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The Boehm Flute, 















This work did not spring out of either the desire 
or the design of writing a book on the flute ; it 
was, as explained in the Preface, of fortuitous 

It had been written seven years, or more, and 
had long been dismissed from my mind, when 
English flute-players were invited to co-operate 
in bringing about an event which was to them 
not without interest — the publication of a treatise 
on their instrument, believed to be the work of 
a life. 

The author, Mr. R. S. Rockstro, was a profes- 
sional flautist, as well as the projector of a model 
Boehm flute. To his capacity, to his industry, 
and to his perseverance, the many flute-players 
who owed their skill in great part to the excellent 
instruction for which they were indebted to him, 
bore ungrudging testimony, whilst the distinction, 
as a writer on musical subjects, achieved by 
his well-known and deservedly popular brother, 


Mr. W. S. Rockstro, augured well for the success 
of the work from a literary point of view. As it 
was thus anticipated that an important addition 
was about to be made to the flute-player's library, 
Mr. Rockstro's appeal for subscribers met with a 
ready response. 

The hopes which had been raised were not 
destined to be disappointed. On the appearance 
of the volume it was at once acknowledged that 
the result of the labours of the many years 
devoted to its compilation had been expressed 
with a clearness of diction that left little to be 
desired. Moreover, there awaited us a pleasant 
surprise ; the interest of the work was enhanced 
by the charm of a lady's hand. For her contri- 
bution to their literature, Miss Georgina Rockstro, 
Mr. Rockstro's talented and accomplished daugh- 
ter, is specially entitled to the thanks of flute- 

It was soon observed, however, that the treatise 
was disfigured by a sad blot. That Mr. Rockstro 
would not be unmindful of his own efforts to 
improve the instrument of his choice was to be 
expected ; but he had not stopped there ; it was 
found that he had shown scant sympathy with 
certain of his fellow-workers, past as well as 
present, in the field of flute construction. 

Of them all, not one was so singled for censure 
as the man, the record of whose brilliant and 
enduring- services in the cause of flute reform 


constitutes the most striking page in the annals 
of our instrument. If all the calumnies which 
jealous and malicious tongues have heaped on 
Theobald Boehm could be justified, he would still 
have immeasurably higher claims to the gratitude 
of flautists than any other flute-constructor of 
modern times ; yet Mr. Rockstro had not only 
applied contumelious language to his work, and 
referred in terms of scornful contempt to those 
who recognised in him a man of superior ability, 
but, forgetful of the time-honoured adage, De 
mortuis nil nisi bonum, had even gone so far as 
to charge him with acts of mendacity, duplicity, 
and treachery, calculated to leave an indelible 
stain on his memory. 

Those who were of opinion that the sanctuary 
of the grave should have been respected ex- 
pressed regret that such matters had not been 
passed over in silence ; but regret deepened into 
indignation, when, on looking more closely, the 
tale of a dead man's turpitude, told by Mr. 
Rockstro, appeared to be nothing more than a 
work of fiction, which that gentleman had per- 
suaded himself to regard as reality. 

It was felt, more especially by some of those 
the appearance of whose names in the book, as 
supporters of Mr. Rockstro in his literary venture, 
might be construed into acquiescence on their 
part in this ungenerous attack, that a disclaimer 
was called for on behalf of English flute-players. 


As I had already interested myself in the origin 
of the Boehm flute, appeals were made to me to 
again come forward, but I was then engaged on 
more attractive work ; however, after a time I 
undertook to become the spokesman of the 

In considering how best to bring the disavowal 
before my brother flute-players, my first thought 
was that it should take the form of a pamphlet ; 
but I afterwards decided to embody it in a 
Preface to a second edition of my ' History of the 
Boehm Flute.' When I began to write, it was 
my intention that the counterblast should not 
extend beyond ten or a dozen leaves, but my pen 
travelled on until it had covered more than an 
hundred pages ; indeed, before I had done, my 
preface had become as long as, if not longer than, 
was the work itself in its original form. 

The new edition, with its overgrown preface, 
though printed in 1892, was not in the hands of 
the public until 1893. Up to that time there 
had been no communication, direct or indirect, 
between me and any member of the Boehm 
family ; but during the course of the year, through 
the kindness of an ardent admirer of Boehm, Mr. 
John Finn, whose contributions to musical periodi- 
cals are well known to flute-players, I was brought 
into correspondence with Herr Ludwig Boehm, 
Theobald Boehm's eldest son. Herr Boehm was 
so good as to look over some old family papers, 


and to furnish me with copies of documents thus 
brought to light (amongst them Gordon's long 
sought for announcement of his " Diatonic 
Flute "), which supplied important missing links 
in the story, as I had told it, of the instrument 
which bears his father's name. These documents, 
which in justice to Boehm I felt bound to make 
known, have now been incorporated with the 
work ; additions rendered desirable by the newly 
acquired information have been made to the text, 
and the contents of the unwieldy preface have 
been transferred to the body of the book. 




An apology is due to the reader for the un- 
systematic and desultory manner in which the 
matter which forms this small volume is put 
together. The only excuse I can offer is the way 
in which the little book originated. It was as 
follows: — 

At the close of the year 1881, I wrote, for 
' The Musical Standard,' an obituary article on 
Boehm, of whose death I had then just heard. 
Soon after it appeared I was asked to write again, 
and to deal more fully than I had previously 
with the question, whether Captain Gordon 
ought, or ought not, to be regarded as the real 
inventor of the flute attributed to Boehm (an old 
controversy which had just then been revived, 
both in England and on the Continent), and, in 
compliance with this request, I contributed 
another article to ' The Musical Standard ' under 
the title of ' The Invention of the Boehm Flute.' 

I at first intended that the articles should 
appear either anonymously, or else under the 

b 2 


signature of a nom de plume, as had all my 
previous contributions to ' The Musical Standard,' 
but the editor thought that they might be more 
interesting if my name were appended to them, 
especially as I was one of the last Englishmen, 
if not the last, who saw Boehm before his 

I complied with the suggestion he made, and it 
having thus become known that I was the writer, 
several brother amateur flute-players, who did not 
take in ' The Musical Standard,' expressed a wish 
to have what I had written, so I promised to get 
a few copies of the two articles printed separately 
for private distribution. I also determined to. take 
the opportunity of making a revision of the text, 
rendered necessary by the results of renewed and 
more careful researches. Moreover, as I had 
been asked what authority I had for some of my 
statements, I resolved to add notes, which should 
consist partly of references and partly of matter, 
which the limited space assigned to an article in a 
newspaper had rendered it previously impossible 
to introduce. 

Whilst I was writing the notes, the controversy 
between the Boehmites and Gordonites was still 
going on, and it occurred to me that a collection of 
the chief literary productions which had appeared 
on the subject would be a not uninteresting 
appendix to my two articles, and, finally, con- 
sidering that what 1 was about to put together 


would, with some additions, form a chapter in the 
history of the flute — a history (however humble 
the flute may be from a musical point of view) 
incomparably more varied and interesting than 
that of any other instrument — I decided to ask 
Mr. Richard Carte, whom I had to thank for 
valuable information, to allow the House of Rudall 
and Co. to be named as its publishers. 


United University Club : 
November 1882. 


Page 23, note 7, line 2, for 8 read 9. 

38, note 9, line 4, for 105 read 164. 
48, line 12, for Foltz r«7<? Folz. 
109, line 7, for 1895 r<?a</ 1896. 
126, last line of note 6, for 28 lead 38. 


Square brackets [ ] should 
) have been used instead of cumed 
M )• 

40, note 17, line 9 

58, line 19 of note 

97, line 10 

114, line 14 from bottom 

173, lines II, 12, 13 

221, last line of note 51 

226, lines 3, 4, 7 of note 

244, note 70, line 3 

270, note 96, line 7 from bottom 

283, note 109, line 6 

284, note 1 10, line 26 
369, note 22, line 6 from bottom 
377, note 2, line 5 
388, note 5, lines 3 and 4. 
467, note 44, lines 3 and 4. / 

184, line 6 from bottom, delete I would. 

199, line 21 of note, ./ftr p. 131 read p. 329. 

211, line 2, delete them, and line 4, of them. 

251, note 7b, for 35 redd 351. 

292, line 10, ,/fcr flute-makers' read flute-maker's. 

302, line 13, after defective insert as. 

351, note 4, for 25 read 2 $1. 

354, line 8 from bottom | r ,, . ,. , , u ., ,. , 

363, line 8 from top / f or Masicalische read Musikahsche. 

358, last line, before commissioner insert a. 
line 5 from bottom, for is read was. 

In pp. 103 and 104 a lithograph is inadvertently termed an engraving, 
and the lithographer called an engraver. 

Should Schafhautl's experiments with organ-pipes be repeated by a 
future experimenter, the figures and observations will be examined and 
tested. It may be well, however, to notice some errors which cannot fail to 
strike even a cursory reader. For instance, there is an obvious mistake in 
the last line but one of p. 363: "the G (or more nearly the G sharp of our 
old high pitch) " What Schafhautl wrote of course we cannot tell ; but, 
judging from the context, it would seem that he intended to say, "the G 
sharp of the French pitch (or more nearly the G of our old high pitch)." 
For "one decimetre" (p. 364, line 5) we should probably read "one 
centimetre," it being out of the question that the wall of the organ-pipe 
was one decimetre (nearly four inches) thick. In another place (p. 365. 
lines 3 and 5 from the bottom) "2 mm." no doubt stand for "2 cm.," and 
"2 cm." for "4 cm." On the next page, 366 (line 16 from the bottom), 
is an omission for which my own printers are responsible : " G " should 
be "G." 

In a passage in the Life of Boehm (p. 422, line 15), it has been 
suggested that the word which Schafhautl wrote was not "nasty" 
(hamisch), but "namely" (na/nlich), an emendation which has been 
introduced into the text. 



Theobald Boehm (Obituary Article), 3 — Boehm as a flute-player 
and an inventor, 4 — He brings about a revolution in the con- 
struction of the flute, 5 — His improvements applicable to other 
instruments, 6 — Lavigne's Boehm hautboy, 7 — Boehm's cylin- 
drical bore ; its advantages, 8 — Boehm and Gordon, 9 — 
Boehm's visits to England, 13 — Experiment with the cylin- 
drical flute in the Albert Hall, 14 — Improbability of perfect 
intonation ever being attained, 15. 

Invention of the Boehm Flute, 18 — Boehm and Nicholson, 
20 — Gordon calls on Boehm, 22 — Boehm's ring-key a revela- 
tion to Gordon, 24 — Gordon's visit to Munich, 26 — He issues 
an announcement of his flute, 30 — Coche's pictorial puff, 32 — 
Panic in the Swiss Guards, 33 — Cause of Gordon's insanity, 34. 

Rise of the Boehm-Gordon Controversy, with an Inquiry 
into the Origin of Ring-keys, 36— The creed of the 
Gordonites and that of the Boehmites, 36— Boehm influenced 
by Gordon, 37 — Gordon's crank and wire system, 38 — Was 
the ring-key a modification of the crescent ? 39— Or was it an 
original idea of Boehm ? 41 — Or was it of earlier origin ? 42 — 
Search made in Paris for early ring-keys, 44 — Discovery of 
an early ring-key at the Patent Office in London, 45 — Boehm 
brings his new flute to England in 1 833, 46 — Connects himself 
with the iron industry, 47 — The Boehm flute adopted by 


Carte and Clinton, 48 — Camus takes a Boehm flute to Paris ; 
the improvements of Buffet, 49 — Savart and the Boehm flute, 
50 — Conversion of Dorus and Coche, 51 — Coche's secret 
letter to Boehm, 52 — The Institute of France, 53 — Modifica- 
tions of Coche, 55 — Coche's pamphlet, 62 — Berton's report to 
the Academy of Fine Arts, 64 — The seed of the Boehm-Gordon 
controversy sown, 66 — Coche writes to Gordon, 67 — To 
Boehm, 70 — Coche's triumph, 71. 

