Williams / Jan Williams

Jan Williams NY

Jan Williams played in the Sousa band! See more about him below!

Serial #624
Bore at top of left joint: 14.4mm
And at the bottom of the same joint: 14:6mm

Jan Williams

Picture notes:
This is a very interesting instrument! It is really beautiful.

This came to me without a barrel, and even using my 63.3mm barrel, the intonation results below are way flat in the middle. (Bear in mind that I always test playing stupidly loud.) The instrument plays very nicely in tune with a 58mm barrel from a F. Hofinger, Brussels A clarinet barrel. 
The intonation is OK. But the tone is exceptional.
I really love the sweet and dark tone of this instrument!  [Addition: I don't know why I was so flat the day I wrote the above. I have been able to play this in tune with a piano using a 63mm barrel.] [Dec2010: Kaiyu from China has one of these, and says it has a 64mm barrel. (Clarinetpages.net has readers in China!)]

I saw a very nice looking Albert system on eBay recently that was marked JW. If I remember, it may have also been stamped NY. I think that also could have been by Jan W.

This cracked long ago and was banded twice on the top joint, and has three pins.
The keys are beautiful high quality nickel.
The wide ring on the right joint and bell are very nice. It is a pity that this didn't come with the original barrel.

Information from a clarinet pages reader says that Jan Williams was a member of the Sousa band! He is in the roster for 1910-1911. 

Information from a dissertation on Sousa Clarinetists:
Jan A. Williams (1884-1981) became one of the youngest members of Sousa’s band when he joined in 1901 as a seventeen year old. Williams later played bass clarinet and basset-horn in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra from 1913 to 1924 under Toscanini and he was the principal clarinetist with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra for a season in 1927.179 He was also solo clarinetist with the Goldman Band, principal clarinetist with the Russian Symphony Orchestra in New York under Modeste Altschuler, and spent twenty years as clarinetist at the radio station WOR.180 He taught at the Juilliard School of Music (1928-1931) and became the musical director of the Ernest Williams School of Music in 1947.
[THE CLARINETISTS OF THE JOHN PHILIP SOUSA BAND: 1892-1931, dissertation by JESSE DANIEL KREBS, Florida State University, 2006, available by searching on the Internet]

Information from Jeff Williams, Jan's son!   The Jan Williams instrument is not a French stencil horn.

His clarinet factory used to stand on some of the ground where the U.N. is now. Pop played in Europe with Sousa in 1899 (at age 16!) and 1901.

It was a small factory, with German craftsmen, lathes, etc. Pop would personally do the final tuning on each instrument. His individually-tuned clarinets were known for fabulous, rich tone. I still have some Grenadilla wood blocks somewhere. He imported the wood directly, then seasoned/aged the wood for 7-10 years before putting a tool to it. He had a foundry custom-make his keys, as I recall. His favorite was german silver, but he also had other choices available- silver and a gold alloy for special orders, I believe.

Pop absolutely hated the idea of putting a local name on a foreign-made product; he was all for 100% American made product, and he cussed the government for trade policies that allowed cheaper foreign products to undercut the prices of his custom-made clarinets.

So I take it the article about having an old Jan Wms clarinet was not by you? Too bad- I could probably scare up a spare barrel joint eventually. I have decided I might as well sell some of them, to anybody who remembers their reputation for quality at this late date. I think all the users that raved about them- Johnny Messner, Leonard Smith, etc.- are long dead.

Pop publicly endorsed Silva-Bets, probably in the 20's or 30's, even though they "competed" with his. He said that playing out of sight behind a curtain, with several woodwind experts listening, the consensus was that the Silva-Bets had a more bright sound in the upper registers, but Pop's were unsurpassed in the middle and lower registers.  The Silva-Bet I have has no mouthpiece- Pop always used his favorite mouthpiece on whatever he played, so this must have been one of Pop's.

I have a picture of Pop with Sousa's band in Edinburgh 1899, age 16, among other things.

Serial #624
Bore at top of left joint: 14.4mm
And at the bottom of the same joint: 14:6mm

High register






Middle of treble clef






Throat tones







C5 to 10






Using the 54mm Hofinger barrel.