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, "Toni Pons" <toniflute86@...>
> Did Purcell know or use the tranverse flute?
> Toni Pons - Flauto-Traverso.com
Henry Purcell lived at what seems the poorest time for the transverse
flute in England.
There are no compositions by him for transverse flute that we know
of. All his flue parts are for recorder.
Did he know of the flute? - the answer is probably yes, although
references to it in England in the 17th century are rare.
The royal court under Elizabeth 1, James 1 and Charles 1 employed
both flute and recorder players. They are refered to separately in
the accounts of royal household expenses. (see Woodfill " Musicians
in English Society" pg 185, 305) In 1635 there were 7 flute players
and 5 recorder players. In 1640 both recorder and flute players are
listed, four of whom were still employed in 1642, on the eve of the
In his book "Four & twenty Fiddlers" Peter Holman says that in the
1630s qnd 40s the flute was gradually replaced by a second violin in
the broken consorts used in the theatres.
A picture by Sir Peter Lely from the late 1640s "The Consort" in the
Courtauld Gallety, London, shows a bass viol and a renaissance flute.
Then I have found no records till 1675 (Purcell being 16).
Locke's "Psyche" included parts for Flajolets, Recorders, Flutes.
1676 Bannister's Parley of Instruments included a similar list:
Flutes, Flagellets, Cornetes, Sackbutts, Hoboys, Rechords...
Note that flutes are listed as distinct from Recorders. Peter Holman
(pages 347 & 352)is of the opinion that these were the old fashioned
types especially as they were in company with cornets and Sackbutts.
Perhaps the musicians were some of the older former Waits and royal
musicians, using their now out-of-fashion instruments for a couple of
1685 Purcell was appointed "keeper, maker, repairer, mender and tuner
of all and every His Majesty's Musical Wind Instruments, that is to
say, virginalls, organs, flutes, recorders and all other kinds of
wind instruments whatsoever". in 1695 when he was succedded by Dr
Blow and Bernard Smith again both flutes and recorderes are mentioned
(Galpin Old English Instruments of Music pg 153). Thus Purcell
certainly knew of flutes, although there is the possibility that the
contract was written by a scribe copying from older documents without
knowing what was meant.
Mid 1690s - Talbot mentions a flute D'Allemagne by Bressan.
1702, Eccles uses a Flute D'Almagne in his "Judgement of Paris"
1705 JB Loeillet plays flute at the Haymaket theatre
1712 Gallaird's "Calypso and Telemachus" uses a "Traverso"
1715 Pepusch "Venus and Adonis" includes a "Flute Almain". Performed
at Drury lane.
1727 Festing and Weidemann hold flute positions at the Opera House
1727-30 Woodcock's concertos published.
Thus Purcell probably knew of the old style, renaissance pattern
flute but did not use it as is was out of fashion (no good
professional players left?). The new French style "German" instrument
did not appear in London till just afer his death, and even so it was
slow to become accepted.
Can anyone fill in the gaps in the records between 1642 and 1675,
1675 and 1695? Was the flute really unplayed in England at that time?