An Exemplification of the Progressive Development 
of Open-keyed Mechanism for the Flute — The five- 
foot flute, 73 — MacGregor's bass flute, 75 — Nolan's ring- 
key, 79 — Pottgiesser's key, 83 — Gottfried Weber's key, 84 — 
Boehm's first model, known as Gerock and Wolfs flute, 85 — 
Gordon's diatonic flute, 88 — The Boehm flute, 104 — Gordon's 
flute, according to Coche, 106. 


Letter from Coche to Boehm, 112 — From (presumably) Camus 
to Boehm, 114 — From Coche to Boehm, 115 — Berton's 
report, 117 — Berton's letter to Coche, 118 — Translation of the 
report, 120. 

Coche's Attack on Boehm, 124 — Letter from Madame Gordon, 
127 — From Boehm, 129 — From Gordon, 132 — Original French 
of the letters, 133 — Of Berton's report, 138 — Of Coche's attack 
on Boehm, 141 — Extracts from Boehm's pamphlet, 149. 

Obituary Article on Boehm, from the London Figaro, 

Letter from Mr. W. S. Broadwood .. 155 

Article ey Dr. Schafhautl 159 



An Examination of Mr. Rockstro's Version of the 
Boehm-Gordon Controversy, 1 7 1— Mr. Walter Broad- 
wood negatives the assertion made by a gentleman who had 
invented a key for the flute, that Boehm was an ignorant 
impostor, 171 — Mr. Rockstro puts on the cap, 172 — Mr. 
Rockstro imputes hysterical adulation, withholds Mr. Broad- 
wood's name and the title of the work edited by him, 173 — 
Mr. Rockstro ignores this book ; the author's offence, 174 — 
Mr. Rockstro outdoes Sir John Falstaff, 177 — Opinion 
entertained of Boehm's parts before he was dissected by 
Mr. Rockstro, 178 — Invention of the overstrung pianoforte, 
179 — Boehm's prize medals tell against the jurors ; M. Coche's 
claim to the crown of folly, 181 — Boehm's ruling passion 
strong almost in death, 182 — Boehm's perfidy, 183— Mr. Rock- 
stro's compunction, 184 — His disinterested witness, 185 — 
Ward as Boehm's superior, 189 — Seduction of Mr. Rockstro, 
190 — Beauty and the Beast, 191 — Boehm's superhuman 
rapidity of conception, 194— Boehm hunted by a pack of 
wolves, 195 — Mr. Rockstro kicks the dead lion, 197— Indict- 
ment of the libellers of Boehm, 200 — First count, the 
excavation to receive the lower lip, 201 — Second count, the 
division of the column of air, 202 — Faulty position of certain 
holes of the eight-keyed flute, 205 — How remedied on Boehm's 
first model, 206 — Siccama as an ignorant impostor, 209 — He 
commits the unpardonable sin, 211 — Third count, the open 
keys, 213 — The keyless flute, 218 — Mersenne's proposal to 
apply to it closed keys, 222 — The first closed key, 225 — 
Appearance of a spectre, 226 — Quantz's second key, 229 — 
The open-keyed principle originated by Tromlitz, 231 — Fourth 
count, the Boehm fingering, 232 — Fifth count, the ring-keys, 
234 — Dr. Nolan's key, 236 — Balaam and the angel, 242 — 
Complex nature of invention, 245 — Was the Boehm flute 


constructed before Gordon came to Munich ? 249 ; Mr. Rock- 
stro takes a plunge, 255 — His modus operandi, 256 — The 
nose flute, 257 — Mr. Rockstro versus Captain Cook, 256 — 
Hercules and his club " Must be," 269 — Mr. Rockstro's skill at 
conjuring, 271 — Pid Boehm visit England in 1833? 274 — 
The giant and the pigmy, 281 — Conflicting statements of 
Boehm and Coche, 283— Boehm and the Devil, 289 — The 
prostitution of science, 292 — Science and the material of the 
flute, 293 — And the bore, 294 — And the cork, 295 — And the 
embouchure, 296 — And the position of the finger holes, 297 — 
Protest against the practice of claiming perfection, 301 — 
Conclusion, 304. 

M. Cavaille-Coll on Boehm's Schema 306 

Letters on the Boehm Flute, 314 — From J. Clinton, 316 — 
From T. Prowse, 319 — From J. Clinton, 322 — From Flauto, 
325 — From Old Howling Stick, 326 — From Omega, 327 — 
From Thomas Prowse, 328 — From Cornelius Ward, 329 — 
From W. C. Hodgkinson, 332 — From John Pask, 334 — From 
Old Howling Stick, 338 — From Embouchure, 339 — From 
Henry Kelsall, M.D., 339 — From Auletes, 340 — From Jim 
Crow, 341 — From E. N. F., 343 — From Obadiah, 344 — From 
Anti-Monotonous, 345 — From A Professor of Counter-point, 

Memoir of Dr. SchfahAutl. — Parentage and education^ 348 — 
He receives an appointment in the library of the University of 
Munich, 349 — Makes Boehm's acquaintance, 350 — Is brought 
by a lawsuit to England ; in conjunction with Boehm, suggests 
an improvement in the manufacture of iron, 352 — His patent 
puddling machine, 354 — His furnace for utilising anthracite, 
356 — He receives the Telford medal, 356 — Returns to Munich, 
357 — His many appointments, 358 — His honours, 360 — His 
death ; his genial disposition, 361 —His inaccuracy, 362 — 
His experiments to show the influence of the material on the 
tone of wind instruments, 363. 


Schafhautl's Life of Bohm, 373 — Bohm as a pupil of the 
flute-player Kapeller, 376 — First appointment in an orchestra, 
1812, 378 — Bohm's tour as goldsmith and musician, 1816 ; 
musical boxes, 380 — Flautist in the Court orchestra, 1818 ; 
Peter Winter, 383 — Bohm and Molique ; concert tours, 385 — 
Bohm's playing ; Bohm with Catalani, 389 — Bohm establishes 
a factory for the manufacture of flutes ; Paganini, 392 — 
Defective mechanism of the then existing flutes, 393 — Bohm's 
improvements, his first flute, 307 — Bohm's connection with 
Professor von Schafhautl : acoustic ideas of the latter, 396 
— Bohm's journey to London, 398 — The English flautist 
Nicholson and his instrument, 405 — Gordon's experiments 
for the improvement of the flute, 406 — An English amateur 
flute-player : experiences in England, 408 — Mechanism and 
imperfection of the flutes of that time, 410 — Attempts at 
improvement, 413 — Bohm's new flutes : the ring-key 
system, 415 — Gordon's experiments in flute-making and his 
sad end, 418 — Spread, recognition of, and attacks on Bohm's 
flute, 422 — Bohm's trip to England ; Schafhautl's improve- 
ment in the construction of the pianoforte, 426 — The English 
iron foundries and smelting furnaces, 428 — Bohm establishes 
English smelting furnaces in Germany ; becomes a puddle- 
master, 431 — Sojourn in Paris, 1834 ; the acoustician Savart, 
432 — Coche in Paris makes changes in Bohm's flute, 433 — 
Bohm's improvement in the transmission apparatus, 438 — 
Bohm's last improvement of the flute, the cylinder flute, 
1847, 439; — Carte the flute-player's writings for Bohm in 
London, 440 — Bohm's account of the origin of his new 
cylindrical flute, 442 — Spread, recognition, and use of the 
same, 448 — Bohm's refutation of the error introduced by 
Chladni, that the material of the instrument is without any 
influence on the tone, 450 — Bohm's improvements in the 
oboe ; his alto flute, 457 — Carte in London — Bohm's 
opinion of the improvements made on his flute, 459— 
structure and significance of the Bohm flute ; relation of 
the theory of acoustics to its practice, as illustrated by the 
Bohm flute, 462 — Ward in London as Bohm's opponent, 466 
— Bohm's pupils, Haindl, Furstenau, and Kr tiger, 469 — The 
last years of his life ; Bohm's principles of flute-playing, 
47 1 — Arrangements and last compositions, 474 — Bohm's 


death, family, and physical constitution, 476 — Bohm's 
memory in England and America ; sympathy lacking in 
Germany, 479. 

Bohm's Compositions 482 

INDEX 487 




I. Portrait of Boehm at the Age of 31 (from a litho- 
graph signed, Fr: Rehberg ad viv : del.) Frontispiece 

II. Facsimile of the Announcement of Gordon's 

Diatonic Flute facing p. 102 




Boehm's Passport (1833) facing p. 278 

VII. Portrait of Dr. Schafhautl facing p. 348 

VIII. Portrait of Boehm when an Octogenarian 

facing p. 373 



1. Crank and wire mechanism 38 

2. Portrait of Buffet 50 

3. The five-foot flute 74 

4. MacGregor's bass flute 76 


5. Nolan's ring-key .. 80 

6. Pottgiesser's key , .. 83 

7. Gottfried Weber's key 84 

8. Boehm's first model 87 

9. Gordon's diatonic flute 90 

10. Facsimile of Gordon's signature 103 

11. The Boehm flute 104 

12. Gordon's flute, according to Coche 107 

13. Copy of the engraving in Coche's pamphlet 148 

14. Ward's Crescentic Eb key .. .. 188 

15. Eight-keyed flute 204 

16. Diagram of holes of eight-keyed flute.. 205 

17. Boehm's first model 206 

18. Boehm's key, after Clinton 206 

19. Flute showing valve for closing the third hole 207 

20. Bass English flute 207 

21. Siccama's diatonic flute 208 

22. Siccama's one-keyed chromatic flute .. .. 210 

23. Siccama's lever for closing the G# hole 212 

24. Old bass flute on the Siccama plan 213 

25. Angels playing a flute quartett 214 

26. Keyless cylindrical flute 218 

27. Pipes of Sourdeline 220 

28. Early one-keyed flute .; .. 225 

29. One-keyed flute by Rippert 226 

30. Flute-player from ' The Music Master,' 1730 227 

31. Flute of Quantz 229 

32. Nolan's perforated key 237 

33. Nolan's catch 238 

34. Portion of Nolan's flute 238 

35. Boehm's first ring-key 239 


36. Boehm flute of 1832 240 

37. Development of Carte's '67 flute, No. 1 246 

3 8 - „ „ „ No. 2 246 

39- „ „ „ No. 3 247 

40- „ „ „ No. 4 248 

41. Nose flute 262 

42. Girl playing nose flute 267 

43. Dr. Pottgiesser's ring and crescent key 268 

44. Coche's pictorial puff 273 

45. Side view of Ward's flute 281 

46. Tulou's improved flute 453 



An Obituary Article published in the 'Musical Standard.' 

