The Selmer story begins as the brothers Alexandre and Henri Selmer graduate from the Conservatoire de Paris toward the end of the 19. century.
Henri Selmer had built a good reputation for his reeds and mouth-pieces by 1900 and opened a shop/workshop in Paris. He soon expanded his activities to building clarinets.
In the meantime Alexandre Selmer had immigrated to the USA where he played for the Boston symphony orchestra, the Cincinnati symphony orchestra and the New York philharmonic orchestra.
Soon after Henri Selmer hat started making clarinets Alexandre also opened a store in New York, where he sold instruments and accessories produced by his brother. In 1904 the Selmer clarinets went on display at the world exhibition in St. Louis and won a gold medal, this was positive for the company’s image and the sales numbers also profited.
After the first world war, Alexandre Selmer returned to Paris in 1918, to concentrate on the family business in Europe. The American branch was laid in the hands of George Bundy a company employee. He acquired the American subsidiary and renamed it to „Selmer U.S.A. “although they were now independent companies, both Henri Selmer Co. Paris and Selmer U.S.A always kept the exclusive marketing rights for the other parties’ products.
The French company now concentrated its power to high class and high priced instruments for professionals, where as the American branch was making inexpensive models for education and amateurs in large amounts. In 1948 Selmer USA designed a commercially successful clarinet made of cast plastic called “Bundy Resonite 1400”. The baby boom and the resulting increase of tuition classes caused large growth in sales of wind and orchestra instruments. Selmer could profit from this and started to take over other instrument makers such as Vincent Bach (brass wind) in 1961, Glasel String Instrument Service (violins), the drum maker Ludwig-Musser and the Lesher Woodwind company (Oboe and Fagotte) in 1967. Selmer Industries, the holding company of Selmer acquired the company Steinway Musical Properties, as being the parent company of the piano maker Steinway & Sons, and changed the name into Steinway Musical Instruments, Inc. In 2003 the Selmer company fusioned with another subsidiary, the brass wind manufacturer C.G. Conn, to create Conn-Selmer, Inc. The brand Selmer has and always will be well known for valuable wood wind instruments, especially saxophone and clarinets Many well known artists such as John Coltrane, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Louis Armstrong und Harry James favour instruments made by Selmer.