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From: "Harry Searing"
Subject: Re: [CB] Schreiber/Mollenhauer
Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 22:22:28 -0500


In over 30 years of playing the contra, I've only ever seen one Schreiber,
and even then, it wasn't in the US! It was in Frankfurt, Germany at the
Music Fair (Die Messe as it's known in the trade.)

For about 10 years I worked for Boosey & Hawkes, and while I was in the
Publishing division and not the Instrument Division, I did have regular
contact with Instruments and knew most of the people there. When I asked
about Schrieber contras, I was always told they were "special order only." I
got the impression that during my tenure, they only ever had one in their
warehouse in Libertyville, IL. (I got even more blank stares when I asked
about getting a Buffet bassoon!)

Then one year, either 96 or 97, while at the Frankfurt Fair, I visited our
Instrument exhibit and sitting in one of the windows was a beautiful, brand
spanking new Schrieber contra, down to low A!!!! Upon only a quick glance, I
recognized right away that it was identical to a Mollenhauer. (I have a
Mollenhauer - #521 from around 1973.) You could tell from the lousy left
thumb keys. Who designed the rollers going downward towards the low register

Anyway, I had brought my reeds so I was able to try it. It was pretty good,
but I think the Low adversely affects the clarity of the entire instrument.
(Feel the same way about other low A makes, too.) Played just like every
other Mollenhauer I've played as far as resistance, scale and sound. I felt
comfortable on it, but I always urge people that play a Mollenhauer
(Schreiber) to get a #3 Heckel contra crook and get ready to wail! There's
no comparison.

So while I'm sitting there honking away on it, the head marketing guy of
Schrieber, Don Ditmars comes over and I introduce myself as a fellow B&H
colleague and a professional bassoonist in NYC. Well, he grabbed me for the
next 2 hours and made me try all the bassoons he had on the stand, give
evaluations, etc. They've certainly made major improvements in their
instruments since my student days and I told him that, but I still wasn't
satisfied with the sound. Just not big enough. But that's just my opinion.

Finally, I pressed him about the contra, I asked him outright "Is it made by
Mollenhauer?" (I knew the answer already.) He shuffled his feet and replied
"They're made by factory workers."

What a joke! Typical party line.

Any way, I hadn't seen any other responses to your original post and thought
my experience might help a little. Have you located one? You can probably
get many responses about Mollenhauers and take it from there. (Much to Mr.
Ditmars chagrin!)

Harry Searing


From: "Jay and Adrienne Easton"
Subject: [CB] Great Big ElectroWhoCardioflook
Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 20:01:02 -0800

>Range?  Transposition?  Beats me-  I have yet to find any reference
>to this mysterious instrument in any of my orchestration or
>instrumentation texts...

-What did they use in the movie?

-Ah, where's Andrew Stiller when you need him?  ;-)


Well, I obtained a copy of the "Grinch" to do some research...
My findings:
The Great Big ElectroWhoCardioflook (spelling corrected) is a multi-instrumental monstrosity that requires five "Whos" to play it (including the conductor).
It seems to be mostly a framework of percussion instruments, but there's some sort of horn or horns involved.
Sort of like an old band organ that's been invaded by gnomes...
It's tone(s) are a collection of various reeds, brass, and percussion instruments.
However, despite it's great size, it doesn't seem to qualify as a "contra" instrument- the lowest part of it's sound is a bass drum.
And it IS, after all, only a cartoon...

Jay C. Easton


From: "Jay and Adrienne Easton"
Subject: [CB] Still more Grinch...
Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 20:27:02 -0800

It has come to my attention that Ward Baxter's  arrangement of "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch" that I mentioned in a previous post is now available for purchase.  It is for "solo low instrument" and concert band-  solo parts are included for bass/contra clarinets, baritone/bass/contrabass saxes, contrabassoon/string bass, and tuba.  I've now performed it- it's a great-sounding arrangement and it was a lot of fun- the band parts aren't difficult, and the audience loved it.  Anyone interested can contact him at or email  for info.


Jay C. Easton

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