The death is announced of this once celebrated 
flautist at the patriarchal age of eighty-eight. 1 In 
Germany, fifty years ago, Boehm was considered 

1 It took place on the 25th of November, 1881, and the announce- 
ment that he died at the age of eighty-eight went the round of the 
newspapers. It is difficult to say, however, with certainty whether 
the statement was or was not correct. If he was eighty-eight at 
the time of his death he would have been born in 1793, but I have 
been informed by Mr. John Finn that he has in his possession a 
letter from Boehm, dated February 8th, 1872, in which he writes, 
" I was born on the 9th of April, 1794, and so I am too old to make 
the acquaintance of the present generation." Dr. Schafhautl in 
his L7fe of Boehm {infra, p. 37 5 J also gives the same date. This 
would make him eighty-seven at the time of his death. Yet Schaf- 
hautl twice speaks of him as having reached his eighty- ninth year 
(pp. 374, 475), whilst Boehm himself repeatedly makes statements 
which involve the admission that he was born in 1793. For 
instance, writing to Mr. W. S. Broadwood on the 22nd February, 
1873, he says, " My health is well enough in general, but my eyes 
get so very weak that I am scarcely able to read and write. As 
my eightieth birthday in a few weeks, the doctor saysj ' That 
is a malady which cannot be cured ! ' Nevertheless. I play every 
morning on my flute in G, and people like to hear it." The follow- 
ing is from another letter, dated the 19th April, 1870: " I am still 
able to work and play, although I have passed my seventy- seventh 
birthday." Sometimes, however, he confirms the statement that he 
was born in 1794. Thus, writing on the 16th of April, 1866, a few 
days after his seventy-second birthday, presuming that he was born 
on the 9th of April, 1794, he says, " I am now an old man of 
seventy-two, and I now play only among friends ; but good music 
is still my greatest pleasure in this world." Again, in November 
1868, he speaks of himself as " nearly seventy-five years old " (Essay 

B 2 


the first flute-player of the time. 2 He was re- 
markable alike for his great execution, and the 
grace and good taste of his style. " D'apres les 
eloges, qui lui sont accordes par les artistes qui 
ont entendu," says Fetis, " il parait que Boehm 
se distingue egalement et par sa belle maniere de 
chanter V adagio et par le brillant de son execu- 
tion dans les dimcultes." His works are very 
numerous, and some of his solos are not unfre- 
quently heard in the concert-room, even at the 
present day. 

But his fame as a performer- and composer has 
been completely eclipsed by his success as an in- 
ventor. In connection with this, it is scarcely an 
exaggeration to say that his name is a household 
word with every flute-player in the world. So 
radical were the changes which he introduced, 
that the flute now in general use may be said to 
be a new instrument under an old name. When 
he took it in hand, the flute was not only very 

on the Construction of Flutes, p. 54). On the other hand, ten years 
afterwards, in July 1878, he writes to Mr. Mills, " I am quite well 
in my old age of eighty-five years" {ibid. p. 61). Possibly Boehm 
may have overlooked the circumstance that a man's birthday is not 
the day on which he was born, but the anniversary of that day, and 
that thus a child is one year old on his first birthday. Sometimes, 
moreover, persons fall into the mistake of believing that they are of 
a certain age as soon as they have entered, without waiting until 
they have completed the last year of the series. In this way a man 
who has only just passed his sixty-ninth birthday, may inadvertently 
speak of himself as being seventy years old. 

2 Fe"tis, in the first edition of his Biographical Dictionary (1835, 
article 'Boehm'), speaks of Boehm as " considere" comme le 
premier flutiste de l'epoque actuelle, en Allemagne." In the second 
edition of this work (i860), for "le premier flutiste" is substituted 
" un des plus habiles flutistes." 


much out of. tune, but scarcely two of its notes 
were alike in quality or power, some of them 
being strong and clear, others weak and muffled. 3 
Several of the shakes, too, were wretched, 4 and 
as an instance of their bad effect, it may be 
mentioned that Nicholson, although his tone was 
admitted to be better than that of any other 
player of his day, never made the shake on D, 
which occurs in the ' Ranz des Vaches,' in the 
overture to ' William Tell,' without causing a 
shudder to run through the band. 5 

By adopting two principles, one that the holes 
should be equal, or nearly so, in size, and the 
other that the keys when in repose should be 
open instead of closed, and by constructing me- 
chanism by which these principles could be carried 
out, Boehm produced such a revolution in the 
instrument, that one of the jurors 6 at the Exhibi- 
tion of 1 85 1 declared that, in comparison with 

3 In a pamphlet entitled, Examen critique de la FliSite ordinaire 
comparee a da Flute de Bohm, Coche prints the scales, and indi- 
cates separately each note, which, on the old flute, was either sharp, 
flat, or feeble, and sums up by saying, " What can be expected of 
an instrument, which, out of 217 notes, forming the total of the 
twelve scales, presents almost half of them defective (fausses) ? " 

4 "In a compass of three octaves, the flute of the present day 
presents forty notes on which one cannot execute a shake without 
causing a defective sound to be heard." — Coche. 

6 This very imperfect shake attracted the attention of the con- 
ductor of the orchestra of the Covent Garden Opera House, Signor, 
afterwards Sir Michael Costa. 

Coche includes it in a list of twenty-five passages, taken from the 
works of Auber, Boieldieu, Cherubini, Carafa, Ad. Adam, and other 
distinguished composers, which he brings forward as examples of 
music which it was impossible to execute in a satisfactory manner 
on the flute then in use, though written for that instrument. 

rt This was Berlioz. Mr. Carte, who was present on the occasion. 


Boehm's, the eight-keyed flute was only fit to be 
played at a fair. It must be admitted, however, 
that Boehm was not so successful with the high 
notes, from the D upwards, as he was with the 
two lower octaves. It is true that execution in 
this region was so much facilitated, that passages, 
before almost impossible, were rendered com- 
paratively easy ; but the tone of most of the 
notes was thinner and poorer than on the old flute, 
and their intonation anything but satisfactory, as 
they became, when forced, much too sharp. 

As Boehm's improvements are applicable to 
the rest of the wood-wind, the oboe, clarionet, and 
bassoon, surprise has been expressed that they 
have not been more generally adopted. The ex- 
planation usually given is, that it is impossible to 
improve these instruments ; that, with them, im- 
provement would be destruction, as their essential 
character lies in their imperfections. Perhaps, 
however, the cause of this absence of reform may 
rather be traced to the want of a sufficiently large 
number of .amateurs to break down by their 
influence the conservatism of professional players, 
and to overcome their disinclination to change. 
A musician who has spent his youth in learning 
to conceal the defects of an instrument, has but 
little inclination to give up the vantage he has 
gained, nor has he time, amidst the engagements 
of his professional career, to learn a new system 

informs me that he heard him make this observation in French, as 
he was walking about the room whilst the instruments were being 
tested. He was making a comparison by playing upon a flute on 
the old system. 


of fingering. Still less can he be expected to 
place in the hands of a young player, soon, 
perhaps, to become a rival, an instrument which 
may be the means of enabling him to come to the 
front in the race for artistic distinction. 

A clarionet 7 on the Boehm system, modified 
by Klose, is in use in military bands in France, 
and the Boehm oboe was adopted in this country 
by M. Lavigne, who was so celebrated as a solo 
player. His execution on it was amazing, and it 
seemed to have double the power of the old obOe, 
enabling him to make extraordinary crescendos 
and diminuendos. Unfortunately, however, when 
playing in the orchestra, he did not always re- 
frain from using the extra power he had at his 
command, and so caused the oboe to unduly pre- 
dominate. This created a prejudice against the 
instrument, especially as the characteristic reedy 
tone was intensified, and assumed a piffero-like 
timbre in the loud sounds. 8 

Having effected a reformation in the holes, 

7 The mechanism of this clarionet was contrived by Buffet. 
Klose* pays him the following compliment : — " It is to M. Auguste 
Buffet, junior, who seized and interpreted my ideas with a rare 
happiness, that I owe the instrument I now present to artists and 
amateurs." — Klose*'s Method for the Clarinet, English edition, 
published by Riviere and Hawkes. 

In England a clarionet on Boehm's principles has been designed 
by Mr. Carte, and is manufactured by Rudall, Carte, & Co., but 
it has not come into general use. I have seen a Boehm bassoon, 
but have never heard of one being played. 

8 I learn from M. Buffet, who made the instrument on which 
M. Lavigne plays, that, though it was bored on a model, or bit, as 
it is technically called, he received from Boehm, the holes, by 
M. Lavigne's instructions, were made larger than those proposed 
by Boehm. This, of course, would account for the altered tone., 

*B 4 


Boehm next directed his attention to the shape 
of the interior of the flute, and in 1 846 succeeded 
in his second great achievement — a new bore, 9 
cylindrical in its lower two-thirds, but tapering in 
its upper part, where it terminates in a truncated 
cone. 10 

At first the new bore met with violent opposi- 
tion. So great was the prejudice against it, that 
the late Mr. Clinton declared that, if the cylinder 
were right, Nature herself must be wrong. How- 
ever, it soon gained the ascendency, and before 
many years even Mr. Clinton began to manufac- 
ture cylindrical flutes. 

The following are the chief advantages which 
the cylindrical has over the conical bore : — Greater 
ease in blowing, less strength of lip being re- 
quired ; greater carrying, or penetrating power, 
the sound being audible further off, and the tone, 
to listeners at a distance, being clearer and 
brighter, as proved by an experiment made in the 
Albert Hall ; " a better piano, the soft tones 

9 Boehm is said to have made no less than three hundred experi- 
ments in connection with this invention. A very interesting account 
of them is given by him in his pamphlet, Ueber den Flbtenbau 
und dessen neueste Verbesserungjti, Mainz, 1847, to which, or to 
the French translation of it, often quoted in this work, entitled, 
De la Fabrication et des dernier s Perfectionnements des FMtes, 
Paris, 1848, the reader is referred. In 1882 an English version of 
this work by Boehm himself was published by Messrs. Rudall, 
Carte, & Co., under the title of An Essay on the Construction of 
Flutes, edited by Mr. W. S. Broadwood. 

10 The termination is not, strictly speaking, conical, but slightly 
curved. Boehm professed to employ the curve of the parabola, so 
that the bore at this part may be said, I suppose, to correspond to 
a truncated parabolic conoid. 

11 For an account of this experiment see Note A, p. 14. 


being more delicate in quality ; greater certainty 
in eliciting, and greater ease in subduing, the high 
notes, which are less liable to become too sharp. 12 
In one respect, however, it is inferior : for, in 
passing rapidly from the higher to the lower part 
of the instrument, the performer cannot attack, or 
articulate, the low notes with so much force and 
firmness. 13 

It has been the subject of a controversy, to 
which national jealousy has imparted needless 
warmth, whether Boehm was, or was not, indebted 
for some of his ideas to a Captain Gordon, a 
Swiss gentleman of English extraction, who was 
working, among others, at the same time, 
with the same object. But however this may 
be, there can be no doubt whatever but that 
Gordon adopted some of Boehm's inventions, 
and even the French admit that two of his keys, 

12 Further remarks on the intonation of the cylinder flute will be 
found at p. 15, Note B. 

13 It has- been stated that the son plein, a quality of tone 
resembling that of the clarionet, which can be produced in the 
lowest octave of the flute, is peculiar to the cylindrical bore. This 
reedy timbre, however, can be brought out with quite as much, if 
not more intensity on the conical flute: it depends, not on the 
cylindrical shape of the bore, but on the strength of the lip of the 
performer. Nicholson, who could elicit every variety of tone which 
the flute is capable of producing, is said to have forced it out in 
a way never before heard, and hence it was christened the 
" Nicholsonian effect." It is much cultivated by English flute- 
players, and those who have strong lips are often very proud of 
being able to " thrash " the flute, as they term it, and so make it 
heard. Most of the Continental flautists, however, look upon its 
use, except to a very limited extent, as an indication of bad style, 
akin to the questionable taste of some contralto singers, who, 
finding themselves gifted with the faculty of emitting their low 
notes with great power, never lose an opportunity of forcing them 
on the ear of the listener. 


those for F sharp and the D shake, belong to 
Boehm. 14 

Gordon, who began to make experiments in 
Paris in 1826, made Boehm's acquaintance in 
London in 1831, 15 when each showed the other 
the result of his labours up to that time. Boehm 
observed that Gordon had lowered and enlarged 
the E hole, as well as that he had adopted a ring- 
key. 16 But the idea of this contrivance was not 
new to him, for he states that not only had he had 
in contemplation a flute with mechanism based on 
a system of ring-keys before 1 83 1 , but that he 
had already made, since he had been in London, 
a model of the new instrument. 17 It was not until 
he heard the magnificent tone of Nicholson, and 
saw the enormous 18 holes of his flute, that he 
began to despair of being able to retain the old 

They parted; Boehm returned home, and in 
1832 constructed the flute which bears his name. 
In 1833 Gordon went to Munich, and from that 
time the rival inventors appear to have always 
been on friendly terms. 19 Boehm placed an artisan 

14 Infra, p. 126. I5 Infra, pp. 21, 130. 

16 Infra, p. 22. 17 Infra, p. 130. 

18 The holes of the flutes made for Nicholson's own use were 
much larger than those of the instruments sold as " Nicholson 
flutes." Boehm, whose fingers, though long, were thin and taper, 
told me that when he attempted to play on Nicholson's flute he 
found himself unable to stop the holes. He described Nicholson 
as a handsome man, of commanding stature and muscular build, 
with a powerful and capacious chest. 

