Our first introduction to the Schnellar timpani came through Nick Woud and Marinus Komst, timpani players of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam. The orchestra owns the only original pair of Schnellar pedal timpani ever made, and it was a big honour when Adams was asked to craft replicas of these beautiful instruments.
Hans Schnellar built his timpani in the Viennese tradition which has an important place in the development of timpani in the orchestra. The majority of the great composers of the Classical and Romantic eras, from Haydn and Mozart through to Mahler, all lived in Vienna at some point in their careers. These composers would have been well acquainted with the sounds and styles of timpani playing in Vienna.
Typical for the Schnellar are the kettles with their traditional egg-shaped design. There are a minimum of contact points on the kettles allowing them to resonate and vibrate freely, and be a superb reflection chamber for the vibrations produced by the skin. The Schnellar tuning system raises and lowers the whole kettle in order to change the tension on the skin, in contrast to other systems where the kettle is stable and the skin is pulled downwards to increase tension.
Adams currently offers two styles of timpani in the Schnellar tradition. The Amsterdam and Classical model. Soon a third Viennese model will be available.