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Heckelphone blog

2023/11/26 - Fixed a mistake on http://heckelphone.org/music.html; updated information on http://heckelphone.org/about.html and http://heckelphone.org/players.html including a clearer reflection on who's responsible for this website. Speaking of which ... I know, it's been a long time since I've released any updates, but there is a good reason for this ... since Spring 2022, I've been working on an exciting book project on the heckelphone that is now nearing completion and slated to be published in early June 2024 months. Meanwhile, I've collected a lot of new information on instruments, music and players that I intend to add to the website as soon as the book project is off my desk. Stay tuned!

2022/04/06 - Updated the page for heckelphone #4992 with new information on the history of the instrument (now complete) and some pictures, kindly provided by Justin Adrian Rowlands of London (UK).

2022/04/04 - Added British oboist Adrian Rowlands to http://heckelphone.org/players.html, resulting in 70 heckelphonists past and present on my list, of which 44 are believed to be actively playing.

2022/02/20 - Minor updates to the page for heckelphone #4918; thanks to Ulrich Brokamp for additional information on where this instrument has been played.

2022/02/13 - Updated the page for heckelphone #3916 with a series of very nice pictures, kindly provided by Justin Windschitl.

2022/02/01 - Just released: version 2 of the repertoire collection for heckelphone and bass oboe, joint work with Peter Hurd. This latest edition includes 71 newly discovered pieces by 54 composers; 45 of these were written for heckelphone, bringing the number of known pieces for heckelphone up to 443 (written by 277 composers from at least 42 countries).

2022/01/22 - I've located heckelphone #5022 from 2011 in Berlin, Germany; it is owned and played by the Berliner Philharmoniker. Linked from the new page, there's a nice video of Christoph Hartmann explaining and playing the instrument. Many thanks to Margaret Friederich for the pointer, and to Christoph Hartmann for information on the instrument.

2021/12/09 - New page for heckelphone #5023 from 2012, the last heckelphone completed (as of today); many thanks to Justin Windschitl, who made important contributions to the information and pictures on this page. Justin has also been added to http://heckelphone.org/players.html, resulting in 69 heckelphonists past and present on my list, of which 44 are believed to be actively playing.

2021/11/29 - Updated the page for heckelphone #3916 from 1925; thanks to information kindly provided by Justin Windschitl, we now have (mostly likely) a complete history of this instrument!

2021/11/22 - Added US-based bassonist and library scientist Douglas Waples, who owned and played to historically very interesting heckelphones, to http://heckelphone.org/players.html: this results in 68 heckelphonists past and present on my list, of which 43 are believed to be actively playing.

2021/11/21 - Updated some information on heckelphone #19, an intriguing instrument completed in 1906 that has been modified in the 1950s by Franz Groffy at Heckel GmbH from the original model 36b to more closely resemble a model 36i (precursor of the conservatory system). This work included some unique modifications to the bell, now detailed in the description of the instrument.

2021/11/16 - Created a page for the 'Waples' heckelphone without serial number, with information and photos kindly provided by Nathaniel Sanchez. This instrument has an intriguing history - check it out!

2021/11/12 - Added US-based heckelphonist and oboist Nathaniel Sanchez, undoubtedly the youngest heckelphonist at the time of this writing, to http://heckelphone.org/players.html: this results in 67 heckelphonists past and present on my list, of which 43 are believed to be actively playing.

2021/10/31 - Exciting news! The article on the repertoire collection for heckelphone and bass oboe has appeared in Volume 44, Number 3 of The Double Reed! In celebration of this, I've significantly extended the online version at repertoire.heckelphone.org with (fully automatically generated) tables and figures, as well as chronological versions of the lists for heckelphone and bass oboe, as well as excerpts for various kinds of pieces.

2021/08/29 - Added two heckelphonists to the list at http://heckelphone.org/players.html: Russian oboists Anastasiya Tabankova (Анастасия Табанкова) and Vladimir Zisman (Владимир Зисман). this results in 66 heckelphonists past and present on my list, of which 42 are believed to be actively playing. BTW, I'd love to hear from or about any other heckelphonists in Russia, Japan or any other country that's not well represented on the current list of players.

2021/08/26 - Created a (rudimentary) page for heckelphone #48 with information kindly provided by Michael Finkelman.

2021/08/24 - Updated the page for heckelphone #4702 with pictures kindly provided by Peter Hurd.

