Return to home page
n a v i g a t i o n




Historical flute playing styles

The earliest flutists to have felt an urge to place themselves in a 'tradition' of playing seem to have been pupils of Johann Joachim Quantz in Berlin in the late 18th century. Quantz's pupils and their own students felt part of a 'school' that prized a subtly modulated flute sound until as recently as about 1950. Despite this strong sense of heritage flutists in Berlin were some of the first in Germany to discard the traditional German keyed flute adopt the Boehm flute (beginning in the 1870s).

See the page on National Styles for information about how different senses of tradition in some countries led to contrasting national styles of flute-playing.

Flutists in Leipzig and Dresden too, including Anton Bernhard Fürstenau and Maximilian Schwedler, had a strong sense of their musical heritage. They were perhaps the first to perform flute sonatas by J.S. Bach after those pieces had been published for the first time in about 1855. As performances of Bach's music became more common and listeners became used to its unfamiliar style, they sometimes noted that it sounded wrong on the instruments of the time. So it was that a few flutists began to perform on earlier types of instrument, such as the baroque flute.

The recording industry brought period-instrument performances into the mainstream, particularly after about 1970. The scene was set beginning in about 1950, when Jean-Pierre Rampal produced dozens of recordings that made the flute's baroque repertoire popular for the first time since it had been composed. The Dutch recorder virtuoso Frans Brüggen became the first star performer on the baroque flute in several recordings he made after about 1965. An association with a thriving London recording business gave Stephen Preston (b1945) the opportunity to become England's first professional baroque flutist, while other prominent specialists included Hans-Martin Linde, Leopold Stastny, and later Barthold Kuijken in Europe, and Colin Sterne, Shelley Gruskin, and Robert Willoughby in the U.S.

Another group of flutists who use old instruments are players of Irish traditional music.

Top of page Go To Top Of Page  

E-mail this page to a friend
Copyright © 2000,

write! suggestions, complaints, corrections