Dr. Willi Aebi was a Swiss engineer, businessman, politician, amateur horn player, and supporter of art and music. The Aebi manufacturing business pioneered advanced designs of agricultural machinery, becoming a multi-national holding company with headquarters in Burgdorf, Switzerland. In politics, he concerned himself primarily with finance, taxes, and budget development.
Aebi was an art collector, maintaining friendships with the artists and sharing his knowledge and treasures with reproductions in company calendars. He and his family donated stained-glass windows in the Bergdorf Stadtkirche.
Aebi was one of the best amateur hornists in Switzerland, and in his student days substituted in the Tonhallé Orchestra and Zürich Municipal Theater. He commissioned a concerto from Othmar Schoek (1886-1957), his Concerto for Horn and String Orchestra, op. 65, completed in 1951 and premiered by Hans Will in 1952 with the Winterthur City Orchestra conducted by Victor Desarzens.
About 1965 Aebi gave Hermann Baumann an alphorn, sparking Baumann's interest in natural horn and the unaltered natural overtone series. Around 1970 Baumann acquired a Kruspe Wendler model horn from Aebi.
Aebi had a straight horn constructed to permit measurements of physical-acoustical behaviour inside the tube to understand varying tone colors. He wrote a treatise based on his research, Das Horn und seine innere Akustik, published in 1969 by Buchdruck in Zurich, and a version in English, The Horn and Its Inner Acoustics, transcribed from a lecture at the 1970 IHS International Workshop in Tallahassee, Florida, published by Schilke in 1971. His article on "Stopped Horn" appeared in the Spring 1974 and May 1976 issues of The Horn Call.
Dr. Aebi was respected and admired by all who knew him and particularly appreciated for his interest in and support of the horn community and the IHS.
Appreciations of Willi Aebi's life from his son Franz Aebi and former Horn Call editor James Winter appear in the October 1987 issue of The Horn Call.