In 1825, the Parisian instrument maker Denis Buffet-Auger established a woodwind workshop at 20 Passage du Grand Cerf. He quickly gained a solid reputation for producing 13-key clarinets. Under the leadership of Denis’s son Jean-Louis Buffet and his wife Zoé Crampon the company expanded and officially became known as Buffet Crampon in 1836. Since the fingering system for the clarinet was still in its infancy, Auguste Buffet worked closely with Hyacinthe Klosé. Klosé was a professor of composition at the Conservatoire de Paris, and also a highly esteemed clarinetist. Between 1839 and 1843 they adopted the Boehm fingering system — originally developed by Theobald Boehm for the flute — for the clarinet. By 1866, Buffet Crampon started production of its first saxophones, originally invented by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax a mere 20 years earlier.
Over the years, Buffet Crampon has won a number of highly prestigious awards, and around the turn of the 20th Century aggressively expanded its market into the United States and Europe. Buffet Crampon’s success in foreign markets was due in large part to the creation of the R13 clarinet model, developed by Robert Carrée in 1955. Suitable for symphonic and chamber repertoire, soloists, teachers, military bands, students or amateurs, the instrument has a rich and focused tone that powerfully reverberates in all registers. By 1975, Robert Carrée developed the RC clarinet, characterized by a focused purity of sound, specifically for the European market. At one point, Buffet Crampon became a member of the Boosey & Hawkes group in London, but it has since been returned to French ownership. The top of the range models “Tosca” and “Divine,” introduced in 2004 and 2012, respectably, fuse technical expertise, unparalleled craftsmanship, and the newest advances in acoustics.
For Martin Fröst, who plays both the “Tosca” and “Divine” models, the most important aspect of these instruments is the reliability of the sound. And the Buffet Crampon models, according to Fröst, provide him with a round and powerful sound throughout the instrument’s register. They help him to break through the mechanical level of technical perfection and allow his personal human voice to project through the instrument. And the result, and I am sure will agree, is fantastic!
Martin Fröst: Mozart Clarinet Concerto KV 622 “Rondo”