Article: F.A.Heckel of Dresden
Originally written November 11th, 2015; Re-published: December 30th, 2016.
Special-order Heckel Rotary for Austria
When I first dipped into the world of rotary trumpets one of the first things I came across was the Heckel trumpet. The legendary horns were made by an ‘Instrumentenmacher’ located in Dresden, Saxonia. These instruments were frequently used by the Vienna Philharmonic and a few players of the Berlin Philharmonic until the Bernstein and Karajan era. Today the Heckels have been replaced by Lechner, Monke and Schagerl instruments. But what made these instruments so popular so that they became collectors’ items or even used till today?
Johann Adam Heckel (1809-1866):
Friedrich Alwin Heckel (1845-1915, son of the former):
Ernst Theodor Alwin Heckel (1883-1954, son of the former):
F.A. and Th.A. Heckel had a few co-workers/trainees from time to time, but F.A.H and Th.A.H were the only master craftsmen and did most of the manufacturing (i.e. bells, mouthpipes, tubes, slides etc.) themselves. Only some minor parts such as braces and the rotary valve sections were provided by other companies. I once was told that F.A.H.’s year of death (1915) is not 100% certain and that he actually may have worked for some years longer together with his son, but I could not find out so far whether this “rumour” is correct. There are Heckel trumpets in Bb, C and D; also trumpets in low-F, Eb and high-G have been built, but only a very few of them! Most trumpets have the characteristic bell garland, but there are also quite some trumpets without. The latter, for instance, were favoured in Vienna.
Above:Meister Arno Windisch
After the sudden death of Theodor Heckel, his widow sold the Heckel workshop to Arno Windisch, who briefly worked for Theodor Heckel. Arno Windisch was a meister from Klingenthal/Vogtland and did an apprenticeship in Markneukirchen near the Czech border. Windisch started the ‘Heckel’ tradition in 1953 using the ‘Heckel’ tooling. His trumpets were rated highly but were not to be thought as good as the Heckel trumpets. Windisch stopped manufacturing in 1991 and handed the workshop to Berndt C Meyer of Dresden in 1995. Arno Windisch was one of the honorary members of the Dresden Musical instrument manufacturing guild.
Left: B.C.Meyer, Right: A.Windisch
Walter Singer, developer of the Yamaha Heckel and a long time trumpet player in the Vienna Philharmonic was sent to Dresden to buy a set of Heckel C trumpets for the orchestra but only Windisch C trumpets were available. Singer tried the trumpets and stated that they were very well made trumpets but he said that they did not reach the standards of Heckel. So the unsatisfied trumpeter went back with nothing.
Many brass manufacturers, notably Gustav Wagner, Schopper, Miraphone, Yamaha and Windisch attempted to make copies of Heckel trumpets. Even Heckel’s own students could not reach the standards of their meister.
Identifying unmarked Heckel copies
Military band issue unmarked Heckel
Some Heckel copies are unmarked which leaves a significance of, would this be a ‘real’ Heckel? Well, most unmarked Heckels were made by apprentices(students) of Heckel and checked by the meister himself. Most were UNMARKED and issued for military and band use.
Finale:Leave a comment if you have a question or contact me via the contact page.
Fun Fact: The Heckel man placed the ‘Heckel’ bell when no one was around!
Sources/Special thanks to:
Maarten van Weverwijk