Franz Friedrich Paersch (1857-1921)

The German Franz Friedrich Paersch spent most of his career playing in Manchester and, with his London-based compatriot, Adolf Borsdorf, was one of the pre-eminent horn players in England of the day.

Franz Paersch, the son of an inn keeper and farmer, first showed musical talent singing principal tenor in the choir of his local church. He then studied the horn with Friedrich Gumpert at the Leipzig Conservatory and undertook military service. In 1879, he obtained an engagement as principal horn in the orchestra at the Buxton Pavilion in Derbyshire, a fairly lowly position, but his talent was already apparent and although he probably spent the winter back in Germany, he had returned to England by 10th May 1880 to play first horn in the season of concerts given by Hans Richter in London’s St. James’s Hall. He then returned to Buxton where his “masterly” playing was welcomed enthusiastically when he featured as a soloist with the orchestra there. On 22nd March 1881, his playing was commended for its “rare perfection” after a London concert conducted by Charles Lamoureux, and he made his solo debut in the capital the following June at a series of Promenade Concerts given at Hengler’s Circus, Argyll Street.

The death of Pierre Van Haute in 1882 left Charles Hallé, the Manchester-based conductor, looking for a replacement first horn. It is said that he first heard Paersch’s playing when the Buxton Orchestra played in Manchester, and by October 1882, he had appointed him as his principal horn, a post he would hold until January 1917. Paersch was joining an established section: Alexander Preatoni, Thomas Reynolds and Callisto Beltrami had played together for several years and with Paersch as their leader, they would form an ever-present team until Reynolds and Beltrami retired in 1900. Playing for Hallé’s orchestra was far from a full-time position and many of the orchestra’s players, including Paersch, also played for the Liverpool Philharmonic Society’s concerts and there, in 1905, he was singled out for praise by Sibelius, who had conducted him in a performance of Finlandia. He also played in London at the Covent Garden Grand Opera Season from 1883 until 1914 and continued to perform at the concerts conducted by Hans Richter. Paersch also played in less high-profile orchestral concerts in the north of England and served for many years as first horn at the Birmingham Festival, sharing the role on occasion with Adolf Borsdorf. Towards the end of his career, he was also in demand as soloist in the Quoniam from Bach’s Mass in B minor.

Paersch was a frequent performer in chamber music and featured occasionally as a soloist, though the range of his repertoire was quite narrow. He gave numerous performances of Beethoven’s Horn Sonata, and occasionally played the “Andante from the Mozart horn concerto” (probably K417) with piano accompaniment and Mozart’s Romance (the second movement from the Concerto in E-flat K447). With orchestra, he performed Emil Titl’s once-popular Serenade for flute and horn and in chamber music he gave countless performances of Beethoven’s and Hummel’s Septets, and Schubert’s Octet, but his speciality was Brahms’s Horn Trio, which he played in public on at least 20 occasions.

His first known performance of the Brahms took place at London’s St. James’s Hall, on 8th June 1888 when he played it with Charles Hallé at the piano, and Hallé’s wife, Mme Norman-Neruda on violin. In February 1891, he played it with the great violinist Joseph Joachim and the pianist Fanny Davies, but a review of a performance in Leeds in 1894, with pianist Leonard Borwick and the violinist C. Rawdon Briggs gives us one of the best descriptions of Paersch’s playing:

Ever since this eminent artist became a member of Sir Charles Hallé’s Band, his remarkable fine horn playing has been a special feature of their performances. It is not going too far to say that there is no other horn playing now before the public whose playing is more refined, or so free from flaws. The horn is the most human of instruments and, on the humanem est errare principle, slips are more excusable in the horn-player than almost any executive musician. But Mr Paersch has passed scatheless through such ordeals as Beethoven’s Septet and the Adagio of the Choral Symphony, and his faultless playing had the advantage of being more in evidence than usual in Brahms’s music. His perfect intonation and refined tone blended most charmingly with the other instruments, and it is difficult to imagine a more finished performance than yesterday’s.

