More on the metal clarinet of Gaston Hamelin

Here is perhaps the finest metal clarinet ever made. (see below)
http://www.uark.edu/ua/nc/NCCollectionPage/Page/SelmerMetalFullBoehm.htm

It was the model played by Gaston Hamelin in the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Serge Koussevitsky. In 1931, Hamelins contract was not renewed by Maestro Koussevitsky, specifically because Mr Hamelin played metal. Hamelin went back to France and Ralph McClane went to study with him. (We know that he returned to play Principal in Philly until he died from cancer. He produced some of the beautiful sounds ever made on our horn.)

The clarinet was later taken out of Selmers catalogue with the caveat that it “damaged our prestige.” The late Wm McGibbon of Milwaukee, (who was my techy while I played princoal in that orchestra)gave me part of that information and I trust it to be true.

In any event, that was one of the reasons that the metal horn became extinct.

My first clarinet was metal. It was all shine and spiny and I loved it and vowed that after my first disastrous lesson, I would never squeak again.

I didn’t. At least not for a while.

Sherman Friedland

Of course after this somewhat disastrous event both Selmer and metal becme somwhat of a pariah within the business of orchestral clarinet playing. It is my belief that this event started the move toward other clarinets, (specifically Buffet, by both players and orchestra players) Selmer continued to make fine instruments and still does excelling in workmanship and tuning and consistency but lacking until recently a polycylindrical bore.) The Selmer 10G was supposed to be an exact copy of Tony Gigliotti’s Buffet, but many say it was not and didn’t play half as well.

But McClane and Gigliotti spent hour with Hans Moennig tuning and voicing their instruments and getting them to the level that we still emulate. Of course Bonade, another wonderful player played Buffet. Did he play Buffet because of what had happened to Hamelin? We cannt ask him but we can surmise. Moe recently there have been actual cases where Selmer players wond auditions to major orchestras and then were hooted out with great anxiety when they played Selmer and not Buffet. This is true.

Interestingly, the mantle of the fine clarinet will fall on the heads of those who have designed superior instruments of hard rubber and even grnadilla-dust and carbon fibers, speaking of the Ridenour Lyrique and the Buffet Greenline.

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