19 It is only fair to mention that, since this article was published 
in the Musical Standard, I have been told by Buffet, who knew 
both Boehm and Gordon, that they had a violent {brulante) quarrel ; 
but when or where it took place he was unable to inform me. 


and a workshop in his own house at the disposal 
of Gordon, who, after working some months and 
incorporating in his new production, with the 
inventor's consent, some of Boehm's fingering, 
issued an announcement of his flute. 20 In 1838 a 
Frenchman commenced the manufacture of the 
Boehm flute, which had previously been imported 
into France from Germany, and, at the same time, 
the invention was claimed in Paris as Gordon's. 
A letter was then written to Gordon in Switzer- 
land for information on the subject, but, owing tc 
the state of his health, his wife thought it best to 
conceal it from him, and to reply to it herself. 
Her answer, 21 which does credit rather to her 
heart than her head, does not throw any new 
light on the point at issue. 

An examination of the engraving, 22 representing 
the ingenious, but practically useless instrument, 
on which the claim is based, shows that it was 
larger and much less conical 23 than usual in shape, 
and that the B flat and F sharp (the latter, as we 
have seen, taken from Boehm), were produced by 
the fingers of the right hand, as on Boehm's 
instrument, though the mechanism by which the 
action of the fingers is conveyed to the holes to 
be closed is very different. It may be mentioned, 

20 Infra, p. 132. 21 Infra, p. 127. ** Fig. 12, p. 107. 

23 This departure from the usual conical shape is so marked that, 
judging from the engraving, one would suppose that Gordon's flute, 
if not actually cylindrical, presented a distinct approach to the 
cylindrical form. I am assured, however, by M. Buffet, who knew 
Gordon and did work on his flute, that this resemblance is super- 
ficial only. Gordon's bore was probably funnel-shaped at its lower 
end, like that of the bass flute represented in Fig. 1. 


en passant, that this cross-action of the fingers is 
a drawback to Boehm's system, and that in the 
attempts (some of them successful) which have 
been made by Carte, Briccialdi, and others to 
make improvements on it, one of the chief objects 
has been to do away with these objectionable 
back-fi n gerings . 24 

But whether Boehm borrowed from Gordon, or 
whether the same ideas occurred to both inventors 
independently of each other, or whether these 
ideas were derived from some common source, it is 
certain that to Boehm is due the credit of bringing 
them into a practical form, and introducing them 

24 The numberless attempts which have been made to improve 
the Boehm fingering, form a practical protest against it. But, not- 
withstanding all the ingenuity which has been brought to bear on 
the subject, no progress has yet been made towards what is so 
much to be desired, namely, a mechanism with a fingering which 
should be universally accepted, just as is that of the violin or the 
pianoforte. Much facility, however, has been gained by a return 
to the closed keys of the old flute, care being taken to guard against 
inequality of tone by the introduction of duplicate holes covered 
with open keys. In this way, Mr. Carte, by means of a closed 
F key, has overcome most of the difficulties of the back-fingering 
for F sharp, and M. Buffet, by having recourse to a closed B flat 
key, those of the back-fingering for B flat. The majority of the 
French players, and Mr. Radcliff and his followers in this country, 
have returned to the closed G sharp, to the great relief of the little 
finger of the left hand. 

Following out this principle still further, I have designed a flute, 
which has been made for me by Messrs. Rudall, Carte, & Co., 
on which all these three closed keys are retained, whilst the system 
of open holes is in no instance departed from. On this flute there 
are very great facilities for fingering, and two new and important 
shakes in the high octave ; at the same time the fingering of the old 
flute is retained for all the notes except one (C natural). Moreover, 
by the introduction of a piece of new mechanism, each of the upper 
notes from D to G, both inclusive, is made with only one, and that 
in every case the correct vent-hole (the fifth below the fundamental 
note) ; a result, so far as I know, never before obtained. 


to the world. No sooner had his announcement 
been issued, than Gordon undertook a journey to 
London, in the hope of getting his flute taken 
up, but he was doomed to disappointment. He 
returned to his family in Switzerland much 
depressed, though he again recovered his spirits. 
However, two or three years afterwards, in endea- 
vouring to effect, with his own hands, a further 
improvement in his flute, he had the misfortune to 
crack it ; whereupon his reason, which had been 
tottering since 1830, gave way, and it was found 
necessary to place him under restraint. 

In early life Boehm learnt his father's business, 
that of a goldsmith, and the skill he thus acquired 
in the use of tools was of great assistance to him 
in his experiments. He employed his inventive 
power on several other things besides the flute, 25 
and, for two of his inventions, an improvement in 
the. manufacture of iron, and a method of com- 
municating rotatory motion, he received prize 
medals. 26 He visited England nine times, and 
spent altogether more than two years in this 
country. He used to speak with enthusiasm of 
his reception, and of the kindness and hospita- 
lity of his English friends. When the writer had 
the pleasure of seeing him at. Munich. in Septem- 
ber 1 88 1, notwithstanding his great age, he still 
held himself erect and walked with a firm step. 

25 In the first edition of Fetis's Dictionary he is credited with 
the invention of a new kind of pianoforte. 

26 It seems that the " prize medal " which Boehm received for the 
part he played in connection with the iron industry was a decoration. 
See infra, p. 431, also p. 438. 


Of this evidence of a hale frame, so seldom seen 
in his unwonted years, he was very proud, and he 
attributed it, as well as his good health and 
longevity, to his temperate habits ; for, without 
being particularly abstemious, he always avoided 
excess, especially in alcohol. Although he did 
not marry until he was twenty-six, he left behind 
him more than fifty descendants. 

Note A, page 8. 

Mr. Radcliff having an engagement for a concert to 
be given at the Albert Hall, during which he was to play 
a solo, a duet with the pianoforte, and an obbligato to a 
song, besides taking part in other music, it was arranged 
to take advantage of the opportunity to make a com- 
parison between the effect, in this large building, of the 
conical and the cylindrical flute. Mr. Radcliff was to 
use sometimes a conical and sometimes a cylindrical 
instrument, and to prevent those who were to be the 
judges from being swayed by prejudice, he was not to 
let it be known beforehand on which of the two he was 
going to play. 

I stationed myself in the gallery, as far as possible 
from the orchestra, and from where I was placed I soon 
detected a marked difference between the two flutes. On 
the one the notes were bright, the rapid passages clear 
and sparkling, and the tone possessed of that limpid 
sweetness so characteristic of the flute ; whilst the effect 
of the other seemed, in comparison, to be dull, heavy, 
and indistinct. Mr. Richard Carte was present in another 
part of the Hall, and his impression corresponded very 
much with my own. 


At that time I was playing on a conical flute, having 
left the cylinder for it, being firmly convinced that, 
whatever difference of opinion there might be as to the 
effect of the cone close at hand, there could be no doubt 
of its superiority when heard at a distance. Whenever, 
therefore, the better effect was produced, I felt no doubt 
whatever but that Mr. Radclifif was using the conical 
flute, and great was my surprise on learning from him, 
after the concert, that I was wrong in every instance. 

This experiment seemed to me to be so conclusive 
that I at once returned to the cylinder, and I have 
played on it ever since. I believe that Mr. Radclifif 
now seldom uses a conical flute for his public per- 

I ought to mention that in this trial the cone 
had more than a fair chance. The conical flute was 
Mr. RadclifFs own, which he had in daily use ; whereas 
the cylinder was one lent him for the occasion, and it 
was only placed in his hands a few hours before the 
concert. Moreover it was on the Boehm system of 
fingering, a system very different from Mr. RadclifFs, 
and although this talented artist is gifted with the 
extraordinary power of being able to play on any flute, 
no matter what the fingering may be, yet he must have 
been at a disadvantage when using an instrument to 
which he was not accustomed. 

Both flutes were of wood, with lined heads. 

Note B, page 9. 

Notwithstanding this improvement, the chief diffi- 
culties with which the player has to contend as regards 
intonation still lie in the high octave ; and nothing but 
a correct ear and a good embouchure will enable him to 
overcome them. 

Each note of the second octave is slightly flatter than 
the corresponding note of the first, but this difference is 


so trifling as to be of little practical moment. It is 
different, however, with the high octave, where many of 
the notes, unless skilfully blown, become, especially in 
forte passages, unmistakably and painfully sharp. When 
the air within the flute grows warm, the pitch of the 
instrument rises, and if the high octave is not more 
affected than the other two, it at any rate becomes more 
difficult to control. This, as the temperature of a concert- 
room is sometimes very high during a performance, adds 
greatly to the embarrassment of the player. Boehm, 
who took the utmost pains to endeavour to remedy the 
defective intonation of the flute, published a schema or 
diagram, as he terms it, to enable musical instrument 
makers to ascertain the theoretically correct places for 
the different holes ; but since the' first edition of this 
work was published, it has been openly stated that flute- 
makers do not accept it as a guide. 

Some improvement may, perhaps, be expected from 
further experiments with the head-joint, 27 the resources of 
which are probably not yet exhausted ; but there seems 
to be little or no prospect of perfection of intonation 
ever being attained. To cause the diameter of the bore 
to vary, as the performer passes from one octave to 
another, is, of course, an impossibility ; nor is it likely 
that mechanism of any practical use will ever be contrived 
for keeping the cork in motion whilst the instrument 28 

27 I am now (1894) in possession of head-joints with which I have 
much less difficulty in playing the high notes in tune. Moreover, 
of late years it has been discovered that an important factor in 
determining the proper position for the holes had been overlooked, 
so that flutes are now much better tuned than they were in 1882, 
when this work was written. 

28 " Un second inconvenient qui m'obligeait de m'e'carter de la 
the'orie, c'est l'impossibilite de faire sur une flute la distance du 
bouchon de milieu de l'embouchure en proportion des diffe'rentes 
longueurs des ondulations d'air, parce que, sans un mdcanisme 
extremement complique" et presque impraticable, ni le bouchon ni 
l'embouchure ne peuvent etre faits si mobiles qu'a chaque intervalle 
cette distance augmente ou diminue selon la longueur infeVieure de 


is being played, or for opening and closing a set of 
separate and independent holes, as vent-holes for the 
high notes. 

