The story

It is no exaggeration to say that Henk de Wit was among the most versatile, and in many ways , most influential bassoonist our country has seen. Apart from his reputation as an excellent and much sought-after bassoonist , he was a popular teacher, a skilled repairman, appraiser of woodwinds, and a living treasury of all there was in publications for and about the bassoon. And last-but-not-least to mention, he was a collector. But he was not just simply a “collector”- Henk de Wit collected bassoons and everything to do with the instrument..

What he did not know was that his innocent hobby that began in the late sixties, would grow over the decades into a collection that would fill the early seventeenth-century house on the Buiten Bantammerstraat in Amsterdam to the rafters.

It was a unique collection which showed the development of the bassoon in all its aspects from the eighteenth century to the present. An excellent picture!

In addition to one hundred fifty bassoons, the collection included hundreds of prints, paintings and pictures, cabinets full of music , a library, a collection of CDs and LPs, endless amounts bassoon music scores, antique reeds ( important unique historic examples) and even bottles of wine.

At de Wit’s, you literally stumbled across the bassoons . Famous was the cupboard under the stairs next to entrance of the house where there were about sixty instruments . Often this led to the astonishment of visitors who simply could not understand how these beautiful and precious instruments were tucked away in the cupboard.

That was not nonchalance or neglect- there was simply no more room ! Later the instruments were moved to the basement where after renovations, the walls were able to store instruments along the walls three rows deep.

De Wit was a walking encyclopedia of bassoon lore, and because the collection had earned him a huge expertise and reknown, he wanted to share the results of his unbridled passion for collecting with anyone who was interested. Did you want a book, LP or print to copy, or to look at an instrument up close? He would put it at your disposal . If he could find it ! (He usually did !)

Because he was a social , generous and hospitable man, there were always people around. The heavy solid pine table in his kitchen was for thirty years the center of the bassoon universe. Here gathered fellow musicians , fans, students and friends.

About ten years ago de Wit decided to close shop after a working life of nearly fifty years and unsuccessful attempts to establish a bassoon museum in his house. His efforts were stalled due to a lack of interest in culture and no government funding. In 2000 he sold his collection of instruments and moved to upper North Holland, where he devoted himself to that other love of his: the automobile.

Fortunately, we are not left entirely empty-handed : the collection of bassoons is well-documented: on the occasion of the festival “Fagot” in the Icebreaker in Amsterdam in 1992, the instruments and prints went on display . On that occasion, a catalog was produced, which is the basis for this site. As mentioned, the instruments are scattered all over the world . And the prints ?

They are still here.