Basset Horn

bas-it horn
The basset horn is a woodwind instrument from the clarinet family. It is notably dissimilar from a clarinet as it has a curved bell and is pitched a fourth lower than the standard Bb clarinet found in most orchestras. It’s famously associated with bavarian Germany. After enjoying popularity in the era of Mozart, the basset horn is now mostly used to perform 18th century classical pieces.
History of the Basset Horn
The inventor and exact origin of the basset horn is widely disputed but it appeared in the 18th century to extend the range of a clarinet down to small c. The story goes that a partnership was struck between composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, clarinet player Anton Stadley and clarinet builder Theodore Lotz to create the basset horn in Vienna.Mozart famously wrote a clarinet concerto for the basset horn during this time but was unfortunately unable to write much more as the instrument fell out of favour shortly after this time. The instrument still exists today after there was a short renaissance in the 19th century for the basset horn and old written accounts paired with diagrams allowed instrument producers to replicate this forgotten instrument. Nowadays the basset horn is rare to find but there are still producers making this historically-significant instrument. The basset horn has also been referred to as a basset clarinet and bass clarinet.
Inventor: Anton Stadler

Where to Buy

£500 - £2,000

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How to Play

A wind instrument played by blowing air into a mouthpiece and covering the tone holes to change the pitch of the sound produced.

In Popular Music

The basset horn is an uncommonly used instrument but may have appeared on orchestras that featured in popular music, including the outro of 'A Day In The Life' by The Beatles. In classical music, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote for the basset horn in his gran partita and his requiem.

Famous Players

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Richard Strauss

Close Relations

Clarinet, Bass Clarinet
Video Credit: TheFloridaOrchestra
Understanding the Basset Horn
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Germany

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18th century

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Woodwind

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