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Buffet Instruments - History

Buffet Logo

In 1825 a French 'luthier', Denis Buffet, established his workshop in the heart of Paris. He quickly became well-known in the music world for developing the excellent 13-key clarinet. At that time, clarinets were entirely hand-made, which required extensive experience and craftsmanship.

In 1830, Jean-Louis Buffet (Denis' son) took over the business. He married Zoé Crampon in 1836, and the famous Buffet Crampon brand name was created. The logo used today first appeared in 1844. Louis-Auguste Buffet (Jean-Louis' uncle) met the clarinettist Hyacinthe Klosé, a virtuoso musician and a teacher. These two men, the technician and the artist, started working together. They took the idea of movable rings, developed by the German Theobald Boehm for the flute, and adapted it to the clarinet.

First exhibited in 1839, and patented later in 1843, this new system was very successful, and in order to meet demand, the Buffet Crampon factory was built in 1850 in Mantesla- Ville, west of Paris. As early as 1866, Buffet Crampon was producing its first saxophones, 20 years after the invention of this instrument by the Belgian Adolphe Sax. Buffet Crampon has received many awards for the quality of its instruments, notably in 1889 during the Universal Exhibition in Paris.

Buffet Crampon became the exclusive supplier for the conservatory of Paris, the 'Concerts Lamoureux', the famous Toscanini orchestra in New York. Soloists of the 'Opéra de Paris' and the 'Opéra Comique' preferred the instruments of Buffet Crampon over other brands. In 1918, Buffet Crampon entered the American market and established its position as the leader in the world of professional clarinets. In 1921, a young beginner, Robert Carrée, was hired by the company. He was an extremely talented acoustic technician, and developed the R13 clarinet in 1950 and the RC in 1975. These in turn led to the creation of the Festival and Prestige professional models.

In 1981, Buffet Crampon was bought by the famous music publisher, Boosey & Hawkes, of London. Buffet Crampon has always had a tradition of innovation. In 1994, a new material was created and named Green Line. This innovative material is composed 95% of ebony powder and 5% of carbon fibre, eliminating the risk of cracking while maintaining the acoustic qualities of wood. Today the range is used worldwide by the greatest professional clarinet and oboe players.

In 2003, Boosey & Hawkes separated from the cream of the crop in French wind instrument manufacturing, to join The Music Group, and in 2005 Buffet Crampon again became independent. In 2006, Buffet Crampon acquired two famous brass instrument brands, Antoine Courtois Paris (created in 1803) and Besson (created in 1837). The company became Groupe Buffet Crampon, with two subsidiaries, in the United States and Japan, and in November 2007, it appointed Antoine Beaussant as new Chief Executive Officer. Since its inception, the company has ranked first amongst clarinet manufacturers, owing to its unrivalled expertise, innovative approach and modernised facilities, from which Buffet Crampon oboes, bassoons, flutes and saxophones also benefit. The tradition, the spirit of the company and the musicians accompaniment have been, since 1825, and are now more than ever the centre of the dynamic of Buffet Crampon.