After the turn of the century, Paersch continued to play in the orchestra and elsewhere, though his appearances were perhaps less frequent than they had been in the 1890s and his last known performance in chamber music took place in Liverpool in February 1914. Paersch continued to play first horn in the Hallé until his third horn, the Belgian Ray Meert replaced him in January 1917. After that, his name disappeared from the orchestra’s programmes, though the precise date of his retirement is not known as he never joined the orchestra’s Pension and Sickness scheme. Despite his German origins, he played on a French instrument by Raoux, and when that wore out, on an instrument modelled on Raoux’s horns by William Brown of Kennington, London.

As the obituary which appeared in the Musical Times quoted Hans Richter’s description of Paersch as “the greatest of horn players,” the question of why he remained committed to provincial Manchester, rather than moving to London, must be asked. The most likely answers were financial and family. He could get to London when he needed to, and his work in Manchester was handsomely rewarded: Hallé was well aware that his playing was out of the ordinary and in his early years with the orchestra, Paersch was paid £6 per week at a time when the principal cello received £5 and rank and file string players received £2 10s. In 1892, when financial constraints obliged the conductor to save money, and the rank and file players’ pay was cut to £1 per concert, Paersch received £3 per engagement. At around the same time, Paersch and many of the other leading figures in the Manchester area were appointed to teach at the Royal Manchester College of Music where the going rate for teaching was 7/6d per hour though Paersch received 10/6d.

Paersch’s reasons for staying in Manchester were also almost certainly influenced by his marriage to Manchester-girl Clara Elliott in 1893. It seems most likely that he met her through Willem Grosse, the Hallé’s principal clarinet, who was a lodger in her family’s home, and Paersch and his wife soon set up their own home at nearby 45 Bishop Street, remaining there until Franz’s death. Together, they had two daughters and three sons including Otto, who joined his father in the Hallé and then played the horn with the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra.

John Humphries

Aubrey Brain (1893-1955)

aubrey.brainAubrey Harold Brain was the son of A.E. Brain, Senior, brother of Alfred Brain, Junior, and father of Dennis Brain – all distinguished horn players. Another brother, Arthur, also played horn, but abandoned music to become a police officer.

Aubrey’s first instrument was the violin, but he soon switched to horn. He studied horn with his father, violin with Adela Sutcliffe and Eugene Mieir, and in 1911 entered the Royal College of Music to study horn  with Friedrich Adolph Borsdorf. He played in the North London Orchestral Society during his College years and was appointed principal horn of the New Symphony Orchestra in 1911. He went on the London Symphony Orchestra's tour of the US under Arthur Nikish in 1912; his father was unable to go on the tour because of his contract with Covent Garden. After returning from the tour, Aubrey joined his father and brother in a memorial concert for the Titanic.

Aubrey became principal horn of Sir Thomas Beecham's opera company orchestra in 1913. It was during a tour with this company that he met Marion Beeley, a contralto for whom Sir Edward Elgar wrote "Hail, Immortal Ind!" in his opera The Crown of India. They were married in 1914.

Aubrey’s early career was shadowed by the success of his older brother, Alfred, who dominated the scene until he left for the United States in 1922, and of his teacher, Borsdorf, until Borsdorf was forced to resign because of anti-German feeling at the outbreak of World War I in 1914.

Both Aubrey and Alfred joined the armed services in 1914. Unlike Alfred, Aubrey saw no action, but played horn in the band of the Welsh Guards until 1920.

Aubrey was appointed first horn of the Royal Philharmonic Society in 1922 and co-principal of the London Symphony (with Thomas Busby) in 1923. He succeeded his teacher Borsdorf in 1923 as professor of horn at the Royal Academy of Music (Borsdorf had taught at both the College and the Academy), where his son Dennis was one of his students. His other son, Leonard, was an oboist.

