France’s famous sax maker sells out

France’s famous sax maker sells out


norman lebrecht

January 11, 2018

The iconic saxophone and clarinet maker, Henri Selmer Paris, has announced it is selling a majority stake to an investment fund, yielding family control after 130 years.

This cannot be good, either for the quality of instruments, or for the 500 staff.

More here.


  • Robert Holmén says:

    I’m surprised there is enough of a market for high-end saxophones and clarinets to support 500 staff.

  • Ruben Greenberg says:

    Sad news. The investment fund will only care about profits. Selmer is (was?) such a warm, friendly family company.

  • Justinian Forthemoanay says:

    The investment fund executives will most likely fire workers to cut costs. And then take out large bank loans using the company assets as collateral and pay themselves huge salaries and benefits out of the loan (luxurious company offices, first class airline travel, 5 star hotels, expensive dining and entertainment).

  • Sweethomechicago says:

    The company has not been doing well. If this is what it takes to keep it afloat, so be it. Hopefully the future of the company will look similar to its history.

  • Basing says:

    An early girl friend of mine worked at the Selmer shop on Charing Cross Road in the1950s. Window full of shiny brass instruments. Is it still there? I doubt it.

  • Basing says:

    Doubt it.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    If the girl friend is gone, then the shop must be gone.

  • William Osborne says:

    I can’t read the WSJ article which is behind a paywall, but Selmer USA (which is different from Selmer Paris) has long been owned by a large corporate parent company, Steinway Musical Instruments. They employ 1700 people and run 11 manufacturing sites. They own Conn, Bach Stradivarius, Leblanc, King, Ludwig (drums,) Holton, Armstrong, Benge, Artley, Bösendorfer, Bechstein, Fazioli, and Blütner, among many others. Since I can’t read the article, I’m wondering who bought Selmer Paris. In general, the quality of the instruments was reduced by these mergers.

    • TD says:

      William, Ruben, and Justinian – just a correction and comment. Steinway Musical never owned Bösendorfer (Kimball did, then an investment group, now Yamaha), Bechstein (Baldwin owned them decades ago, then they went public), Fazioli (always family owned and operated), or Blüthner (back in family control after the Soviet-era expropriation of the Leipzig-based company). Sometimes family ownership runs its course and the result of the next ownership group is not so grave– look at Steinway (bought recently by a hedge fund manager), which are certainly producing better pianos and reinvesting more money in the factory than they were at the end of the family ownership era.

      • Ruben Greenberg says:

        TD: I sincerely hope that you’re right and this doesn’t mean the beginning of the end for Selmer. Unfortunately, I have seen other family-owned concerns bought up by groups, only to disappear a few years later: namely Leblanc (the name still exists, but has nothing to do with the Leblanc that I knew 35 years ago).