F. Besson

Production start date: 1837/1838

Production end date (French factory): 1994

Franco-British instrument factory of the brass family, founded by Auguste Besson (1820-1874) around 1837. The English branch of the firm was founded in 1851, after the Great Exhibition of that year. Subsequently, a second factory was opened in London and Besson’s wife, Florentine Besson, was in charge of the French factory. In this period, Besson innovated in the manufacture of instruments, introducing important modifications such as the creation of the prototype system of chucks, cylindrical tools used to drill and enlarge the holes, which ensured the exact duplication of instruments and marked the birth of the modern instrument industry. After Besson’s death in 1874, the French branch was managed by his widow and two daughters. After their mother’s death, one of her daughters, Marthe, took over the management of the French and English factories. In 1880, she married Adolphe Fontaine and the company was renamed Fontaine Besson. The brand “F. Besson” was presumably adopted in this period, while French instruments continued under the “Besson” brand.

During Marthe’s administration, several instruments were created, such as the trumpet in F (1884), the first piccolo trumpet in G, trumpets of different tones, the bass trumpet in C, the tuba in C, the double bass clarinet (1890) and the family of horn instruments with conical tubes and wide holes, played with a horn mouthpiece (1890).

After World War II, the company passed to Besson’s granddaughter, Mathilde Sabatier. In 1930, the French factory was bought by Couesnon, another instrument maker, which in 1994 ceased its activities. In 1948, the English factory was purchased by Boosey & Hawkes. Many years later, in 2006, Buffet Crampon acquired the brand, and over the course of the first decade of the 21st century, it incorporated several other brands from musical wind instrument manufacturers. In 2012, Buffet Crampon Group became Buffet Group (Buffet Group).

Additional names: Besson, F., Besson, F. Besson, Fountaine-Besson, Besson & Co.



GROVE MUSIC ONLINE, 2014. HORNIMAN, 2014. Besson website. Available at: <http://www.besson.com/en/saga/our-history>. Access in: Dec. 2014.