In his teaching, Aubrey followed Oscar Franz's treatise Grosse theoretisch-praktische Waldhorn-Schule (1880). He demonstrated technique, phrasing, concertos, etc. in lessons. His breath control was legendary. He fought to preserve the "English" style of horn playing, preferring the lighter sound of the French horns to the "German" sound that was gaining popularity. He played a Raoux hand horn made by Labbaye c. 1865, to which English-made valves had been added. He would never permit the use of large-bore German horns in the BBC Symphony even while Beecham insisted on German horns for the London Philharmonic (and paid for them himself). Aubrey had perfect pitch and almost infallible accuracy, so he was successful on the narrow-bore instrument where others had difficulties.

Aubrey joined the BBC’s Wireless Symphony Orchestra when it was formed in 1927 and became principal horn of the BBC Symphony Orchestra when it made its debut in 1930; he remained with the BBC until illness caused his premature retirement in 1943.

Dame Ethel Smyth wrote her Concerto for Violin, Horn and Orchestra with Aubrey Brain in mind. He and Jelly d'Arányi premiered the work under Sir Henry Wood in 1927, and he played it in Berlin with Marjorie Hayward. York Bowen dedicated his Horn Sonata to Aubrey. Aubrey was often a soloist, and made a number of recordings; his recording of the Mozart K417 was the first horn concerto ever recorded. He played second horn to his son on a few occasions.

After his death, the Aubrey Brain Memorial Trust was established to promote a wind scholarship. The Dennis Brain Wind Ensemble played a memorial concert on their tenth anniversary in 1956 to raise funds for the trust.

Raoux Family

Raoux narrow bore natural and piston horns were sought after by horn players in the 19th and early 20th century as being the best and were played by both Aubrey Brain and his son Dennis. The Raoux family members who manufactured horns were:

François (1695-1749)
Brothers Pierre (1723-after 1789) and Joseph (1725-1787)
Lucien-Joseph (1752-1823)
Marcel-Auguste (1795-1871)

raoux lj
Lucien-Joseph Raoux (1752-1823)

The Raoux story begins in 1663 when Louis Raoux moved to Nancy in the Lorraine region of France. Louis and his son François were chaudronniers; i.e., coppersmiths and pot and pan makers, the most highly skilled of which were organized in guilds in major cities and made high value objects, including timpani and trumpets. François became a master chaudronnier and was later described as Warden of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Lorraine’s Hunt and, after a move to Versailles, as Horn Maker to the King’s (Louis XV of France) Hunt, a position he held until his death.

Two of François’s sons followed him in the business. Pierre remained in Nancy, listed as “merchant-maker of cors-de-chasse” and also was among the artisans who made a fountain in Nancy in 1756. Joseph moved to Paris and joined the Guild of Luthiers, Organ Builders, and Musical Instrument Makers in 1754. Before this, the cor-de-chasse was not considered to be a musical instrument as such, but, like trumpets and timpani, classified as “instruments of war and the hunt.”

Both guilds manufactured horns from 1759, an important development as it reflected the growing interest in the horn as an orchestral instrument in France. These orchestral horns were triple-wound (introduced around 1814), following earlier designs of single-wound trompe (favored by the Marquis de Dampierre) and double-wound trompe Dauphine. The Raoux atelier developed two ranges of instrument: trompes-de-chasse for the hunt and cors-de-chasse for the orchestra.

Joseph seems to have made mainly hunting horns despite his entry into the Luthier’s Guild. He was the exclusive supplier of trompe-de-chasse to the king. His son, Lucien-Joseph, apprenticed to his father, left to work with a former shop workman and competitor, Jean-François Corméry, but later returned to work with his father, possibly concentrating on orchestral horns while his father took care of hunting horns.

Raoux cor solo for Dauprat
Raoux cor solo for Dauprat

Lucien-Joseph developed a new form of cor d’invention in 1781, the cor solo. He made a beautiful example for an award to Louis-François Dauprat, winner of the first Premier Prix for horn at the Paris Conservatoire in 1797. Over the years, he made horns for Giovanni Punto, Domnich, Duvernoy, Kenn, and Lebrun. His workshop included a lathe.

