Readings in the History of the Flute

Readings in the History of the Flute


Robert Bigio. Illustrated with more than thirty engravings, photographs and line drawings. First published 2006. Fourth impression 2018. Paper bound. 234mm by 156mm. 368 pages.

Monographs, essays, reviews, letters and advertisements from nineteenth-century London. Selected and edited with an introduction by Robert Bigio.

It was estimated in 1829 that one man in ten in London played the flute. Players, teachers, composers and makers competed for their share of the vast market for anything to do with the flute.

Much of the published history of the flute in the nineteenth century is based on the works in this collection, which includes descriptions of newly-invented flutes, arguments about their relative merits and some extraordinary battles between rival makers and players.

This collection contains the full texts of these most important nineteenth-century works on the flute:

  • Charles Nicholson “A Word or Two” to Mr. W. N. James (1829)
  • W. N. James Mr. James’s Answer to Mr. Nicholson (1829)
  • William Annand A Few Words on the Flute (1843)
  • Cornelius Ward The Flute Explained (1844)
  • John Clinton A Treatise Upon the Mechanism and General Principles of the Flute(1851)
  • Richard Carte Sketch of the Successive Improvements made in the Flute (1851)
  • John Clinton A Few Practical Hints to Flute Players (1855)
  • T. C. Skeffington “The Flute” in its Transition State (1862)
  • Theobald Böhm Essay on the Construction of Flutes (1847, first published in 1882 with notes by W. S. Broadwood)

With a Miscellany of essays, letters, reviews and advertisements from the daily press and from musical journals plus personal letters from George Rudall and John Clinton to Theobald Böhm:George Hogarth on the flute; Philo-Flauto; Letter from an amateur flute player; Charles Nicholson appointed Flutist to the King; The death of Nicholson; Bucher and Boehm; Richardson and Card; ‘My Dear Phunniwistl’; The Paris Conservatoire and the Boehm flute; Prowse and the Nicholson flute; On the Tone of the Flute; Monzani and Wylde; Flute-mania; Hodgkinson; Review of Clinton’s Boehm flute tutor; Carte’s advertisement; Card’s advertisement; Acrostic on Richardson’s name; The Boehm flute controversy; Advertisements by Prowse, Ward and Clinton; More Boehm flute controversy; Review of Carte’s Boehm flute tutor; ‘To Make a Flute Solo’; Clinton’s letter to Boehm; Siccama’s advertisement; Carte’s advertisement; Rudall’s letter to Boehm; Carte and the metal Boehm flute in Newcastle; Madame Dulcken and Mr. Carte; Richardson and Pratten; The flute controversy continues; Card’s Melodion; The Great Exhibition; Review of Clinton’s Practical Hints; Clinton and Carte caution flute players in advertisements in The Times.