Many, I amongst them, when commencing the study 
of the flute, have, been misled by the statements of flute- 
makers regarding the perfection of their respective 
instruments. Mr. Siccama, for instance, in his ' Theory 
of the New Patent Diatonic Flute' (London, 1850), thus 
writes : " Although the flute has always been a popular 
instrument, scientific musicians have ever regarded it as 
an imperfect one, on account of its being, in almost every 
key, out of tune. Many have tried at various times to 
remedy this defect, and much was hoped for in France 
from the introduction of the Boehm flute, which, as far as 
equality of tone is concerned, is an improvement on the 
old plan ; but, when examined with respect to correct- 
ness of tune, it is very defective, particularly in the higher 
notes, without taking into consideration the difficulties 
arising from the complexity of its mechanism. All other 
attempts in a like manner have only partially succeeded, 
until it has become the general opinion that this defect of 
the flute could only be modified, and that it is incapable 
of being played as perfectly in tune as the violin. 

"This imperfection has hitherto formed the great 
obstacle in studying the flute, for only consummate skill, 
united with great perseverance and a scientific ear, 
could enable the performer to arrive at any degree of 
excellence in the art of flute-playing. 

" This subject has occupied the attention of the inventor 
for some years ; and after a very careful investigation of 
the theory of sounds, and repeated experiments, he has 
succeeded in producing a flute equal in correctness of 
tune to the violin. In order to prove this assertion, it 

la colonne d'air. II faut done trouver pour le bouchon une place 
moyenne, de telle sort que les nceuds de vibration des notes les 
plus elevees ne s'approchent pas trop de l'embouchure et que ces 
sons puissent encore deVelopper." — Boehm. 



will be necessary to enter briefly into the subject of 
Tune." Here follows a mathematical disquisition on the 
subject of tuning, extending over three pages quarto. 

The following remarks, in a very different strain, are 
from the pen of the late Mr. Clinton : — 

" To say that I offer to the public a perfect flute in 
my recent invention, would be saying more than the 
flute is capable of being made. No flute is perfect, nor 
can be ; the principle by which we obtain the sounds of 
thirty-seven pipes, varying in length and size, from one 
single tube, precludes the possibility of perfection. Nor 
do I say that my flute is arranged in consonance with, 
strict acoustical principles, because I am confident so 
imperfect an instrument as the flute never can be. It is 
easy to show how the vibrations and the waves of air in 
the flute are governed by the laws and principles of 
acoustics, and to the uninitiated ear it smacks in some 
degree of learning, but it is quite absurd to say that 
an instrument which, with one tube, has to produce 
thirty-seven different sounds, and one hole of which 
(the C sharp hole) I have proved to be connected with 
the production of so many different notes, can be con- 
structed on true acoustical principles. The flute, by such 
attempts at refinement, has been lowered to an extent 
unworthy of it, while no beneficial end has been gained. 
Mr. Boehm, who for years devoted himself to the study 
of acoustical laws as connected with the flute, despaired 
of being able to regulate the instrument by these laws ; 
the result of his experiments, he says in a letter to me, 
dated January 1847, is this — that though he sees clearly 
by the laws of nature why one note or another will not 
come out freely or in tune, why the octaves are here too 
flat, here too sharp, &c, he also sees clearly what Savart 
twelve years before had told him atParis — that it is 
impossible to make a perfect fluted — Treatise on the 
Flute, p. 46. 



Boehm early evinced a disposition to apply his 
inventive faculty and mechanical skill to the flute. 
The manual dexterity he had acquired in his 
father's workshop enabled him, when quite a boy, 
to construct without any difficulty a four-keyed 
flute for his own use. As he grew older, it was 
his constant endeavour to make improvements in 
the manufacture of his favourite instrument, and 
amongst his first applications to the flute, with a 
view of rendering the instrument less imperfect, 
may be mentioned new springs, cork joints, 
leather fittings (garnitures en cuir), a sliding em- 
bouchure of gold, and other things then not 
generally used. 1 

Finding that he could not get his ideas carried 
out according to his wishes by the musical instru- 
ment makers whom he employed, in 1828 he 
established a flute factory of his own. He now 
succeeded for the first time in making a flute with 
which he was satisfied, and on this he played 

1 De la Fabrication des Flutes, p. 8. Essay on the Construction 
of Flutes, p. 1 1. 

G 2 


during the professional visit which he paid in 1831 
to Paris and London. 2 

Up to this time his efforts had been directed to 
the improvement of the eight-keyed flute, but 
whilst he was in London he reluctantly decided 
to abandon the old fingering. 

What induced him thus to change his views ? 
He shall tell us himself : — 

"In this latter city," he says, " I was struck 
with the volume of the tone of Nicholson, who 
was then in the .full vigour of his talent. This 
power was the result of the extraordinary size of 
the holes of his flute, 3 but it required his mar- 

2 He played in London at one of the Philharmonic Society's 
concerts, given on the 9th of May. He chose for the occasion his 
'Grande Polonaise' (Op. 16), dedicated to Camus. His perform- 
ance is thus noticed in the Harmonicon : " Mr. Boehm is a very 
superior player, with an excellent tone, and his composition was, 
comparatively speaking, highly respectable ; his style differs from 
that of Nicholson and Drouet, inasmuch as he strives to touch the 
heart rather than to astonish." 

On May 3rd, he took part in Moscheles' concert, and is said to 
have played a fantasia "with great ability." He also played at 
Moralt's concert (Moralt came from Munich) on May 14th, and at 
Hummel's on the 20th of June. For other concerts see pp. 399, 435. 

3 " The father of the late justly celebrated Nicholson gave greater 
power to some of the lower tones of the flute by increasing the size 
of some of the apertures to a most unreasonable extent. We shall 
shortly see that this process necessarily sharpens the tones of the 
lower octave more than those of the upper octaves, thereby throw- 
ing a still greater inequality into the scales of the instrument and 
creating the necessity for a greater action and practice of the 

" It was here that Nicholson greatly excelled ; but the instrument 
was rendered less manageable for all those who did not possess 
great command of the embouchure, because the means of correcting 
the defective intonation of the flute are not supplied by the instru- 
ment, but are expected from the performer, by a certain alteration 
of the action and position of the lips and of the force and direction 
of the jet of breath." — Ward. 


vellous skill and his excellent embouchure to mask 
the want of accuracy of intonation and equality 
of tone resulting from the position of the holes, 
which was incorrect and repugnant to the elemen- 
tary principles of acoustics. 4 I saw also in London, 

* " In every flute made in the usual manner, the low C sharp and 
E flat apertures are much too low ; the E natural very much too 
high ; the F natural is also too high, and the F sharp too low ; the 
G nearly right ; the G sharp, A natural, and B flat much too high, 
and the topmost aperture much too low. 

" The necessary evil consequences produced by this improper 
position of the apertures, are attempted to be remedied, so far- as 
intonation is concerned, by making those apertures which are too 
high, small in size : and vice versa, the apertures too low in position 
are made large in diameter. But, as may always be predicted in 
the application of false remedies, the above-named process only 
very partially relieves one evil whilst it creates another of equal or 
greater magnitude. As every flute-player is aware, a note deter- 
mined by a small aperture, even if too high, necessarily yields a 
paltry, feeble tone ; and a too low and large aperture gives a com- 
paratively strong tone. Add to which, there are no apertures pro- 
vided for the independent production of the second C natural and 
C sharp, they being made by employing the apertures belonging to 
other notes, by what is termed cross-fingering. This again being 
equally a jumbling and confounding of natural laws, gives birth, 
like the small holes, to a muffled quality and doubtful character of 
tone. But we appeal to all performers on the best flutes of the 
usual make, can they produce A, E, C, or other notes, loud, of 
good quality, and in tune, without so much setting about it and 
manoeuvring, as is utterly impracticable in actual play ? We 
are sure they will answer in the negative ; and we are further 
sure that even Nicholson, with his special flute for his special 
embouchure, did not and could not accomplish what we have 
asked. On the contrary, he has left on record the existence of 
these and similar incorrigible difficulties as necessarily appertaining 
to the instrument. By stupendous practice of the embouchure, he 
and other talented performers have undoubtedly produced wonderful 
and delightful effects upon the flute ; but the honest have, at all 
times, deposed to the difficulty of arriving at anything like a per- 
formance satisfactory to the musician. 

" By that quality of the flute which we have above described, 
the artful quack has had the means of imposing on the public- 
instruments which he could make appear in tune, obtaining thereby 


at this time, an amateur, Mr. Gordon, who had 
already made numerous attempts at improvement, 
first at Paris, afterwards in London. 

" The E hole on his flute was bored lower down 
and larger than usual, and, to avoid the lever of 
the F, he had adopted a ring-key ; he had also 
had made a number of keys and levers ingeniously 
conceived, but too complicated to ever be of much 
advantage to his flute, which, moreover, was con- 
structed in defiance of the principles of acoustics, 
and was, therefore, destined to remain imperfect. 

" All this confirmed my conviction, the result 
of my long researches, that no improvement, 
really complete, could be brought about without 
a reform of the system of fingering. I determined, 
then, to devote my energies to the construction 
of an entirely new flute, which should combine 
accuracy of intonation with power and equality of 
tone, and on which all music written within its 
compass could be executed. 

" On my return to Munich, I set to work. 
After a careful examination and numerous trials of 
holes and different kinds of mechanism, I decided 
on the system of ring-keys as best calculated to 
fulfil all the requirements, a system which I had 
already had in contemplation before 183 1." 5 

an exorbitant and iniquitous profit ; on the other hand, many have 
imposed on themselves by supposing that the flutes on which they 
have witnessed such effects, must be well in tune, and have given 
large prices to possess them. We have even known instances in 
which 50/. have been given for instruments much worse than 
ordinary in this respect." — Ward. 

6 The French from which this passage is translated will be found 
at p. 149. 


As it was during his acquaintance with Gordon 
in London that Boehm has been accused of appro- 
priating his invention, and as this charge has 
caused his name to be mentioned with much 
obloquy, it may be worth while to inquire for a 
moment what he might have seen on Gordon's 
flute which he subsequently reproduced on his own. 

For instance, did he see open-standing keys ? 
Yes, undoubtedly. But open keys were not a 
new invention ; they existed already on the foot 
joint of the eight-keyed flute, and on other instru- 
ments besides the flute. 6 

Or, again, did he see the .fingering which he 
subsequently adopted ? The negative evidence 
on this point is perfectly conclusive with respect 
to all the notes except two (C natural and B 
flat), respecting which some uncertainty prevails. 7 

6 This leads to another and still more important question, namely : 
Did Boehm now see, for the first time, open-standing valves sub- 
stituted for the closed keys of the eight-keyed flute ; in other words, 
did he borrow from Gordon the idea of the open-keyed system of 
fingering ? In answer to this question, we may say that, although 
Gordon carried out the system of open keys still more completely 
than Boehm, for he opened even the E flat key, which Boehm left 
closed ; yet Boehm on his first model (Fig. 8) had already opened 
one of the keys, that for F natural ; he must, therefore, if this model 
was made before he saw Gordon's flute, of which I entertain little 
doubt, have been alive to the importance of open keys before he 
became acquainted with Gordon. 

