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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000458.txt from 2000/09

Subj: Re: [kl]Hans Moennig and Selmer Clarinets
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2000 17:48:38 -0400

Dear Mr. Leeson,
I am really sorry that you had such a bad experience with Hans Moennig.
He could be a real tyrant at times. I would like to share with you a few
experiences that might make you feel a little better as you were in good

1. During the early 70s, the Chicago Symphony visited Philadelphia while
touring the East coast. The Clarinet section called 6 months ahead to
schedule repair appointments. While they were all waiting patiently to see
Mr. Moennig, in walks their oboist to have extensive work done on his horn.
He was carrying an expensive bottle of wine under his arm. Mr. Moennig,
quite surprised asked, " What are you doing here?" The oboist said, " I came
to have my instrument serviced," " Why didn't you call and make an
appointment ahead of time like the other players," Asked Moennig. The Oboist
said, "I don't need an appointment for I am the great " ___ _____" besides
you have to see me for I bought you some expensive wine.
Mr. Moennig was highly insulted. He told the oboist to take that bottle
of wine and shove it! From that day on, the two of them never spoke again.

2. I saw him curse Benny Goodman out and hang the phone up in his face.
When I asked why he talked to such a famous person like that, Moennig said,
"Benny needs me a hell of a lot more than I need him".

3. In 1966, Leonard Sharrow, former principal bassoonist of the Chicago
Symphony, taught a young African American bassoon student at Indiana
University. The student, Fred Austin was from Philadelphia One Friday, Fred
dropped by Mr. Sharrow's studio and said, " I am going home for the weekend.
Do you need anything from Mr. Moennig's store?" Mr. Sharrow smiled and said,
"Sure! I have been waiting for 12 years to get Mr. Moennig to install a High
E key on my Heckel bassoon and he has never had to time or interest in the
project. Fred, I know it is a waist of time but see if you can get him to put
one on my horn this year."
That following Monday Fred returned Mr. Sharrow's bassoon with a
beautiful newly installed E Key. Mr. Sharrow with great joy and surprise
asked, "How did you get him to do it Fred?" Fred Said, "That easy, I told
Mr. Moennig that it was my horn."

As for Mr. Moennig working on Selmers, He became bitter after one of his
customers had him to set up a pair of new buffet soprano clarinets and them
gave the instruments to the Selmer Company to "copy". He felt that his
acoustical knowledge and expertise was being exploited. From that day on he
vowed never to work on a Selmer 10G. When a player would bring him a 10G Mr.
Moennig would say, " You need to take it to the inventor and have him repair
his creation.
Ironically, Mr. Moennig was often more willing to help young student
players more readily than professional musicians. The Principal oboist of
the Philadelphia Orchestra waited 4 hours for an appointment one afternoon.
Finally Mr. Moennig got around to the oboist and started the repairs. Twenty
minutes later a young 7th grader walked in from the Catholic Girls carrying a
plastic Bundy clarinet with a broken spring. Mr. Moennig turned to the
famous oboist and said, " I am going to put you on hold for now and give this
young lady priority as she has a band concert tonight". Needless to say, the
oboist was furious as he had to play for Maestro Eugene Ormandy that same
night. He muttered softly, "Maybe I should join a damn band."

Alvin Swiney
Affordable Music
New Address: P.O. Box 241252
Little Rock, AR
Fax 821-1403

<< Date: Sat, 09 Sep 2000 19:33:41 -0700
To: ">
From: Daniel Leeson <>
Subject: buffet and selmer bass clarinets
Message-ID: <>

The reaction of Brannen woodwinds with respect to refusing to do repairs
on Selmer bass clarinets is shocking indeed. But this attitude reflects
exactly the same position of the famous Philadephia repairperson, Hans
Moenig, who also refused to to any work on any Selmer instrument. I was
in the Army in Fort Dix, NJ in 1956, playing on a full Boehm Selmer, and
had some problems with it. I took it to him and he refused to look at
it. He was not only discouraging, he was insulting. I was humiliated
and young enough to think that he might have had valid reason for his
attitude. I had not, at that stage, developed teeth. Today, I would
have sunk those teeth into his throat for that insult.

I never went back to him after that. He may have done brilliant work
but I would have no knowledge of this. All I remember was his smug
attitude about repairing my instrument. I had little money at the time
and had taken a 1 hour bus ride to see him. I could ill afford even the
bus fare but went anyway. In return for this, he treated my instrument
as if it were made of shit. And I remembered always how he treated it
and me.

I don't know where people come up with this kind of attitude; that is,
were they born ignorant or do they feel that such an attitude will give
them a good reputation.

** Dan Leeson **
** **

In a message dated 9/10/00 10:11:03 AM Central Daylight Time,

<< Daniel Leeson makes some interesting remarks about Hans Moenig's refusal
work on his Selmer bass in 1956. In 1983, I took may Selmer bass to Moenig
and he fundamentally transformed the instrument into a great horn. Moenig
was a pretty crusty figure (at 12 noon, he told me to go away for an hour so
he could eat his lunch in peace), but it was amazing watching this "old
world" craftsman at work. Subsequently, Moenig worked his magic on my
clarinets. He charged somewhere between $8 and $15 per hour. I don't doubt
Daniel Leeson's experience. Perhaps in in 27 years, Moenig mellowed. If
maybe there's some hope for (some of) the rest of us.

Albert Hunt

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