C.F. Schmidt
Double Horn in F and f-Descant

Label :

  C.F. Schmidt
 Double Descant
Serial Number:
Date of Manufacture:
 ca. 1925
 F and f-alto
 3 Rotary and 1 Piston
1.185 cm.
Bell Flare:
 single seam
ca. 6.3 cm
Bell Diameter:
29.0 cm
Base Metal:
 silver plated
(click on photos for larger view)

This is a double horn in F and f-descant by C. F. Schmidt, with an interesting linkage used to move the piston valve. The bell diameter and throat are slightly smaller than that of C.F. Schmidt full double, although the bore is the same.  It is engraved with the name of the former owner, Guillaume Gagnier, who was principal horn of the Montreal Symphony from 1935 to 1950 (see below). It was purchased from a music store near Montreal which had acquired it from the estate of a relative of Mr. Gagnier. The horn is in excellent physical condition; mechanically, however it needs the valves to be replated and a new leadpipe.

The original leadpipe was missing a couple of inches when the horn was purchased, and another section of the pipe was damaged. It has been temporarily replaced with a section of a pipe from a single F horn used for parts (above, left). This pipe is not optimal for  either the F or the descant f sides of the horn. Both play fairly well but the lower horn does not center well.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this horn is the mechanical linkage to to the very long piston change valve (see photos above). From the beginning the firm employed a piston change valve on its very popular double horns.  In this case the piston is much longer so that minimal tubing is required for the shorter descant side of the horn. The clever lever linkage is very smooth and efficient.

At right, Mr. Gagnier has added very attractive art deco mother of pearl finger plates to the valve levers, and below, has engraved his name in the bell below the Schmidt label.  The patch on  the bell testifies to the heavy use that the horn received during Mr. Gagnier's professional career. Also visible is the single seam.

Guillaume Dorothé Gagnier
(1890 -1962) was principal horn of the Canadian Grenadier Guards Band in 1913 and principal horn of of the Société des concerts symphoniques de Montréal (now the Montreal Symphony Orchestra) from 1935 to 1950. He was also a member of the Gagnier Woodwind Quintet from 1942 to 1949. He was born in Montreal, Canada on December 9 1890, one of 27 children of Joseph Gagnier. He began theory lessons with his father and then studied horn with Charles Tanguy and Joseph de Bleye.1 He also studied double bass with Léon Wathieu of the the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and played that instrument in several Montreal theatre orchestras. On November 12, 1912 he married Annonciade Campoux and together they had three children.2  M. Gagnier died in Montreal on August 22, 1962.

CBC Program Schedule, December 16. 1945

The well-used original case also bears Mr. Gagnier's name. It is a typical C.F. Schmidt case with the  characteristic "Schmidt bulge" on one side (above, right). 

Special thanks to Dave O'Neal for making this horn available to the collection, and his notes on its provenance.

1. Belgian born Charles Joseph de Bleye (ca. 1854 - after 1918) studied at the Ghent Conservatory with Jean Deprex where he took second prize in 1874 and first prize in 1877. In May, 1874, while still a student he made the first of several visits to the United States with a group of about fifteen musicians from France, Belgium, Italy. He returned to the U.S. as a non-immigrant alien in 1896,  1908, and 1911. By 1915 he had settled in Montreal where he became a naturalized citizen of Canada on October 30, 1918.

2. Unconfirmed genealogical sources.


Billiet, Jeroen; 200 Years of Belgian Horn School?: A Comprehensive Study of the Horn in Belgium, 1789-1960. a Dissertation for the Approval of a Laureate Program at the Orpheus Institute, Ghent, Belgium, 2008,  

The Canadian Encyclopedia

Waterhouse, William, The New Langwill Index of Wind Instrument Makers and Inventors, pub.Tony Bingham, London 1993

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