Saving the Heckelphone!

Hello everyone! My name is Nathaniel Sanchez and I am a student at Bard College Conservatory of Music studying with Elaine Douvas, Melissa Hooper, and Alexandra Knoll. I created this page in hopes of raising enough money to purchase a Heckelphone in order to save this beautiful instrument from being forgotten. 

Over the years I have been more than fortunate to have encountered the Heckelphone several times. Most people don't even know what a Heckelphone is or what it even looks like. I was blessed to be introduced to this instrument by Jim Franklin (a Heckelphone owner in Chicago) at the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra's (CYSO) annual Double Double event. From here I was also more than fortunate to have a colleague play the Heckelphone for our CYSO performance of Edgard Varèse's Amériques where I was able to fiddle around with the Heckelphone and familiarize myself with it. This leads me into my spring semester in 2020 here at Bard where I will have the pleasure of performing Richard Strauß's Salome in addition to having a recital fully dedicated to the Heckelphone. In addition to my recital, I hope to hold several recording sessions where I will be recording some of the greatest works for Heckelphone either as a solo instrument or in chamber music. If one were to look up 'Heckelphone' on YouTube, they would find only a couple of recordings of this beautiful instrument. My goal is to help show this beautiful instrument to the world and to show how important it is to the music world.  

Most would probably ask what the heck a Heckelphone is! Well, the Heckelphone is counterpart to the Bass Oboe, the lowest voice in the oboe family, similar in range but distinct in sound. The Heckelphone has a wider bore than the traditional Bass oboe that one would usually see, and is made to produce a fuller sound than the Bass oboe, giving the instrument more flexibility. The Heckelphone often can give a more earthy, almost tragic and desolate sound in its second octave, sometimes even haunting in sound. Though the Bass Oboe and the Heckelphone have the same range, a Bass Oboe will never do the Heckelphone enough justice and should not be used in its place. This instrument was created by the famous instrument maker Wilhelm Heckel in 1904. To this date only about 150 Heckelphones have been produced, and about 110 have survived (some non functioning- many being destroyed in WWII or neglected left sitting in attics). Having only a few Heckelphones in circulation makes this instrument a true rarity in existence and appearance, hence the high price ($30,000). 

Since its creation it has been used in many of Richard Strauß's pieces, including Salome, Elektra, and Alpine Symphony; as well as many other composers such as Edgard Varèse, Paul Hindemith (recording linked below!!), Kalevi Aho, Max von Schillings, and many others. There are hundreds of pieces written for Heckelphone, but they rarely get played because of the lack of Heckelphone specialists. 

Having so few instruments in existence means there are very few true Heckelphone specialists. Many of the people who encounter the Heckelphone are handed one and expected to perform with only a couple of days of getting used to it. This gives the instrument a very poor representation since many people just play it for a couple of days and then never again, thus never truly showcasing the Heckelphone’s gorgeous sound.  Apart from this, many of the world's Heckelphones are owned by private collectors, museums, orchestras, and universities who do not use the instrument due to lack of a Heckelphonists or musicians willing to learn how to play the Heckelphone. Very few Heckelphones are owned by musicians who actively play their Heckelphones.  

Being able to own a Heckelphone would allow me to become a true Heckelphone specialist. It would also allow me to educate the world and my community about the importance and history of the Heckelphone. The Heckelphone community is a dying community and in my life I hope to revive and save this beautiful instrument from disappearing from our music and the world before its too late. It would mean the world to me if you are able to donate any sum of money to help me revive this instrument's legacy.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration! 

-Nathaniel Sanchez-

Informational Heckelphone video (In German)
Hindemith Heckelphone Trio Mvt. 1
Hindemith Heckelphone Trio Mvt. 2


  • Kip Montgomery 
    • $50 
    • 5 mos
  • Eli Shapiro 
    • $22 
    • 6 mos
  • Craig David 
    • $50 
    • 6 mos
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    • $15 
    • 6 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $40 
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Nathaniel Sanchez 
Annandale On Hudson, NY
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