Albert System Clarinets

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See also:Civil war era metal Albert EbPictured is a Sterling clarinet, which was a Selmer stencil.My recent favorite 23Feb2014 is the Kohlert!

Fingering Charts for Albert System clarinets: charts See about half-way down the page under Albert and Oehler System clarinets. Another fingering chart in Dutch is found on the Grampa's Clarinet page.

Note in these two 1930 ads from Metronome Magazine that the Pedler Premiere metal clarinet is an Albert system, and the Penzel Mueller ad shows a Boehm system clarinet! It is news to me that Albert System clarinets were made for distribution in the USA at such a late date.

Most of is about Boehm System clarinets.

Thanks to Barrie Marshall for these useful diagrams!

This information from Wikipedia:

The Albert system refers to a system of clarinet keywork and fingering developed by Eugène Albert. In the United Kingdom it is known as the simple system. It has been largely replaced by the Boehm system (clarinet).

The Albert system is still used, mainly by clarinetists who perform Eastern European and Turkish folk music, Klezmer, and Dixieland styles. Often these musicians prefer the Albert system due to the ease of slurring notes provided by unkeyed tone holes.

The system is a derivative of the early 19th century 13-key system developed by Iwan Müller and as such is related to the (somewhat more complex) Oehler system used by most German and Austrian clarinetists.

Also from Wikipedia is this information about Eugene Albert:

Eugène Albert (April 26, 1816 – May 11, 1890)[1] was a Belgian woodwind instrument maker, primarily known for his clarinets, based in Brussels. His work started around 1839,[1] and his sons, Jean-Baptiste (1845–99), Jacques (1849–1918), and E.J. Albert, continued making clarinets until the end of the World War I. The model of clarinet he made is still widely known, especially in the U.S., as the "Albert system",[1] although this model is basically the same as Iwan Müller's 13-key instrument, with the addition of some improvements inspired in his tutor, Adolphe Sax.[1] Sax was the first to use ring keys on the clarinet.[2] In 1840 he made an improvement in Iwan Müller's 13-key clarinet,[3] adding two rings, or brille (glasses), to the lower joint.[1] (and also there are reports that Adolphe Sax created a clarinet with 24 keys)[4] This resulted in the 13 keys / 2 rings clarinet. In the same year, Albert (Sax's pupil), based on Müller modifications and Adolphe Sax's rings created a new keywork system, adding more two rings to the upper joint, resulting in a 13 keys / 4 rings clarinet. His instruments are reported have had "better tone and intonation than Boehm models of the time".[5]

Albert's instruments were very well made, and finely tuned. His clarinets were very popular in England, where the leading clarinettist of the time, Henry Lazarus, owned eight of Albert's instruments.[1] When Boosey & Co. (now Boosey & Hawkes) decided to begin making clarinets, Albert was brought to London as a consultant.[1]

Eugène Albert's instruments were almost all made for high pitch, A'=c452, meaning that after World War I few professional clarinettists played them. His son, E. J. Albert, made clarinets in far more models, and in A'=440, meaning that his reputation lasted far after his death, and his instruments were played up until the end of the 20th century.[1] Probably it was E. J. Albert, and not Eugène, who about 1890 built an early contra-alto clarinet in F.[6]

The Albert system was an improvement on the 13-keyed system made by Ivan Müller.

More information from Wikipedia:

Ivan Müller, sometimes spelled Iwan Mueller (1786 Reval, Estonia–1854 Bückeburg), was a clarinetist, composer and inventor who at the beginning of the 19th century was responsible for a major step forward in the development of the clarinet, the air-tight pad.

Müller was born in Reval (present-day Tallinn), at that time a city with a strong Baltic German community in the Governorate of Estonia, part of theRussian Empire. He became a chamber musician in Saint Petersburg before he was twenty. At the same time, he was constantly striving to improve the clarinet, with new types of keywork. At the time, the standard clarinet used flat brass plates covered in soft leather to cover the toneholes. Since these leaked air, the number of them had to be kept to a minimum, which meant that notes outside of the main scale of the clarinet (accidentals) had to be obtained by complicated fingerings which were difficult to play quickly and rarely were in tune. Clarinets would have five or six keys, the bare minimum to obtain an acceptable chromatic scale.

Müller's solution was the stuffed pad, originally made of kid leather stuffed with felt. These pads would "bulge", such that in combination with countersunk tone holes, would close the keyholes sufficiently tight to permit the use of an increased number of keys making the "clarinette omnitonique" possible.

In addition to the fingering system and felt pads, Müller is also known as the invertor of metal ligature (that replaced twine, string and wire, widely used in the past and still used today in German-speaking regions), which are used today in almost all single-reeded woodwind instruments.[1]

Müller went on to work in Dresden, Berlin and Leipzig, where he specialised in the basset-horn, a type of low-pitched clarinet.

In 1809, Müller performed to great acclaim on a clarinet made to his own specifications. Müller moved to Paris, got a wealthy patron in the form of (Mr.) Marie-Pierre Petit, and started mass-producing clarinets.

In 1812, Müller presented his new 13-key clarinet with air-tight pads to the Paris Conservatoire, but they weren't impressed. Nevertheless, Müller's new clarinet with fully chromatic range became popular and became the standard clarinet for much of the 19th century. It was further developed into theÖhler system, the prevalent system in Germany today. He was also, before the famous Hyacinthe Klosé, principal clarinet at the Théâtre Italien in Paris.

Clarinet in B-flat Charles Joseph Sax (1791-1865) Date: 1830 Geography: Brussels, Belgium Medium: Ivory, brass. Wikipedia info:Charles-Joseph Sax (1 February 1790 – 26 April 1865) was a Belgian (he lived in Dinant) musical instrument maker. His son was Adolphe Sax who invented thesaxophone, the saxhorn and the saxotromba.

  1. Jump up^ Lawson, Colin. The Cambridge Companion to the Clarinet. Cambridge University Press, 1995.


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Sax was a great instrument maker, and made sure his son had a good education and a leg to stand on for his future. He was a careful, strict, and kind father to his son, Adolphe Sax, and played a big part in his son's successful career.