Corporate name: Henri Selmer
Business address: Place Dancourt Paris ,FRANCE
Beginning of activity: about 1885
The Company originally created by Henri Selmer in 1885 at the beginning for the manufacture of reeds. Very soon it was interested in manufacture of mouthpieces for clarinets, with the repair of the instrument then to its design. In 1901, the Selmer house announces that it manufactures clarinets, flutes, oboes, bassoons and saxophones.
The Selmer family traces its origins back to the rural Lorraine region of France with Johannes Jacobus Zelmer. Enlisting in the French army provided a means of moving families from the country to the city. For three generations Zelmer men served in the same regiment, while the boys, too young to be soldiers, played in the band. Jean-Jaques Selmer (son of Johannes Jacobus), in addition to changing the spelling of the family name, ascended to the rank of drum major. The military afforded great opportunities for education and travel.
When Charles-Frederic Selmer (son of Jean-Jaques) died in 1878 he left sixteen children, five surviving to adulthood. Of these Henri and Alexandre graduated from the Paris Conservatory as accomplished clarinetists. Henri went on to perform in the famed Garde Republicaine band and the Opera Comique. By the early 1900s Henri had opened shop at Place Dancourt in Paris to meet the demand for his handmade reeds mouthpieces. Soon repair work and customizing led to the manufacturing of clarinets.
From 1895 to 1910, Alexandre Selmer (pictured here with Henri Selmer) served as principle clarinetist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. At the turn of the century, a small retail store was opened in New York City for selling the family wares. Selmer Clarinets prospered after winning a gold medal at the Saint Louis exposition of the 1904 World's Fair. In 1918 Alexandre returned to Paris to assist Henri in their growing family business, leaving an employee, George Bundy, the rights to distribute Selmer products in the United States .As successors to the Adolphe Sax manufacturing business they inherited Sax's own working drawings, models. tools, even his factory and craftsmen (the building was still used for assembling Selmer trumpets and Trombones in the 70’s )The first Selmer saxophones were almost identical to Sax's own instruments. but in the 1920s Selmer engineers created a new model so original in conception and superior in performance that it quickly became the preferred Instrument of professional saxophonists the world over.
Since then Selmer have introduced an improved model every nine years or so,this is only an average as the Mark VI saxophones remained current for more. than twenty years
At the beginning of the 20th Century the Selmer workshops take up residence in the heart of Montmartre at 4 place Dancourt.
During the period 1910-1920 Selmer France increased production to include the complete family of clarinets, oboes, and bassoons.
A new workshop in Meru and a factory in Gaillon were opened. Henri Lefevre, one of several family members now working for Selmer, had been perfecting an improved saxophone design (Adolphe Sax had patented the instrument in 1846) before being called to war in 1914. Although the saxophone had declined in popularity since the death of Adolphe Sax in 1894, Selmer's commitment to the instrument never waned. In 1919 the factory was moved to larger premises in Mantes. Henri Selmer's son, Maurice, soon entered the business, overseeing commercial and artistic affairs as well as learning the art of adjusting instruments.
Since December 1921 (model 22), every new model has shown Selmer-Paris ability to innovate and capacity to improve what, sometimes, would have seemed as a totally accomplished instrument.This successful process is, of course, based on their instrumental knowledge and an efficient manufacturing organisation, but, first of all, on the relations developed over the years with the worlds leading musicians
Through the efforts of Maurice and Henri Lefevre(pictured) , sons-in-law of Henri Selmer, in developing new production methods and machinery, Selmer introduced its first saxophone, the model 22, in 1921.by the following year they were making 30 Saxophones a month.With the acquisition of the Adolphe Sax operation in 1928, Selmer's line now included trumpets and trombones. In the 1930's Selmer formed a working relationship with the great guitar maker Mario Maccaferri. Selmer-Maccaferri guitars, though limited in production, were embraced by such famous artists as Django Reinhardt.
With the death of Henri Selmer in 1941, Maurice succeeded his father as President. The war years were extremely difficult for Selmer, with the plant eventually converting to the manufacture of bicycle pumps. After the war Maurice restored the complete line of musical instruments. The combined popularity of jazz and development of the saxophone as a classical instrument contributed to Selmer's rising success. Continuous refinements and improvements in the saxophone led to to the introduction of the legendary
Mark VI in 1954.
H. Selmer & Cie. remains a family-owned company. The factory in Mantes has been modernised to include state-of-the-art computerized machinery.
An office and showroom resides at 18 Rue de la Fontaine au Roi in Paris. Maurice Selmer's son Georges, installed as President in 1968, and headed the company together with Jean Selmer and Jacques selmer untill the end of the 1990's.
The Company today is headed by the Chairman Patrick Selmer with Bidgette Dupont-Selmer as Chief Executive Officer and Jerome Selmer General Manager.
In 2001 the Company changed its name to Henri Selmer Paris