7 The matter stands thus: there have come down to us repre- 
sentations of two of Gordon's flutes (Figs. 8 and 12) ; on one of them 
(Fig. 12), but not on the other, these two notes are fingered as on 
the Boehm flute. Now Boehm says (see Appendix, p. 152) : "Mr. 
Gordon made use of essential parts of my instrument in constructing 
his own, but he always loyally acknowledged k." Gordon did not 
acknowledge that he borrowed these two fingerings from Boehm, 
and it therefore seems to be a legitimate inference from Boehm's 
observation that Gordon did not take them from the Boehm flute. 


Boehm arrived at his system of fingering by con- 
structing three models, and then choosing from 
amongst them, after actual use, that which seemed 
to offer the greatest advantages. 8 

Then, as regards the most important part of the 
invention — the ring-keys — Boehm mentions that 
there was a ring-key on Gordon's flute. But he 
also states that he showed Gordon a model of 
his own new flute, which he had made since 
he had been in London ; 9 so that he, too, was 
able, on his side, to produce a ring-key, in an im- 
perfect form it is true, for it wanted the axle, an 
important part of the contrivance, but still a ring- 
key, by means of which one finger could close two 

When Gordon saw this ring-key his eyes fell 
on an object which conveyed to him a revelation. 
Crude and immature as it was, there was disclosed 
in it the mechanical principle which was destined 
to revolutionise the flute. This key was literally 
the key of the invention ; it embodied the essence 
of the device by means of which was rendered 
practicable a purpose which Gordon, and others 

However, since the foregoing was written, Mr. Rockstro has ascer- 
tained that the C natural fingering was originated before Gordon's 
time (see p. 234), leaving one only, that for B flat, to be accounted for. 

8 " J'avais fabrique* plusieurs plans apres de mures reflexions sur 
toutes les combinaisons de tons possibles et de mouvements de 
doigts — car dans de telles choses, ce n'est que la pratique qui decide 
deTinitivement — et je fabriquai trois modeles de flutes construites 
differemment, parmi lesquelles par l'examen soigneux de tous les 
avantages et desavantages, il se montra que le modele de ma flute 
comme depuis lors offrait tous les avantages mieux que les autres." 
— Extract from a manuscript given to the Author by Boehm. 

Infra, p. 130. 


before him, had been labouring in vain to accom- 
plish, the production of an open-keyed instru- 
ment. That the idea seemed to Gordon to be an 
Eureka, the one thing needful to complete " the 
means of execution" of his flute, can excite no 
surprise. Nor is it astonishing that he should 
have discarded his own ring-key, whatever that 
contrivance might have been, to substitute for it 
one constructed after the idea with which he now 
became acquainted. But what does seem extra- 
ordinary, considering the way in which Boehm 
was so often treated by his brother flute-makers, 
is that having seen this key, he did not secretly 
appropriate the idea, convert it to his own use, 
and then proceed to disparage, belittle and vilify 
Boehm. But Gordon was a soldier, and, as Boehm 
testified, "a gentleman in every respect." He 
was a stranger to the corrupting influence of the 
spirit of trade, an influence so destructive of the 
sense of honour. As if he had foreseen that the 
day would come when the rivals of Boehm would, 
for their own purpose, credit him with the inven- 
tion of the Boehm flute, he disclaimed by antici- 
pation a pretension to the honour to be thrust 
upon him, by inserting in the announcement of 
his instrument the following words : "The suppres- 
sion of the two keys for F natural, and their re- 
placement by one key for F sharp, is an idea the 
application of which offers great advantages. The 
idea of this key for F sharp, communicated by 
Mr. T. Bbhm, of Munich, has been, with his 
consent, adopted for the present flute, of which it 
completes the means of execution." 


Gordon imagined that the unsatisfactory action 
of his keys arose, not from the inherent mechani- 
cal defects of his system, but from the difficulty 
of getting his mechanism properly constructed. 10 
Having failed in this in Paris, he had come to 
London, where he employed two flute-makers, 
Messrs. Rudall and Rose 11 and Mr. Ward, 12 but 
without success. He then determined to try what 
Boehm, who had a very skilful workman, could do 
for him, and in 1833 he went to Munich. 13 He 
now saw, for the first time, the Boehm flute, 
which had been finished in the previous year, and 
it is only reasonable to suppose that if it had been 
merely a modification of his own invention, as has 
been alleged by M. Coche, he would at once have 
indignantly broken ofl" all communication with 
Boehm, as a man who had shown himself capable 

10 See Appendix, p. 163. 

11 It is a tradition in the house of Rudall and Co., that the former 
heads of the firm worked for Gordon. 

12 "About the year 1831 we constructed a flute under the direc- 
tion of Captain Gordon, of Charles Xth's Swiss Guards, who had 
been experimenting on the matter for some time. In this flute the 
apertures were placed consistently with the proper length of tube 
required for each fundamental note in the chromatic gamut ; and 
the captain contrived a method of acting upon the additional aper- 
tures beyond the number of fingers. With this flute the captain 
returned to Paris. Mr. Boehm was at the same time trying to 
improve the flute or to remodel it ; and it is said, with some reason, 
that he adopted a great part of the captain's contrivance. Upon 
this matter much has been said and written, and although some 
points were never clearly ascertained, we must give our decided 
opinion that Gordon is entitled to most credit in the affair." — 
Ward, The Flute Explained, p. 9. 

13 " He went to Munich to be near M. Boehm, who had a work- 
man who was the only person who could assist him in the con. 
struction of the flute he had invented." — Madame Gordon's letter, 
infra, p. 127. 


of grossly abusing his confidence ; instead of this, 
however, the only effect which the new instru- 
ment appears to have had upon him was to un- 
settle his views with regard to his own flute, and 
to suggest further modifications and improve- 
ments. 14 Boehm assigned him a room 15 in which, 
with the assistance of his best workman, he could 
make fresh experiments in privacy. He gave 
him, moreover, every facility for carrying out his 
new ideas, even permitting him to transfer to his 
now remodelled flute some of his own mechanical 
ideas. 16 

The following is a more detailed account of 
Gordon's proceedings at this time. 

As Gordon's object in calling upon Boehm in 
London was to consult him about his flute, we 
may take it for granted that he mentioned the 
difficulties he had encountered in getting its 
mechanism constructed to his satisfaction. We 
know that he admired the workmanship of the 
instrument on which Boehm was playing, and 
that Boehm offered to make a flute for him on his 
own model ; also that he told him that he, too, 
intended, on his return home, to construct an 
improved flute, and that he promised to send 
him one of the perfected instruments — a re- 
mark from which we learn that he had already 
become dissatisfied with the model he showed 

14 Seep. 151. 

15 Boehm pointed out to me the situation of this room. It was 
in the upper part of the house, his workshops being in the story 
above his flat. 

16 The mechanism for F sharp, and the D shake (see p. 106). 


Boehm left London for Munich, and, shortly 
afterwards, Gordon returned to Paris. Here 
he saw both Drouet and Tulou. Drouet ex- 
pressed his approval of his flute, but would 
not hear of a change of fingering. Tulou " 

17 Gordon does not seem to have met with much encouragement 
from Tulou, if we may judge from the following, which I take from 
the preface to the Method of that great artist. After alluding to the 
circumstance that different systems had of late years been applied 
to the flute, he goes on to say : " The first trial was made by one of 
my pupils named Gordon, a captain in the Swiss Guards in France. 
I had to regret that I could not give that zealous amateur the ap- 
proval he expected. His flute transgressed, in my opinion, by the 
principle on which it was founded. In fact, Gordon had taken for 
a basis the harmonic sounds, a thing to be avoided on instruments 
pierced 'with holes, if one desires to preserve their characteristic 
quality of tone. The flute requires a tone mellow in the piano, 
thrilling and sonorous in the forte. Gordon's instrument, on the 
contrary, had a dry {maigre) tone, without fulne?s (rondeur) which 
came far too near that of the hautboy. It is on this first idea 
that the Boehm flute has been conceived. The author of this 
new instrument, a man of great intelligence, has sought how 
to best turn to account the system of his predecessor. He 
has perfected it ; but although he may have brought about happy 
modifications, he has neglected two essential points, namely : 
the preservation of the tone, and the simplicity of the ordinary 

fingering It is of fundamental importance to preserve for 

each instrument the difference of timbre which is peculiar to it ; for 
it' is this very difference which constitutes in great part the charm 
of music. Each instrument has its place and its special merit ; for 
instance, if the flute solo which Gluck has used in his opera of 
Armida to accompany the slumber of Renaud, was played on a 
hautboy, what would happen ? The sweetness which the composer 
has desired to give to this piece would completely disappear. Well, 
then ! I am convinced that the result would be the same with the 

Boehm flute Let us seek for ameliorations of use, let us 

remedy, if it is possible, the defects which can be discovered, but 
let us preserve the pathetic and sentimental tone of the instrument. 
What is the first requisite for a singer ? a beautiful voice ; for a 
flute-player, a fine tone. When an artist does not possess this quali- 
fication he plunges into a torrent of difficulties to obtain applause. 
To play with ease that which is difficult is without doubt a merit, 
but it is not the only object at which one ought to aim. In art, 


was opposed to it just as decidedly. He now 
employed himself in constructing a flute, for he 
was learning the art of flute-making. 18 About 
the 1 st February, 1833, he went to Lausanne, 
whence, on the 15th of that month, he wrote to 
Boehm, as follows : — " I returned home to Lau- 
sanne a fortnight ago, after a pretty long sojourn 
in Paris, whither I went from London shortly 
after I saw you there, when you started for 
Munich. I have not lost my time, and I have 
been working assiduously at a new flute, which I 
have made myself, as well as I could, and which 
I have just finished. 

" I have not forgotten you, and I have been 
constantly expecting that you would send me 
an improved flute, such as you purposed making 
on your return to Germany. In accordance 
with your offer in London, I wish to send you 
my flute, begging you to make me a fine instru- 
ment on its model, seeing that I am in possession 
of the whole of the fingering for playing it." 19 

In his reply to this letter, Boehm said that it 
would be better for Gordon to come to Munich, 
and Gordon took his advice. 

During the first week in May Boehm set out 
for England with his new flute. 20 On the 15th of 

with the flute especially, ' 'Tis charming ! ' is an exclamation it is 
worth more to call forth than ' 'Tis astonishing ! ' " 

18 His good wife, with pardonable pride, believed that he ulti- 
mately became really very expert ; but if the flute represented by 
Fig. 9 is either the original, or a copy of that which he made in 
Paris at this time, it is certain that he still had much to learn. 

19 . The original will be found at p. 95. 20 Infra, p. 278. 


July, whilst Boehm was still in London, Gordon 
wrote from Munich to M. Mercier, of Paris, 21 
telling him that he had just had made, by a clever 
artisan, an excellent instrument on his model. He 
enclosed to him some copies of a printed paper 
or circular, announcing the invention, with the 
request that he would distribute them in Paris. 
They were to be delivered to Tulou, Drouet, 
Fetis, Jeannet and Cotelle, the well-known pub- 
lishers, and others of note connected with music. 
He added that he was about to start for London, 
and he gave him his address there (22 Newcastle 
Street, Strand), so that he might be communicated 
with in case any amateurs should make inquiries 
in response to his announcement. 

He imagined that, as soon as his " beautiful 
instrument " 22 became known, players would flock 
to purchase it, and it was his dream, after taking 
out a patent, to establish, with the assistance of 
Boehm's workman, manufactories in London, 
Paris, Vienna, and the other chief cities of 
Europe, 23 and so to realise an income to replace 
that of which, through no fault of his own, he had 
been deprived. 24 Alas, poor man ! he knew 
nothing of the world, and little thought that, even 
if his invention had been all he fondly believed it 
to be, it would still be necessary to set in motion 
hidden wheels to launch it and keep it afloat 
amidst the billows of prejudice and interest. 

