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Basset horn

approx. 1800, Manufacturer: Johann Baptist Merklein



Basset horn

The clarinet and the basset horn, which sounds a third lower than the clarinet, were Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s declared favourite instruments. The basset horn was the invention of the Passau instrument makers Anton Mayrhofer senior and junior. Due to the considerable length of the bore, the instrument was curved to bring the finger holes and keys of the lower notes within the player’s reach. A characteristic feature of the basset horn is the box or ‘buch’ on the lower end of the instrument in which the bore runs in an S-shape, leading to the brass bell. The keys for the lowest notes cover holes bored into the box. Together with Theodor Lotz (1747-1792) in Pressburg and Vienna, Johann Baptist Merklein (1761-1847) was considered to be one of the best makers of the instrument. Merklein came from Rehberg in Franken and worked in Vienna. (rh/bd)

Lit.: Rudolf Hopfner: Masterpieces from the Collection of Historic Musical Instruments. A Short Guide through the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Vol. 1, Vienna 2019

Location: Neue Burg, Sammlung alter Musikinstrumente Saal 13

Object data

Object Name

Basset horn


Austria, Vienna


approx. 1800

Dimensions Cover size is a museum or exhibition-specific information. It does not specify the real dimensions of the musical instrument.

920 mm x 350 mm x 60 mm

Image rights

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Sammlung alter Musikinstrumente

Inv. No.

Sammlung alter Musikinstrumente, 328

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