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Ardal Powell, The Flute: Reviews

Reviews of The Flute are posted here as they are published.

The Flute was awarded the American Musical Instrument Society's Nicolas Bessaraboff Prize for 2005.

Quotes from selected reviews

Click on the publication title marked * to read the rest of the review a quote came from. Or scroll down to read all reviews.


"Fresh and thorough . . . attractive and readable . . . a huge intellectual accomplishment"

* American Musical Instrument Society, Bessaraboff Prize citation

"Enormously informative, engaging, and encompassing"


* Early Music America


"An astonishing density of facts presented in a clear and economical writing style"


* Classical Music Web


"An outstanding resource for flutists, instructors, and students"


* NACWPI Journal


"The new standard work"


* Tibia


"Enthralling, scholarly and admirably organized."


* Galpin Society Journal


"A tremendous achievement . . . painstaking research . . . keeps the reader eagerly turning pages . . . liberating . . . interesting and compelling."


* Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society


"A major contribution to the literature on the history of musical instruments and the best and most complete history of the flute and flute-playing available today."


* Choice


"No flute player can afford to be without this book."


* Pan


"A landmark in flute book publication and a book every flautist should have."


* Trevor Wye


"An informative and authoritative guide . . . extremely valuable coverage of past and current scholarship on flutes."


* Library Journal (starred review)


"An invaluable addition to any library or personal collection and a text to be read with fervor and referred to again and again. Highly recommended."


* The Flute Network


"An excellent book, suited equally to players, students and the general music enthusiast."


* Gramophone


"Extremely articulate and thoughtful . . . Impeccable research . . . a "good read" for anyone with a love of the flute and its music."


* Atlantic Flute Society


Full texts of published reviews

Paul Shoemaker on Classical Music Web, January 2004:

I thought I would just leaf through this book and put it aside, but surprisingly found myself reading carefully through it. It is one of those wonderful books we hardly see any more with an astonishing density of facts presented in such a clear and economical writing style that you find out far more than you could ever remember about the flute; more than I ever thought anyone even knew about the flute. The author’s dedication and enthusiasm are infectious. And I never once had to go back to read a sentence twice to get the sense of it. The organisation of the material is mostly in historical sequence, with only slight deviations to group material on a single topic together, which makes the book useful as a reference work which is what it will be to most of its intended readership. We begin in 900 BCE and end up the day before yesterday. Every historical source known to the writer is presented, discussed and analysed to determine its trustworthiness, with all objections elaborated and discussed. A number of ancient and medieval drawings, for instance, are for various reasons dismissed as mere legend or decoration. There is an extensive discussion of tuning systems, modern playing styles and the tiniest details of the construction of modern instruments. I had no idea that the concept of equal temperament was as critical to flute design as it is to keyboard design, or that it affected so many other areas of musical art.
          This book will prove to be an indispensable reference for students of the flute, composers, players and conductors, musicologists, ethnomusicologists. Ordinary music lovers such as my self will probably be content to get it at a circulating library and read as much as patience allows, and maybe go back and refer to it from time to time as questions come up in listening. There are many illustrations and they are all directly to the point. I was particularly interested in the portraits of people like Quantz who I’ve naturally read much about but never knew what he looked like. The photograph of dignified Adolphe Hennebains as a piping Pan, wearing only an animal skin and hiding in a bush with leaves on his head is certainly the camp highlight of the book. The seating plan of the Dresden orchestra for performance of operas by Hasse in 1764 was of great interest when I showed it to a musicologist/conductor friend of mine. And here is a group photograph of the first chair wind players of the Philharmonia Orchestra in 1950.
          The book observes academic political correctness in that all indefinite pronouns are of the feminine gender.
          We are fortunate here to have a local flutist who gives regular recitals on the modern flute, recorder, and wooden transverse flute and next time I can ask her some intelligent questions the book has raised about what she does and how and why she does it.
          Some interesting quotations: "...the Late Victorian decline of the traveling virtuoso permitted early twentieth-century stars of the flute, such as Moyse and Jean-Pierre Rampal, to believe they were presenting the flute as a solo instrument for the first time. In reality it was only the first time in living memory." And another, "Records and rapid travel have helped to ensure the prevalence of a certain view, that of the post-war French school, which is dominated by Jean-Pierre Rampal."

Rebecca Dunnell, in NACWPI Journal LII.2 (Winter 2003-2004)

Ardal Powell has written a major contribution to the literature about flutes: their construction, players, and contxtual issues such as repertoire, stylistic influences, and pedagogues. In a sense, this book offers a continuation in the lineage of books such as Nancy Toff's The Development of the Modern Flute (1979, out of print) and The Flute Book (1985, rev. 1996), Philip Bate's The Flute (1969, rev. 1979, out of print), and John Solum's The Early Flute (1992). He corrects occasional errors in previous works, making full use of current research techniques and his own wealth of accumulated knowledge in the field, and also expands on a number of topics previously explored. More than a presentation of facts, however, Powell endeavors to enrich a sense of cultural heritage for those interested in the flute.
          Powell surely struggled with organizing this formidable amount of information so that it would not be overwhelming. Fortunately, he has a writing style that is authoritative without becoming pedantic, and he is able to present controversial aspects of flute history with fine balance. Possibly, the book would benefit from the use of headings to help "chunk" the information; his sequence is clear, but there is a tremendous quantity nevertheless. The book is thoroughly cited, with the additional aid of remarks about the source before the listing of endnotes for each chapter.
          The occasional use of "boxes" is helpful, and allows the reader to break from the main flow to focus briefly on topics such as tuning systems, chronology of the Boehm flute, mechanical innovations, the sequence of flute professors at the Paris Conservatory, and other interesting subtopics.
          This is a handsome volume, hardbound, with well-chosen, magnificent illustrations on fine paper. Powell, already a respected maker of historical flutes, distinguished performer, and publisher, has created an outstanding resource for flutists, instructors, and students.

Hartmut Gerhold, in Tibia 28.4 (2003)

Mit W.N. James A Word or Two on the Flute beginnt 1826 eine bis in die Gegenwart reichende Reihe englischsprachige, teils in Amerika, teils in England erschienener Monographien über die Flöte, zu deren wichtigsten Autoern Chr. Welch, R. Sh. Rockstro, H.M. Fitzgibbon, L. De Lorenzo, Ph. Bate, N. Toff und J. Montagu zu reichnen sind. Dieser illustren Serie hat Ardal Powell mit seinem Buch ein neues Highlight hinzugefugt. Der Autor, Repräsentant von Folkers & Powell, Makers of Historical Flutes, Hudson, New York, ist zugleich em anerkannter Musiker und wissenschaftlich ausgewiesener Publizist, insbesondere in flötenhistorischen Fragen. Er weiß, wovon und worüber er schreibt, hat er doch der Vorbereitung von The Flute mehrere Jahre des Forschens, Sichtens und Vergleichens gewidmet. Herausgekommen ist eine aktuelle und umfassende Geschichte der Flöte und des Flotenspiels in Europa und Nordamerika vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart, eingebettet in die ieweiligen gesellschaftlichen und kulturellen Bezüge und Zusammenhänge, gespiegelt in der für das Instrument gedachten Musik wie in der Entwicklung des Instrumentes selbst und seiner Spiel- und Lehrweise.
          Die Kapitelüberschriften entsprechen einer Gliederung der ,,Epochen” unter flötenrelevanten Aspekten aus Powells Sicht, und sie deuten inhaltliche Schwerpunkte an, unter denen er seinen Gegenstand betrachtet und zugleich kritisch beleuchtet: 1. Shepherds, monks, and soldiers — 2. The flute at war and at home — 3. Consort and solo: the seventeenth century — 4. The early eighteenth century: the ,baroque’ flute’s golden age — 5. Quantz and the operatic style — 6. The classical flute — 7. Travelling virtuosi, concert showpieces, and a new mass audience — 8. Flute mania — 9. The Boehm flute — 10. Nineteenth-century eclecticism — 11. The French flute school — 12. The flute in the age of recording — 13. The flute in the early music revival —14. The postmodern age. Die Darstellung ist konzentriert, faktenreich und zugleich außerordentlich anschaulich, ja spannend geschrieben. Die großzügige Ausstattung mit teilweise kaum bekanntem Bild- und Quellenmaterial erhöht das Lesevergnugen und den Informationsgehalt nicht unbeträchtlich. Wo immer man The Flute aufschlãgt, teilen sich der Kenntnisreichtum und die Begeisterung des Autors dem Leser unmittelbar mit. Kaum eine Frage, mit der ein Flötenliebhaber oder Student, ein Lehrer, Wissenschaftler oder Berufsmusiker das Buch zur Hand nehmen könnte, bleibt — bis in verzweigte Details — unbeantwortet. Dazu trägt dessen gewissermaßen ,,methodische” Anlage nicht unwesentlich bei: Dem durchgehenden Text des Hauptteils folgt ein 50 Seiten umfassender Anhang mit references and notes. Darin findet sich zu jedem Kapitel zunächst ein bibliographischer Essay, in dem ein Überblick über die spezielle Literatur, verbunden mit einer kritischen Wurdigung, gegeben wird, gefolgt von umfangreichen Anmerkungen und Quellennachweisen zum jeweiligen Haupttext. Beschlossen wird das — so darf man es wohl schon heute nennen — neue Standardwerk durch em Register, welches Powells The Flute vollends zu einem künftig unverzichtbaren Handbuch macht. Dass bei einem so ehrgeizigen Projekt mit gleichsam ,,universalem” Anspruch sich gelegentlich em Fehler em- schleicht und das ausgehende 20. Jahrhundert dem Autor vielleicht nicht ganz so am Herzen liegt wie fruhere Epochen, erscheint verzeihlich. Vier Beispiele seien angefuhrt: Bei der zeitgenössischen Literatur für Flöte fehlen nicht nur wichtige Werktitel, sondern auch Namen von für die Flöte bedeutsamen Komponisten, wie Fukushima, Kagel, Ligeti oder Isang Yun. Arthur Gleghorn wird Stockhausens Zeitmaße und Boulez’ Marteau sans Maître kaum auf derselben Flöte gespielt haben, da einmal Große Flöte und bei Boulez Altflöte besetzt ist (S. 238). Severino Gazzelloni lebt nicht mehr, er starb bereits 1992 (S. 272). Wenn Peter Reidemeister im Text wie im Register stets als ,,Riedemeister” erwähnt wird, kann man dies kaum noch als versehentlichen Buchstabendreher übersehen. Doch derart vergleichsweise marginale Einwendungen mindern die Bedeutung und den insgesamt hervorragenden Eindruck des Buches kaum. Gleichsam als em akustisches Pendant zum umfangreichen Bildteil ist eine Begleit-CD erschienen, die das Kapitel 12 klingend ergänzt und kommentiert (siehe Tibia-Hörtipp S. 627).