Gordon remained in England until his stock of 
money was exhausted, and then rejoined his wife 

21 Infra, p. 132. K Infra, p. 127. 

i3 Infra, pp. 127, 131. 24 Infra, p. 127. 


and children at Lausanne, wofully disappointed 
at his want of success. 25 Indeed, it appears to 
be not improbable, judging from an expression 
used by Madame Gordon, that he was suffering 
from an attack of melancholia. However, he 
threw off his despondency, and it seems that he 
returned to Munich and resumed his flute-making, 
for Boehm offered to produce evidence to prove 
that he was there in 1834. 26 His stay at Munich 
is variously stated at six, nine, and twelve months. 
If we regard his visit to London as a break in his 
residence there, it may serve possibly to account 
for the discrepancy. 

We must now pass over a period of four or 
five years. In the interval Gordon had lost his 
reason. The Boehm flute had been slowly but 
steadily gaining ground, particularly in France. 
A demand for it was springing up in Paris, and 
in 1838, M. Coche, professor of the flute at the 
Conservatoire, entered into an arrangement with 
M. Auguste Buffet, jeune, a Parisian musical in- 
strument maker, to establish a Boehm-flute manu- 
factory. Boehm had not protected himself by a 
patent, so that there was nothing to stand in his 
way ; and accordingly he assured the public 
that Boehm's flute had been copied " with an 
exactitude truly scrupulous," though, as a matter 

2C See Madame Gordon's letter, p. 127. 

26 Schaf hautl in his Life of Boehm (p. 420) says that Gordon was 
so dissatisfied with his flute that he did not go to London in July 
1833, Dut gave up his intended journey and remained at Munich 
until March 1834. In another place he states that Gordon did not 
arrive at Munich until July 1833 (p. 164). In the present state of 
our information the task of reconciling the conflicting statements as 
regards dates appears to be hopeless. 



of fact, certain changes of more or less importance 
had been made in the instrument. 

In order to ensure the sale of his flute, he had 
recourse to an expedient, which, however clever 
it might have been as a mode of puffing, raised a 
great prejudice against Boehm. He published an 
engraving, representing three flutes side by side. 
They were styled respectively, Invention, Modifi- 
cation, Perfectionnement. The first designation 
was applied to Gordon's, the second to Boehm's, 
and the third, it is needless to say, to his own 
flute. Now, had he wished to show that the in- 
vention originated with Gordon, he should, of 
course, have selected for his illustration one of 
Gordon's early instruments, before he had been 
influenced by Boehm ; instead of this, however, 
his drawing represents one of Gordon's later 
flutes, to which he had applied Boehm's finger- 
ing, and hence this engraving has proved an 
endless source of error and confusion. 27 Surely, 
however, M. Coche, who was deriving a profit 
from Boehm's invention, should have been the 
very last to raise the cry of " Wolf ! " 

As for Gordon, his bravery, his simplicity, his 
misfortunes, his ingenuity, and his perseverance 
gained him many friends, and excited universal 
sympathy. No one speaks more highly of him 

27 In the second part of this work (p. 273) this engraving is 
reproduced as it appeal's in Coche's Method; to this, however, is 
appended the following footnote : " (N.B.) La Cle du Fa$ et la 
CIS du Trille du Ri appartiennent a M. Boehm. (Tablature 
Gordon)." In Coche's pamphlet there is another of these en- 
gravings representing the three flutes, without any such explana- 
tion, but instead of it a mercantile announcement relating to the 
moderation of the price of Coche's flute. See infra, p. 148. 


than Boehm. When expressing his regret, as he 
does in defending himself, that Gordon's lips were 
sealed, those lips which alone could free his 
character from the calumnies with which it had 
been assailed, he says of him that he was as 
honourable as he was modest. 

In the Revolution of 1830, when Charles X. 
lost his throne, and Gordon's professional career 
was brought to a close, his reason sustained a 
shock from which it never quite recovered. On 
Thursday, the 29th of July, the Swiss Guards, in 
which he held a commission, were suddenly seized 
with panic in the courtyard of the Louvre, which 
they had bravely defended all the morning, and 
made a rush, pell-mell, for the portal leading into 
the Place du Carrousel. Those who failed to get 
through were quickly despatched by the rebels, 
who, in the demoniac frenzy which breaks ouc at 
such times, instantly stripped the bodies of the 
fallen soldiers, placed their helmets on their 
shaggy heads, and arrayed themselves with tat- 
tered fragments of their gory uniforms. * s Mr. 
Cornelius Ward, the inventor of Ward's Patent 

28 " The Tuileries Gardens in Marmont's rear were thus left 
unprotected ; and the marshal, to provide their defence, was 
obliged to recall one of the Swiss regiments, which then guarded 
the Louvre. The commander thought it best to send away that 
regiment which had all the morning resisted the assailants from the 
colonnade, and to replace it by the other which occupied the great 
court. Orders to this effect being given, the Swiss soldiers manning 
the colonnade "withdrew with alacrity, whilst those .who were to 
replace them proceeded to do so with no alacrity whatever— so much 
so, that the colonnade for an interval remained undefended. The 
people behind the barricade opposite were not slow to perceive the 
suspended fire. The boldest advanced to the gate of the Louvre, 
near which a wooden trough for shooting rubbish was left standing, 



Flute, who made an instrument for Gordon in 
183 1, says of him : " He was considered to be of 
unsound mind, and that he was thus affected on 
account of the defeat of his comrades, and his 
own loss of fortune, in the Revolution of July. He 
was generally treated with consideration on that 
account ; but very little attention was paid to his 
flute mania, such being the light in which his 
views respecting the flute were regarded." But 
he adds — "We consider it due to Captain 
Gordon, to state, from our own personal know- 
ledge, that he was an ingenious, rational, and 
kind-hearted gentleman." 29 

His affectionate wife relates in touching lan- 
guage, 30 how no sooner was his flute finished, 
than he went from Munich to London to bring 
out his invention ; how, owing to his retiring 
disposition, his inexperience of the world, and 
his want of introductions, he saw his pecuniary 
resources melt away before he had succeeded in 

and afforded a communication with the colonnade above. Some of 
the mob soon climbed it, rushed through the apartments of the 
Louvre, and showed, their shaggy heads and menacing guns through 
the windows. The Swiss soldiers still in the court perceived this, 
and cried out that the palace was taken ; in a trice a panic seized 
them, and all who could fled through the portal into the Carrousel. 
The mob, still more alert, had already broken in, and little mercy 
was shown the unfortunate Swiss who remained behind. In a few 
minutes their naked bodies covered the court, whilst red fragments 
of their uniforms adorned the breasts, as broken helms the heads, 
of the victors," — Crowe's History of France, vol. v."]). 401. 

" By a strange coincidence they passed over the same spot where 
their predecessors had gloriously fallen on the 10th of August 1792. 
— Alison's History of Europe, vol. iii. p. 531. 

29 The Flute Explained, p. 10. 

30 In her letter to Coche, p. 127. 


making himself known ; how he returned to her 
and his children at Lausanne, ill and disheartened ; 
how afterwards, in endeavouring to make his flute 
still more perfect, he cracked the instrument, 
which had cost him so much pains and so many- 
sleepless nights ; how, though overwhelmed with 
distress, he set to work with unabated ardour to 
construct another ; and, finally, how the difficul- 
ties he encountered, all unaided, in the under- 
taking, added to the opposition and hostility his 
schemes had raised against him, brought about, 
by little and little, an alteration in his intellectual 

D 2 





With an inquiry into the origin of Ring-keys. 

The creed of the Gordonites is embodied in a 
sarcastic taunt addressed to Boehm by M. Coche, 
Professor of the Flute in the Conservatoire of 
Paris, by whom a claim on behalf of Gordon was 
first advanced. " They say in musical society 
{le monde artiste)" he wrote, " that the flute which 
bears your name was discovered by a person of 
the name of Gordon, an old pupil of Drouet." x 

On the other hand, the learned Carl von 
Schafhautl, " Doctor and Professor in the Royal 
Bavarian Academy, University, and Conserva- 
torium," Boehm's mathematical tutor and friend 
for upwards of half a century, thus propounds 
the belief of the Boehmites, of whom he is the 
champion : " That such a man [as Boehm] should 
have borrowed from others the ideas upon which 
he founded the construction of his instruments, is 
what no one can seriously believe." 2 

As is often the case where such wide differences 
of opinion exist, the truth lies between these two 
sweeping assertions. 

1 Infra, p. 160. 2 Infra, p. 166. 


To say that the Boehm flute was discovered or 
invented by Gordon would be an exaggeration, 
even if it could be established that he was the 
originator of the ring-keys, as is assumed by 
Coche, 3 and of the open-keyed system of finger- 
ing, as is asserted by Clinton ; 4 but as these two 
statements, as has been seen, 5 cannot be substan- 
tiated, the expression warrants the use of still 
stronger language. 

Boehm, however, admits 6 that one of the two 
causes 1 which operated in inducing him to aban- 
don the old familiar fingering, was the impression 
he received, on seeing the ingenious attempt at 
improvement which' Gordon showed him, when 
he called upon him, during his visit to London 
in 183 1, to consult him upon the manufacture of 
his flute. That Gordon exercised an influence 
on Boehm is therefore undeniable ; but to what 
extent he influenced him will now never be known 
with certainty. Many are the surmises and con- 
jectures which have been made on this subject. 
In support of one of them, some show of reason 
has certainly been adduced (p. 23) ; and it will 
presently be seen that Boehm's ideas regarding 
the reformation of the flute underwent a material 
change, to whatever cause it may be assigned, 
about the time he became acquainted with Gordon. 

3 Infra, p. 126. 

4 " We find, practically, there are but two systems of fingering in 
existence ; that of the old eight-keyed flute, and that of Gordon, 
known in this country as the Boehm flute — the former being on the 
shut, the latter on the open-keyed principle." — Clinton's Hints to 
Flute-players, p. 1. 5 Supra, p. 23. G Supra, p. 22. 

7 The other being Nicholson's flute with its large holes and 
powerful tone. 


A most novel and, as far as is 

known, original part of Gordon's 

invention was a plan for carrying the 

motion of the fingers from one part of 

the flute to another by means of wires 

and cranks, or angular levers (the 

same in principle as those used in 

-^ bell-pulls) attached at one end to the 

valves to be acted upon, and at the 

other, either to terminations represent- 

I ing the ends, tails, 8 or touches of the 

keys of the old flute, or else to cres- 

£•2 centic expansions partly encircling the 

g:| holes. 9 By this means, the pressure 

§! of the finger was communicated to a 

Jh crank, which pulled a wire, and this, 

in turn, acted on another crank, which 

set the valve in motion. 10 

d d 

5, e 

J o 




B >> 

•a a 

8 Fig. 12, p. 107, /, m, n. 
«"£ 9 ¥ig.i2,r,s,g. According to Schafhautl, Gordon 

took the shape of these crescents from that of the 
waning moon " five days before the new moon " 
g B (p. 105) ; but Mr. Rockstro has traced the crescent 
to Dr. Pottgiesser, who published a drawing of a 
crescent-key (figured at p. 83) three years before 
E ij Gordon commenced his experiments. 
~S 10 These wires and cranks may be seen on 
« 3 Ward's patent flute. On this instrument the low C 
^ and C sharp valves are closed by the left thumb, 
and consequently the action has to be carried a 
very long distance. For this purpose Ward has 
adopted Gordon's contrivance, but for the rest of 
his mechanism he has recourse to the usual rods or 
axles and ring-keys (see p. 281). Two of his keys, 
those for G sharp and E flat, are on the objection- 
able double-action Dorus plan, first devised by 



Although Gordon employed the best workmen 
he could obtain in Paris and London, he failed to 
get his mechanism constructed in such a way that 
it would act with sufficient certainty to admit of 
rapid execution ; u but, notwithstanding its failure, 
he clung to it with extraordinary tenacity. He 
Was ready to take Boehm's advice on other points, 
but he was obstinately bent on following out his 
own ideas as to the mechanism of the keys. 12 He 
adopted Boehm's fingering for F sharp, but he 
rejected the three rings of the mechanism by 
which this note was produced, and substituted for 
them three of his beloved crescents ; and even 
Boehm's little D-shake key reappeared on his 
flute mounted with two cranks and a wire. 13 

The crescents had this in common with the 
ring-keys employed by Boehm : u they enabled a 
finger, when closing a hole, to close, by the same 
movement, one or more other holes, not neces- 
sarily close together, so that one finger could do 
what it had previously required two or more to 
accomplish. Now as this power, which virtually 
increases the number of the fingers, lies at the 
foundation of the Boehm system of fingering, and 
constitutes an essential part of the invention, it 
becomes of importance to trace with care the 
origin of ring-keys. 

