Flute History

  • First Flutes in Opera

    Flutes begin appearing in French and German opera and chamber music in the 1680s. Jean-Baptiste Lully's opera-ballet Le Triomphe de l'Amour (1681) first specifies Flûtes d'Allemagne.

    The baroque flute became known in England and Germany in the early 18th century. A few professional wind players including J.J. Quantz began to specialize in playing it in opera scores and public concert, and to write pieces for the instrument
  • Growing Popularity of the flute as a solo instrument

    The flute starts to become popular as a solo instrument and to acquire its own repertoire with Michel de Labarre's Pieces pour la flûte traversière avec la basse-continue (1702).
  • First Baroque method Book

    Jacques Martin Hotteterre, the author of the first method book for the baroque flute, Principes de la flûte traversière (1707)

    Jacques was a fashionable teacher of aristocratic amateurs, with an international reputation, due partly perhaps to his method book of 1707 for flute, recorder and oboe, which was reprinted, translated and plagiarized in subsequent decades. His L'Art de préluder sur la flûte traversière (1719)

    Quantz was one of the first professional flute players in 18th-century Europe.Quantz wrote over 300 concertos and many sonatas, most of which have never been published.Quantz began making flutes in 1739, and built as many as eighteen instruments for Frederick the Great during his employment.
  • Frederick the Great

    Frederick the Great becomes King of Prussia in 1740, appointing C. P. E. Bach as his keyboard player and enticing his flute teacher Quantz to leave Dresden and become Music Director in Berlin.

    Johann George Tromlitz began making flute around 1750. In 1754 he became principal flautist of the Grosses Konzert, a forerunner of the famous Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra. He wrote three books about flute-playing. In the 1786 Kurze Abhandlung (Short Essay on Flute- Playing--no English translation of this), Unterricht (The Virtuoso Flute-Player) (1791), and über die Flöten mit mehern Klappen (The Keyed Flute)
  • The Classical Flute

    Instrument makers in London first added keys to the baroque flute and increased its bore taper, both with the aim of strengthening the instrument's low register, in the late 1750s. The new keyed flute was adopted by a few leading English players but did not become popular in continental Europe for another 30 years or more.
  • Quantz Essays on Flute

  • Flute Concertos by Mozart and Bach

    Solo concertos and chamber works by classical composers including Mozart, J.C. Bach, F. A. Hoffmeister feature the flute. Most professional flutists write their own concertos.
  • Theobald Boehm open flute making shop

    Theobald Boehm (1794-1881) gives up his goldsmith's business to beceome a flute virtuoso. Opens a flute making workshop in 1826.
  • Boehm develop ring key system

    Boehm's ring-key flute is officially adopted at the Brussels Conservatoire. But players in other places, including Fürstenau in Saxony and Tulou, Professor at the Paris Conservatoire, dislike its tone and feel it sounds too much like a trumpet. The first Boehm flutes made in America c1844.
  • Boehm flute is introduced in the Paris Conservatoire

    1860: Louis Dorus (1812-96) introduces the Boehm flute at the Paris Conservatoire and Louis Lot (1807-96) becomes its official supplier of flutes. Silver flutes become popular in Paris. On Jean-Louis Tulou's retirement from the Paris Conservatoire, the Boehm flute is made the official instrument of that institution.

    Paul Taffanel is considered the founder of the French Flute School that became dominant in mid-20th century western Europe and America. Taffanel studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Louis Dorus, who introduced the Boehm flute there, graduating in 1860.When Taffanel became Professor of Flute at the Conservatoire in 1893 he revised the institute's repertoire and teaching methods, reintroducing works by foreign composers and by those of earlier generations, including Bach. Taffanel's pupils lear
  • Yamaha Flute

    The Yamaha Company has been in business since 1887 and, without doubt, their student flutes are the best selling in the world. Yamaha have invested in the best technology and materials and, coupled with an excellent quality control, produce consistently reliable and popular flutes. The following range is made by Yamaha in their factory for hand made instruments, in a separate building to the student instruments.
  • Haynes Flute company in Boston

