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Vincent Bach – Personal History

by Bach Loyalist

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Vincent Schrotenbach (Bach)
also spelled as Vinzenz Schrottenbach

Born: March 24,1890 (Pfarrplatz, Baden de Wien, Austria)
Married: 1925 to Esther Helen Staab
Died: January 8, 1976 (New York)

Early Years (pre-1917)

arrival in the US on the RMS Lusitania on September 12, 1914 row 19.



excerpt from the 1954 Embouchure & Mouthpiece Manual

As a brilliant musician, a graduate mechanical engineer, and a practical manufacturer, Vincent Bach is eminently qualified to speak on all subjects related to brass instruments. What proved to be his life work really began at the early age of six years, where he was introduced the violin and bugle. His aptitude was for the bugle and having developed an excellent embouchure, his thoughts turned to the trumpet. At fourteen Vincent Bach began taking lessons from Georg Stellwagen, principle trumpet player with the Vienna Tonkunstler Orchestra. Mr. Stellwagen was considered one of the greatest trumpet virtuosos in Europe. later Bach took lessons from the First Trumpeter of the Vienna Opera House, at the same time pursuing his studies to become a mechanical engineer, that being his chosen profession.

After graduation, Bach’s first engagement was an officer of Engineers in the Austrian Navy. Concluding his military obligations, he went to work as a construction engineer in an elevator factory in Vienna. His artistic impulses, however, had never lagged and his unusual ability on trumpet and cornet attracted such attention that the emoluments from his music far exceeded his earning capacity on the job he held, that he turned to music exclusively.

Vincent Bach became a cornet virtuoso in his own right, a concert artist with well-received recitals in Austria, Germany, England, Denmark, Sweden, Russia and Poland. At about the same time of the outbreak of the First World War, he came to the United States. Briefly after his arrival, he was engaged as First Trumpeter with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the leadership of Dr. Karl Muck.

The following season Bach appeared as trumpet soloist throughout the summer of 1915 at the San Francisco Exposition. Following that engagement he returned to New York to play First Trumpet with the world-famous Russian Diaghilev Ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House. later he toured the principle cities of the United States with this Ballet.

Vincent Bach – Cornet soloist

Known recordings of Vincent Bach

Hungarian melodies. Fantasy brillante. Trumpet and piano.
1916 Yeh Shu-Han, Royal Military Band

Austriana. Concert fantasy. Trumpet and piano.
1916 Yeh Shu-Han, Royal Military Band

from Bach Brass

Born Vincent Schrotenbach in Vienna in 1890, he initially received training on the violin, then switched to the trumpet when he heard its majestic sound. Although Vincent also displayed a strong aptitude for science and graduated from the Maschinenbauschule with an engineering degree, he gave up a promising engineering career to pursue his first love and an uncertain future as a musician. The risk paid off. Performing under the stage name of Vincent Bach, he established musical success as he toured throughout Europe.

World War I forced Vincent’s move to New York City where he arrived with only $5.00 in his pockets. A letter to the famous conductor Karl Muck got Vincent an audition and a resulting position with the Boston Symphony. By the following season, Vincent was first trumpet in the Metropolitan Opera House opera and ballet orchestras, performing in the American premiere of Stravinsky’s Petroushka and Firebird. While on tour in Pittsburgh, Vincent was convinced by a repairman who said that he could improve the mouthpiece on Vincent’s trumpet. After the man ruined the mouthpiece, Vincent had great difficulty finding a suitable replacement. This was the beginning of Vincent’s realization of the very real need for high-quality mouthpieces.

US Military Service

excerpt from the 1954 Embouchure & Mouthpiece Manual

In 1917, when America entered the First World War, Mr. Bach became Bandmaster of the U.S. 306th Field Artillery Regiment.