The companion CD: The Flute on Record, 1902-1940 was chosen as Tibia's Hörtipp, or recommended recording. The CD review follows:

Alte Instrumente, Bucher und Noten üben auf Liebhaber und Sammler einen ganz eigenen sinnlichen und geistigen Reiz aus. Historische Tonaufnahmen können eine ähnliche Wirkung entfalten, wenn sie auf entsprechende Neugier und empfãngliche Ohren treffen. Dabei mag wohl der gelungenen Kopie eines historischen Instruments oder der Faksimile-Wiedergabe eines alten Druckes die Reproduktion historischer Tonaufnahmen auf einer modernen CD entsprechen. Einer solchen gilt diesmal unser Hörtipp: The Flute on Record 1902 — 1940 (Best.-Nr. FP 001 möchten wir allen Flautomanen ans Herz und — historisch gesprochen — auf den Plattenteller legen. Dieser Sampler mit 21 Aufnahmen von 19 Flötisten, darunter zwei Frauen, aus den letzten 60 bis 100 Jahren erschien als Begleit-CD zu dem Buch von Ardal Powell: The Flute (Yale Musical Instrument Series, 2002; Rezension in diesem Tibia-Heft S. 605), ist aber vermutlich auch einzeln erhältlich.
Dem englischen Text von Susan Nelson im schmalen, gleichwohl informationsreichen Booklet zufolge bestimmten Seltenheitswert, Erhaltungszustand der Aufnahmen und Repertoiregesichtspunkte die Auswahl der Kompositionen und Solisten für dieses florilegium flatus. Bis in die 1930er Jahre uberwiegen Aufnahmen von Variationen, Fantasien und anderen Salon-Piècen, wie sie für das 19. Jahrhundert typisch sind. Dabei erlaubte die frühe Aufnahmetechnik oft nur die Einspielung gekürzter Fassungen. Keiner der Beitrãge auf der CD dauert lãnger als 5 Minuten. Unter den Komponisten finden sich auch heute noch bekannte Namen, wie Briccialdi, Boehm, Popp, Godard, Andersen und Doppler. Dessen Fantaisiepastorale hongroise ist gleich in zwei unterschiedlichen Aufnahmen zu hören, beide Male in der Orchesterfassung. Adolphe Hennebains (1908) und John Amadio (1929) sind die Solisten. Beide Flötisten sind als einzige auch mit einer zweiten Aufnahme auf der CD vertreten: Amadio mit Briccialdis II carnevale di Venezia op.77 (1920/21) und Hennebains mit der Badinerie aus Bachs h-Moll-Suite (mit Klavier, 1905), em Beispiel dafür, dass auch vor 100 Jahren ,,alte” Musik — noch oder wieder — Platz haben konnte im Virtuosen-Repertoire. Bach gibt es noch einmal mit dem Largo e dolce aus der h-Moll-Sonate, gespielt (naturlich mit Klavier) von Georges Laurent (1934). Den während der 30er Jahre des vergangenen Jahrhunderts einsetzenden grundlegenden Wandel der Kenntnis und Auffassung barocker Auffuhrungspraxis machen vor allem zwei Aufnahmen deutlich, die im Abstand von nur 16 Jahren entstanden sind: Emil Prills Interpretation eines Satzes (Allegro) aus dem 3. Flötenkonzert von Friedrich dem Großen, mit großem, sãmigem Streicherklang und Klavier-Continuo (1924), gegenuber Gustav Schecks Einspielung des Eingangssatzes (Spiritoso) von Pergolesis G-Dur-Konzert mit dem Scheck-Wenzinger Kammermusikkreis (1940). Schecks sprechendes Traversospiel in Verbindung mit dem lebendigen Klang und der beredten Artikulation des kleinen Streicherensembles könnte noch heute dem einen oder anderen allzu ,,spezialisierten”, und deshalb unter deklamatorischer Kurzatmigkeit und häufigen klanglichen ,,Schwellungen” leidenden Ensemble als Vorbild dienen. Aus der Fülle weiterer flötenhistorischer Raritãten seien hier nur einige noch erwãhnt: Maximilian Schwedler (Schwedler-Kruspe ,,Reformflöte”(!)) präsentiert em Mozart-Menuett. Das Leipziger Gewandhaus-Blãserquintett mit u. a. Carl Bartuzat (Flöte) und Gunther Weigelt (Fagott), bekannt auch als Bearbeiter und Herausgeber von Bläserkammermusik, liefert ebenfalls einen Mozart-Beitrag: zwei Sãtze aus dem Divertimento KV 270 (1928). Der junge Gerald Moore ist als Klavierpartner von Robert Murchie zu hören (1928), und der Amerikaner Frank Badollet führt em Flötentrio (!) an in der Aufnahme eines ,,Evening Song” aus dem Jahre 1902. Einen weiteren interessanten Kammermusik-Beitrag steuert der Dane Gilbert Jespersen bei, der seinerzeit das Nielsen-Konzert uraufführte. Zusammen mit Erling Bloch (Violine) und Torben Svendsen (Violoncello) ist er im Allegro concertante aus der Serenade op. 26b von Knudâge Riisager zu hören (1937). Schließlich — für mich em Solitär im Kranze der ubrigen klingenden Edel- und Halbedelsteine auf dieser CD — Philippe Gaubert. Er spielt sein 1908 komponiertes Madrigal, ungeachtet der durch die damals verfügbare Technik bedingten klanglichen Grenzen der Aufnahme, mit bewundernswerter tonlicher Eleganz und musikalischer Noblesse (1919). Mein Fazit für diese Scheibe insgesamt: Selber hören macht Freude!

Wendy Rolfe, in Early Music America 10.4 (Summer 2004; sections of this joint review that refer to another book are omitted):

Who was the blind flutist who may have inspired Mozart's Papageno? Which three Parisian flutists vied for the title of the first to champion Boehm's new ring-key flute design in Paris in the 1830s? Who were the original two Paris Conservatoire flute professors who both went mad? The answers to these questions* are found in The Flute, Ardal Powell's enormously informative, engaging, and, despite its minimalist title, encompassing book. For each period of music, Powell includes a tremendous amount of detail about the construction of flutes, the lives and artistry of leading flutists, and contemporary flute tutors and repertoire. Numerous illustrations are reproduced, from ancient Byzantine images to fingering charts to cartoons with strong dashes of flute irreverence.           [. . .] [The] title[. . . ] refer[s], of course, to the Western European flute, although Powell's book touches briefly on the ancient and ethnomusicological roots of the instrument. He briefly discusses what little is known about ancient flutes around the globe before moving on to the origins in medieval Europe of today's instruments. He covers the use of flutes in the Renaissance, the introduction of keys in the Baroque and Classical periods, and the development of the Boehm flute in the 19th century, concluding with a whirlwind tour of some of the most recent experiments with carbon fiber and quarter-tone instruments.
          A noted flute-maker himself, mainly of "historic" instruments, Powell is careful not to refer to these evolutions as "progress," but gives the aesthetics of each era their due. In addition, we are offered a peek at some of the furious controversies and bitter disputes over the addition of keys on the 18th-century flute and the adoption of the Boehm system in the 19th century (Jean-Louis Tulou, professor at the Paris Conservatoire: "the sounds in general of the Boehm flute are far from having a quality so agreeable as that of the [simple-system] flute taught at the Conservatoire"). Powell states, "The purpose of this volume is not merely to present facts.... What now seems more important to discover is a sense of where flutists are and where their cultural heritage lies.... A rich sense of heritage.. could do much to enrich the sterile music-making so often heard today from players of historical as well as modern flutes." [. . .]
          [The] book is extremely well-written and researched, and [. . . ] a valuable addition to the literature about the flute. I am currently using The Flute as the background text for a flute performance class[. . . ].
          *The blind flutist was Friedrich Ludwig Dulon (1769-1826). The three Parisian flutists who championed Boehm's designs were Paul Hippolyte Camus, Louis Dorus, and Victor Coche. The Paris Conservatoire's original two flute professors were François Devienne and Antoine Hugot.

Sabine Klaus, Chair, Publications Prizes Committee, American Musical Instrument Society, in 2005 Bessaraboff Prize citation:

For the 2005 Bessaraboff Prize, the Publications Committee (Arnold Myers, Carol Lynn Ward-Bamford, and Sabine Kalus) read 23 books dealing with musical instruments published in 2002 and 2003. With the help of a rating system, we chose the winner from a shortlist of five books. The 2005 Bessaraboff Prize was awarded to Ardal Powell for The Flute, The Yale Musical Instrument Series (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2003).
          Our decision was not easy since we had a number of fine books in the shortlist. In the end, we felt that Powell's book tackles its topic in a most comprehensive way, considering the music, perfrtomance practice, historical, social, and cultural background, as well as instrument design. It combines original research with a fresh and thorough presentation of existing knowledge. Written in a scholarly style, The Flute presents its information in an attractive and readable way. We felt that Powell's book is a huge intellectual accomplishment and that it is groundbreaking compared with previous books on the flute. It is of importance to the entire field of organology since it walks the reader through roughly six hundred years of flute history, not overlooking the ties of the flute with the broader picture of musical development and instrument design.

