Boston Single F
If you were Henry Schmitz or August Hamann you would play a horn like this
Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory
Single Horn in F


by the

Musical Instrument

Wright Single
Serial Number:
Date of Manufacture:
ca. 1875
3 rotary
12.35 mm.
Bell Flare:
single seam, no garland
7.0 cm.
Bell Diameter:
28.2 cm.
Base Metal:
(clck on photos for larger view)

The horn pictured above was made by the Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory following a design attributed to Elbridge G. Wright. In fact it is quite probable that the design is due to, or certainly influenced by Wright's partner, Henry Esbach since he no doubt brought experience in horn making from his native Germany. The example shown below by E.G. Wright & Co. and the dated testimonials at the bottom of this page show that this horn design predates the founding of Boston Musical Instruments Manufactory.

This design features a very long slow-tapered leadpipe extending from the mouth piece around the entire circumference of the corpus to the first valve. The main tuning slide comes after the valve set and is placed on the front of the horn. The tuning slide on this example has a loop not shown in the company's catalog drawing (see below).  The subject horn is made entirely of brass throughout, in contrast with the original Wright & Co. horn shown below which contains nickel-silver ferrules, braces, and trim. Note also this horn has an additional brace from the third valve casing to the bell tail that is not shown in the catalog drawing nor found on the Wright & Co. horn.

The valve levers are mounted on the top of the rotor casings and are cantilevered over to the rotors to the opposite side. This is different from the original Wright design (see below) where linkage to the rotor is on the outside in the typical manner.

The bell tail and flare has a clearly visible continuous single "zipper" seam (photo at right) in contrast to contemporary European-made horns that often had a vee-gussett inserted. Unlike the original Wright design as shown below, this horn does not have a bell garland .

The bell brace differs from those on the Wright horn and other examples from BMIM and may be an indication of the horn's date of manufacture. This horn does no have a serial number which dates it to before circa 1880 when BMIM began numbering its instruments. 

Overall the horn is in excellent condition having no patches and showing no other evidence of repairs. The valves remain very tight, indicating the horn has not had much use, certainly not professionally. As a result it has a full range from pedal to high C, and excellent relative intonation throughout at all volumes without "edging out." The very long leadpipe gives a beautiful tone and the wide bell throat appears to eliminate any need for a garland. It is pitched fairly high with A=ca.448 with a moderate pull of the main slide.

The E.G. Wright & Co. horn shown above (left) belongs to Mark Elrod and was beautifully restored by Robb Stewart.  The illustration (above, right ) and testimonials (below) are from the 1869 Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory catalog. This model was priced at $50 for brass or $60 for German silver. It was the instrument of choice of Mr. Henry Schmitz, the first virtuoso solo horn of the N.Y. Philharmonic, and of August Hamann and Luke Murphy of Boston. Their horns were built by E. G. Wright and predated the founding of Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory.

Henry Schmitz  (1823 - 1914), was solo horn of the N.Y. Philharmonic from 1848 to 1869, of the Theodore Thomas Orchestra from 1866 to 1877, and several other well-known orchestras. He was a frequent soloist and gave the American premiere of Weber’s Concertino on January 12, 1856 with the Philharmonic. He was also undoubtedly the principal in the first U.S. performance of Schumann’s Konzertstück in New York on December 4, 1852, which had been composed only three years earlier.  The horn on his lap is the Wright / Boston model.

The second testimonial is by Carl August Hamann (1827 - 1892) who was a horn virtuoso and music teacher in Boston from 1852 until 1892. In addition to performing with the most important conductors of his day, he was a popular chamber musician on both piano and horn. Among his piano students was Louis C. Elson, who later became head of the theory department at the New England Conservatory.

Luke Murphy (1826 - 1874) was a member of the Boston Theater Orchestra for ten years. He was a featured soloist in Terzetto di Lombardi, by Verdi on the opening concert at Selwyn's Theatre on October 28, 1867, and was solo horn of the orchestra conducted by Charles Koppitz. He also served as president of the Boston Musicians' and Relief Fund Society for five years and in 1872 was awarded a gold watch for his "energy and zeal in behalf of professional musicians. The same year he was founding vice president of the Boston Musician's Club, for the purpose of providing a social hall for the members. Unlike most of his colleagues who were German-born, Mr. Murphy was a native of Massachusetts.

Henry Schmitz with his Wright & Co. Horn

Special thanks to Mark Elrod and Robb Stewart for the use of the photo of Mark's E.G. Wright & Co. horn, and to Robert Eliason for his assistance.

Ayers, Christine Merrick. Contributions to the art of music in America by the music industries of Boston, 1640 to 1936, H.W. Wilson Co., New York, 1937

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

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