The History of the Vincent Bach Corporation

The Vincent Bach Corporation is a US manufacturer of brass instruments, now a subsidiary of Conn-Selmer, a division of Steinway Musical Instruments. The company was founded in 1918 by Austrian-born trumpeter Vinzenz Schrottenbach, and we would like to share some of its history with you in today’s blog post.

Who started Vincent Bach?

Vincent Shrotenbach was born in Vienna in 1890. He initially played the violin but switched to trumpet when he heard its majestic sound. Vincent graduated with an engineering degree from Maschinenbauschule before being entered into compulsory military service in the Imperial Navy, where he worked as an elevator operator. He then served as a military musician in the Austrian Marine Band when he was re-conscripted. It was after he left the military for the second time that Vincent decided to pursue a career as a solo cornetist. He toured across Europe under the stage name “Vincent Bach”.

When World War I broke out, Vincent was forced to flee England to the United States to escape detention as an enemy alien. He arrived in New York City with only $5.00 in his pocket, but a letter to the conductor Karl Muck secured Vincent an audition, followed by a position with the Boston Symphony. By the following season, he was the first trumpet in the Metropolitan Opera House. Vincent worked professionally as a musician in the US before another stint as a military musician, this time with the US military.

How did Vincent begin making instruments?

While on tour in Pittsburgh in 1918, Vincent’s mouthpiece was ruined by a repairman. Vincent had great difficulty in finding a suitable replacement. He spent time in the basement of the Selmer Music store experimenting with mouthpiece repair and fabrication. With the investment of $300 for a foot-operated lathe, Vincent went into the business of making mouthpieces.

How did the business grow from there?

His business grew rapidly and he began to sell how-to guides and sheet music. The first Bach trumpets were produced in 1924. Musicians frequently referred to a Bach trumpet as a real ‘Stradivarius’, hence the name Bach Stradivarius. It was during this time that the company had 10 employees, and had relocated to a small factory on E. 41st Street in New York. Tenor and bass trombones were added to the line around 4 years later. This was when the company expanded and moved to the Bronx.

Vincent Bach after World War II

During the Second World War, a shortage of workers and materials saw the company cut back on production. This led to Bach resorting to mixing parts and modifying earlier horns. After WWII, Bach was similarly creative in the first years with manpower and material shortages.

Moving to Mount Vernon

In 1953, the Vincent Bach Corporation moved to Mount Vernon, which was prized for manufacturing hand-assembled instruments. In 1961, The Selmer Company acquired the Vincent Bach company, with Vincent himself staying on as a consultant until 1974.

Moving to Elkhart

After moving to Elkhart in 1965, the majority of manufacturing was relocated to a former Buescher plant in Elkhart Indiana. Around 10 years later, production moved to the Conn factory where the corporate office of Conn Selmer is currently located. To this day, Vincent Bach instruments are made in Elkhart, using the same designs and techniques as before, albeit now under the premium brand “Bach Stradivarius”. In Eastlake, Ohio, student-level “Bach” instruments are now manufactured.

To order a Vincent Bach instrument from the British Band Instrument Company, please contact us here.

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