In Memory of Ernst Meyer

In memory of Ernst Meyer, Ernst dit le Bec, probably the most innovative recorder maker of the early 21st century, my esteemed friend and kindred spirit.

A few days ago we received the terrible news of the death of Ernst Meyer. We are all deeply saddened, shocked and feel an emptiness within. My thoughts are with all those who also loved and treasured Ernst, and especially with his sons Sebastian, Joel and their partners.

The family had recently established a new home by Hemberg in Swiss Toggenburg, where they shared life, work and togetherness.

When I was a boy of sixteen, I undertook a pilgrimage to rural Appenzell to visit Ernst Meyer. I knew of him, I was told of a recorder-maker with much passion for handcrafted historical instruments.

So we met – his boys hadn’t been born yet – and Ernst was there in his strong and impressive and so passionate way. Soon I was to take home my first Meyer recorders, on which I experimented and learnt to express myself with. I shared my thoughts and insights with Ernst and this was the foundation of a long-standing friendship between the master craftsman and the musician.

We were always able to communicate what we expected of one another, where the limits are and how to achieve the best results. We developed ideas and instruments, then either scrapped or perfected them. And so it went on: in all those many years, Ernst’s instruments became world class and have been played by my mentors, then by me, then by my students, on all the stages of the world.

Ernst Meyer was a passionate researcher who always had one big goal: to build recorders with a rounded, full-bodied sound in all registers. He examined the old originals while simultaneously thinking of all sorts of possible improvements and, above all, about which parameters to change in order to transfer the acoustic possibilities of the old flutes to today’s concert halls and adapt them to modern conditions.

It wasn’t his objective to create new-sounding recorders, rather it was his desire to intensify their rich historical tones, to complement their aesthetics. He thus managed to build the only instruments which sounded full-bodied in all registers, full-bodied in all registers, and which, even when played in large venues, could still sound like beautiful recorders and entirely new, 21st-century instruments.

Throughout the years, Ernst’s endeavours earned him many dear friends and customers, or rather kindred spirits (and some critics too) – but above all, musicians.

It is a tremendous joy to now hear his masterpieces being played either on CD or live at many concerts. Never before has the recorder sounded so rich, so complex, so challenging and grown-up. And I thank you for this, dear Ernst!

You leave a huge gap in our lives and will be missed greatly. Without you, things will be very different. I will remember you dearly. Your instruments will inspire future generations.

Thank you for everything you have given us.

RIP

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