Vincent Schrottenbach (Bach) – US Draft Card 1917

Vincent Bach – Band Master (1917)

US 306th Field Artillery Regiment
Looking for images from this era.

from Bach Brass

His discovery was further substantiated when, during the World War, Vincent served as sergeant and bandmaster of the 306th Army Field Artillery Band at Camp Union, Long Island. As head of the bugle school, Vincent found both mouthpieces and instruments to be of inferior quality. While on furloughs, Vincent went to New York City where he remodeled old mouthpieces and made new ones in a back room of the Selmer Music Store. In 1918, while performing part-time at the Rivoli Theater, Bach invested $300 for a foot-operated lathe and an office at 11 East 14th Street to begin the business of producing mouthpieces. The business grew rapidly and, in 1924, the first Bach trumpets were manufactured. Musicians frequently referred to a Bach trumpet as “a real ‘Stradivarius’ of a trumpet,” thus inspiring the brand name Bach Stradivarius. Bach trombones followed in 1928.


Business – Mouthpiece Innovator

excerpt from the 1954 Embouchure & Mouthpiece Manual

At the conclusion of his military service, he played as soloist in various New York theatres (Rivoli, Capitol, Rialto and Roxy) and during this period he open a small shop, at first for the sole purpose of making mouthpieces for his own needs. However, when musicians heard his play the “high F” during his solos, they wanted to know what mouthpiece he was using and they begged him to duplicate mouthpieces for them.

Without serious intention of becoming a business man, Vincent Bach was practically forced into the manufacture of mouthpieces and the little shop grew at such a rapid pace that he was compelled to give up his theatre work.

Business – Instrument Manufacturer

Vincent Bach – Trumpet Designer

Vincent Bach – Inspecting Mouthpieces


Business – Selling the Business

from Bach Brass

At the age of 71 in 1961, Bach decided to sell his company. Although he received twelve other offers, including some that were higher, Vincent chose to sell to The Selmer Company. His close relationship with Selmer over the years convinced Vincent that this was the company that would preserve the Bach tradition of excellence and expand upon the foundations he built. All tooling and machinery was moved from Mount Vernon, New York to Selmer’s operations in Elkhart, Indiana, with Vincent assisting in the training. True to Vincent’s vision, The Selmer Company still painstakingly follows Bach’s original designs and blueprints to this day.

Business – Retirement

Dominic Calicchio – Left, Vincent Bach – Center, Renold Schilke – Right

Memorial to Vincent Bach, Jan. 1976


Person Life – Autobiography

Musicus Vacabundus, an unpublished autobiography, Hartsdale, New York

Personal Life – Spouse

Esther Staab married Vincent Bach son of Vinzenz Schrottenbach and Leopoldina Kapeller in 1925. Vincent was born on Mar 24 1890 in Pfarrplatz, Baden bei Wien,AUSTRIA. He died on Jan 8 1976 in Hartsdale, Westchester Co., NY. He was buried in Kensico Cem., Valhalla, NY.

Esther Helen Staab was born on Mar 21 1900 in Hamilton Co., OH. She died on Jun 21 1982 in Hartsdale, Westchester Co.,NY. She was buried in Kensico Cem., Valhalla, NY.

Obituary – Esther Staab Bach

from Gannett Westchester Newspapers
Wednesday, June 23, 1982
Page 14

BACH, Esther Staab of Hartsdale, NY on June 21, 1982. Wife of the late Vincent Bach. Mother of Mrs. Brooke (Nancy) Jallade. Also survived by 2 Grandchildren. Friends may call at the BENNETT FUNERAL HOME Scarsdale Ave., Scarsdale Wed 7-4 & 7-9 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial to be held at Sacred Heart Church Hartsdale Thursday 10 a.m.

300 Sheridan Blvd., Mt. Vernon, NY
US Census 1930, Row 86 (click on image for full size)

1942 – American Institute of Physics for the Acoustical Society of America, 1942
416 East Lincoln Ave Mt. Vernon, NY (assume home address)

Person Life – Homeowner

Vincent Bach – House
Hartsdale, NY (map)

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Vincent Bach; 1890-1976
Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, NY

Sources: Photos of Vincent Bach courtesy of Bill Siegfried

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