Marcel-Auguste worked with his father and was a horn player as well as maker. Among the changes in industry and manufacturing at this time was the introduction of valves, arriving from Germany with trumpets in 1826. Following a revolution in 1830, royal patents were cancelled, competition increased, Adolph Sax won a competition for military band instruments, and the Raoux business went into decline. After years of litigation, Marcel-Auguste was forced in 1857 to sell the company’s assets to Jacques-Christophe Labbaye, the horn-playing son of a maker.

In 1878, François Millereau, who started his own shop in 1861, bought Marcel-Auguste’s patterns and the rights to the Raoux name from Labbaye, who continued to work in his employ. Millereau was succeeded by his son-in-law, Herman Schoenaers. The firm went bankrupt in 1931 and was bought by H. Selmer, who continue to use the Raoux name until around 1938.

Marcel-Auguste Raoux had a son, Auguste-Ernest (1826-1889), who became a government inspector; Auguste-Ernest’s only child, a daughter, died in 1930, the end of this Raoux family.


Chris Larkin’s article, from which this summary is drawn, was published in the Spring and Autumn 2018 issues of The Horn Player, the journal of the British Horn Society.

Henri Kling (1842-1918)

klingBeyond duties as solo hornist and educator, Henri Kling was a composer, conductor, organist, and writer whose publications still occupy considerable shelf space in our libraries. His reputation however has diminished to the point that few know who he was or what we owe him, and the current online edition of the prestigious Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart has deleted his entry entirely.

Henri Adrien Louis Kling was born in Paris in 1842 to French native Claudette and Ludwig Christoph Kling, who hailed from the southwest German Grand Duchy of Baden. The Klings’ Paris sojourn presumably did not provide adequate employment for Ludwig, an Hautboist (military musician). In 1844 the family left Paris for Ludwig’s hometown of Carlsruhe, where he found employment in the wind bands associated with the local military garrison. Soon after the move, Henri’s mother died. Ludwig remarried, but he was a problematic father, and a devastating fire and political and military upheaval made for a difficult childhood for Henri.

Henri blossomed as musician in his teens, applying himself to violin, piano, and organ and being influenced by Eduard Devrient (manager of the court theater) and Carlsruhe Music Director Josef Strauss. The horn section of the Carlsruhe Court Orchestra enjoyed a fine reputation, and Henri studied with members of the section, including solo hornist Jacob Dorn. Students of orchestra members had free access to performances, which comprised more than two dozen operas in one season. Members of the section also gave advice on instruments; for Henri an initial cor solo (natural horn) was followed by a clockspring rotary-valve F horn built by Friedrich Wilhelm Schuster, one of the earliest makers of instruments with valves.

Henri left Carlsruhe in 1861, after the death of his father, settling in Geneva, Switzerland. He soon won the solo horn post in the Geneva Theater Orchestra, married in 1865, and had three children. His Méthode pour le Cor appeared in manuscript in 1865; it was printed in 1879 by Breitkopf & Härtel and a second, expanded edition was published in 1895 and remains in print today. Kling was elected Professor of Musical Theory and Horn Playing at the Geneva Conservatoire in 1866 and remained at the post for more than fifty years.

Geneva’s Grand Théâtre was opened in 1879, providing a venue for many opera and symphony concerts with Kling as solo horn with a brilliant reputation. At the same time, he began to develop as a conductor and was also famous for his teaching and adjudicator of band contests. Over his lifetime, he composed more than 550 pieces with opus numbers and many more without, including a concerto and sonata for horn as well as shorter solos, etudes, and ensemble works. His compositions were published by established publishers in Germany, Switzerland, France, England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, and the US.

After two decades as solo hornist in Geneva, Kling resigned from the orchestra to devote himself to composition, writing, and teaching. He considered teaching at the Geneva Conservatoire his primary responsibility. He taught both hand horn and modern valve horn and stressed the importance of the hand in the bell. Among his many solo horn pieces, etudes, arrangements, and editions, Kling was the first to provide piano transcriptions for the Mozart concerti and the Weber Concertino. Compositions were dedicated to colleagues Alphonse Stenebruggen in Strasbourg, Henri Dubois in Brussels, and Friedrich Gumpert in Leipzig. Articles and books included topics such as the intersection of music and literature, contributions of women in music, local music history, and methods for composition, orchestration, conducting, and transposition.

