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Bassoon Makers

Woodcut by Weigel (1698)


  Link to company web site

Born in 1870, Vinzenz Puchner lost his parents at a very young age and he subsequently went to live with the Gessner family in Graslitz, Bohemia(at that time, part of the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg Empire).

As he grew up, he learned to play the oboe, clarinet and bassoon and he observed and learned how to make various wind instruments at Vinzenz Kohlert's Sons (established 1840). His experience as a musician helped him immensely and from the beginning he placed a high value on quality craftsmanship in the construction of his oboes, clarinets, bassoons and flutes.

Vinzenz Puchner established his own woodwind instrument company in August of 1897 in Graslitz. Early on he took part in regional exhibitions (Aussig 1903 and Komotau 1913) gaining gold medals and establishing his reputation as a master instrument maker. In 1914, he was called into the Austrian military due to the outbreak of World War I and his son, Josef (age 17 at the time), ran the company while he was away.

After the loss of World War I, the multi-national state of Austria-Hungary, of which Bohemia was a part, broke up into a number of national states. The Bohemian part of the "music-belt", represented by the chief cities of Graslitz and Schonbach, belonged to the newly-founded Czechoslovak Republic. As a result of the Munich agreement of September 1938, the Czech Republic, occupied by a majority of ethnic Germans, was annexed by the Third Reich.

Shortly after the annexation to the German Reich, many employees of the Puchner Firm were called up by the German military. During World War II, the company continued to make musical instruments although mainly for export but it was also partly turned over to war production for the manufacture of airplane parts.

After nearly 50 years in business and just after World War II in 1947, a government commission from Prague under the so-called "Benes decree" appropriated and liquidated the Puchner business into the Czech State Enterprise, "AMATI". Josef was forced to work as an instrument tuner for a time while the rest of the family was exiled to Nauheim in the the state of Hesse where other instrument makers from Graslitz (now called Kraslice) had already been relocated. Josef was able to join the family in April of 1948 and Vinzenz Puchner died in Nauheim in November of 1948 only a few months after the exile.

Vinzenz's son and grandson, Josef and Walter, immediately began the construction of a new location for the business in Nauheim where they founded the firm of "Josef Puchner formerly Vinzenz Puchner, Graslitz". The structure was completed in 1955 on Beethovenstrabe where it still stands today.

The shortage of dry seasoned wood hindered the construction of new instruments for a while and the Puchners were only able to provide instrument repair for orchestra musicians in the area at first. In addition, they made motorcycle horns, music stands and clarinet mouthpieces from "India rubber". Then an opportunity arose to buy a supply of older wood which had been stored for more than ten years and they began again to construct instruments starting with clarinets first and adding oboes and bassoons later.

Josef Puchner passed away at the age of 91 in 1988. The company was then re-organized under the name "J. Puchner Manufacture of Woodwind Instruments Ltd" and Walter's children Gabriele and Gerald joined as fourth generation partners.

Many of Puchner's employees have been with the firm for more than 35 years and the company focuses on quality craftsmanship based on this long standing experience. As a result, Puchner instruments are treasured by musicians throughout the world.