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Virtual Tour of
Muzika! A Celebration of Czech and Slovak Music



Basset Horn by Frantisek Doleisch I, Prague, 1793

NMM 3541.  Basset horn by Frantisek Doleisch I, Prague, 1793.

NMM 3541. Basset horn by Frantisek Doleisch I (1749-1806), Prague, Bohemia, 1793. Invented about 1770, the basset horn is a clarinet whose range is extended down a major third below the lowest note of the regular clarinet. This is made feasible to play by angling the top half of the body back and providing a box (kasten) in which the tubing makes three turns before reaching the metal bell.

This example is made of boxwood with horn trim and eight brass keys. Three other basset horns by Doleisch survive at the National Museum in Prague.

Board of Trustees, 1984.




Front of basset horn. Back of basset horn. Another side view of basset horn.

Mozart (1756-1791), whose great operas, like Don Giovanni, were very popular in Prague, was fond of writing for the basset horn, particularly in his Masonic pieces, as well as the Requiem, left uncompleted at his death in 1791. The NMM's instrument was built two years later. Mozart and Doleisch certainly would have known each other.



Doleisch's Signature Stamps

Doleisch's now faint signature stamps, as they appear on the barrel (center) and top joint (right) of this instrument's upper body (left), consist of a left-facing lion rampant centered above the maker's name, city, and two stars.

Top joints of basset horn. Maker's stamp on barrel of basset horn. Maker's stamp on top joint of basset horn.





The maker's stamp on the kasten is the clearest of all his signature stamps on this instrument and even includes the instrument's date of manufacture.

Maker's stamp on box of basset horn.

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