Art & Heritage Collections
The University of Adelaide's Elder Music Library houses a rare treasure - a contrabassophon. The contrabassophon was invented in Germany in the mid 19th century. Its "roar" was favoured over the contrabassoon's "wheezing" and "buzzing". The bore of the contrabassophon is double the width of the bassoon and far wider than any other double bassoon.
The University's contrabassophon is significant as it is one of only four or five made in London by Alfred Morton during the late 19th century, one of only a handful made anywhere in the world, and one of the few still known to be in existence. Most likely, it came to Adelaide when the Elder Conservatorium orchestra required a double bassoon.
Last month a world-leading contrabassoonist, Arlen Fast, a member of the New York Philharmonic orchestra, visited the University to play the contrabassophon. This contrabassophon was also used by Adelaide Symphony Orchestra contrabassoonist Paul Blackman for a demonstration/lecture at an international conference in Melbourne.
Anna Rivett, Manager, Art & Heritage Collections