The workshop of F. Arthur Uebel
An important chapter in German clarinet making
Ansetzerei der Firma F. Arthur Uebel, Markneukirchen, undatiert.
The woodwind instrument maker Friedrich Gustav Uebel (1855-1915) learned his trade in Erlbach, as well as 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, and which 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, for whose workshop Friedrich Gustav undertook, among other things, key fitting work and the production of half-finished clarinets. In addition, Friedrich Gustav Uebel was involved in the invention of Oehler's prominent fork-f2 mechanism and other instrument-specific improvements around 1900.
Friedrich Arthur Uebel (1888-1963) was the second son of Friedrich Gustav and founded his own workshop in Markneukirchen on 2 September 1936, after having 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 in order 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. Uebel himself noted in his 1936 catalogue:
“For more than 30 years I have given my special attention to the construction of Oehler clarinets. Before the war I myself was a student of the late old master Oehler and in the long years of my professional practice I have been able to put my acquired knowledge to the best practical use. Oehler clarinets are made in my workshops with love and care under my personal direction and are thoroughly tested before shipment. It goes without saying that the utmost importance is attached to pure tuning, easy response and impeccable operation of the mechanism.”
First-class clarinets from Markneukirchen
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. and - despite the politically critical circumstances of the Third Reich, the Second World War and socialism - 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)
One of the members of the company's staff deserves special mention: Max Schnabel (1893-1979), from Wohlhausen deserves a special mention, as 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 have set international standards and inspiration, 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.