Moeck out of the early winds business

…except for recorders, of course. A casualty of a fragile economy and a fragile musical ecology: both the employees of that department are retiring, without having trained anyone to take their places. This was a misstep, somewhat like the one they did in the 1990s in taking recorder distribution out of the hands of recorder specialists and putting it in the hands of a music publisher.

Despite all our efforts, the number of customers and people interested in these unusual instruments has always remained small. Our idealism always weighed in favour of their production and keeping tradition alive as opposed to the dictates of economy.

However, both the employees entrusted with the making of these instruments are now taking their well-earned retirement. Thus the point in time has arrived where we are discontinuing the production of these instruments, which were always more admired rather than acquired.

Spare me the sob story. The windcap instruments were competitive in quality and price, and easily available. There are probably more people out there playing Moecks than anything else. Of those, the rauschpfeifen were handicapped because Moeck long ago ceased making an alto to serve as bass of an ATTB consort, forcing anyone wanting to use a consort instrument as a consort instrument to buy used or go to Moulder (and if you’re going to Moulder, why not Moulder all the way?). I suspect that if income were broken down, the buzzies paid for themselves. And losing those would be a loss indeed.

As for “admired but not acquired”…”ve make der gut Englisch yoke, ya?” but for their other instruments, “admired” was never in it. Name me one professional playing a Moeck shawm or cornetto, or any of the baroque woodwinds. I always thought the phrase “Moeck dreck” was unfair, but why buy a Deutsche shalmey or “ciaramella d’amore” when for similar money you could get a real shawm from Moulder, Hanchet or Cronin? Or a McCann or West cornetto? OK, we’re losing the world’s sole producer of the Baroque rankett. That’s an instrument of critical importance, to be sure. Maybe the German government can offer them a bailout. There’s a critical military need at Guantanamo Bay.

But this highlights a far deeper problem than Moeck’s failure to compete in the marketplace. Where are the young instrument makers? Moulder, Hanchet, Marvin, Cronin are all at or past retirement age. Prescott and Hailperin are close. I don’t know the ages of Praetorius or Wolf, but Beekhuizen and Breukink seem not to be too old. But where are the up-and-coming makers in their 30s or 40s? Is Renaissance wind making a hippie-generation thing, destined to die out with the Boomers?

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4 Responses to Moeck out of the early winds business

  1. Ross says:

    The end of an era, in a way, for those of us who’ve been doing it a long time. I suspect the company will survive on the recorder business for a while, but you make a good point that there don’t seem to be many young makers out there. Bob Cronin has already announced his retirement. Moulder, Cronin, Hailperin, and Marvin are all making instruments for the school, so at least we’re taking advantage of their expertise before it’s gone!

  2. Ray Brohinsky says:

    Hey! The baroque rackett (Rankett) isn’t _necessarily_ an instrument of torture!

    In fact, I’m finally going to have enough money to purchase one (yes, intentionally!)

    Problem is, there aren’t any to buy.

    Isn’t that a pain, though?

  3. jeffreyquick says:

    I knew the partisans would come out if I got too cute. I’m sure the instrument itself is OK as an instrument. But nobody has figured out what these instruments were used for. I once read a suggestion that they were a bass to the chalumeaux, which was itself a marginal-use instrument. And they’re at 440, so aside from a bass-line instrument for Baroque recorders at 440, I can’t see much of a legitimate use.

    But you’re right; it sucks to save sheckels for something and not be able to get it

  4. Neil says:

    The first baroque flute I owned was a Moeck Rottenburgh. It was awful. Trying to get a sound out of it was hard work indeed, and don’t get me started on the tuning. I thought it was me that just could not play the thing. My teacher’s Rod Cameron, based on the same model as the Moeck, was a revelation.

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