Daughter has snubbed maths, physics, accountancy, engineering and plumbing and is going to conservatoire. It’s all very exciting.
It then turns out that daughter’s bassoon is too basic for this purpose and needs replacing. Fair enough! It didn’t cost the earth. What makes should we consider?
‘She needs a Heckel,’ quips Prof. lightly. No problem, I think, at least I know what I’m looking for.
My suspicions are aroused when bassoonists smile and suck through their teeth.
‘Ah! Yes, a Heckel,’ sighs Ben at Howarths. ‘I’ll let you know when one comes in.’
Months pass and I check: yes, Ben is still alive, but no Heckel. So, I too, go in search.
There’s one in the US but the owner has forgotten how to respond to emails. There’s another in Paris. The owner is happy for us to try it if we deposit the cost of a small flat into his private bank account. And there are a few suspiciously cheap instruments in Poland and Russia. It would be easier to source a pink diamond.
Looking at the friendly group of UK bassoonists I have come to admire, it is fascinating that this incredible instrument lies at the heart of what they do. Not everyone plays on a Heckel and not everybody wants to do so. But the brand is seen as the epitome of excellence.
According to Heckel’s own website, the innovative woodwind manufacturing company Wilhelm Heckel GmbH was founded in Wiesbaden 1831 by Johann Adam Heckel and remains a family-run enterprise. In all those years Heckel must have collaborated with many names that live on today. The interesting story they tell is that while working on Meistersinger, Wagner asked Heckel to develop the Heckelphon, which is still in demand today.
You can call the factory and order a Heckel. That’s easy. And in thirteen years’ time your new Heckel will be delivered, this time at the cost of a much larger flat. ‘They have become very expensive,’ says the friendly man at Heckel dryly.
He’s right! It seems that daughter’s old school bassoon will just have to do, for now.