Music

Musical craftsman on Clement keeps woodwinds blowing

by Judith Kahn

 

Daniel Deitch is an accomplished baroque musician and an expert in repairing and

restoring a diverse array of woodwind instruments, from piccolos to contrabassoons,

with the exception of saxophones.

RR_DanielPage1_Feb2018 copy

 Daniel Deitch is a rare woodwind instrument repairman and performer of baroque music. He works at his shop, the Woodwind
Workshop, which is located on Clement Street. Photo: Patrick McKinnie.

Up until 2010, he also built woodwind instruments but due to several ailments, including

tennis elbow and arthritis, he had to stop. In the past, he created 12 to 15 baroque flutes

per year using digital calipers to match the measurements of classic 18th century flutes.

He is well versed in the restoration of historical woodwinds, having restored

200-year-old flutes, clarinets and bassoons over the years.

 

Today, Deitch spends 80 percent of his time repairing and restoring flutes, clarinets,

bassoons and oboes.

 

Deitch’s passion since childhood has been all kinds of music, from folk to classical,

including chamber music, jazz and rock symphonic. He grew up in Los Angeles in the

’60s and moved to the Bay Area in 1970. Throughout life, Deitch says music

has been his nourishment.

 

Deitch’s parents were ex-beatniks who played music constantly, everything from

Beethoven quartets to John Coltrane to Henry Purcell to the Rolling Stones. Deitch says

there was always music going on in his head, mostly woodwind instruments.

 

He plays bassoon, baroque bassoon, four kinds of saxophones, various clarinets,

flageolet, recorder and oboe da caccia, as well as cello, viola da gamba, guitar

and English Horn.

 

Deitch started playing baroque bassoon around the age of 35. He has been playing the

modern bassoon, modern flute and baritone saxophone semi-professionally from

around the age of 21. But, flutes are his passion, which is “essential for the soul.”

 

He was an apprentice with the late Erwin Burger, a Swiss émigré who operated the

Woodwind and Brass Workshop on 10th Street. Since the early ’90s, Deitch has been

performing with various baroque orchestras in San Francisco, Berkeley and Palo Alto, as

well as in Portland, Ithaca, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Montreal and abroad.

 

Some of Deitch’s favorite composers are Bach, Marin Marais, for his French baroque

harmonies, and Francois Couperin, for his French high baroque music.

 

Deitch has been the owner of the Woodwind Workshop, located at 2607 Clement St., since

1994. It is a tiny space, about 300 square feet, in which he has a collection of wood- and

metal-working tools and vintage instruments, like a chestnut-colored bassoon that he

reproduced from a 17th century original.

 

Known for his craftsmanship and precision, Deitch has spent more than 20 years as a

builder of historic woodwinds. He has flutes from around 1760, one from 1783 and a

couple from around 1810. He has an original bassoon from between 1790 and 1810. The

instruments have come to him in various ways, including the bassoon, which was

found by one of his clients in an antique store.

 

RR_DanielInside1_Feb2018

 Daniel Deitch repairs woodwind instruments at the Woodwind
Workshop, which is located on Clement Street. Photo: Patrick McKinnie

 

He repairs and restores clarinets and bassoons for the SF Symphony and

SF Opera orchestras.

 

“They frequently have special needs. They need everything to work perfectly, and they

deserve for everything to work perfectly,” Deitch said.

 

His other customers include music teachers, middle-school beginners and retirees

learning how to play an instrument for the first time. He takes joy in teaching others

about the musical instruments.

 

“Music is really important to me, and when I can help somebody along the path to

having that same joy that I get from music – having their instrument working right,

working better than they thought it could – that’s a real joy,” Deitch said.

 

Comments about the woodwind repair man are a testament to his woodworking skills.

 

“Daniel is the best in the Bay Area, which is why he is always so busy and hard to make

an appointment with when the symphony begins,” one said. Another client said: “He

took the time to explain what would be done, possible trouble spots, and answered all

my questions.”

 

Many musicians who play woodwind instruments, as well as lovers of baroque music in

the Bay Area, feel fortunate to have Deitch’s services available to them. Deitch runs the

Clement Street business and workshop with his wife, Yukari Naito-Deitch, who oversees

the business end: ordering parts, scheduling appointments, paying taxes and health

insurance, etc.

 

“I am not a businessman,” Deitch says. “She has turned it around so we are actually

making a little bit of money.”

 

Deitch also has help from his landlords, which have kept his office rent affordable over

the years.

 

Deitch said he looks forward to many more years ahead continuing his passion for

repairing woodwind instruments and playing baroque music.

 

Because the Woodwind Workshop is small and Deitch is in high demand, customers must

schedule an appointment. The telephone number is (415) 221-2735 and the shop is open

Tuesdays through Saturdays. For more information, go to the website

at http://www.danieldeitch.com.

1 reply »

  1. Daniel is a gem in the Early Music world. He has been an incredible help in restoring damaged instruments beautifully, or just repairing and maintaining something as simple a a recorder. Musicians come from all over the Bay Area and beyond for his opinion and expertise.

    Like

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