2021/08/11 - Updated the page for heckelphone #4702, an instrument with a particularly intriguing history, with new information graciously provided by Georg Otto Klapproth.

2021/08/10 - Added a new page for heckelphone #2, including an intriguing historic photograph clearly showing the instrument, whose present location and owner remains unknown. Thanks to Michael Finkelman and Georg Otto Klapproth for information on heckelphone #2!

2021/08/04 - Added a video showing heckelphone #4773, demonstrated by Joseph Marx. The video also features Leonard Bernstein, who describes the instrument as a "beautiful thing" with a "terrific" sound, yet appears to be unaware of the difference between a heckelphone and a bass oboe. Thanks to Michael Finkelman for pointing me to this recording!

2021/08/02 - Added two heckelphonists to the list at http://heckelphone.org/players.html: German oboist Georg Mahn and German-born, US oboist Joseph Marx; this results in 64 heckelphonists past and present on my list, of which 40 are believed to be actively playing.

2021/05/23 - Added another three heckelphonists to the list at http://heckelphone.org/players.html: German oboist Georg Weiss, American multi-instrumentalist Marko Novachcoff, and Swiss oboist Martin Frutiger; this results in 62 heckelphonists past and present on my list, of which 40 are believed to be actively playing.

2021/05/21 - Added three heckelphonists to the list at http://heckelphone.org/players.html: American bassoonist and arranger Charles Gould, who pioneered the use of the Heckelphone at MGM Studios; contemporary German oboist Bernd Schober; and American multi-instrumentalist, singer and stand-up comedian Eddie Wiggins, a noted jazz musician. This makes 59 heckelphonists past and present on my list, of which 37 are believed to be actively playing. (I have a rather sizeable stack of entries still to be polished and added ... and, doubtlessly, many more heckelphonists still to discover.)

2021/05/20 - Added quite a bit of literature to the list on the Instrument page. I've also finally moved the entire website to its own, brand-new web space, and as a result gained the ability to directly and explicitly link to all pages, using stable URLs.

2021/04/04 - Amended the entry for heckelphone #33 with information on its first owner, Prof. Robert Sauer of Brigham Young University in Provo (UT), USA, as well as a video of the instrument being played in 2017; also did some minor polishing on the entry for heckelphone #5021 and removed Don Christlieb from the list of heckelphone players, after finding evidence that he owned heckelphone #33 but didn't perform on it.

2021/03/21 - Released version 1.2 of the repertoire list (see repertoire.heckelphone.org). While this contains the same pieces as version 1.1, some entries have been improved, and dedicated lists of pieces for multiple heckelphones and for multiple bass oboes have been added.

2021/03/13 - Minor revisions to the "Music" page (thanks to Werner Schulze for several useful suggestions).

2021/03/13 - Two new entries on the list of heckelphonists: Italian oboist & conductor Francesco Pomarico and German oboist Bernhard Emmerling. This brings the total up to 57 heckelphonists, of whom 36 are believed to be actively playing.

2021/02/06 - Version 1.1 of the heckelphone & bass oboe repertoire list is now available at repertoire.heckelphone.org. Six new pieces have been added, including a beautiful arrangement of an adagio from a concerto by Tommaso Albinoni. The new version of the repertoire list contains 718 pieces by 468 composers, with 443 pieces written for heckelphone, 290 pieces for bass oboe, 42 pieces for lupophone and 6 pieces for piccolo heckelphone (where some pieces contain parts for multiple of these instruments).

2021/02/05 - Five new entries on the list of heckelphonists: Canadian oboist Stella Amar; US bassoonist Don Christlieb; Canadian bassoonist and IDRS co-founder Gerald Corey; German oboist, collector and cabinet maker, Dr. Gunther Joppig; and German oboist Tatjana Winkler. This brings the total up to 55 heckelphonists, of whom 34 are believed to be still actively playing.

2021/01/30 - Added noted US bassoonist and bass player Fred Dutton (who used to play with the Dave Brubeck quartet), British oboist and composer Christopher Redgate, Dutch oboist Ernest Rombout, and late US bassoonist Robert Tootelian to list of heckelphonists. Amended the history of heckelphone #4982, which is now complete - thanks to Werner Schulze of Vienna, who helped close the last remaining gap.

2021/01/28 - Added well-known Hungarian-born oboist, Lajos Lencsés, and German oboist Ulrich Brokamp to list of heckelphonists; he can be heard in a very nice recording of the Hindemith Trio op.47. If only I knew which heckelphone he played in that recording ... Also: Minor update on #38, whose history remains elusive.

