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The workshop of F. Arthur Uebel

An important chapter in German clarinet making

Ansetzerei der Firma F. Arthur Uebel, Markneukirchen, undatiert.

Friedrich Gustav Uebel (1855-1915) was a woodwind instrument maker who learned his trade in Erlbach and with the renowned clarinet maker Kruspe in Erfurt. In 1878, he founded his own company, which was based in Wohlhausen near Markneukirchen from 1880 onwards. The company gained national importance, especially through its many years of intensive collaboration with the Berlin "old master" Oskar Oehler. As early as 1888, there was a lively exchange and cooperation between Uebel and Oehler. Friedrich Gustav undertook key fitting work and the production of half-finished clarinets for Oehler's workshop, and was involved in the invention of Oehler's prominent fork-f2 mechanism and other instrument-specific improvements around 1900.

Friedrich Arthur Uebel (1888-1963), the second son of Friedrich Gustav, founded his own workshop in Markneukirchen on 2 September 1936. He had worked directly with Oskar Oehler in Berlin as a trainee in 1911. The master student of Oehler, who died in 1936, took over Oehler's customer base in the same year to ensure the continuation of the first-class production of clarinets in the Oehler system and to implement numerous improvements with regard to the key system.

“For over 30 years, I have dedicated myself to the meticulous construction of Oehler clarinets. Prior to the war, I studied under the tutelage of the venerable master, Oehler. During my extensive career as a professional, I have skillfully applied the knowledge I acquired under his guidance. In my workshops, Oehler clarinets are crafted with utmost attention to detail and quality, under my personal supervision, and thoroughly tested prior to shipment. The fundamental tenets of our craft include impeccable operation of the mechanism, easy response, and pure tuning – which are of the utmost importance to us.”
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First-class clarinets from Markneukirchen
F. Arthur Uebel clarinet maker

An event of special motivating importance for the early years of the company was the participation in the international world exhibition in Paris in 1937, where Uebel's clarinets and bass clarinets were awarded the "diplôme d'honneur". In Markneukirchen, the company continued to produce first-class clarinets under the sign F.A.U. Despite the politically critical circumstances of the Third Reich, the Second World War, and socialism, the company was considered the most important German clarinet-making workshop in the second third of the 20th century, with a first-class workforce of skilled workers and specialists. Clarinetists and university teachers such as Karl Schütte, Willy Schreinicke, Ewald Koch, and Oskar Michallik were among the more famous F. Arthur Uebel artists of the time.

The portrait above shows Friedrich Arthur Uebel. (Source: Betriebsführer aus der Musikinstrumentenindustrie, in: Die Unterhaltungsmusik No. 2658 of 26. 11. 1936, p. 1519)

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Artisan perfection
F. Arthur Uebel clarinet makers

One of the members of the company's staff deserves special mention: Max Schnabel (1893-1979) from Wohlhausen. He was ultimately responsible for the artistic perfection of the instruments as a tuner, which made him the contact person for individual cooperation with artists and thus the primary guarantor of quality at the Uebel company. The clarinets created in the Vogtland region set international standards and inspired many, so that the company F. Arthur Uebel, together with the achievements of Oskar Oehler, can rightly be regarded as the foundation of modern German clarinet making.

We would like to thank Dr. Enrico Weller, who has made an important contribution to music history with his extensive articles and research on Uebel, for the information and photographic material presented here. We would like to refer to his article published in 'rohrblatt:

Weller, Enrico: Erste Adresse des deutschen Klarinettenbaus - Geschichte Bedeutung und Entwicklungsleistungen der Markneukirchener Holzblasinstrumentenwerkstätte F. Arthur Uebel, in: rohrblatt 8 (1993), pp. 142-146; 9th (1994), pp. 52-60.

The team

Between Tradition and Innovation –
85 Years of F. Arthur Uebel
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Jörg Thümmler

 woodwind instrument maker

My journey in the art of woodwind instrument making began in 1980, when I started my apprenticeship at Oskar Adler & Co. as a bassoon maker. Two years later, I proudly completed my training.
Following this, I spent over 15 years at Schreiber & Söhne, which is now known as Buffet Crampon, where I was entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing the production of the entire range of woodwind instruments as well as electroplating.
In 2007, I decided to pursue my passion on my own terms and started my own company as a repairer for woodwind instruments. This was an immensely rewarding experience that allowed me to refine my skills and deepen my understanding of the craft.

In 2013, I was offered an opportunity that I could not resist - the chance to lead F. Arthur Uebel GmbH in Markneukirchen. It has been an honor to manage a company with such a rich legacy of exceptional clarinet making.
 

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Eduard Nagel

woodwind instrument maker

I humbly began my training as a woodwind instrument maker under the tutelage of the esteemed Herbert Wurlitzer in 1978, and honed my skills in his workshop for many years before successfully completing my master craftsman's examination. From there, I took my talents to Schwenk & Seggelke in Bamberg, where I dedicated my professional career until 2021. Now, I bring a wealth of experience to the talented team at FAU and eagerly embrace the new challenges that lie ahead.

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Andreas Grimm

technician

I began my journey in the world of musical instruments in 2003 after completing my training. My passion for instrument making led me to work at Schreiber und Keilwerth (now Buffet Crampon) between 2007 and 2009 as a construction and product development employee. In 2018, I became a member of the Uebel family, responsible for design and development, programming, and toolmaking. I am thrilled to bring my expertise to the team and continue to create exceptional instruments for musicians around the world.

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Éric Leclerc

woodwind instrument maker

I began my apprenticeship at Leblanc Paris in October 1981 and later worked at Buffet Crampon starting from 1989. Prior to my move to Oslo in 1996, I studied clarinet and bass clarinet at the conservatories of Metz and Ville de Paris. As a bass clarinet player, I have played as a substitute in many symphony orchestras.

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