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Engelbert Schmid was the solo hornist with the Munich Radio Orchestra for ten years. Before this he held positions with the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin and the Berlin Philharmonic. In 1980 Engelbert Schmid exhibited his own instruments for the first time. In 1990 he established his own workshop. As a master craftsman he personally trained his present instrument makers.
The greatest ideas and the best theories are useless unless they are put into practice.
Engelbert Schmid presented his horns the first time in 1980.
1990, in the meantime having the Diploma as Master Craftsman, he founded his own workshop in Tiefenried. After years of persistence he formed a team of first class craftsmen and by
1995 reached the level of quality that was his goal.
In 2005 he moved into the newly built workshop in Mindelzell and within 2 years increased his staff from 7 to 14 employees.
The craftsmanship with which Engelbert Schmid horns are made can be described as an art. Observe the smooth curves, the reduction of unnecessary weight, the aesthetics of the tasteful ornamentation and the logic of the layout! Appreciate the harmony of the nickel-silver bell wreath.
With a weight of 100 g this wreath has only a third of the normal mass, and does not deaden the sound. It is an interesting option for someone looking for a little more weight and resistance.
Everything within the scope of Instrument making, from the bell to the valves, is produced in Engelbert Schmid's well equipped workshop.
Many of his new production methods are his own development. Only the finest grain metals are used in his horns.
Knowledge and passion
When looking at the different Schmid models you immediately see the influence of an experienced and passionate horn player. There are just the models that are useful and necessary. The combinations with high E-flat deserve special mention. The B-flat sides of all Engelbert Schmid horns can be lowered to A or raised to B-natural. With the B-natural horn you can play E-horn passages as if they were in E-flat (Weber Concertino, Danzi Concerto, Fidelio, Thieving Magpie, Cose fan tutti, etc.). On the A horn you can play technically difficult passages in D as if in E-flat. Pieces in E that were sometimes played on the A-horn are better on the B-natural horn. About the only thing left for the A horn is the third movement of Haydn´s first concerto. Engelbert Schmid horns are available in four different bell sizes: small, medium, wide and extra-wide. Most choose medium or wide. The sizes - medium, wide and extra-wide - differ only in the taper of the bell flare, so that with a screw bell horn it is possible to change from one size to another just by changing the bell. Many decide to take two bell sizes for use with different types of music.
Secret of the sound
Four alloys (brass, gold brass, nickel-silver and Sterling silver) plus, when desired, a bell with a nickel garland complete the choices and add to the range of sound variations. You can also choose a bell made in the difficult historical fashion, out of one piece and hammered by hand.
An interesting possibility for small chamber orchestras or high baroque pieces is a bell in the Vienna classical diameter of 28 cm or even 25 cm instead of 31 cm. All bores are modeled on good historical precedents, but mathematically corrected to bring the following advantages: the sound is more noble, more radiant, more variable, the instrument is more efficient, speaks more precisely, is more secure, and better in tune. This is a versatile instrument that entices you to be musically creative. Engelbert Schmid was able, with his special touch, to perfect the secrets of producing a beautiful sound.
Transcription of an interview with Philip Myers after the opening concert in 2005:
I met him [Engelbert Schmid] first in Illinois, and then one year later in France. And when I met him in France, I played one of his horns. I wanted it very much. But you know, always his horns have been very expensive. And they should be; they're that good. But it was new for me. But I liked this horn too much; I said, “I'm going to get this.” So I said, “I want to buy this horn.”
He said, “No, I'm sorry. You cannot have it. I have sold it to a man already. He has gone home. He is coming back tomorrow with his wife.” I said, “Does his wife know that he is spending this money?”
He said, “I don't think so.”
I said, “Well, maybe she will change his mind. Maybe I will get this horn.”
So she came in the next day [and said], “You have made me so happy.”
Then I knew. So I ordered a horn from him, and it took six months. And when I got it, it was so much more money than I had ever spent for a horn, that I was afraid to play it. So I put it on the couch and left it there for two months. And then one night, I decided, “This is crazy, I must play it.” And that was it. I never went back.
The thing that makes it different is two or three things. One is, when you go to begin a note, it is absolutely solid from the first instant. And this is unusual. Usually with a horn, you're having to be careful a little bit at the beginning of a note. But with his, no. You just, pssshhh, and it gets there. You have to adjust to the horn, but with his horn, you don't have to make the adjustments.
The second thing is, in many horns, when you go to play loud, they get more forceful towards you, this way [points forward], but they don't get bigger this way [gestures broadly to the sides]. His horn gets bigger this way. You can hear this. Anybody can hear this. When you play his horns, you get wider and wider and wider. This is very unique.
And I would say the third thing is, it's very hard on a horn when you play loud to have it not be too intense, but when you play soft, to have it ring and be very lively. Again, his horns do this. They're lively when you play soft, but they don't get ugly when you play loud. This is very unusual. So I tell you something: This guy figured out something that other people do not know.
[Q:Do you think you ever will change again?]
[Laughs] Me? Not me. I just keep buying more of them. Really. That's right, they are like babies. I've got two of the same horn now, but I'm about to get a third, so, you know...
Principal Horn, New York Philharmonic