The Denners dominated the German wind instrument making during the first half of the 18th C. This family of instrument makers, heirs of a long tradition of woodturners (horn- turning) exercised its trade in Nuremberg between 1680 and 1764. It was represented by 4 instrument makers :
Denner genealogy

Johann Christoph started learning the trade from his father (horn-turner) then went into wind instrument making. He graduated with master's rights in 1697, as did Johann Schell (1660-1732), for his "French musical instrument making, mostly oboes and recorders." From then on, J.C. Denner's social and economic status strengthened and at the end of his life, he owned a few houses.


Johann Carl, who made "only recorders and flageolets", could have prospered all the same but he was sent to jail for adultery and debts. He left Nuremberg in 1702 and disapeared.


Two of Johann Christoph's sons kept on with their father's trade.


The older, Jacob, worked for the Medecis court in Florence in 1708 and received his Master's rights in 1716. Reknown maker as well as professional musician, he received praises from his contemporaries for his abilities with the oboe that "he touched so lightly and played so skillfully that one had never heard such a thing in Nuremberg." But it seems that his younger brother, Johann David, took over their father's shop, while Jacob started his own. Johann David received his Master's rights in 1736, at 45. Hence, two Denner workshops co-existed in Nuremberg at this time.


While none of Johann Christoph Denner's clarinets reached our time (the oldest known ones are Jacob Denner's), he gets credit for them... This is based on one of J.G. Doppelmayr's report in 1730 in his "Historisch Nachricht von den Nurnbergischen Mathematicis und Kunstlern", information that can neither be proved or refuted.


Today, there are still numerous instruments from the Denner family. All are in great shape, whether luxuous (recorders in ivory entirely sculpted) or very simple (in boxwood without specific sculptures.)


The attribution of an instrument to a specific member of the family turns out to be a difficult task since the signature marks were inherited. Johann David signed his instruments "I.C. Denner", signature of his father's workshop.


The Denner's used three types of signature :

Signature 3 Denner
Signature 2 Denner
Signature 4 Denner
signature Denner1