Tula Giannini, in Notes 61.1 (September 2004)

We learn from the author’s preface and introduction to The Flute that this book is not a study of repertoire, acoustics, or mechanical development; nor is it research or musicology. He admits that “acoustics have found no place in the present volume,” “A full study of the flute’s repertoire also lies beyond our scope’ (p. 5), and his work “does not set out to extend the boundaries of scholarship any further by contributing new material” (p. ix). Although limiting himself to history, Powell claims that “The purpose of this volume is not merely to present facts” (p. 5). Indeed, he has assiduously gathered and summarized a large body of published material and draws upon his experience as a flute maker to add useful observations. Clarifying his purpose, he writes, “A rich sense of heritage, I feel sure, could do much to enrich the sterile music-making so often heard today from players of historical as well as modern flutes” (p. 5). Remarkably, this characterization of flutists emerges as a theme that is followed throughout, so it seems that Powell proceeds at the risk of offending his intended audience.
          As such, this work is difficult to classify immediately. Its methodology and content can be best understood as a particular selection of material taken from various published sources which Powell paraphrases and arranges into chapters. Written in a breezy narrative style, he assigns chapter titles such as “The Flute at War and at Home,” but omits subheadings. The result is less a work of history than a series of essays pertaining to the flute, and a book that is cumbersome to navigate. Its usability is reduced by its organization which places notes for all chapters at the end of the book using chapter numbers for page headings in lieu of the chapter titles, although some sections of text omit notes altogether. The absence of a bibliography leaves to readers the task of wading through notes and annotations. Although Powell claims to be writing history, his work lacks a systematic approach and provides no tangible basis for the selection of one fact over another. Simple facts such as birth and death dates need correcting. For example, Jacques Martin Hotteterre was born in 1673 not 1674; Michel de Labarre died in 1745 not 1743; and Pierre Naust died in 1709 not 1754. In the style of a raconteur, he pieces together snippets from published sources, connecting these pieces of history with broad generalizations. With concern he notes, “in fact, information is so copious that I have been at constant pains to find ever more drastic ways of summarizing it” (p. ix), the result of which is a text marred by superficial discussion.
          Although a good number of plates are included, for the most part, they are well-recognized images from published sources. Plate descriptions offer minimal detail. For example, the description for plate 50 showing Paul Taffanel holding a flute does not identify this historically important instrument as no. 600 by Louis Lot, purchased originally by Taffanel’s teacher, Louis Dorus, in 1860, and the one Taffanel preferred throughout his career. Photographs of flutes suitable for study purposes are simply missing. The book’s only photograph of flutes (plate 41), showing instruments by Theobald Boehm from the Dayton C. Miller Collection, is of poor quality and little information on the material, length, or keys is given. Powell suggests that his book is meant to fill the lacuna for a general study of the flute beginning with the work of the late Philip Bate (The Flutc A Study of Its History and Development [London: Benn; New York: W. W. Norton, 1969]) to the present. This seems unlikely, since Bate’s work assumes an organological approach, which is not pursued by Powell. Instead, the lion’s share of discussion in Powell’s book is taken up with the most known and extensively covered subject matter, such as that concerning Johann Joachim Quantz, the French school of flute playing, Taffanel, and Marcel Moyse.
          Summing up his view of the late-eighteenth-century French flute, Powell asserts, “in France the flute’s golden age appears to have been followed by a deep decline” (p. 124). In fact, after Michel Blavet, flute making continued to flourish in the hands of the great family dynasty of woodwind makers that began with Charles Bizey and Prudent Thieriot: Dominque Porthaux and Nicolas and Jean Winnen (fl. 1716-1867). Christophe Delusse, nephew of Jacques Delusse, also deserves mention. These makers, not discussed by Powell, supplied instruments to leading French flutists. (See my articles on these makers in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2d ed. [New York: Grove, 2001].) For example, Devienne, also renowned for the bassoon, played flutes and bassoons by Porthaux. Blavet’s student, Felix Rault, succeeded his teacher as solo flute at the Opéra and Concerts spirituels, and was the composer of popular works for flute. Rault’s student, the German flutist-composer, Johann Georg Wunderlich, held the same posts as did his teacher and in addition, became professor of flute at the Conservatoire; among his students were Antoine Tranquillc Berbiguier and Jean-Louis Tulou. In succession, these important flutists of the late-eighteenth-century French school upheld its traditions with distinction in an unbroken line. Among important families of woodwind makers to immigrate were the accomplished Germans— the Trieberts, the Winnens, and Frédéric Guillaume Adler—who melded into French society through marriage. In this diverse cultural environment, woodwind making flourished. Moreover, the modern French flute itself represents a Franco-German partnership by way of Boehm’s collaboration with the firm of Godfroy fils et Lot.
          Referring to the Conservatoire and its artistic milieu, Powell states that “the school evolved into the nationalistic, and especially anti-German, Institut national de musique and finally in 1795 into the Conservatoire” (p. 124). More importantly, the Conservatoire became a model for all of Europe, offering free music education for both men and women and beginning with 600 students and 115 artist teachers. Having incorporated the Ecole royale de chant, the Conservatoire’s expanded mission offered musicians a varied musical education in all aspects of their art, and did not provide as Powell contends, “a new method of teaching, treating students as identical units” (p. 124). Significantly, after the Revolution, Paris became an international music center and saw an influx of artists eager to take advantage of the new economic freedoms of the Republic. Powell also seems to think that the Société des concerts du conservatoire was a student group. He writes, “A new period of interest in the classics had begun in Paris in 1828 when Francois Antoine Habeneck performed Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony with his conservatoire students orchestra” (p. 214). Although the orchestra included some students in its ranks, Conservatoire professors constituted its core. Accordingly, the flute section was composed of the capital’s leading players: Tulou, Joseph Guillou, Pierre-Louis Nermel, and Antoine-Anne Roger. Arriving at the final chapter, “The Post-Modern Age,” having bypassed modernism, Powell claims “The uniformity that afflicted the flute and flute playing in the late 20th century was not a new phenomenon, only one that some observers felt had reached alarming proportions” (p. 268). He seems to blame this “uniformity” on the French and the recording industry: “We owe our reduced spectrum of variety to two influences that became dominant in the early 20th century: the French Flute School and the recording industry” (p. 269). On the other hand, has not sound recording sparked diversity, brought wider public interest in the flute and the French school, and facilitated the transmission of playing styles, repertoire, and information about artists while transporting flutists beyond a local teacher or concert scene? He chides baroque flutists, as well, for “a certain standardized manner of performing baroque music” (p. 263). Here, he seems to refer back to his initial idea,

          Live musical performance itself becomes more and more an appendage of the multi-media entertainment industry, which competes for mass attention by appealing to the lowest common denominator: the familiar, the predictable[,] and the populist. This battlesome world places a higher value on the mechanics of expression.... The pressure to excel in such demanding and inhospitable surroundings conspires to make flute-playing itself a dull, automatic, paint-by-numbers activity rather than a creative one [. . . ]. (p.5)

          Lacking a coherent approach to historical writing and diminished by errors, inaccuracies, and oversimplification, this book disappoints its intended audience of flute students, teachers, and performers whose world is seen as dull and mechanical. Taken as a series of essays or personal perspectives, the book has some value here, but as historical study, as scholarship, or as organology, the work falls outside the boundaries of basic standards and methodologies.

Edwina Smith, in Galpin Society Journal 56 (2003):

