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Johann Christoph Denner (bap. August 13, 1655; bur. April 26,1707), was a famous woodwind instrument maker of the Baroque era, to whom the invention of the clarinet is often attributed.

Denner was born in Leipzigmarker to a family of horn-turners. With his father, Heinrich Denner, a maker of game whistles and hunting horn, he moved to Nurembergmarker in 1666. J. C. Denner went into business as an instrument maker in 1678. Two of his sons, Jacob and Johann David, also became instrument builders. At least sixty-eight instruments attributed to J. C. Denner have survived to the present day. Denner died in 1707 and was buried in Nuremberg.

In 1730, Johann Gabriel Doppelmeyr wrote of Denner:

At the beginning of the current century, he invented a new kind of pipe-work, the so-called clarinet... and at length presented an improved chalumeau.

On the basis of this passage, Denner has been credited by many with the improvement of the chalumeau and the invention of the clarinet. Despite the words "At the beginning of the current century" he is often said to have developed the clarinet in 1690; there is no evidence for this. In fact, J. C. Denner may have built no clarinets at all. Only one extant clarinet, owned by the University of California, Berkeleymarker has been attributed to him, and this attribution has been challenged. Another instrument possibly made by Denner was destroyed in World War II. The earliest known reference to the clarinet is an invoice from Jacob Denner dated 1710, three years after J. C. Denner's death.


  1. Martin Kirnbauer. "Denner", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed 13 October 2006), (subscription access).
  2. In

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