Anthony of Dornstätt
seems to be the first military flutist, or fifer, we
know by name, holding the position of personal fifer
to the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian (1459-1519). In
this picture he is shown carrying a banner, in which
the following verse was meant to be inscribed:
I, Anthony of Dornstätt, have played my fife
For Maximilian, great in strife,
In many lands on countless journeys,
In battles fierce and knightly tourneys,
At grave times or in holiday,
And so in this Triumph with honour I play
The 'Triumph' he refers to is a book of 137 engravings
by Hans Burgkmair of Augsburg (1473-1531) entitled Triumph
of Maximilian I (1526). Anthony and his three fifers
appear at the head of the procession, in Plate 3.
Fifes, or military flutes, were usually associated
with the infantry in the 16th century, and this is a
rare or even unique depiction of fifers on horseback.
Each man carries a case at his belt to hold at least
three instruments of different sizes. If this picture
is reliable (as are most of the other details of instruments
and costumes shown in the Triumph), the flutes
had eight fingerholes, four for each hand.