Adams Musical Instruments - Together in Music

Hans Schnellar

Hans Schnellar (1865-1945) began his career as solo timpanist with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra. He was the guest timpanist with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam for one year before becoming the solo timpanist with the Vienna State Opera and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra until 1932.

Schnellar experimented with timpani making, and produced many different types of drums.  Many of his instruments are still being used today because of the instrument’s sound quality.  Schnellar initiated the concept of pushing the kettle upwards instead of pulling the rim down to change head tension.  His kurbel instruments are still being used (in a revised edition by Hochrainer) in the Weiner Philharmoniker.  The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra has the only pair of original Schnellar pedal timpani, mentioned in the Berlioz/Strauss instrumentation book.    

There was never any discussion about the outstanding sound quality of the of the original Schnellar timpani from the RCO.  It’s well known that Bernhard Haitink completely fell in love with the instruments, and he is not only conductor to do so.  Although they still play the original Schnellars every now and then, Marinus Komst and Nick Woud, the two timpani players of the RCO, decided to work on the mechanical operation of the timpani.  Over several years of collaboration, they worked closely with the engineers and timpani builders at Adams Musical Instruments to create a perfect replica of the original pedal timpani in the workshop at the Adams factory in Holland. 

Inspired by Hans Schnellar’s classic design, Adams Schnellar Timpani feature modern innovations, production quality, and a gorgeous bright nickel plated finish. Schnellar timpani  come equipped with claw mounted calf heads , and the free standing elliptical bowl  lacks the customary support ring and struts—a unique combination that creates unparalleled sensitivity, projection, and response.