience playing the instrument to provide an up-to-date and lively portrait of today’s bassoon and its intriguing predecessors. He discusses the bassoon’s makers, its players, its repertory, its myths, and its audiences, all in unprecedented detail. The bassoon was invented in Italy in response to the need for a bass-register double-reed woodwind suitable for processionals and marching. Composers were quick to exploit its agility and unique timbre. Later, during the reign of Louis XIV, the instrument underwent a major redesign, giving voice to its tenor register. In the early 1800s new scientific precepts propelled a wave of invention and design modifications. In the twentieth century, the multiplicity of competing bassoon designs narrowed to a German (or Heckel) type and a French type, the latter now nearly extinct. The author examines the acoustical consequences of these various redesigns. He also offers new coverage of the bassoon’s social history, including its roles in the military and church and its global use during the European Colonial period. Separate historical chapters devoted to contrabassoons and smaller bassoons complete the volume.

This is a wonderful brand new addition to the bassoonist’s library!

“Berceuse” from the Firebird by Igor Stravinsky

I’ve found that Norman Herzberg’s fingering recommendation for the opening Bb to Db is very helpful:berceuse

Here is a link to a recording of the “Berceuse” from the Firebird Suite by Igor Stravinsky. The Columbia Symphony is conducted by the composer in this 1967 recording.

Paradis: Sicilienne

Sheet music available here:

Paradis [Paradies], Maria Theresia (b Vienna, bap. 15 May 1759; dVienna, 1 Feb 1824). Austrian composer, pianist, organist and singer. She was the daughter of the Imperial Secretary and Court Councillor to Empress Maria Theresa, after whom she was named (the empress was not however her godmother, as was formerly believed). Some time between her second and fifth year she became blind; Anton Mesmer was able to improve her condition only temporarily, in 1777–8. She received a broad education from Leopold Kozeluch (piano), Vincenzo Righini (singing), Salieri (singing, dramatic composition), Abbé Vogler (theory and composition) and Carl Friberth (theory). By 1775 she was performing as a pianist and singer in Viennese concert rooms and salons. Composers who wrote for her include Salieri (an organ concerto, 1773), Mozart (a piano concerto, probably k456) and possibly Haydn (a piano concerto, hXVIII:4) . . . the famous Sicilienne is spurious, probably the work (after a Weber violin sonata op.10 no.1) of its purported discoverer, Samuel Dushkin.

(R. Angermüller, et al. “Paradis, Maria Theresia.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford Univ. Press, accessed Nov. 21, 2012,