World War I meant a blockade of Switzerland with attendant shortages and the personal tragedy of the war between his mother’s France and his father’s Germany. Kling’s fifty years at the Conservatoire was celebrated in 1916. He still hiked every Sunday morning more than 10 kilometers round trip to play the organ, donating his time and talents without pay. Kling died in Geneva at the age of 76 in May 1918, not living to see the end of the war.


Summary by Marilyn Bone Kloss of William Melton’s “Henri Kling: A European Musician." The complete article was first published in La Revue du Corniste, the journal of the Association Française du Cor, and then in The Horn Call, in the February, May, and October 2018 issues.

Farquharson Cousins (1917-2017)

by Tony Catterick


farkieFarquharson Alfred Mackay Cousins ‒ “Farkie” to everyone ‒ was a true horn legend and character who achieved lasting fame as a devotee of “the true horn tone.”

Farkie was born in Bristol, England in 1917 to an Anglican clergyman, Alfred Edmund Cousins, who served in France in the First World War, and Margaret Mackay, a Canadian. The parents met in Canada where Alfred was working as a priest; Farkie spent some early years in Canada.

I saw my first horn when I was four years of age in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in Canada, where we were living for a while. Dad took me to a Military Band outdoor concert. It was The Band of The Welsh Guards touring Canada and I clearly remember them playing Franz von Suppe’s overture Light Cavalry. Little could I have imagined that the Sergeant playing first Horn would, in fifteen years’ time, be my second Horn in the same Band!

Farkie attended Clifton College, a boys’ public school in Bristol, England from 1931-36, where he decided to take up the horn at age 15. This was a school-owned piston valve instrument with an F crook that was hanging on a wall; he tried it, producing a G below the stave immediately! After three years he won a prize playing Glazunov’s Reverie. His father bought him a similar-type Raoux horn and, for the rest of his life, Farkie stayed passionately loyal to the narrow bore piston valve French horn in F.

Farkie attended Selwyn College, Cambridge to read Music, graduating in 1938 and deciding to become a professional horn player. With the help of a scholarship, he went to the Guildhall School of Music in London in 1939 to study with Bertie Muskett, one-time principal horn for Sir Thomas Beecham’s New Symphony Orchestra. During the months leading up to the Second World War in September 1939, he was also able to have lessons with Aubrey Brain at the Royal Academy of Music. Some of his contemporary horn students with Aubrey Brain were Aubrey's son Dennis, Douglas Moore, William Grant, and John Burden, all of whom later had distinguished careers as first horns and teachers of the next generation.

In 1992, aged 75, I recall, over half a century ago I sat alongside Dennis Brain in The Duke’s Hall at the RAM, with Sir Henry Wood conducting. Halcyon days, with Aubrey as our mentor. We all played French horns in F, the large bore B-flat German horn had yet to dominate, and with Aubrey Brain – never!!

On the outbreak of hostilities, Farkie joined the same Welsh Guards Band he heard as a child in Winnipeg. He also played in the Orchestra in Khaki, a group of military musicians formed to make aluminium records for relay to the Forces abroad. When he was demobilized in 1945, he bought a Joseph Lucien Raoux horn in F.

He joined the BBC Symphony Orchestra for the 1945-46 season, the City of Birmingham Orchestra in 1946-47, and the now defunct Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra based in Leeds in 1948-49, the last horn section in the UK to play the narrow bore piston valve French Horn in F. The section was Farkie, Raymond Few, William Crosse, and Walter Smith.

