Gino Cioffi, his Selmers, and his Buffets

Dear Mr. Friedland:

As you know, my grandfather, Gino B. Cioffi, was the principal clarinetist of the BSO from 1952-1972 and was a Selmer endorser. I have his two Selmer symphony sets plus a special Buffet set made for him when Buffet was trying to woo him from Selmer as well as numerous mouthpieces (including the original famous crystal O’Briens), barrels (all in excellent condition) and his entire music library (I am sure w/music that is out of print, etc).

With the recent passing of my uncle and my 83 yr old stroke survivor father (former clarinetist of the US Army Band), I have all these beautiful instruments and no one to ever to play them again. I am torn with what to do with them. On the one hand, part of me believes they have created their share of music and should now be retired not to be played again, but then, being a musician myself, I also see it is a bit of a crime that they are not being played (I will probably keep one of my grandfather’s sets for posterity). While I am not in need of the money that these instruments might bring, I do not want to give them away, either. At that point, I might as well keep and display them, but again, how many clarinets can one display?

I know you, my uncle and myself had some prior disagreements as to how my grandfather was remembered/written about, etc, but I know you agree with me that my grandfather’s tone and place in clarinet history can’t be denied. To that end, you are also one of a few remaining from another generation that actually had the opportunity to know him and know his impact. I was hoping I might be able to get your take on the matter before I post in on a clarinet forum? Basically, do these old clarinets, in excellent condition have value/can contribute to today’s music/sound or should they be retired forever with their only value to a collector?

I thank you in advance for any assistance you can render.


Gino Cioffi

Dear Mr. Friedland:

Thank you for your quick response. I truly appreciate the kind words concerning my grandfather. Your quote “It is said that when we get older, we put away childish things, but Boston, the Conservatory and Symphony Hall have always remained a part of me and will I hope for some time to come.” Anything that brought you that much joy, no matter at what point in your life, should always remain a vibrant part of you and I hope it remains with you forever because life is short and it is the rare person who can say I dreamt to be X and tried, let alone succeeded (I always battle my mother on this point…she thinks I’m crazy for thinking I have a right to enjoy what I do (played drums professionally)…how many people get stuck doing something they could care less about, let alone aspired to)…enough philosophy and back to the clarinets!

I am familiar w/Ebay and that whole process and as you mentioned, can be problematic. If you can put the word out to any players you know about these items, I would greatly appreciate it.

As for the Buffets, a little history:
I think they are just like his 55s key wise…full boehm minus the low E flat…but will confirm (I played clarinet, but only for about 4 yrs)? They are from early to mid 70s and they are a matched set. My grandfather was always a Selmer man (unfortunately, this country is the land of the Buffet) and he gave them to my father who liked the fact that they were easier to blow. He only used the B flat, they are beautiful instruments in great shape and obviously very rare. I know that these are marketable, since I have had quite a bit of interest from people when they know I have them. At the time, I was thinking I would keep them and one set of the 55s, but again, how many clarinets can one display. As for you trying them, most definitely. We would just need to arrange some way to meet. I assume you never make your way to Virginia/DC? I do go to NY from time to time and I was in Pittsfield in Nov because my Uncle passed away. We still own my grandparents summer house there. Please let me know how you think we might be able to meet for you to try the Buffets. If you can point me in the direction of other buyers that would be much appreciated, but I will give you the opportunity on the Buffets, first. I look forward to your response.

All the best,


Of course, this will interest many of the readers, especially a matched set of Buffets (full boehm without the low Eb). Should you wish, I will foward any inquiries to Gino Cioffi.


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