Clarinet, Jacob Denner, Nurenberg, first quarter of the 18th century, inv. 0912
The clarinet is a single-reed instrument. Originally, the reed was affixed to the mouthpiece with a cord and was set on the front, not on the back as is the practice today.
For long, the inventor of the clarinet was taken to be Johann Christoph Denner, an honour paid to him by the Nuremberg scientist Johann Doppelmayr in an article in 1730. However, there are suspicions that this information is incorrect, given that not a single clarinet made by him has been preserved; furthermore, the first mention of orders dates from shortly after his death. It is therefore more likely that it was his son Jacob who built the first clarinet. Both father and son were affiliated to the guild of the Wildruf- & Horndreher (decoy and horn makers). Their wind instruments were famed far beyond the German language borders.
Each section of the instrument portrayed bears the signature ‘I DENNER’ and the initials ‘ID’. ‘Denner’ is an old German word for the pine tree; hence the depiction of a pine.