    William S. Haynes (1864-1939) and his brother George making Boehm flutes in Boston (1888)
  • Debussy's prelude to the afternoon of the faun

    Debussy's orchestral tone poem Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune gives the flute a new musical personality in 1894 with Georges Barrère (1876-1944) playing its solo flute part.
  • Faure Fantasie

    Faure was amongst the first of the composers around to take the flute seriously. The Fantasy was commissioned and written for Paul Taffanel for the 1898 end of year exams at the Paris Conservatoire. The opening Andantino explains the instant appeal this piece has for the listener (and player) as it is Faure at his most lyrical.

    One of the most influential flutists of the twentieth century, Marcel Moyse entered the Paris Conservatory in 1905 where he studied with Hennebains, Gaubert, and Taffanel. He wrote several books of exercises and studies but his main focus was on tone and romantic musical expression.
  • Powell Flute

    Verne Q. Powell started as a jeweller, engraver and flute player, he made his first flute in 1910 from silver teaspoons, watch case and silver dollars after hearing Barrere performing during a tour of America. He worked for W.S. Haynes as foreman and later manager from 1913, but established himself independently in 1926. He retired in 1961/2 selling his company to four employees. Many of today’s fine makers have worked at Powell including Dana Sheridan, Lillian Burkhart, John Lunn and Jim Phe
  • Muramatsu Flute

    Muramatsu flute was created in 1923 by the late Koichi Muramatsu, thousands of artists worldwide have chosen Muramatsu over all other brands. Today the factory carries on the same tradition of excellence in flute-making under the direction of his grandson, Akio Muramatsu. Every flute that bears the Muramatsu name is built with the care and precision that has earned Muramatsu its reputation as one of the world's finest professional flutes. Today Muramatsu sells more professional model flutes worl
  • Modern Silver Flute emerges

    Silver modified-Boehm flutes become the commonest type in orchestras everywhere except Germany and England. By 1924 the leading flute maker, William S. Haynes Co. (Boston), has discontinued wooden flutes.
  • Nielson Concerto for flute and orchestra

    Danish composer Nielson composed this piece in 1926 for flutist Holger Gilbert-Jespersen. Gilbert-Jespersen at the time was the principal flutist of Copenhagen. The final portion of the concerto was hastily composed due to Nielson’s illness and the fast approaching Paris premiere of the piece. A substitute ending was written for the premier in 1926 which Nielson later rewritten for the second performance in 1927. The first movement (Allegro moderato) marks three themes that occur throughout the
  • Jazz Flutist Wayman Carver

    Wayman Carver (Chick Webb band) becomes the first well-known jazz flute specialist (1932). He is followed by many more during the 1950s.
  • Production of a standard french silver flute emerges

    Japanese companies and a growing number of American ones are all producing standard French-type silver flutes for a worldwide market.
  • Geoffrey Gilbert

    Gilbert began playing the pennywhistle at age 6 and went on to become well respected and widely known both as a performer and teacher. He won the principal spot in the London Philharmonic Orchestra at age 19 and later became principal of the Royal Philhamonic, among other orchestras.
  • Prokofiev - Sonata No2 in D Op.94

    Prokofiev was not only one of the great Russian composers of the 20th Century, but an amazing pianist. The Sonata was composed between 1942 and 1944. This Sonata is really more a Duo - not surprising when you take into account Prokofiev's piano virtuosity. It has in every respect to be considered one of the most important works for flute of the 20th Century.
  • Jean-Pierre Rampal begins career

    Jean-Pierre Rampal begins a recording career with a vast quantity of unknown baroque repertoire.
  • Michel Debost

    Professor of flute at Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Graduated in 1954 from the Conservatoire National Paris and has been the principal flutist with the Orchestre de Paris among others. Monthly column in "Flute Talk".
  • Francis Poulenc: Sonata for flute and piano

