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the adams schnellar timpani

November 01, 2010

the adams schnellar timpani

For the LACO performance of Beethoven Symphony No. 7, I will be using the new Adams Schnellar timpani.

Hans Schnellar (1865-1945) began his career as solo timpanist with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra. He was guest timpanist with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam for one year before becoming solo timpanist with the Viennese State Opera and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra until 1932. His experiments with the making of timpani led to his own innovative timpani design that became the Viennese tradition. The original Schnellar timpani used since 1910 are still being used by Royal Concertgebouw, Viennese Opera, and Vienna Philharmonic timpanists today.

Adams Musical Instruments recently recreated their own Schnellar timpani with modern innovations. Schnellar timpani have a tuning mechanism unique to themselves in which the tension rods and head are stationary while the bowl itself moves vertically to change pitch.

Usually the bowl is fixed and the tension rods and counterhoop pull the head against the edge of the bowl to change pitch. The Schnellar tuning concept is meant to free the timpani bowl from the additional hardware needed for the usual tuning method of a fixed bowl. The Schnellar timpani claw tension system has also eliminated the counterhoop, and the pointed bowl shape is also unique to these drums.

These timpani are well suited to performing Beethoven with LACO, and may also be preferable for Baroque and Classical repertoire.

1 comment

Dear Wade!

Saw your description of the Adams Schnellar drums. Tried a set a former student of mine purchased. Very nice sound, indeed. Both in my previous position as principal timpanist of the Bergen Phil. and in my present as principal of the Oslo Phil. I purcased a set of Schnellar drums from Wofgang Schuster in Vienna. Those are the drums they use in the Vienna Phil. Absolutely fantastic. After I got them in Bergen I immideately switched from calf to goat skin on my Dresden drums.

Anyway, if you do have the chance to try out the Schnellar/ Schuster drums I hope you'll be as impressed as I was.

Tom Vissgren, principal timpanist of the Oslo Philharmonic.

  • —Tom Vissgren, February 25, 2012 09:39 am

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