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
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.