This article contains content that is written like an advertisement. Please help improve it by removing promotional content and inappropriate external links, and by adding encyclopedic content written from a neutral point of view. (November 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Woodwind instrument
Hornbostel–Sachs classification422.112–71
(Double-reeded aerophone with keys)
Related instruments

The contraforte (German: Kontraforte) is a proprietary instrument with a range similar to the contrabassoon produced by Benedikt Eppelsheim and Guntram Wolf. It is intended to have improved dynamics and intonation over the distinctive but sometimes reticent sound of the conventional contrabassoon. The contraforte uses a different and wider bore[1] than the contrabassoon to produce a distinct tone; the sound is more even in strength and intonation across registers, remaining quite strong into the high register, unlike a contrabassoon. Also, it lacks the distinct "rattle" of a contrabassoon, although an appropriate reed design can replicate this effect where desired.

Wolf and Eppelsheim developed an accurate bore taper and precise key works in order to simplify fingerings in spite of the instrument's large size.

In October 2010, Lewis Lipnick, contrabassoonist for the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC, played it in a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. According to Lipnick, the other members of the orchestra, who used to make jokes about the sound of his old contrabassoon, praised the sound of the contraforte.[2] As the soloist of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in February 2012, Lipnick also performed Kalevi Aho's extensive Contrabassoon Concerto on the contraforte, and as a solo instrument, it proved to be superior to the traditional contrabassoon, because of its very wide dynamic range and clear, focused intonation.[3] In September 2021, Georg Friedrich Haas' concertante symphonic poem for violin, contraforte and orchestra was premiered during the annual Beethovenfest Bonn.[4] The part of the contraforte was played by Lorelei Dowling, a member of Klangforum Wien,[5] who is conducting her artistic research at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz on the question, "How can the contraforte be exploited in the color palette of the 21st century ensemble writing".[6]

Technical specifications

The contraforte has many technical aspects that have not been associated with instruments like the bassoon and contrabassoon.


  1. ^ See points 3 and 5 in Eppelsheim's description (in German). Retrieved 24 July 2022.
  2. ^ Midgette, Anne. [1] "NSO's Lewis Lipnick trades in his contrabassoon for contraforte's sweeter sound", The Washington Post, Washington, DC, 2010 Oct 14. Retrieved on 2010-10-17.
  3. ^ Listen e.g. on YouTube to Lipnick's presentation and explanations. Retrieved 23 July 2022.
  4. ^ Announcement (German) of the premiere on the website of Ricordi, Milan, etc. Retrieved 23 July 2022.
  5. ^ Personal page (German) on the website of Klangforum Wien. Retrieved 23 July 2022.
  6. ^ Description (German) of Dowling's research project. Retrieved 23 July 2022.