I recently finished reading Wilhelm Heckel Six Generations Dedicated to Music. And as I noted in my YouTube Video- I had a slight challenge following a timeline of events.

The book follows innovations in relation to each family member. But many of the family members overlap in their work at the company. As I read the book I built a timeline of events to aid in my personal comprehension and synthesis of materials. I am sharing my timeline so that it may serve as an aide in your bassoon studies and personal enjoyment while you read the book. Cheers! Eryn

HECKEL COMPANY TIMELINE: Based on Edith Reiter’s

Wilhelm Heckel Six Generations Dedicated to Music 

Johann Adam Heckel (1812-77) and much older Carl Almenräder (1786-1843) meet while working for the music publisher Schott

1831: 19 year old Heckel and Almenräder open Musical instrument Factory in Biebrich, Germany

1838: Almenräder leaves the firm. No established reasons for leaving.

Heckel Factory will continue as a family tradition, passed down through inheritance, each family member working in the company

1845-50: European Sales Tours: increased sales to St. Petersburg

1847: Construction of “Contra-bassophone” or Contrabassoon

1852: Sale of bassoon to Louis Weissenborn, father of Julius Weissenborn

1856-67: Bassoons sent to Boosey & Son in England/Colonies for military bands. This ends in 1867 Boosey & Son develops their own bassoon

1862: Richard Wagner visits Heckel workshop and becomes family friend, later praises the “Contra-bassophone”

1877: Patented Construction of “Contra-bassophone”

  • 19 keys, no finger holes
  • 1 inch higher in length than a usual bassoon
  • Larger Bocal
  • Range of three octaves and a major third
  • Sound compared to a 16 foot pipe organ

Serial Numbers added to Bassoons: Serial Numbers Begin at 3000 to account for bassoons made Pre-1877

1880: No Longer called Almenräder Bassoon, referred to as Heckel Bassoon

Post 1889: Lined Wing Joint to avoid the consistent challenge of Decay

1900: Modernize Bell Ring

  • “Calophone-Ring” narrowed opening (more than our modern bassoon)
  • Meant to help the sound of B, E, and C-sharp

Richard Strauss visits the Heckel factory, pushes for Piccolo Heckelphone

1904: Bocals marked with either a Star or a Sun

  • Bocal Types C, CC and D
  • Added Bocal Button, closed by the E Key
  • Attempt at a Water Free Bocal. This was unsuccessful. It required a shortened wing joint, altering tuning and sound of bassoon.

1911: Heckel Serial Number 5000 sold to Dresden bassoonist Knochenhauer

  • Local debate over serial number, due to numbering beginning at 3000
  • Knochenhauer later given credit for Tuning Pipe used for Setting up Heckel Bassoons

WWI: Stop consecutive ordering of serial numbers to hide declining sales. This is still used today to mask actual instrument sales

War Recession: Heckel begins to copy of bombards and dulcians from Leipzig Museum

1920: Higher Tuning of bassoons, first bassoon sold tuned to A 440

1932: Heckel Bassoon with a Boehm System 

  • Changed the Sound, the Intonation, and Acoustic Radiation: NOT for the better
  • Visit this bassoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

1939: LEGEND of the Stroboconn Tuner and the Conn 8R

  • Attempted trade of 2 Heckel Bassoons for the Stroboconn Tuner
  • Heckel denies the trade due to challenges of the wartime conditions
  • Begins the legend of the Conn 8R based on 8000 series Heckel Bassoons
  • *Not in the book but it is believed that Conn had 4 Heckel Bassoons that they modeled the Conn 8R after

1945: Recovery after war, retrieval of stored instruments in Taunus, USA contacts assist

1950’s: Secrecy in the workshop between instrument makers

  • Fearful of losing their jobs if other’s new their profession
  • Workers took all tools home as part of job protection
  • Creation of E Bocal for extreme High Notes

1995: Creation of XL Bocals for High Notes and R Bocals built without a brass casting, creating consistent wall thickness

Contrabassoon Advancements:

  • Bell facing upwards for acoustic resonance
  • Expanded to B or Sub Contra A
  • Lined wing joint, improving longevity

1996: Student Model “Opus” Bassoons

1997: Student Model Heckel “Opus” Bassoons changed named to Heckel Crest

Current Bassoon Innovations: 

  • Synthetic Lining of Wing joint and secrets pipes
  • Round Wings
  • Third Octave Keys
  • Shifted F-sharp Hole with a New Key Mechanism


  1. Hi, Erin!

    Thanks for the timeline! I bought the book when it first came 0ut, and managed to enjoy it despite my German being a bit rusty. Incidentally, I heard a restored Conn 8R at bassoon camp a few years ago–not a bad bassoon, but it was no Heckel 8K series (I have a friend who plays a Heckel 8K)!



    David Bell 2506 Crest Street Alexandria, VA 22302-2717 703.998.2903 (home) 703.732.3684 (mobile) bssn2@comcast.net



    1. I agree that the Conn 8R may be modeled after a Heckel but they are not the same. I believe this has a lot to do with the wood being different between the Heckel and the Conn 8R.


  2. Hi, thanks for the time line. There’s a typo: Without knowing the book I’m quite sure that instruments were hidden during WWII in Taunus (not Tannus). I is a less populated montain range north of Frankfurt (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taunus). People from larger towns (Mainz, Wiesbaden, Frankfurt) went there to escape bombings.


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