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Maker: C.F. SCHMIDT, Weimar, Germany

Model: Full double

Type:  F/Bb or Bb/F

Bore/Throat: medium

Alloy: yellow-brass

Bell flare: fixed

Visual/ cosmetic condition: good, but with a few minor blemishes commensurate with its age.

Further details: this is a fine example of the legendary Schmidt double horn with three rotors and a piston 4th/ change valve. This horn is provided with an extra piston giving Bb/F as an option instead of the standard F/Bb configuration. Another extra is an alternative main tuning slide that incorporates a manual rotary valve for stopping.

NB: This horn is currently with its owner in TURKU, FINLAND. Contact details can be provided on request.

HISTORICAL NOTE: The horn-making firm of C.F. Schmidt was established in Berlin ca.1880.

 In that year it was issued a German patent, no.12814, for "improvements to brass instruments."  By 1888 a second workshop had been opened in Weimar, at Brennerstrasse 2c, and Schmidt was later appointed ‘Court maker to the Grand Duchy of Weimar’.

In 1899 this Weimar workshop merged with the main workshop in Berlin. 

This was only one year before C.F. Schmidt launched his famous, now legendary, double horn, with its somewhat ‘idiosyncratic’  piston 4th valve, in 1900.

Two different Berlin workshop locations are implied by the engraved labels on the various horn bells. The earlier one (derived from the U.S. importer Carl Fischer's serial numbers) was in the S.W. Berlin postal district served by Post Office number 19 (S.W. 19). This is described as the "old city post office I" (alte Stadtpost-Expedition I), at Sparwaldsbrücke, Krausenstrasse, Beuthstrasse (probably near the intersection of the latter two) in the city’s Kreuzberg section.

  The 2nd workshop was in the nearby Schöneberg section in the Western district, served by "district post office" (Bestell-Postamt) W.57, located on Bülowstrasse.  Both labels indicate the previous location in Weimar.

  The Weimar shop was later re-opened, following World War 1, since many surviving examples are engraved with Weimar as the place of manufacture, with no reference to Berlin.

Among the early proponents of the Schmidt double horn was Willem A. Valkenier, Principal horn of the Boston Symphony from 1923 to 1953. W. Valkenier was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 1887, and studied horn with Adolph Preus.  In his biography of Valkenier, Milan Yancich states:

“It was through Preus that he (Valkenier) became connected with C.F. Schmidt, the Berlin horn maker. During his Berlin years, Valkenier became acquainted, both professionally and socially with Schmidt, who apparently played the horn, but not professionally.”

Valkenier said "He was a man of iron will, and his first love was the horn." Once he asked Schmidt to change something in his model, and Schmidt refused, declaring "My model is the best." 

There is an anecdote about the great Chicago horn maker, Carl Geyer: Geyer believed the Schmidt horn to be the ‘best-designed horn ever made’. This was a very surprising statement from a master horn maker!

 But of course, one should bear in mind that at that time, there were only a few makers of double horns.

Geyer thought that the trajectory of the leadpipe through the 4th valve was partly the reason for the Schmidt horn's superiority.

  Richard ("Dick") Mackey, the Boston Symphony Orchestra's 4th horn from 1973 to 2005, is another proponent of the Schmidt double horn.

Dick studied with Valkenier at the New England Conservatory, and for several years played in the Los Angeles studios with the horn legend, Vincent DeRosa. When the audition for the Boston Symphony came up in 1972, Vince advised Dick Mackey that his Conn 8D would not fit in the B.S.O section, and offered to sell Dick his mint-condition nickel silver Schmidt. Undoubtedly, the Schmidt had a smaller sound than the Conn, but it was a sound that blended with the B.S.O section. Vince considered the horn to be 'a treasure that (he) loved, but it went to the right hands.'

NB: The player in the photo is believed to be LUIGI (LOUIS) RICCI, a member of the New York Philharmonic, c. 1917 to 1962.  He is seen to be playing a C.F. Schmidt double horn, imported to the USA and Canada by Carl Fischer, New York. The photo is taken from a Fischer catalogue.


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