From Leeds, Farkie moved in 1949 to Glasgow with the Scottish Orchestra. He now realised that there was no choice but to give up the old narrow bore piston horn and so played an old Lehmann compensating horn in F and B-flat owned by the orchestra. He stayed the renamed Scottish National Orchestra for the next 10 years, during which he bought a yellow brass Conn 6D full double instrument. The section in the early 1950s was Farkie, Aileen Way, a young Barry Tuckwell, and Derek Lisney. Farkie also taught at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music. He then was solo horn in the BBC Scottish Orchestra, also in Glasgow, from 1960 to 1966, with ex-horn player Normal Del Mar as the Principal Conductor.

In 1969 he joined first the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra in South Africa as principal horn and then the SA Navy Band, playing horn, BBflat tuba, and a lot of golf, before moving finally to the Army Band as Music Librarian. He retired in 1991, returning to the UK to write novels and play more golf.

His classic tutor, On Playing The Horn, first published in 1983 and revised and expanded in 1992, is an absolute must for all horn players. He describes, with humour, wisdom, and long experience, the many qualities that make up a horn player’s character, playing technique, and how to survive as an orchestral musician.

Never forget that the most beautiful note in the world can become a disaster, unless it is played in the right place. F.C.

This great man, fine horn player, teacher, author of murder mystery books, cartoonist, writer of articles to music magazines eulogising the narrow bore horn and bemoaning the “cow horn German thing,” believer in a pure, clean, and open tone on the horn, raconteur, lover of fine malt whisky and poker, highly intelligent, a true bon viveur with a twinkly-eyed sense of humour, sometime tuba player and passionate golfer, left us three months after his 100th birthday. We will all miss him, as they don’t make these larger than life characters any more.


© Tony Catterick, Historian for The British Horn Society, July 2017.

Bruno Jaenicke (1887-1946)

jaenickeBruno Jaenicke came from the tradition of horn players born and trained in Germany and other European countries who emigrated to the United States and filled positions in major orchestras, often under music directors also from Europe. Jaenicke was principal horn in Boston, Detroit, and New York and was considered to be one of the finest hornists of his time.

Jaenicke was born in Dessau, Germany in 1887 and studied at the Sondershausen Conservatory in Dessau. He soon was playing extra for the Court Orchestra. He served in a military band in Stuttgart, then joined the theatre orchestra in Coblenz (1908-1809) and the summer season in the resort orchestra at Baden near Zurich in 1910. Next was principal horn (1910-1911) in Freiburg/Brisgavia (where Ifor James later taught), then principal horn of the Royal Chapel in Wiesbaden, where he succeeded Gustav Schulze and married Schultze's daughter.

It was while Jaenicke participated in the Munich Opera Wagner Festival as additional solo horn that he received a telegram from conductor Karl Muck inviting him to take a position of principal horn in the Boston Symphony Orchestra immediately if he could resolve his regular season contract with the Royal Chapel in Wiesbaden. Jaenicke was able to call on Joseph Himmer from Zurich to take over his contract, and he played for the BSO from 1913 to 1919.

After two hears with the Detroit Symphony (1919-1921), Jaenicke became co-principal with Franz Xaver Reiter with the New York Philharmonic, then principal from 1922 to 1943. He can be heard on a recording of Strauss's Ein Heldenleben under Willem Mengelberg. Jaenicke's two brothers-in-law, Robert and Adolph Schulze, played second and fourth horn with him in New York.

Jaenicke wrote a monograph called "The Horn" for a New York magazine. This entertaining article was reprinted in The Horn Call in November 1971 and again in August 2000. Here is a brief excerpt about the development of the double horn.

The success of this invention was complete, although not quite as easy as a conductor whom I know thinks. Let me tell you about him. One nice day, I played for him in order to get a position as first horn in his orchestra. I played the F horn then. He accepted me, advising me to use the double horn of which he had heard, "because," he said, "it is so easy. When you want a high note, you just press a button and there it is." The good man did not know that we have to set our lips in the same position when we play the high C on the F or the B-flat horn.

Hans Pizka wrote about Jaenicke in the November 1994 issue of The Horn Call.

Gebr. Alexander

Gebr. Alexander manufactures musical instruments in Mainz, Germany, the city on the Rhine River where the company was founded in 1782. It is still owned and directed, through seven generations, by descendants of the founder.