    Known to be a prominent member of the 20th century musical circle known as “Les Six”. Poulenc was commissioned to finish the work by Harold Spivacke, Chief of the Music Division of the Library of Congress, for the Coolidge Foundation. Sonata for flute and piano was inspired by Debussy’s late instrumental sonatas and was dedicated to Elisabeth Sprague Coolidge. Jean-Pierre Rampal premier the work in 1958. The work has neo-classical in character with light melodic material. The first movement (Al
  • Albert Cooper tune the flute to A=440

    Albert Cooper devises a new set of measurements to tune the flute at A=440, as well as new embouchure styles which change its tone. Cooper's scale and embouchures adopted by the American, Japanese makers who dominate production
  • Julius Baker

    Graduating from the Curtis Institute of Music, Baker later became a member of the faculty there as well as at Juilliard. Well known for producing world renowned flutists from his studios, he also wrote an excercise book ("Daily Excercises For The Flute") which has become a standard in flute teaching.
  • Sankyo Flute

    Kikuo Hisakura established the Sankyo Flute Manufacturing Company in Sayama-city in August 1968. The aim was to produce ‘Flutes of Ideal Sound’ by offering high-class instruments that are built from high quality materials to an exacting quality standard.Sankyo flutes are particularly favoured in France where the internationally renowned player Alain Marion is their chief advocate.
  • Sir James Galway

    Galway began his musical career as a young boy playing the pennywhistle. He moved up quickly, becoming the solo/principal flutist of the Berlin Philharmonic in 1969. He retired this position to embark on a highly successful solo career in 1975. With over 50 albums in circulation, knighthood bestowed on him in June 2001 by Queen Elizabeth II and a wide variety of music performances, Galway is well known in non flute and even non-musician circles.
  • Miyazawa Flute

    Masashi Miyazawa established Miyazawa Flutes in 1969 having previously worked in the Muramatsu flute factory. While many players and makers have experimented throughout this century with different materials, Miyazawa have developed the combination of materials to create new alloys for flute making.
  • Alto and bass flute are invented for flute ensemble

    Various alto and bass flutes are invented, for use in modern music and in flute ensembles. Composers use electronics and percussion more in combination with flute.
  • Boehm Flute are no longer used. French Models becomes mainstream.

    Pre-1940 Boehm flutes are no longer used by mainstrem professional flutists, who now nearly all play the same "French model" flute, with in-line, perforated keys, B-foot, Cooper embouchure and Cooper scale. But by the late 1990s, wooden flutes have made a comeback in a new, Cooperized form.
  • William Bennett

    Has been the principal flutist with the London Symphony, received the National Flute Association's "Lifetime Achievement Award" in 2002. Altus Flute Artist.
  • Emmanuel Pahud

    Pahud began music study at age 6. He graduated from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris in 1990 and became principal flutist with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1993 at the record age of 22. He stepped down briefly from the exclusive principal position in 2000 to pursue a solo and professorial career, returning to the the Berlin Philharmonic two years later as principal flutist and soloist. He is contracted with EMI Classics and has produced numerous solo albums.
  • Ian Clarke: Hypnosis for flute and piano

    Professor of flute at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Ian Clarke has established himself as one of the most exciting flutist and composer of today. Clarke is embraced by internationally acclaimed performers, teacher, colleges and student alike and his acclaimed CD “Within” has been one of the flute community’s best sellers. Originally performed in 1986 with Clarke’s rock band. Hypnosis was developed for flute and piano in 1994. The melody line of the flute is naturally expressive and fr
  • Jeanne Baxtresser

    Baxtresser has been a member of the Montreal and Toronto Symphonies, but is best known for being the solo/principal flutist for the New York Philharmonic. Previously on faculty at Juilliard and at Manhatten School Of Music, currently a member of the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University and at the New England Conservatory Of Music. Her "Orchestral Excerpts for the Flute" books have become a must-have for aspiring orchestral flutists.
  • Robert Dick

    Soloist and composer, on faculty at the New York University and inventor of the Glissando Headjoint.