How to pronounce the name of the Buescher Band Instrument Company (named after the founder, Gus Buescher) is something that comes up frequently among folks such as myself- saxophone geeks who also like to get things right- and while the story is a little complex, there is what I think is a “right” way to say it.
I happen to have a Buescher ad from the 1940s hanging on the wall above my workbench. Read what it says:
Pronounced “Bisher!” Easy enough, right?
But wait, what’s this?
This ad from the late 50s/early 60s says to say “Busher”. What’s the deal?
The deal is that “Buescher” is an Americanized version of Büscher, and neither are exactly like the original name would have been pronounced in Germany. (The “ü” is a u with a Germanic umlaut, which has no phoneme that exactly matches in English. To see how to pronounce a word with an umlaut, see this video here. ) What we are left with in cases like this is a decision on the part of the person with that name on how to pronounce it in English. Like my last name “Stohrer”, which in English is usually pronounced like “store” but is subtly different if you are speaking German (and quite different if you are talking about the Stohrer Patisserie in Paris), Buescher is pronounced pretty much however the so-named person wishes to say it- within a narrow range, anyways.
In fact, since my very first saxophone was a post-buyout Buescher Aristocrat (basically a Bundy) I was always curious as to how I should say it. So when I eventually got curious enough to find out, I called people named Buescher that I found online (this was the early days of the internet) and asked them how they said it- and got different answers!
Here is an example: Buescher State Park in Texas, named after some local folks named Buescher, is pronounced how the eponymous Bueschers said it (Bisher) in this video here:
However, NASCAR racer Chris Buescher says it “Busher”, and so do the announcers who talk about him:
Getting back to Buescher the maker of saxophones, here is Mark Overton of Saxquest: “Bisher is what all the old timers from Elkhart say. In fact, you get scolded if you say it any other way. I’ve been to several club meetings of the retired instrument manufacture factory workers in Elkhart. They still meet although most of the old guard I used to know have died…[snip] …I think it’s just the German pronunciation of his name or at least the way old Gus used to like hearing his name.”
And lastly, here is this story about former Selmer USA worker and master mouthpiece craftsman Ralph Morgan from Brian Powell, who worked under Ralph for a very long time: “I recall Ralph always pronouncing it Bisher, and at one point in time he was engaged to be married to Gus’s daughter.”
So for me at least, “Bisher” it is. Is it the only way to say it? No. But that’s how Gus said it, that’s how the old timers say it, that’s how the ads back in the heyday of Buescher say it, that’s how the guy who was engaged to Gus’s daughter said it, and that’s good enough for me.