One might ask if another general history of the flute can add anything new. Even for those who read only English, books by Philip Bate, Raymond Meylan, Nancy Toff and Jeremy Montagu all cover the ground in varying degrees of detail, while numerous studies concentrate on specific areas, and historical texts and treatises are now readily available in facsimile or translation. After reading Ardal Powell's enthralling, scholarly and admirably organized book, the answer is that it most definitely can.
          The Flute is part of a series in preparation tracing the history of particular instruments, with an emphasis on performance practice, and aimed at a wide readership. Whilst fulfilling these criteria, the book manifestly avoids offering a simplified package of flute history, the author's aim not being to provide mere facts or hints on 'correct performance' but to explore and interpret 'the practical and continual adaptation of a tool to the changing purposes it was meant to serve in changing times'.
          Concentrating on the transverse flute in Europe and North America from the twelfth century to the present day, the author is keen to dispel the notion of a clear-cut 'progression of development' in the instrument's construction found in many previous studies, where the implication has been that a neat straight line of improvements and inventions over the centuries has overcome the inadequacies of the past, with the result that today's players are the lucky recipients of a highly efficient instrument. Instead, the continuous changes in the flute's construction are considered in relation to the music played on it, the demands of amateur and professional players, the vagaries of public and aristocratic taste, contrasting national ideals, experiments by makers, scientific developments and social history. The author's wide experience as performer, instrument maker, researcher and writer is constantly evident as he brings together a host of literary, musical and iconographic sources, and the reader is encouraged to consider both what these might imply and the problems inherent in their interpretation. Stated facts are well supported by evidence, but where questions still remain, these are clearly acknowledged, and several well-known 'facts', repeated from book to book over the past 70 years despite lack of supporting evidence, are conclusively despatched as myths. The high volume of information presented never becomes oppressive thanks to the eminently readable and literary style of the author.
          Subjects requiring greater detail than can be incorporated within the general flow of the narrative receive a special 'sidebar': examples include clear, concise articles on changing ideas of intonation and temperament in relation to flute-playing, and 'The hexachords and the renaissance flute'. Within the text, potentially complicated subjects such as the controversy surrounding Boehm's designs, their reinterpretation by various makers and his post-1847 experiments, are covered thoroughly but in a consistently readable fashion. Many areas which have been oversimplified in the past, including contrasting national styles and repertoire in the century preceding 1950, are covered in fascinating detail, with a whole chapter on 'The flute in the age of recording'. This is supported by a CD (produced separately) of performances by nineteen flautists from the British Empire, Germany, Italy, America, Denmark and France, recorded between 1902 and 1940. These illustrate vividly the wide range of playing styles and instruments current during this period, and serve as a timely reminder of the diversity lost as the present-day 'International' style developed. Throughout the recordings one is struck by the energy and sincerity of the playing, whilst modern assumptions of acceptable or 'natural' musical taste, rubato, use of vibrato and ensemble playing are constantly challenged. These are priceless aural documents that inevitably pose questions on the extent to which modern taste influences all period performance, however scholarly. Several tracks on the CD, together with the following chapter, 'The flute in the early music revival', remind us that concern with historical style is not the modern phenomenon it is sometimes considered to be.
          Another strength of the book is the series of Bibliographic Essays combining 'acknowledgement of [the author's] scholarly debts with a survey of the literature that points out the special merits and qualities of each work - and, where necessary, warns of its faults.' Including as they do books and periodical articles in many languages, dissertations, unpublished material and the occasional website (and reminding us that despite this plethora of material, there are numerous areas requiring further research) these form a goldmine for any reader wishing to follow particular strands in greater detail. The value of these essays to the serious reader far outweighs the occasional problem caused by the lack of an alphabetical bibliography.
          In order to maintain a consistent level of detail without losing its focus, the book does not include a study of acoustics or general playing technique, or a full history of repertoire, although so much music is referred to in relation to developments in the instrument that in this last area most readers will be perfectly satisfied. Similarly, instruments and playing styles outside the European/North American tradition are not covered in detail, but are touched upon where relevant to the central narrative, whilst jazz, folk, military music and flute ensembles from various countries all receive concise but informative coverage. The few slips within the text are so minor as to be little more than typographical errors (although the allocation on p.94 of a flute obbligato to the Agnus Dei from Bach's B minor Mass was a delightful surprise, even if too good to be true).
          The overall quality of the book is amply supported by the high standard of presentation, including a number of outstanding colour reproductions. This reviewer will certainly be recommending the book to students and colleagues, not just for the wealth of information so persuasively conveyed within it, but equally for the thorough, balanced and enlightened intellectual approach to theoretical and practical studies that it exemplifies.

Jane Bowers, in Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society XXIX (2003) (an expanded version of the review is posted on the web):

Ardal Powell’s book, simply entitled The Flute, is a tremendous achievement. Its account of the transverse flute in the West from the late Middle Ages through the present focuses not only on the nature of the instrument itself and the changes it underwent over its long history, but also on the individuals and firms that made the flute, the people who played and listened to it, the music they played and heard, and the varying manners in which they played and understood the instrument. While it also touches on the transverse flute’s earlier presence in other parts of the world and, occasionally, its use in folk traditions, these are not part of the main story. One of the book’s greatest strengths is that it shows the interrelationship of the instrument, its repertoire, and its players and their performing styles.
            Another strength is the engaging way in which Powell presents the story of the transverse flute. Included among those who make up the intended audience for the book are not only flutists, flute teachers, musicians in general, and academic readers, but also “attentive and curious” flute students. Thus, Powell writes in such a way that a specialized knowledge of music history is not required on the part of the reader, although a number of side-bars provide information about technical topics. He brings his narrative to life by including vivid biographical (or autobiographical) stories about the life experiences of flutists and flute makers of the past, as well as striking quotations from a wide variety of historical sources. Powell enhances his narrative further by including many black-and-white and color plates illustrating music-making scenes, instruments, and players, along with examples of concert programs, musical scores, fingering charts, and more. Finally, he places the whole in a grand narrative, enlivened by his own point of view and interests, that keeps the reader eagerly turning pages.
            There has been no broad English-language survey about the flute since Philip Bate’s The Flute: A Study of its History, Development and Construction was published in 1969. Since then, as Powell puts it, “a vast body of new knowledge has come to light about the instrument and the people who made it in earlier times as well as about those who wrote, played, and heard its music” (p. ix). Modestly portraying his study as “a sort of progress report on a part of that inquiry,” Powell draws together a large body of information from an exceptionally diverse collection of sources, including much work published in other languages, dissertations, other unpublished materials, and little-known articles from journals devoted to the flute not indexed in any of the standard sources. Ingeniously, Powell meets the enormous challenge of giving an adequate account of both older and newer literature about the flute by including a series of bibliographic essays, placed at the end of the book, that describe and discuss reference and general works, sources pertaining to the larger history and criticism of the flute, and sources relating to the content of individual chapters. These bibliographic essays make for interesting reading in their own right and indeed are essential if one is to understand the basis for the narrative told in the main part of the text. They also serve to lead curious readers to a variety of sources from which they can learn a good deal more. Further to commend in the bibliographic essays is the generous credit Powell gives to other authors upon whose work he draws, while at the same time evaluating their strengths and weaknesses for the reader.
            Although Powell claims that The Flute “does not set out to extend the boundaries of scholarship any further by contributing new material” (p. ix), he often sheds new light on it because of the attention he pays to the interrelationship of the various categories of material he presents. Moreover, his insistence that one should not view the history of changes in the instrument as “progress” or as an abstract line of mechanical development may yet appear new to some readers. Because of its broad subject matter the book is far too extensive to be adequately summarized in a review, but I do want to touch on every chapter, since each tells a complex and interesting story all its own.
            In chapter 1, ‘Shepherds, Monks, and Soldiers,” Powell discusses the transverse flute’s arrival in Western Europe, its physical aspects insofar as they can be deduced, its appearance in medieval literature and pictures, and the different ways in which it may have been used. Chapter 2, “The Flute at War and at Home,” highlights the military flute or fife before turning to the transverse flute and its increasing use in secular music. Powell then directs his attention to sixteenth-century printed treatises about musical instruments that provide us with the first written technical information about the flute we have. While most of what he says about those frequently confusing sources can be trusted, there are some inconsistencies or muddied descriptions, for example in his discussion of the flute fingering charts in Martin Agricola’s Musica instrumentalis deudsch (1529, second ed. 1545)1 In connection with Philibert Jambe de Fer’s L’Epitome musicale de tons, sons et accordz, [d]es voix humaines, fleustes d’Alleman, fleustes à neuf trous, violes, & violons of 1556, Powell makes the important point that for Jambe de Fer, the true basic scale of the renaissance flute was the Dorian rather than the major scale (pp. 33, 47). Finally, Powell traces the increasing use of the flute in small chamber consorts, Italian theatrical entertainments, and sacred compositions in the sixteenth century, informs us about the astonishing numbers of flutes owned by various courts, and concludes with a survey of all known surviving sixteenth- century flutes, the largest group of which seems to be pitched at a’= 410 and most of which work best in flat modes.
            In “Consort and Solo: The Seventeenth Century” (chapter 3), Powell continues his discussion of musical treatises that shed light on the construction and use of the flute—notably Michael Praetorius’s Syntagma musicum of 1619 and Marin Mersenne’s Harmonie universelle of 1636. After passing through some dangerous thickets having to do with transposition matters and flute bore, Powell elegantly traces the flute’s emergence as a prized instrument at the court of Louis XIV. Not only was the flute used in new ways, appearing in intimate concerts in solo and chamber settings as well as in opera and ballet performances, but it also acquired a new character—one associated with sad, tender, and languishing feelings, and with love. These changes were closely interrelated with structural changes being made in the tenor-sized instrument (the flute in d’), including changes in bore, numbers of pieces, shapes and sizes of embouchure and fingerholes, the thickness of walls, and the addition of an Eb key.
          In chapter 4, devoted to “The Early Eighteenth Century: The ‘Baroque’ Flute’s Golden Age,” Powell documents the change from “a closed world of private performances” (p. 68) to the larger and more public spaces in which a new class of flute virtuosi began to emerge. Soon music for flute was being produced all over Europe in a variety of styles, while different styles of instruments, too, were being produced in flute makers’ workshops. Although early eighteenth-century flutes com monly shared a conical bore and three-piece construction, each maker “developed a personal concept of tone and intonation, and devised original technical means of achieving his ideas” (p. 74). Maximum bore diameters and bore tapers, for example, differed significantly, as did the pitch of early baroque flutes. In addition to flutes and flute music, Powell refreshingly pays attention to flute players, both professional and amateur, ultimately giving pride of place to Johann Joachim Quantz (1697-1773), who constitutes the principal focus of chapter 5. In Powell’s words, “Quantz’s threefold activities, as a composer-performer, an instrument maker, and a writer, place him at the heart of this book, as a persuasive example of its theme that the flute, its music, and its per formance technique are all bound tightly together in a vital but fragile relationship” (p. 88). Among other interesting points, Powell suggests that the difficult keys in which the flute specialists at the Dresden court, one of whom was Quantz, were expected to play give “a quite new aspect to Quantz’s interest in improving his flute’s intonation” (p. 95).
            In chapter 6, Powell addresses technical innovations made in the design, mechanism, and sound ideal of the “classical flute” during the second half of the eighteenth century. For example, new keys for F, Bb, and G# were applied to the flute, as well as keys for low C# and C on flutes with a longer footjoint, especially by English makers. In Dresden, August Grenser made flutes that were slimmer and lighter than baroque models, were tuned to favor sharp keys, and voiced with a less full but more penetrating tone. As increasing numbers of dilettantes took up the flute, a vigorous musical instrument trade dealing in large quantities of instruments developed; and listeners could, for the first time, regularly hear traveling virtuoso flutists, each with an individual style of composition and performance.
          In the following four chapters (7-10), Powell continues to trace these same matters from the late eighteenth century through the nineteenth century~ As concert audiences broadened and became less exclusive, they demanded variety, and the playing of visiting flutists became the subject of increased commentary in the press. In the climate of the Romantic movement the idea that a flutist could hold the status of a “great artist” emerged; soon flutists were competing with violinists in their cultivation of a brilliant style of playing, their display of antics, an impressive volume of tone, and their use of special effects such as harmonics, the glide, and the “vibration” on sustained tones. In chapter 8, “Flute Mania,” Powell particularly addresses the increasing interest in reforming the mechanics and, to some extent, the sound of the flute. He is quick to argue, however, that flutes of the period were not too defective to give an adequate account of its music, as some modem historians of the flute have alleged, nor were they insufficiently loud for orchestras of the time. Still, among the concems addressed by early nineteenth-century experimenters were simplifying fingerings, improving evenness of tone, achieving “equal” intonation, introducing mechanisms to facilitate the glide, experimenting with the size of the flute’s bore, and extending the lower range of the flute as far as g. By around 1820, most of Europe had adopted some kind of flute with eight or nine keys, with middle c as the lowest note, except for Paris, where the official flute of the Conservatoire remained the four-keyed flute. Then in 1826 Captain James Carel Gerhard Gordon, in collaboration with August Buffet jeune, first designed a flute based on an open-key system.
          Powell’s discussion of Theobald Boehm (1794-1881), begun in chapter 8, is the focus of chapter 9, where he investigates in detail the genesis of the brilliant and controversial innovations that Boehm brought to the design of the flute in 1832 and 1847. Important revisions in Boehm’s model of 1847 included the introduction of a cylindrical bore in the main part of the instrument, a so-called “parabolic” headjoint, a tube of metal (Boehm experimented with brass, copper, silver, and German silver), toneholes of the maximum possible size closed by padded keys, and a mechanism that built on the innovations of his 1832 pattem. Even though present-day Boehm-system instruments differ in significant ways from the flutes Boehm and his contemporaries built and played, it was Boehm who virtually single-handedly invented the modem flute. Yet, the adoption of the Boehm-system flute was far from uniform, and in chapter 10, “Nineteenth-Century Eclecticism,” Powell addresses the controversies that continued to rage among flutists, composers, and conductors over the mechanism, tone, and character of the flute, as well as further innovations made in the design and manufacture of flutes.
          Chapter 11, devoted to “The French Flute School,” describes the historical roots of and the emergence of the style that originated at the Paris Conservatoire and came to dominate flute playing internationally for much of the twentieth century. Its main attributes are “the use of the French-style silver flute. . . , a preoccupation with tone, a standard repertoire, and a set of teaching materials in which the Taffanel-Gaubert method and the tone development exercises of Marcel Moyse . . . hold a central place” (p. 208).2 I was delighted to read Powell’s examination of the mythic aspects of the French School, which in its later years was primanly maintained through Moyse’s phenomenal popularity as a teacher in the 1960s and 1970s. In this chapter, Powell also gives an account of the new French repertoire for flute that emerged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, “hand in hand with an entirely fresh notion of what made music expressive” (p. 218).
          The final chapters (12-14) deal with the influence of the technology of recording on flute playing, the flute in the early music revival, and the flute in the “postmodern age.” In the first of these chapters, Powell takes stock of the influence of recording on flute preferences and flute playing, stating that “within a few decades of the first high-fidelity recordings [that is, by around the mid-1940s) previously distinct national fashions of playing had dramatically altered and begun to merge together into a new recognizably modern shape,” and that “by about 1960, all but a handful of flutists in western Europe, North America, and Japan played a metal French-style Boehm flute . . . with a relatively uniform technique and concept of style” (p. 225). Before widespread standardization took place, however, early recorded performances illustrate a fascinating sound world quite different from our own, and here the companion CD, The Flute on Record, 1902-1 940, is invaluable. Powell also discusses flute-making firms active in the early and mid-twentieth century. While lamenting the homogenization of the flute-making industry between the Depression and the post-war years, he does have some good words for the recording industry’s impact on flute repertoire: it became more diverse, thanks to the industry’s stimulus of interest in little-known music, both new and old.
          In chapter 13, “The Flute in the Early Music Revival,” Powell covers developments such as the publication of modern editions that attempted to reconstruct authoritative versions of early music, the issuing of facsimile editions of music and instrumental methods, attempts on the part of instrument makers to make copies of original instruments suitable for professional performance, and pioneering musicians who put the “baroque” flute on the modern map, along with the subsequent entrenchment of a certain standardized manner of performing baroque music. In the final chapter, “The Postmodern Age,” Powell presents an eclectic, properly postmodern mixture of topics, including the vast increase in numbers of amateur flutists; the expansion of flute teaching as the educational industry developed; changes pertaining to the design and manufacture of flutes, including the invention of new types of low flutes, quarter-tone flutes, and a slide flute; the increased focus on physical aspects of playing such as embouchure, breathing, and sound pro duction; and the continuing loss of tonal variety on the part of flutes and flute players. Yet Powell ends The Flute on a positive note, pointing out that increasing contact between flutists, teachers, and makers, facilitated by the growth of flute societies, specialized magazines, and the internet, has diversified the information sources and range of musical stimulation available to flutists, and flutes are now available in a wide variety of modern models and materials. Moreover, because changes to the flute and flute playing since the 1970s have been as profound as in any thirty-year period in the past, “it would be unwise to conclude that the flute’s mechanical development for musical purposes seems essentially to have ceased” (p. 281).
          Before concluding, I should like to issue a small warning about a smattering of unclear or incorrect citations that appear in Powell’s otherwise excellent book. These include occasional titles and dates of sources, some personal names (for example, it is not instrument maker Christophe Delusse whose L’Art de la flûte traversiere appeared in 1761 [p. 123], but flutist and composer de Lusse, whose first name does not appear in contemporary sources, but to whom Fétis referred as Charles and by which name Powell identifies him in the index), and other miscellaneous matters. Moreover, while the book’s method of citation is generally well designed and allows Powell to comment on a wide variety of sources without interrupting the flow of the narrative, readers who wish to locate complete bibliographical information for sources only briefly mentioned in the endnotes must search the bibliographical essay that precedes the notes for each chapter, or even occasionally hunt through the bibliographical essay for an earlier chapter. It helps that the index (which is good overall) generally lists the principal references to authors’ names that appear in the bibliographical essays, making it easier to find full citations. Yet, this requires still further hunting back and forth between text, notes, index, and bibliographical essays.
          These are minor cavils, however. Powell’s achievement is a tremendous one, and he is to be heartily congratulated and warmly thanked for doing such painstaking research and for presenting the story of the transverse flute, its players, its listeners, its makers, its teachers, its students, its scholars, and its repertoire in such a comprehensive and compelling fashion. Powell is also to be commended for more clearly showing those of us who are scholarly researchers how much work still needs to be done to fill in the gaps in our knowledge. Moreover, he has begun to correct a predominantly male-centered scholarship about the flute by giving women flute makers, players, and composers their due throughout. Above all, this book is liberating. If only all flute teachers, players, students, and admirers of the instrument were to read it, there should be a collective freeing up from the relatively narrow traditions of flute playing in which most of us have been brought up, and the wider world of the flute that would open up to them should become yet more interesting and compelling.

