The Ignatius Gennusa Mouthpiece

Ignatius Gennusa was the principal clarinetist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and certainly was one of the legendary generation of clarinetists who studied with Bonade or Mclane bringing that French-American tradition with him in all of his playing.
He speaks a bit differently than the others because he actually talks a lot about the composition and formulation of the hard rubber mouthpieces which most clarinetists play and of the particular sound that certain formulations cause. Fascinating because that seems to be a subject of conversation these days.

Several months ago, I ran into one of his mouthpieces while buying a clarinet. The Gennusa came with the clarinet, and with the usual short test seems to play well, though a bit on the dull side. Gradually I would keep coming back to the mouthpiece with increased interest because it seems to remove some of the higher frequencies which I associate with edge or brightness.

After a while I ran into the Forte clarinet, all of which come supplied with a Gennusa mouthpiece. I learned that after Gennusa had passed away, his mouthpiece business had been bought by one of his students, Benjamin Redwine. Benjamin Redwine is a clarinetist who studied with Gennusa and who has made several Compact discs.

By this time, I had switched to my old “found” Gennusa and liked it very much, and I contacted Mr. Redwine, found him to be extremely cordial and forthcoming about a world of information concerning the material and the making of mouthpieces. In fact he makes beautiful ones. I had not known that a mouthpiece could be duplicated and he volunteered the information that indeed it could be, and he offered to copy mine.

In short, he did a most wonderful job, so good that the mouthpiece he made me plays a bit better than the original and has a lovely sound and beautiful response. It is also much more symmetrical in that the facing and rails are very straight, which gives me a good feeling. We are always pushing our reeds a bit to the left or to the right for any number of reason and I do like a straight-looking table.
The quality of sound is certainly different from a stock Van Doren, not as bright or as sharp as any Zinner I have played, also darker in quality.
I always liked Iggys playing and a dear friend of mine Tom Kenny, former first horn of everywhere used to play with him and told many stories , like they used to tour in a woodwind quintet and they toured in a hearse. Tom also sent me a recording of Iggy playing the third symphony of Brahms, a real clarinet piece and it was beautiful.
So, the tradition is alive, and Benjamin Redwine is a reasonable craftsman of mouthpieces whom I recommend .

play well and stay well.



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