2021/01/26 - Added an intriguing picture of heckelphone #3917 and modified the description of heckelphone #4994, owned by the Wiener Symphoniker (Vienna Symphony) to reflect the fact that the history of this instrument is now completely known; see heckelphone list. Thanks, again, to Werner Schulze of Vienna, whose help in this has been invaluable!

2021/01/24 - Corrected some information regarding heckelphone #4980 (thanks to Werner Schulze!) and added a video (see heckelphone list).

2021/01/20 - OK, let's face it ... a year ago, when I launched the first version of this website, I didn't think far enough ahead. So, an admittedly far more broadly relevant event stole the limelight today. Still, here is the first anniversary update: A very substantially revised heckelphone list! Thanks to a wealth of information from the seminal 2004 article by Robert Howe and Peter Hurd, a very substantial additional amount of information from Peter, generous help from quite a few others (who are acknowledged on the pages for individual instruments) and a bit of research I was fortunate to have been able to complete, the list now covers 76 of the (generously estimated) 174 heckelphones ever built! For quite a few of them, I've been able to piece together a fair part of their history, and as I always suspected, in many cases, that history is quite fascinating. Enjoy! Of course, I shall not rest until I've tracked down the rest ... which may well be a fool's errand, but I've always like a good challenge. And I have quite a few more leads to follow ... In any case, looking back over the past 12 months, I am amazed and thrilled about all those of you I've been in contact with, about the generosity of others fascinated by the heckelphone, and the richness of the little corner of the universe I'm exploring here.

2021/01/19 - Updated the list of players, adding Samuel Bastos, Winfried Petri, Wolfgang Piesk and Maxine Shimer. This brings the total to 44 heckelphonists, with a nice balance between those coming from the oboe vs bassoon.

2021/01/15 - Updated heckelphone list with a shiny new page on heckelphone #4055, which is owned by Indiana University in Bloomington (IN), USA. Many thanks to Ronald Sebben, Emily Krajewski, Linda Strommen and Chris Raphael from Indiana University, who helped me find and document this instrument and its interesting history. I've also updated the list of players with Alfred Hertel, Wolfgang Plank and Werner Schulze, all from Austria. Many thanks to Werner Schulze for this (and quite a bit more) information!

2021/01/09 - Updated heckelphone list with a shiny new page on heckelphone #5007, which is owned by the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen (Denmark). Many thanks for Magnus Kongsmo Karlsen for contacting me, and for contributing a series of really nice pictures. This heckelphone can also be seen and heard in an excellent video from a performance of Richard Strauss's Alpensinfonie by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra under Rafael Frübeck de Burgos (in one of the maestro's last concerts). On other news, I was very happy to receive a very nice shout-out from Wilhelm Heckel GmbH regarding the repertoire list (see here). Oh, and the first anniversary of this website is coming up soon ...

2020/12/14 - Updated the players page; Cornelia Biggers sadly passed away in April, and Steve Vacchi (a heckelphone-playing bassoonist from the USA) has now been added. Meanwhile, on Saturday, I had my first chance to practice some pieces arranged for heckelphone and organ, in the Stadtkirche in Friedberg/Hessen, Germany. It was arranged on short notice and a lot of fun! Who knows, with some more work, perhaps there will be a performance sometime in the future. In any case, I very much like the combination heckelphone and organ (also heard on the OHO album by Albrecht Bode and Iris Rieg), as did the few others who happened to be in the church while we practiced. Overall, it's safe to say that the distinctive sound of the heckelphone can work very well in a large, gothic church.

2020/12/05 - It's been a long time since the last entry in this blog. There's a reason for this: Since May, I've been spending all my heckelphone time playing or working on the new and extended edition of Peter Hurd's Heckelphone / Bass Oboe Repertoire, for which I am now editor-in-chief. It's been an amazing experience working with Peter, and in the course of this work, I've researched every single one of the over 700 entries in the repertoire list. The new edition (in HTML and PDF format, with excerpts for heckelphone, piccolo heckelphone, bass oboe and lupophone) can be found at repertoire.heckelphone.org. These lists are now automatically generated from a master database on which we can also run various types of analyses, whose results I look forward to reporting in the near future. Stay tuned!

2020/05/09 - Released the page for heckelphone #3917, including a series of wonderful pictures and a nice recording. Many thanks to Margaret Friederich (who has now also been added to the list of players) for her kind support in putting together this page.