           1. With regard to Agricola’s first set of fingering charts (1529) Powell states that “a consort of flutes (sounding an octave higher than the written notes) can cover a range from D below the bass stave as far as E3 above the treble” (p. 36). But sixteenth-century flutes did not play as low as d in the bass clef, so that information is misleading. Rather, as other scholars have pointed out, the three sizes of flutes for which Agricola provided fingering charts in 1529 seem to have been meant to sound an octave and a fourth higher than the pitches illustrated in the charts, with the lowest note on the largest of these flutes thus being g in the bass clef. Indeed, Powell himself has stated this on an earlier page, although he confuses the issue by adding that “the fingering chart showing a D—A—E consort is really for a G—D—A consort transposing the notated music up a fifth” (p. 34). For a more accurate explanation of this matter, see Howard Brown, “Notes (and Transposing Notes) On the Transverse Flute in the Early Sixteenth Century,” this JOURNAL 12 (1986): 5-39. See also William E. Hettrick, The “Musica instrumentalis deudsch” of Martin Agricola (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), and Anne Smith, “The Renaissance Flute,” in John Solum, The Early Flute (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 11—33.

            2. In connection with earlier flute teaching at the Paris Conservatoire, Powell is misleading when he says, on page 212, that the contents of the earliest tutor used there, Francois Devienne’s Nouvelle méthode théorique et pratique pour la flûte, were revised and altered so much that within a few decades subsequent editions retained nothing of the original material. Elsewhere I have argued that the foundation for the later French Flute School’s approach to embouchure and tone development lay in Devienne’s exercises for playing the scale in long tones and lessons for playing different sizes of intervals, particularly as they were elaborated on and expanded in revised editions of his method issued after his death: see Jane Bowers, ‘The Long and Curious History of the Devienne Method for the Flute,” in Music in Performance and Society: Essays in Honor of Roland Jackson, ed. Malcolm Cole and John Koegel (Warren, Michigan: Harmonic Park Press, 1997), 205-27; and Bowers, “Later History of Devienne’s Flute Method,” in François Devienne’s Nouvelle Méthode tkéorique et pratique pour la flute (Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 1999), 27-31. One other correction is that the bilingual French and German edition of the Devienne method that Powell states was issued in Hamburg in 1795 (p. 212) probably was not issued before 1812, since it includes new material not found in other editions published before then.

