An old Buffet clarinet has recently been under my fingers and I was
wondering if you or any or your readers can help. It is a one piece Buffet Bb, with an extra low right Eb key as well as an extra trill key for the left hand, upper finger joint. I am not sure of the serial number, it looks like it is either 430E or perhaps 430L. It might even be 430 with a number but I don’t think it is.
I have found the serial numbers on the Internet and, if I am reading the numbers correctly, this clarinet was manufactured in 1890s! It is in amazing
shape, and plays quite well. It was obviously lovingly tended over the many years though it
has been sitting in a musty basement recently. Rumour has it that it
belonged to a principal clarinet player with the Boston Pops during the 1920s. My source seems to think it was an Italian gentleman, last name Vin-something or other. I have been able to find info. on Manuel Valerio, a Portuguese clarinetist who playdwith them at that time but I was wondering if you could tell me anymore.I would love to be able to purchase this clarinet and have it restored. It’s qite exciting to think of the music this instrument has played and even
premiered! How it ended up here in Nova Scotia is anyone’s guess.
The interesting thing about your question about one-piece clarinets is that this was the way in which there were made back in the days of plentiful grenadilla or African Black wood. It is my information that the reason there are now four pieces is the shortage of this wood, getting rarer…and there are other reasons of course,
But, if it is a Buffet, it may be a very fine instrument though it is not necessarily the case, for they were as uneven in quality then as they are now.
As far as the clarinetist with the Boston Pops Orchestra, it could have been Manny Valerio, who was one of the best clarinetists I have ever heard. Had the most perfect of sounds, really, great.
If he did play it, he played it in his youth, for at the end of hiscareer, he played Selmer, as did all the clarinetists of the BSO in the 60-70’s.
Of course, now it depends upon to whom you send it for restoration.
Let me see if I can get a couple of names for you.
best, sherman friedland