Since last weekend, I've been spending a fair bit of time on an exciting project ... more on this soon.

2020/05/03 - Updated "Music" with pieces by Delius for which we know he intended the "bass oboe" parts to be played on heckelpone (see entry below).

2020/05/02 - Slightly reorganised he "Instrument" page and added a number of references to the scholarly literature on the heckelphone. Of particular interest: the 2008 article by Georg Otto Klapproth (Germany) about the intended use of the heckelphone in the work of Frederick Delius. Unfortunately, the article is in German and not easily available, but I was fortunate to be supplied with a copy by the editorial staff of the journal where it appeared. It's a very interesting piece of scholarship that makes a compelling case that Delius intended the parts in his works designated "bass oboe" to be played on the heckelphone. One of the main pieces of evidence is a letter from Delius to conductor Thomas Beecham, dated 3 May 1909, in which the composer writes: "I employ a Bass Oboe which is a 'Heckelphone' and played by an Oboe or English Horn player, to be had in Germany from Heckel the inventor and instrument maker [...] The Bass Oboe or Heckelphone is simply a Iovely instrument". So, it appears that the common practice to use a bass (or baritone) oboe for those parts runs counter to the composer's intentions.

2020/05/01 - Over the last few weeks I've been busy with actual heckelphone practice and some background research that will eventually make it onto this site. However, I've also managed to put together the page for heckelphone #5021 - as of this writing, this is one of the last three heckelphones that have been completed. I have a nice serious of pictures and the complete (albeit brief) history of this wonderful instrument, thanks to information kindly provided by Jim Schaeffer - enjoy! I've also made a small addition to the history of #4014, and I am working diligently on pages for three other instruments, with good leads on several others. Stay tuned!

Finally, while I am still on my quest for the perfect reed, I managed (probably more through luck than actual skill) to modify a KREEDO Ho2 (1091) such that it is tantalisingly close to what I am looking for, in terms of timbre and performance. Sadly, KREEDO has stopped production of these reeds ...

2020/04/19 - Added links for a few more heckelphonists, updated page for heckelphone #4014 with some videos showing this instrument in action and a detailed description of the mechanical modifications by John McDougall.

2020/04/18 - Finally, I've received the sheet music for the Hindemith trio for heckelphone, viola and piano ... looking forward to working on this; I'm sure it will keep me challenged for a long time to come. But first, I have more work to do on the Waterhouse trio.

2020/04/17 - I've just received six new #heckelphone reeds from a series produced for me by well-known bassoon reed maker, Holger Simon, in Berlin. He was very kind in making some reeds based on fairly precise measurements of the two best reeds I have in my present inventory - one that came with my instrument (I've just learned this has been made by Harry Searing of New York, but that's a different story) and another from KREEDO, which I did quite a bit of work on. First trials are promising, especially for the narrower of the façons.

2020/04/16 - Unveiled the new, fancier version of the main page, updated the master list with information from Howe & Hurd's 2004 article and some additional information obtained from current owners of several instruments (my estimate of the number of heckelphones built is still at 174).

2020/04/15 - Created a new "About" page and added acknowledgements and added more prominent links to the list of all heckelphones.

2020/04/10 - Added a link to the outstanding article by Robert Howe and Peter Hurd (sadly, not freely available) and a nice video by Norman Kuhnert (in German) to the "Instrument" page; also slightly revised some of the text there and on the front page; added the two rather well-known operas by Max von Schillings and a new list of prominent examples of heckelphone use in film music (based on Howe & Hurd 2004) to "Music".

2020/04/09 - Added three more players, including Ross Gorman, for whom the opening clarinette glissando of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue was written, and who performed it during the premiere in 1924. Yes, Ross did play the heckelphone on occasion; in fact, he played it during the "Experiment in Modern Music" concert when Rhapsody in Blue was premiered.

2020/04/04 - Added a few more players and started to link players to external pages with additional information. (If you are on this list and would like me to link to a specific page, please let me know.) My list now contains 32 heckelphonists, of which 17 are oboists, 14 bassoonist and 1 possibly native English horn player. Closer examination of this list, incomplete as it is, shows that to this day, a significant number of players are bassoonists by training.

2020/04/02 - Added some information and a link for heckelphone #3423 to my comprehensive list; I hope that eventually, there will be a full page on this instrument. For now, it's the first heckelphone I tracked down that's currently located in Italy, and I look forward to learning more about it soon!