The founder, Franz Ambros Alexander (1753-1802), established a small workshop for making musical instruments. He was from a French Huguenot family and relocated from the town of Miltenberg am Main, Germany to Mainz, about 100 km away, where he was accepted into the Craftsmen’s Guild.

Manufacture of woodwind instruments took on importance with the second generation, which established the sale of Alexander's own products. After the death of Franz Ambros, his widow and her sons Claudius, Martin, and Philipp (1787-1864) took over the business. Kaspar Anton Alexander (1803-1872) trained in woodwind instrument building and in 1826 returned to the company.

Manufacture of brass instruments became more important with the third generation. Franz Anton Alexander (1838-1926) worked for the company beginning in 1864. The younger Georg Philipp Alexander (1843-1897) spent five years in Saxony, Vienna, and Prague learning the art of brass instrument making. Richard Wagner contacted Gebr. Alexander in 1862 while searching for a new tone color; the Wagner tuba was developed in cooperation with Gebr. Alexander. In 1872 Georg Philipp joined the company alongside his brother.

The development of the first full double horn, the Model 103, marked an important milestone in company's history, the 1903 patent signaling the beginning of rapid development in horn design. The leaders of the fourth generation, Friedrich Sebastian Anton (1873-1913) and Georg Philipp, Jr. (1879-1916), who fell at Verdun] did not survive the First World War. Their widows and their father, Franz Anton, piloted the business through the war and the difficult years that followed.

The years of worldwide financial catastrophe following the stock market crash as well as the Second World War destroyed everything that the previous generations had built. Philipp Johann Christoph (1904-1971) had taken over the company as the fifth generation in 1925; he and the employees who survived the war and returned from detention enabled the company to recover its former significance.

As brass instrument master craftsmen, the sixth generation traveled across the globe and gained new knowledge through contact with leading musicians. Anton Julius (1935-2013) became director of the company after the death of his father in 1971. The quality of the manufactured instruments was improved by Anton Julius and his skilled team, including his brother, Hans Philipp (1948-2005).

New technologies and their potential in the development and design of brass instruments are currently shaping the third century and seventh generation of the company's history. Georg Philipp (born 1969), son of Anton Julius Alexander, joined the business in 1992 and became its director in 1999.

The Model 103 double horn continues to be a mainstay of the company while single, triple, natural, and descant horns, as well as Wagner tubas and other instruments and accessories, are also produced. Although the company headquarters remains at the building in downtown Mainz where manufacturing had taken place since 1909, a new manufacturing facility in the Mainz industrial park was opened in 2011.

Kruspe Horns

Anton Horner introduced Kruspe horns to America in 1902, but the name has been associated with brass instrument making much longer. Friedrich (Franz) Carl Kruspe (1808-1885) was apprenticed to Heinrich Gottlieb Streitwolf in Göttingen and opened a workshop in Mühlhausen, Germany about 1829. His older son, Eduard (1831-1918), established his own shop in 1864, taking over the shop of Carl Christian Zielsdorf, to whom he may have been apprenticed. The business has carried his name, as Ed. Kruspe, to the present day.

kruspe eduard kruspe georg wendler kruspe rudi schneider kruspe peter heldman
Eduard Kruspe Georg Wendler Rudi Schneider Peter Heldman

In 1861 Eduard's younger brother, Friedrich Wilhelm Kruspe, took over the woodwind workshop of their father.Carl Kruspe was named Hofinstrumentenmacher (Instrument Maker to the Court) in 1865. The two brothers jointly issued a catalog of brass and woodwind instruments c. 1870; the instruments were apparently intended primarily for military bands. In the last decade of the 19th century, the business shifted from mass-produced instruments for the military to higher-quality instruments for orchestras and soloists.