Paul Neeley, in EthnoDoxology Vol.1, No.4

Most earlier studies of the "pedigree" of the modern transverse flute trace it back to about 1700; in contrast, this book presents a convincing and detailed history that goes back to the 12th century.
    Likewise, many earlier studies focused on the instrument itself, its fingering, acoustics, and mechanisms. This volume takes more of an ethnomusicological approach since it deals with sociomusical questions such as: What kinds/classes of people played each earlier flute type? Who listened? What was the repertory? How was the music transmitted? How did function, status and aesthetics differ with each instrument type? More common concerns such as the historical development of the instrument's tuning systems and sound-producing mechanisms are also examined, but within a broader context.
    About sixty illustrations, photos and transcriptions are scattered throughout the book, including color reproductions of paintings used for iconography study. Though probably not familiar with Olsen's model1 for research and analysis of ancient music cultures, Ardel [recte Ardal] makes some use of the model's four elements: music archaeology (pp. 12-13), iconology (much of Chapters 1 and 2), history (the whole book), and ethnographic analogy (especially playing techniques of the transverse flute in contemporary India, which is appropriate since India is thought to be the source of the transverse flute).
    Concerning history, the author concludes that the transverse flute probably originated in India and came to Byzantium around the 10th century. Then around two hundred years later during the medieval period, it was introduced into Europe.
    One fact that surprised me was the early use of the flute as an "instrument of war." In the 15th century, Swiss soldier squadrons were winning victories left and right, in part because of the effective signaling system of the fife and drum corps. This system spread throughout much of Europe, introducing the transverse flute even further afield.
    The instrument gradually became popular in royal courts as well. For example, Henry VIII of England possessed 77 transverse flutes, including some of lacquered ivory and of glass, while a court in Germany in 1589 had no fewer than 220 transverse flutes (and only 39 viols). Sets of flutes tuned to play in different keys became popular especially in France, and four-part flute ensembles appeared in Italy in the early 16th century. Around the same time, the flute also came into favor as a chamber music instrument among the aristocracy, bourgeois and "noble amateur" musicians of both sexes in parts of Europe.
    Of the book's fourteen chapters, ten deal with the flute's "classical age" between the 17th and the 20th centuries, and this material receives a comprehensive treatment. I found Chapter 12 to be fascinating, as it records the large impact of recording technology on styles and aesthetics of flautists in various countries. "Within a few decades of the first high-fidelity recordings, previously distinct national fashions of playing had dramatically altered and begun to merge together into a new, recognizably modern shape." See pages 227-28 for an interesting chart that contrasts musical elements such as rhythm, vibrato, phrasing, and intonation in terms of orchestral flute aesthetics before and after World War I.
    The use of the flute in the "early music revival," which began in the latter half of the 19th century, receives an entire chapter. To the astonishment of us today, the music of J.S. Bach was regarded at that time as "incomprehensible" by many people in Europe and America and "suitable only for snobs." Since his works are now regarded as "divinely-inspired masterpieces" by most, this is a clear example of how musical aesthetics, public taste, and regard for a composer shift over time within a society.
    Though not a flautist, for a long time I have paid serious attention to contemporary flute music, the subject of the book's final chapter. I was impressed that there are several good pages on avant-garde flute music by artists such as Robert Dick (my favorite). There are a few pages on flautists in jazz. Most of it is on the mark, though the six words about Paul Horn have been outdated for more than a decade. Again, I am impressed that Rhonda Larson, another personal favorite but unknown to most people, receives a glowing 37-word description. On the downside, I am disappointed that the book gives only one sentence to flautists in rock music, though the author did pick the most important one, Ian Anderson of the band Jethro Tull.
    "Folk flute favorites" such as Matt Molloy (with The Chieftains from Ireland), Jean-Michael Veillon (who plays a new Irish-Breton style), and Chris Norman (who plays tunes from Nova Scotia and Scotland)--all of whom play wooden flutes-receive notable mention, as do various makers of such flutes.
    The volume closes with an excellent 51-page set of bibliographic essays (which point to many other good study resources) and chapter endnotes, followed by an index.
    The only thing I really miss in the book is an overview of the flute in other cultures. This could have been immensely helpful to the average flautist who may have had little exposure to non-western flute musics. The best example of such an overview is in the "Flute" article in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001 edition, volume 9). The article begins with a great 5-page "international overview" section by Jeremy Montagu. Ardel's [recte Ardal's] book would have benefited from the inclusion of such material, even though it falls outside the precise parameters of the book's focus.
    Among other goals, this book seeks to reconstruct the lengthy history of the modern flute more accurately than has been done before. According to the author, there are popular books on the market (as recently as 1996) which contain "an alarming number of new and inherited errors of fact and analysis." We are grateful to Ardel [recte Ardal], a professional flute maker and accomplished performer as well as a prolific author (one of several who wrote the lengthy New Grove "Flute" article), for setting the record straight in this very readable volume, billed as "the ultimate guide to the heritage of the flute."

1Olsen, Dale. 2002. Music of El Dorado. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. Reviewed on p. 17 of this issue.

Pascal Gresset, in Traversères No. 75 (2/2003):

Succédant a un premier volume que la célèbre maison britannique d'éditions, Yale University Press a récemment consacré aux percussions, et précédant toute une série d'ouvrages présentant le piano, le hautbois, la clarinette, le cor, etc., La flûte, ou plus exactement The flute, marquera certainement une date dans l'histoire de l'edition traitant de notre instrument. Derrière la simplicité du titre, Ardal Powell, flûtiste et président de la société nord-américaine Folkers and Powell spécilalisée dans la flûte historique, dresse un état de la flûte traversière et de son univers occidental s'étendant sur neuf siecles, à jour des plus récents apports musicologiques ou relatifs à l'histoire des interprètes comme a l'evolution de la facture et de l'interprétation. Si de nombreux ouvrages ne présentent que succinctement les siècles précédant la XVIIe, près de quarante pages rendent ici hommage a la flûte médiévale at Renaissance. Mais là n'est pas, loin de là, la seule originalité de ces pages passionnantes puisque la curiosité du lecteur - disposant de temps pour approfondir es réflexions soulevées et s'imprégner de l'erudition dont l'auteur fait preuve ligne après ligne - est excitée de la premiere a la dernière page, bien au-delà des connaissances communément acquises. Des bergers, moines et sol dats du Moyen-Âge à la période actuelle, dite post-moderne, de la flûte à la guerre, ou à la maison, à la flûte des studios d'enregistrement, des Consorts Renaissance à la vogue actuelle des flûtes historiques, de l'Âge d'or baroque à l'école française, de la flûte de Quantz et de l'age classique à celle des jazzmen, de la révolution de Böhm aux recherches en tout genre, des interprètes aux publics, Ardal Powell nous livre en effet une somme érudite dont une traduction française, introduite par un regard européen, constituerait l'indispensable de tout flûtiste francophone. Les index joints fourmillent de données, la consultation de l'édition reliée ne rencontre aucune entrave at une mise en page claire favorise la lecture, enrichie par une iconographie de qualité. Les illustrations, pour la plupart familières, présentent la double avantage d'être réunies dans la même volume et irréprochablement reproduites. Certaines sont plus rarement publiées, comme cet étonnant portrait de 1902 présentant le collectionneur César Snoeck, que nous mentionnions a propos des flûtes de La Couture-Boussey dans l'encart central de notre précédent numéro. La plume du narrateur, enfin, constitue l'un des grands atouts de l'ouvrage en ce sens qu'elle véhicule une réflexion assortie d'une érudition plus qu'une simple énumération encyclopedique.
    Mentionnons toutefois que rien n'est parfait, ni même es meilleurs ouvrages, et que, par exemple, la lecture de l'évolution actuelle faite par l'auteur pourra être discutée, ou que l'on pourra regretter que mot ne soit soufflé, mises a part quelques lignes, des différentes techniques avec dispositif électronique, ou encore que le nom de Severino Gazzelloni (p. 272) soit suivi de 'indication (1915-), alors qu'il est né le 5 janvier 1919 et qu'au jour de la publication de ces pages, il était décédé depuis dix ans (le 21 novembre 1992). La délectation du lecteur n'en sera pas pour autant émoussée.
    Parallèlement, pour illustrer la chapitre 12, La flûte à l'âge de l'enregistrement, Ardal Powell édite un CD d'enregistrements historiques que nous commentons dans la rubrique Nouveautés - Disques de ce numéro.

Trevor Wye, in Pan, December 2002:

Ardal Powell's new book, The Flute, is a landmark in flute book publication and a book every flautist should have. It has a wealth of information inside its handsome cover, and has amused me on three train journeys to date: I can only add that the time passed very quickly. Besides being a formidable treasure of flute history and development, there are some facts that put paid to so-called common knowledge about our history. Did you know that the Mozart D major had been performed five times by the oboist Ramm before it was transcribed and played as a flute concerto? The illustrations are exceptional: well chosen and reproduced. It is published by Yale University Press in paperback or hardback.

"Johnson", in American Record Guide, Jan/Feb 2003:

This is the most recent addition to the Yale Musical Instrument Series. Nobody but the renowned Ardal Powell could write such a comprehensive, engaging history of the flute. He makes world-class replicas of historical flutes, is a prominent performer on the instrument, and has written many books and articles about 17th and 18th Century flutes and flute playing. These qualifications underscore the thoroughness and care Powell has taken to give the complete history of the flute.
    Powell doesn't simply narrate a technical development. Instead, he considers the interaction of the instrument, the repertoire, and historical playing styles to show a dynamic and complex history of the Western flute. Flutists are the intended audience, but any learned person with an interest in history, music, art, or the flute can appreciate this book, with its beautiful illustrations and informative side-bars.
    Powell compresses a lot of information into 334 pages. All of the chapters are thorough and interesting, but I found the chapters on the early 18th Century flute and the development of the Boehm system flute particularly astute. The flute existed in a multitude of designs and faced varying amounts of acceptance or rejection in both of these time periods. Powell assimilates these murky times and writes a clear, facile explanation. His informed chapter on the early music revival also centers around his area of expertise. He includes a vital chapter on the history of the flute in the age of recording. The Flute on Record, 1902- 1940, a CD that you can purchase separately from the book, is a supplement to this chapter. It is an unbiased collection of flutists, incluing Georges Laurent, Clement Barone, Philippe Gaubert, and Adolphe Hennebains, performing a fair array of repertoire. His chapter on the flute in the postmodern age is brief in detail, but comprehensive in its list of major influences. His writing is clear and scholarly, but also active and fluent. This important resource is an achievement that ought to find its way to a wide audience.

