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Post-Boehm flutes


Flute makers in Paris, London, and New York manufactured Boehm-system ring-key flutes, which were not patented, from about 1838 onward. The French makers modified the mechanism and tone of the Boehm flute to make it more like the instruments they were accustomed to. A ring-key flute by Rudall & Rose of London is shown here.

Boehm did patent the cylindrical flute of 1847 in France and England, licensing its production to Godfroy & Lot in Paris and Rudall & Rose in London. This company, later called Rudall, Carte & Co., built flutes to many designs by English inventors that combined various Boehm features--the cylindrical bore, the fingering, parts of the mechanism--in new ways. The most successful was the 'Carte & Boehm's Systems Combined (1867 Patent)' (shown here), which could be played with almost the same fingering as the old keyed flute, as well as with Boehm's fingering.These were made in wood, ebonite, or silver, and were played in some English orchestras until well after World War 2.

In America, where the Boehm flute was not patented, flutists and makers in New York enthusiastically promoted the Boehm flute, mostly playing instruments by Boehm himself or close copies by local builders. In the 1880s William S. Haynes founded a flute making company and began to copy the French-style metal Boehm flutes owned by players of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Other companies in Boston and Elkhart, Indiana, vigorously promoted their own versions of the same models during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

However some flutists continued to object to aspects of the Boehm flute, particularly its fingering and tone. In Germany a 9- or 11- keyed flute of a pattern introduced by Heinrich Friedrich Meyer of Hamburg in 1853, or a Viennese flute by Koch or Ziegler, remained the usual orchestral instrument through the 19th century. The flutist Maximilian Schwedler of Leipzig developed a keyed conical flute to extend the usefulness of the traditional flute in orchestral music by Richard Strauss and others, while attempting to preserve its traditional sound. These were played in some German ensembles until after World War 1.Schwedler's 'Reform' flute is shown here.

Modern flutes

Chapter 10, 'Nineteenth-century eclecticism', of Ardal Powell's The Flute (Yale University Press, 2002) contains more information on the flutes, playing styles, and personalities of the 19th century.

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