Eduard’s son Friedrich (Fritz, ca. 1862-1909) took over in 1893. His daughter, Ilse (1873-1949), married Georg Wendler. When Fritz Kruspe died in 1909, his widow oversaw the business until their son-in-law, Georg Wendler, who had played with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 20 years, took over in 1920. Rudi Schneider took over in 1936. Obtaining materials became ever more difficult under the East German regime after 1945, and Schneider was the only master craftsman for 20 years. Peter Heldmann eventually apprenticed at Kruspe and took over the company in 1979, retiring in 2012.

IHS Founder and Honorary Member Anton Horner (1877-1971) played in the Philadelphia Orchestra (1902-1946) and taught at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia from its founding in 1924 to 1942. He played Kruspe horns, starting with the Gumpert double. From 1902 he had the Horner model made to his specification, which he imported and sold until World War II. The design was copied by other makers, notably the Conn 8D. A letter in 1956 from Horner to Osbourne MacConathy (a Boston Symphony Orchestra hornist) describes his involvement in the development of the Horner model.

To go a little farther with the development of the double horn, I must tell you that in 1900 I was engaged to go to the Paris Exposition, and to tour Europe with Sousa's Band... So even in Berlin, my reputation had spread, and Schmidt, the horn maker, who was first in Weimar, and now had his factory in Berlin, came to talk to me. He had invented a new B-flat valve for a double horn, but could not decide what kind of mouthpiece tube was best for his new instrument. He asked me to come to his factory to help him decide. I went to his place, and after long trials of several mouthpiece tubes, I approved of one which he used on his first instruments in F an B-flat. His B-flat valve was a piston, like on a cornet, which I found very awkward to operate with the thumb.

After the Sousa tour was over, I stayed in Europe for a month to visit … my teacher, [Friedrich] Gumpert, in Leipzig. He was delighted to see me, and when I told him that I was playing one of his nephew's inventions, he told me that he had retired two years before. … Then I went to Erfurt to see the man who made my double horn. Krüspe had heard of Schmidt's new patent, and since his two valve affair was rather temperamental in operation, he got busy and invented the valve that is on his horn today − with minor changes. Then I ordered a new horn with his new valve, and told him that I preferred a much longer bell, and also string valves. I liked this new horn.

Later, Krüspe wrote me that he was experimenting with an all-German silver metal horn; also gold brass metal horn − here we call it copper brass. He wanted to know whether I was interested. I ordered one of each, and the first German silver horn he sent me was the one I used until my last day in the [Philadelphia] Orchestra.

The copper brass horn was also a good instrument, but for my embouchure it lacked some brilliance; for a hard and harsh embouchure it was very good. For me, the German silver was best, and that horn with a large bell with small rim, and string valves became the Horner model, which Krüspe himself named, not I.

Tatehiko Sakaino studied horn in Japan with Richard Mackey and Kaoru Chiba and in Germany with Erich Penzel and played third horn in the orchestra in Hof, Germany. After retiring from professional hornplaying, Tatehiko exported instruments from Europe to Japan and his son Katsushi eventually trained as a brass instrument builder. Subsequently Katsushi apprenticed at Kruspe under the direction of Peter Heldmann.

In the mid-2000s, under their own label, Curia Bavaria brass instruments, the Sakainos began production of two double horn of their own design, natural horns, Vienna F-horns, and rotary-valve trumpets.

Kruspe folded due to a combination of the economic issues of transitioning to the new economy after German reunification and competition from subsidized brass instrument giants in Germany as well as multi-national conglomerates. The Sakainos, father and son, bought the Kruspe name, materials, and equipment. The company makes the Horner model, the Wendler compensating double, the Leipzig single-F model, and a B-flat/F-alto horn. In the early 20th century, the Horner and Wendler models were also known as the Philadelphia and Boston models. Kruspe horns are all made in nickel-silver, brass, and gold-brass.

The workshop is in a converted barn in the village of Prienbach, near Passau in Bavaria, Germany, now with modern-day precision machining. Katsushi Sakaino builds the instruments on order only.


Material for this article was taken from an article in The Horn Call by Lee Bracegirdle in October 2014, from the Richard Martz website, and from the Ed. Kruspe website.

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