Jennifer Publicover, on the Atlantic Flute Society website (January 2003):

In the summer of 1999 I had the pleasure of attending lectures and performances given by Ardal Powell and Cathy Folkers at Boxwood, a flute festival which takes place yearly in the seaside town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  Partners in business as well as in marriage, they form the company Folkers & Powell, Makers of Historical Flutes, located in Hudson, New York.  Educated at Cambridge University and Koninklijk Conservatorium, The Netherlands, Ardal Powell has written extensively about flutes and flutists from the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries.  Upon hearing in the summer of 2002 about the release of The Flute and its companion compact disc, The Flute on Record, 1902-1940, I looked forward to receiving my set and delved eagerly in when it arrived.
    Mr. Powell is an extremely articulate and thoughtful writer and, whatever view he takes on any particular issue, his research is impeccable.  The extensive section of notes and references at the back can be as interesting to read as the main text itself, and certainly early music specialists will find plenty of material therein to carry forward their own research.  However, the book appeals to a much wider audience than the already "historically informed", and indeed it has the voice of a writer who feels that he has an important message to bring to the general flute world from the perspective of an early music specialist.  A certain level of musical literacy and general awareness of some of the highlights in the history of the flute in western culture is presumed of the reader.  This is the sort of publication that college music majors should be interested in and which teachers of flute at the university level will want to have close at hand for reference -- and indeed, it is a "good read" for anyone with a love of the flute and its music.
    It should be noted that the scope of The Flute is rather more specific than such a general title might imply.  (The title itself may well have been set by the Yale Musical Instrument Series, as other titles in the projected series are equally general, such as Timpani and Percussion and The Piano.)  He has chosen to focus on the last millennium of the flute in western culture -- that is to say, European culture and its transplants in North America, Australia, etc.  His scope is also qualitatively narrowed down to a history of flutes and flutists in a social context.  This includes fifteenth-century military fifes and flutes; Renaissance consorts; Baroque and Classical flutes and flutists such as Blavet, Quantz, and Tromlitz; the major design innovations of the nineteenth century; the French School; and the movements of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries of which we are a part today.  The influences of professional and amateur flutists alike are included.  Styles, performance practices and repertoire are tied into this chronicle -- enough to give the reader a taste for more, and to wish that space constraints could open up and allow the author to explore these particular areas in greater detail.  Taking advantage of the most recent scholarship and methodology to bring the past to life on its own terms, rather than on our modern ones, Mr. Powell gives the reader wonderful glimpses back to see flutes, musicians and manufacturers as they were perceived in their own time.
    This way of capturing history is a relatively recent one.  Many writers in the past have taken a more "evolutionary" approach -- that is to say, the histories of flutes and other instruments have been constructed in such a way as to imply that all changes of design, style, repertoire, etc. have been steps along a Darwinian path towards ever better and improved models, culminating in the products of the present day.  Such an approach to history is now perceived to be a bit short-sighted, and in some cases even arrogant.  Mr. Powell takes a very clear position that in order to truly appreciate the music and/or the instrument of a given period, we must understand it as it was understood in its own day, with the standards and expectations of that time, which requires us to open up our own perspective.  This is a natural and well-defended opinion from a person who manufactures replicas of historical instruments, and indeed is the driving impetus behind the early music movement of the last few decades.
    In fact, Mr. Powell so enthusiastically fills in the void in the historical record from this perspective that he very nearly -- but not quite -- goes overboard.  He cites so many complaints from nineteenth-century flutists about the Boehm flute that one begins to wonder why the blessed thing was ever adopted in the first place!  On the other hand, his perspective is invaluable because it shows what a long, gradual process it was as the Boehm flute replaced the simple-system flute and its other alternatives in the standard orchestra, how certain perceived advantages were gained by its adoption and how certain nuances were lost, nuances that were idiosyncratic to the simple-system flute and part of its perceived character and beauty.  (The story of the controversy between Captain J.C.C. Gordon and Theobald Boehm surrounding the true origins of what is now known as the Boehm flute is also tragically fascinating.)
    It is true that one can never completely return to the time and place when a particular piece was first performed or a particular flute first played.  Even the act of trying to reconstruct music of the past is a different process from the playing of it was when it was new.  One leans more toward preservation, the other, toward innovation.  Where self-expression and audience reception fit into the picture are other very important parameters.  One could conceivably give two performances of a given piece of music from an earlier period, the first on an original instrument with strict adherence to the practices of the time, the other on the latest model from Brannen or Muramatsu with a somewhat looser interpretation of period practices, and both performances could potentially be equally moving to the listener in their different ways.  Whether or not one agrees with Mr. Powell that much flute playing in our day has become relatively sterile and uniform, we must consider ourselves lucky to live in a time and place where we have access to so many different ways of making music, both geographically outside of western culture and temporally back into earlier eras.  We have scholars like him to help us recognize how our present thoughts about the flute came about, and then to transcend them and expand our perceptive horizons.  As he states at the end of the Introduction, we all must take the responsibility to find our own artistic paths:

[F]inding a way to put such a diversity of historical information to use in present-day interpretation poses a personal challenge to each musician: everyone has to choose for him- or herself how much to use, and whether to use it out of a genuine conviction that it is musically compelling, or merely because we have been told it is historical or traditional.  Accepting this challenge strengthens our understanding by forcing us to adjust our perspectives frequently.  Thus we can learn to sense creative possibilities in our own moment that would otherwise remain blocked or hidden.  Those creative possibilities, rather than the mere factual information that inspires them, are the rewards that await flutists willing to follow the thread as the flute 'transforms itself' again and again.

The companion CD: The Flute on Record, 1902-1940 is a scratchily fascinating look back at playing styles and tastes of the early part of an era relatively familiar to us, when the automobile, the telephone, and mass production so radically changed western society.  A range of artists from different nationalities, including women, are represented, with an emphasis on those whose recordings are not readily available already -- for which reason Marcel Moyse is not included.  Chamber ensembles, while difficult to record in the old acoustical manner, also are featured.  It is interesting to note how vibratos vary from one player to the next, ranging from the very fast and jagged to the non-existent, and everything in between.  There are limits to what the listener can ascertain about tone and nuance because of the original recording quality, and some of the repertoire is admittedly of the fluffy sort which was fashionable to record at the time.  Nonetheless, the sounds that come from this disc are enlightening in a way that words never quite can be.

Jane Ambrose in The American Library Association's Choice 40.5 (January 2003):

Powell is a respected flute maker and performer. His premise is that performers must know the ideas and practices of the past and where and when conditions altered them in order to appropriately re-create the music of all periods. He offers this superb book as a progress report on the current state of knowledge about instruments, technique, and tuning to encourage players of historical instruments to learn the rules and flutes of each period. Powell presents a social history of music as well as a history of the flute and flute-playing. He presents the complicated technical developments of the 19th century in sidebars. Excellent illustrations are well reproduced on heavy stock. Of special interest to US readers is the chapter on US instruments from the late 19th century to the present. The huge amount of research undertaken in the 1990s on early "baroque" flutes is especially well summarized. Excellent bibliographic essays precede each chapter's footnotes. A major contribution to the literature on the history of musical instruments and the best and most complete history of the flute and flute-playing available today. Recommended for all academic and public collections.

Brenda King, in ComposerUSA, Fall 2002:

Enhanced with an abundance of illustrations, The Flute tells the story of the flute in the musical life of Europe and North America from the twelfth century to the present day. It is the first history to illustrate the relationship that has bound the instrument, its music, and performance technique together through eight centuries of shifting musical tastes and practices. Ardal Powell takes full measure of recent research: on military flutes and fifes of the fifteenth century, the renaissance consort flute, baroque and classical instruments, mechanically advanced nineteenth-century designs by Theobald Boehm and others, and further innovations that led to the modern flute.
    All these transformations are related to revolutions in playing style and repertoire, in the lives of flute players and makers, and in the uses of the instrument to play military, religious, consort, solo, chamber, opera, symphony, jazz, popular, and flute band music. For the first time the role of amateur flutists receives due consideration alongside the influence of famous players and teachers. The ultimate guide to the heritage of the flute, this volume will delight both those who play the flute and those who love its music.

Christine Hankin in Editor's Choice (Sept 2002; on Just Flutes website):

There have been several good books on the flute in this update and this is the pick of them. Ardal Powell is just the person to write such an important work as this. He is a flute maker, performer and scholar and his enthusiasm for his subject comes over in what would otherwise be a book only for academics. Powell has written the history of the flute in his own style. I like the way links are drawn between the developments made in the instrument to those of the music and also the relationships between the various composers of the day. There are plenty of illustrations and photographs as well as tables, charts and lists. Most importantly this is a very readable book and not badly priced either.

