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Nineteenth-century flutes


European and American flutists used many different kinds of instrument during the 19th century. Flutists in Vienna favored a conical-bored flute like that shown at right, with a penetrating tone and often with an extended range down to the violin's G. These instruments were used by amateurs as well as professional soloists and in first performances of symphonies by Beethoven and others.


English flutes, imitating those used by the famous virtuoso Charles Nicholson (below, top), had a range to low C and played best in flat keys such as E flat major. French players such as Jean-Louis Tulou used instruments with smaller fingerholes and a more traditional soft tone (below, middle.) German flutists, led by Anton Bernhard Fuerstenau, preferred types that allowed them the maximum of tonal flexibility and blend in an orchestral wind section (below, bottom). In France and England, new types of flute invented by Theobald Boehm won a few advocates and were soon modified to suit the tastes of players in those countries.








After about 1850 the 'Meyer' flute (right), a blend of the traditional keyed flute and the Viennese type, became the commonest type in Eastern and Central Europe and America. It usually had 12 keys, a body of wood, and toward the end of the century a metal-lined ivory headjoint. But from about 1870 on modified Boehm flutes by French and English makers came into more widespread use, more so in orchestras than in bands.

Chapters 8-10 of Ardal Powell's The Flute (Yale University Press, 2002) contain more information on this topic.

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