Organology & Performance Practice

Bassoon Playing in Perspective

is a theoretical study of bassoon performance practice in the first half of the nineteenth century. It combines research on historical written sources with practical experimentation on period instruments. As a result, the conclusions derived from the investigation have ample and immediate practical applications.

This research seeks to be a new approach to understanding bassoon performance practice in this historical period and in its relationship with the present-day practice of nineteenth century repertoire. Moreover, it gives some hints that may be used to understand performance practice in a wider context 


Large and Small

Bassoons come in all sizes

From the large contra bassoon to the smallest fagottino. Bassoons of all sizes have found their space in museums and private collections around the world. Not all of them are common in concert halls despite that there are more than 130 surviving small bassoons documented in private collections and museums throughout Europe and the Americas.

Extended family of small bassoons:
Instrument types and history

Talk given on 24 February 2023 at the Symposium in the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis: Forgotten relatives Small bassoons of the 18th and 19th centuries on stage again.
Small-sized bassoons were made by the most reputable woodwind makers throughout Europe, such as Denner, Grenser, and Savary, among others. The historical metamorphosis in the construction of fagottino and tenoroon is closely linked to that of the full-sized bassoon. National peculiarities in construction came together with the development of at least three types of instruments tuned in different pitches: the fagottino, tuned an octave higher, and tenoroons tuned a fifth and fourth higher. Each of these transposing instruments inherited the character and role the bassoon played in different regions and times.

This paper explores the history and types of small-sized bassoons from the early 18th century to present times. The organological descriptions of different models stem from examinations of preserved instruments in museums and private collections. Moreover, by studying them in this manner, it is possible to contribute to the history of bassoon making from the early 18th century to the turn of the 20th century, a period where the bassoon developed its main changes in construction.