Dennis Clarke in Pan 21.3 (Sept 2002):

If one needed to recommend a single book on the flute there are certainly many to choose from. One of the earliest obtainable is Hotteterre's, published in 1707, so rather limited for history and bound to that period of the flute. Then there is Quantz's monumental book, a treasure trove of technical and stylistic advice, but again limited to the baroque period. The first comprehensive book about the history (of flutes and players), the construction and acoustics of flutes and advice on technique is probably Rockstro's work, published in 1890, though his vituperative stance on the Gordon/Boehm controversy makes me doubt his objectivity.
   There have been many such books published in the 20th century following a similar pattern, with varying amounts of space given to the different aspects depending on the taste of the author. Now, in the 21st century, we have this book by Ardal Powell. The author is President of Folkers and Powell, makers of historical flutes in New York, and is a distinguished performer. He studied at Cambridge University and Koninklijk Conservatorium and has written extensively on the subject of flutes and flute-playing in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
   The paperback version of his book, which is bigger than the normal format, being 24.5 cm x 17 cm, has 59 high quality reproductions of woodcuts, engravings and paintings. The type is well set out, making it a most attractive book to handle and read. It has a totally different approach to all the other books in that it tells the story of the flute like a tapestry, with all the relevant topics intertwined as the story unfolds.
   The author says in his Preface, 'repertoire, instruments and playing style are -- and always have been -- inextricably woven together; works conceived with a certain set of performing and listening conditions in mind lose much of their intended impact if those conditions alter, as they almost always do with time.' He adds that this volume is a sort of progress report, presenting a survey of what is known about the flute and flute-playing in the past and present, without setting out to extend the boundaries of scholarship by contributing new material, since so much is already available. However, a vast amount of research has obviously been involved and it is the most comprehensive and readable account I have come across.
   In order not to impede the flow of the narrative, certain crucial aspects of musical theory, discussions of terminology and similar special subjects have been put in sidebars as an aid to non- specialists. Each chapter also has bi[bli]ographical notes and lists of sources at the end of the book for further interest.
   It is interesting to read that, from earliest times, all the same concerns have arisen over the use of vibrato and whether 'improvements' in the flute make it louder, but lose the 'essential', delicate nature of the sound. The changes in tuning generally and the adoption of equal temperament had its champions and opponents. The tuning of flutes is still a lively issue -- little changes. The story comes right up to date (2001), encompassing the recording age (which has had a profound effect on the eclecticism of flute-playing), developments in America (Europeans tend to forget about that), the early music revival and the post-modem age and, yes, the founding of the BFS is there. After reading the book I feel inspired by the rich legacy of our flute playing and I shall think even more deeply now about how I play.
   No flute player can afford to be without this book. When, not if, you buy this book, you can make a small correction on page 147. The details of Holtzapffel's flute, lines 7 and 8 from the bottom, 'the right fifth finger, and the left thumb' should read 'the left fifth finger and the right thumb'.    
   There is a companion CD, produced by Folkers & Powell, details of which can be found on It is much cheaper if bought at the same time as the book. Its 21 bands cover the period 1902(!)-1940, which is from the days of pre-electric recording. That too is interesting; it must have been like magic to hear the recording, despite the veil of hissing from the needle, and to hear how the sound improved with advancing technology. We take 'realistic' sound so much for granted with our modern CDs. Although there was a preponderance of variations and rather meretricious pieces recorded, we get some idea of these performers' tone quality and sometimes their considerable technical ability. I was about add (so I will), that there are even women included here, with stunning technique, who were then not admitted to orchestras. Thank goodness they were able to be recorded. One such was Erika Stoltz, remembered solely by four recordings, and described on the label as a 'flotenvirtuosin'; here, she plays Carmen Fantaisie brillante by François Borne. It is fascinating to hear Briccialdi's Carnival of Venice (op 78), played by John Amadio - somewhat truncated and altered from the one we know. Obviously, there are too many players here to list but Hennebains, Robert Murchie, Albert Fransella, Prill, Laurent and Scheck are all included. You can also hear Philippe Gaubert playing his Madrigal - it is always interesting to hear the composer's version.    

Ivor Humphreys in Gramphone, 1 October 2002:

There are many books about the flute but none that I have encountered rival Ardal Powell's for erudition, cogency of argument or indeed quality of prose. Powell is president of Folkers & Powell, makers of historical flutes in Hudson, New York, and his book is imbued with the insights he has gained as a performer, manufacturer, and academic. He claims not to present new material so much as to distil what he has collated, but if that is really the case the results are hardly less impressive; this is a very thorough piece of work.
   The book takes a chronological approach. An in-depth grasp of musical history is not necessary, though a basic understanding, for context, is of course beneficial. The progression is logical and well paced, with key chapters on consort and solo music in the 17th century, the Baroque period (certainly the flute's golden age), Quantz, the Classical flute, the fundamentally important Boehm flute of the mid-19th century, the French school (Taffanel, Gaubert, Fleury, Moyse) and not least the instrument's central position today in the early music revival.
   Each of the 14 chapters has its own bibliographic essay at the back of the book, nicely separating the easy flow of the main text from the necessarily more dense background scholarship, source details and listings of other reference material. There are 59 illustrations. Manufacturer fads and fashions are as prevalent among flute players as they are with devotees of any other instrument, so it's particularly helpful to have names such as Brannen, Cooper, Hammig, Haynes, Lot, Muramatsu, Powell and Rudall Carte put into context, with their derivations and dependencies succinctly articulated. This is an excellent book, suited equally to players, students and the general music enthusiast.

John Sunier in Audiophile Edition online, July-August 2002 (review of companion CD):

A companion to the Yale book The Flute, this mono CD is intended to provide aural examples of the various flutes and performers discussed in the book. However, it is interesting listening on its own and has in the accompanying note booklet some details about each track. The very early recordings are a bit of a task to listen thru [sic]. The subtle flute didn't come across with primitive acoustical recording as did the tenor voice, trumpet, trombone, or banjo. And very little filtering of the original recordings has been done so as not to lose any of the delicate flutish sounds. The advent of electrical recording in 1925 made more of a difference than any audio development since, and was especially kind to flute recordings. The variations in repertory and styles of playing are extremely wide. I can imagine flutists being most interested in hearing how Bach was interpreted 80 years ago, for example. I guarantee you won't find this in the stores, so visit for more information and purchase details on both the book and CD.

Anon. in Darlington & Stockton Times (Cleveland, UK), 24 May 2002:

Return of flute mania
In the early nineteenth century, there was an outbreak of flute mania, and a "blossoming industry of flute-related activities". These days we have a repeat with every other daughter notching up the grades.
     They might be interested in The Flute by Ardal Powell . . . though the book like the instrument is subtle stuff.
     The subject is the western flute, the instrument of "shepherds, monks and soldiers". No medieval flute survives, nowhere in the fraction of medieval music actually written down is there an instruction that something should be played by a flute. There are a few images of early flautists, and some are reproduced in the book.
     The vast majority of the text concerns the evolution of the modern instrument and of playing styles.

Jerrold Pritchard (Univ. of California) in The Flute Network 18.11-12 (July/August 2002):

The most recent addition to the Yale Music Instruments series brings us the results of prodigious research, and insightful writing, from one of out best exponents of the traverse flute. The versatile Ardal Powell has written this scholarly, yet accessible, book from the perspective of a noted performer, dedicated scholar, and a maker of replicas of historic flutes. Moving well beyond the earlier work of historians such as Philip Bate, Powell presents us with clear, cogent, and interesting survey of what is currently known about the history and development of flutes, from antiquity up to the present. What is most fascinating about this work, though, is the way it lays out the facts, comments on previous scholarship, and places the flute in the context of musical culture along with the related developments in history and art - and does so in a direct and appealing manner which makes one almost forget the tremendous amount of laborious research and attention to detail that has gone into this explication! Moreover, the writing style is so lucid and intriguing that an aficionado of the flute (even one who is already very familiar with general background and line of development) can read it like a detective novel. . . clues, facts, and deductions are revealed bit by bit which keep the reader eager to know what comes next. The well-chosen illustrations and pertinent musical examples further heighten the drama of the text.
    Powell's travels to the great libraries, museums, and flute collections of the world have allowed him the kind of towering perspective that is needed in a work of such ambition and scope. His intimate knowledge of the practicalities of flute playing, as well as performance practice, is evident throughout as he reviews the previous literature, makes the connections between theory, myth, and fact, and goes on to comment on the controversies and recent advances in flute construction, the on-going innovations in performance and taste, and our attempts to recapture a glimpse of the past. Of special interest are the last four chapters dealing with the French Flute School, the flute in the age of recording, the flute in the early music revival, and the postmodem age. The range and coverage of this book will make it an invaluable addition to any library or personal collection and a text to be read with fervor and referred to again and again. Highly recommended.

The invaluable companion CD: The Flute on Record, 1902-1940 presents 21 historic recordings, which Ardal Powell has searched out and remastered from the archives of the collectors of such rarities. Many of the actual performances are discussed in Chapter 12, "The Flute in the Age of Recording." He presents us here with an impressive panoramic picture of the brilliant technique, individualistic styles, and varied concepts of flute tone from players of the older key systems and wooden Boehm flutes up to the modem silver flute. The artists include John Lemmone, Eli Hudson, Frank Badollet, Adolphe Hennebains, Erika Stolz, Feodor Stepanov, Maximilian Schwedler, Albert Fransella, Philippe Gaubert, Emil Prill, John Amadio, Clement Barone, Sr., Robert Murchie, Carl Bartuzat, Edith Penville, Arrigo Tassinari, Georges Laurent, Gustav Scheck, [and] Gilbert Jeppersen. Many of these artists are not represented on other historical CD anthologies. While the flute did not reproduce well on early acoustical recordings, and even early electric recording[s] sound thin by today's standards, this collection gives us a very faithful and enjoyable peek at what flute performance was like in the first half of the 20th century. Whether or not you purchase the above book, every flutist should know and hear the accompanying CD at the website (which also contains a wealth of information about the history and development of the flute and its literature.)

Timothy J. McGee (Univ. of Toronto), in Library Journal  (15 June 2002; starred review):

[Joint review with Jeremy Montagu's Timpani and Percussion, also published in the Yale Musical Instrument Series]
With these two volumes, the publisher launches its promising "Musical Instrument" series, in which noted scholars/performers discuss instruments in the light of the newest research. . . . Each has written an an informative and authoritative guide for those with previous background in these instruments and a serious desire to understand their place in history. Taking a chronological approach, the authors trace the instruments from earliest known records and discuss the changes in construction, social context, and repertory, as well as notable performers and makers. . . . Powell's reference section contains extremely valuable coverage of past and current scholarship on flutes. In addition to being well written, the books are sturdy and beautifully illustrated. Highly recommended for academic libraries, public libraries where an interest in music is strong, and upper-level music students generally.

Extract from the Preface

Table of contents

Sample chapter

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