2020/03/30 - Added a new page for heckelphone #3809, linked from my comprehensive list; many thanks to Scott W. Schwarz, Director and Archivist for Music and Fine Arts at the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music in Champaign, IL (USA) for providing me with information about this instrument, and for giving me permission to post some of the best heckelphone pictures I've collected so far. Once we can all travel again, I look forward to visiting Scott and heckelphone #3809!

2020/03/29 - Restructured the site to show players more prominently; added quite a few entries to the list on "Players". Working in the background on pages for several instruments, based on invaluable input I am receiving from several heckelphone owners and players ... stay tuned!

2020/03/24 - Added a new page for heckelphone #19, linked from my comprehensive list; many thanks to Samuel Andreyev (France) for providing me with a wealth of information about this intriguing instrument, whose history is full of drama! Samuel tells me this one and #37 are the only heckelphones currently in France (both in Strasbourg, actually).

2020/03/21 - Added some players to the list on "Others" and one piece on "Music". Added information on heckelphone #39 to the master list and fixed an embarrassing mistake (#45, not #44 is the one at the Grassi Museum).

2020/03/09 - Exciting day ... discovered several leads to heckelphones on the master list for which I don't have information yet (OK, perhaps that's not too hard, considering how many of those there are at this point) ... and discovered a (sort of) heckelphone emoji: 🌡 I've always known it's a hot instrument ;-)

2020/03/08 - Added the first of hopefully many pages providing specific information (and pictures!) for individual heckelphones, linked from my comprehensive list; many thanks to John McDougall of London (UK) for providing me with a wealth of information about heckelphone #4014! Also: added Harry Searing to the list of players on "Other"; updated the sources of reeds on "Instrument" (sadly, KREEDO has stopped the production of heckelphone reeds). Working on four reeds I've received a while ago (two from Reeds 'n Stuff and two from KREEDO, when they still made them); the bore on all of them was far too narrow for my Heckel bocals, but with a heckelphone reamer from Rieger, I was able to fix this. The Reeds 'n Stuff reeds were too light (for my taste) and gave very unstable pitch on high b and c, while the ones from KREEDO were far too heavy (for my taste). I'm slowly making progress on them, but now also ordered four reeds from Hodge Products (two of each shape they make)- lets see how these turn out.

2020/02/29 - Added a few graphs to the page on heckelphone production data, linked from "Instrument"; added link to a video featuring John Upton playing some excerpts from the Alpine Symphony on heckelphone #25 on "Instrument"; added John Upton to the list on "Other".

2020/02/28 - New, comprehensive list of heckelphone production data, linked from "Instrument". I have ambitious plans for this list, but even as it stands now, it should be of some interest to anyone wondering about the ca. 170 heckelphones that have been built since 1904 ...

2020/02/25 - Obtained confirmation from Heckel that #5023 was the last heckelphone completed (in 2012), and that two more are currently being built; updated "Instrument" accordingly. 12 years to build a heckelphone ... amazing! I wonder where those two will go, once they are finished (5-6 years from now, according to Heckel).

2020/02/19 - Added some players to the list on "Other", started collecting heckelphon pictures and production/sales data (stay tuned!).

2020/02/17 - Added links to e-mail, twitter (so communication can go both ways). My intention is to tweet any not-so-minor updates of the site, plus some other heckelphone-related information - let's see how this goes!

2020/02/16 - Subtly improved layout, functionality and maintainability of this site (by converting it from plain HTML to CSS); added a link to Georg Rieger GmbH on "Instrument"; fixed some broken links.

2020/02/15 - Added a list of players on "Other", which took some digging to put together, but is obviously still very incomplete; an entry on "Music" for a new CD (produced by Heckel) that I've just received from a seller in the USA, and an entry for the Mielenz concerto (for which I have not been able to find a recording so far).

2020/01/25 - New entries on "Music" for the two CDs I've just received from Heckel, as well as links on "Instrument" and "Music" to an interesting article on the use of the heckelphone by Richard Strauss.

2020/01/24 - Finally: content for the "Other" page, and boy, there's some weird stuff out there (it took a bit of self-restraint to prevent myself from ordering a whole bunch of heckelphone-themed items for daily use). Also: minor updates to the "Instrument" and "Music" pages, notably a link to a really nice video by the Staatsorchester Stuttgart (Germany).

2020/01/20 - Created the first version of this website ... lots of work remains to be done, but it's a beginning!