First, then, the ring-keys have been supposed 
to be only a modification of Gordon's crescents. 
It has been thought that Boehm, seeing Gordon's 
ingenious but clumsy device, seized his idea, 

11 Infra, p. 127. 12 Infra, p. 130. 

13 See Fig. 12, a. " See his flute, Fig. 11. 


developed the crescents into rings by extending 
them round the holes, and substituted improved 
mechanism for the unsatisfactory wires and 

This is the explanation 15 put forward by Coche, 
and it has been accepted, without examination or 
inquiry, by Fetis, 16 Tulou, Berlioz, and others, 17 
who have written on' the subject. 

Coche, however, brings forward nothing in proof 
of his assertion, but assumes that, as Gordon was 
the first in the field, the crescents must necessarily 
have given rise to the rings. His argument, if 
argument it can be called, appears to be this : 
Gordon made crescents before Boehm made 
rings ; therefore the crescent is the parent of 
the ring. 

It would not be difficult to show the illogical 

15 See the extract from his pamphlet, given in the Appendix, p. 126. 

16 Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 2nd edition (articles 
' Boehm ' and ' Gordon '). 

17 " Le premier essai fut tente* par un de mes Aleves nomme 

Gordon, Capitaine aux Gardes Suisses en France C'est 

sur cette premiere donne'e que la flute Boehm a 6t6 congue. 
L'auteur de ce nouvel instrument, homme d'une grande intelligence, 
a cherche* quel e"tait le meilleur parti a tirer du syst£me de son 
devancier. II l'a perfectionne* ; mais, bien qu'il soit arrive" a 
d'beureuses modifications, il a neglige - deux points essentiels, savoir : 
la conservation du son et la simplicity du doigte" ordinaire." — Tulou, 
from the Introduction to his Method. " This instrument (the flute), 
which for a long time remained imperfect in many respects, is now 
— thanks to the skill of certain manufacturers, and to the system 
of fabrication pursued by Boehm, according to the discovery of 
Gordon — as complete, as true, and of as equal a sonority as could 
be desired." — Berlioz on Instrumentation, p. 116. 

" L'ide"e de Gordon, exploited et modified par Theobald Boehm, 
donna naissance aux flutes a anneaux." — Chouquet, Catalogue of 
the Museum of the Conservatoire of Paris, p. 62. 

Compare Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians (articles 
' Flute ' and ' Gordon *). 


nature of such a position as this, and we know- 
that it was Gordon's habit to replace rings by 
crescents; it is, however, unnecessary to discuss 
the question further, because there is good reason 
for believing that Boehm had made rings before 
he saw the crescents on Gordon's flute. 18 

Secondly, Schafhautl and his followers would 
have us believe that the ring-key was an original 
idea of Boehm. 

I find, however, no countenance for this view 
in the account given by Boehm of the first con- 
struction of his new flute. He speaks not of 
inventing the ring-keys, but of deciding on and 
choosing them. He says : " On my return to 
Munich I set to work, and after a careful exami- 
nation and numerous trials of ways of boring 
holes 19 and different kinds of mechanism, I decided 
on (j'e me Jixai a) the system of ring-keys as best 
calculated to fulfil all the requirements — a system 
which I had already had in contemplation before 
1831." 20 

Again : " The position of the holes being new, 
a new fingering was requisite. 

" This task was the more difficult to accomplish, 
as the thumb of the right hand serving to hold 
the flute only, there remain but nine fingers 
for fourteen holes. It was necessary to com- 
bine mechanism which should make up for this 

18 See stipra, p. 24. 

19 " Ways of boring holes?' 1 I have translated the word " fierces " 
in this way, because the context shows that Boehm does not refer 
to the bore of the interior of the flute. He probably contemplated 
the idea of boring the holes obliquely. (See infra, p. 78.) 

' 20 For the original French, see infra, p. 149. 


disproportion, and I chose, after a mature examina- 
tion, ring-keys." 21 

If this is not the language of an inventor, an 
expression which Boehm uses in speaking of the 
mechanism he saw on Gordon's flute, when it was 
first shown to him in London, in 1 831, is still 
more significant. " The E hole of his flute," he 
remarks, ' ' was bored lower down and larger than 
usual, and, to avoid the lever of the F, he had 
adopted a ring-key. He had also made a number 
of levers ingeniously conceived {imagine 's)? 

It will be observed that Boehm does not say 
that Gordon had conceived his ring-key, but that 
he had adopted it ; a term implying that, in his 
opinion, it was not an original but a borrowed 
idea, and involving the admission that he knew of 
a source from whence it might have been derived, 
although Gordon had constructed it before even 
the first model of the Boehm flute had been 

Thirdly : The view I am inclined to take as 
most consistent with all the facts of the case, as 
far as they are at present known, is that ring-keys 
existed before either Gordon or Boehm undertook 
the reformation of the flute ; but their value not 
being as yet recognised, they had not come into 
use, but had remained comparatively unknown, 

21 " La position des trous £tant nouvelle, il fallait un doigter 

" Cette tiche e"tait d'autant plus difficile a accomplir, que le pouce 
de la main droite servant exclusivement a maintenir la flute, il ne 
reste que 9 doigts pour 14 trous. II fallait combiner un me*canisme 
de clefs qui suppleat a cette disproportion, et je choisis, apres un 
mur examen, des clefs a anneau." — De la Fabrication des FMtes, 
p. 18. 


until their importance was practically demonstrated 
by Boehm. If this supposition should be correct, 
their origin is involved in obscurity ; but in tracing 
the history of an invention, we often find that it is 
preceded by ingenious attempts, which come near, 
without actually attaining the end aimed at, but 
which subsequently serve the inventor as stepping- 
stones to enable him to reach the goal he has in 

In connection with the mechanism of the flute, 
we may instance, as one out of many, an improve- 
ment of which we catch a glimpse in a passing 
notice by Ward, made by a person whose name he 
does not think it worth while even to mention. 22 
The abortive efforts of Gordon also properly 
belong to this class, and his name, too, would 
probably have been forgotten long ago, had it not 
been rescued from oblivion and brought into 
undue prominence by Coche. I am disposed to 
think that it is to some one of the many unknown 
workers in this field that the first idea of a ring- 
key should be attributed, and that the way had 
thus been paved for a man of genius ; the ma- 
terials were lying ready for his hand, and what 

22 " The first truly scientific remodelling of the flute with which 
we are acquainted, was made in 1803. It was a great improvement 
on the ordinary flute, inasmuch as the apertures were placed more 
nearly in accordance with the acoustical principles of the instrument. 
The manner of acting on the extra apertures was not, however, so 
complete as could be desired, from the want of a little mechanical 
skill in the party who devised it. We have one of these flutes at 
present by us ; but, notwithstanding its superiority, it never came 
into use, from the obstacles before alluded to, and because the time 
had not then arrived when such an important improvement would 
be appreciated."— Ward, The Flute Explained, p. 9. 


Boehm did was to fit the crown to an arch, to 
which many builders had each contributed a stone. 

I had thus come to the belief that ring-keys 
were of earlier origin than is generally supposed, 
and had written the above, when I began to 
make search, in the hope of finding them on an 
instrument of a date anterior to that of Boehm's 
invention. I commenced in London, but not 
meeting with success, I made, during a visit to 
Paris, an examination of the extensive and inter- 
esting collection of flutes, hautboys, and other 
wind instruments in the Museum of the Conser- 
vatoire ; every facility for doing so having been 
most courteously afforded me by the amiable and 
learned Curator, M. Chouquet. 

I was still unsuccessful ; another day, however, 
when calling on M. Buffet jeune, so well known 
as the maker of Coche's flute, I took the oppor- 
tunity of asking him if he had any knowledge of 
ring-keys before he saw them on the Boehm flute. 
He replied that, in the year 1826, he had in his 
hands a clarionet on which there was a ring-key. 
This clarionet, he further informed me, had been 
made by Lefevre, and belonged to a M. Bleve, 
a clarionetist of Havre. He was quite sure that 
Berr knew of the existence of this ring-key, 
for it had subsequently formed the subject of 
a correspondence between him (Buffet) and Berr ; 
but Berr did not adopt it because he considered 
the old plan preferable. 

The next day, acting on a suggestion of Buffet, 
I went to see M. Bie, the successor of Lefevre, 
but he was not able to give me. any further 


information, the circumstances to which I referred 
having taken place before his time. Afterwards, 
however. I most unexpectedly obtained a clue to 
M. Bleve himself. 

Whilst conversing with M. Chouquet, I hap- 
pened to mention what Buffet had told me, and. 
he informed me that, in his youth, he had resided 
at Havre, and that he was acquainted with 
M. Bleve. He said he believed that, though 
very old, he was still alive, for he had met him 
not many months ago ; he had retired from the 
musical profession, and was living in Paris. 

I now returned to Buffet, and told him what 
I had heard. He recollected that he had the 
address of a son of M. Bleve, and he was so 
good as to write to him ; but he received no 
answer to his letter. However, although I thus 
lost all hope of becoming acquainted with the 
particulars of the contrivance used by M. Bleve, 
afterwards, when ransacking the records of the 
Patent Office in London, I came upon the descrip- 
tion of a ring-key in the specification of a patent 
taken out in 1808, a time when Boehm and 
Gordon were boys. As this work, though nearly 
ready for the press, was not in the printer's hands, 
I was able to include a drawing and a descrip- 
tion 23 of it. It throws a light on the origin of 
the rings ; they were at first, not crescents, but 
perforated keys. 

Boehm completed his flute in 1832. His first 
recorded appearance with it in public was on the 
1st of November 24 of that year. By the following 

23 Infra, p. 79. u Infra, pp. 253, 418. 


spring he had mastered the difficulties of the new 
fingering, and had become a brilliant executant, 
as is evident from an account which has come 
down to us of a concert given at Munich on the 
25th of April, 1S33. 25 About a week afterwards 
he started for London, where he stayed nearly two 
months and gave English flute-players an oppor- 
tunity not only of hearing but of examining the 
new instrument, for he exposed it for sale at 
Gerock and Wolf's 26 shop in Cornhill. 

In the following year, 1834, Boehm again came 
to England. He travelled via Paris, and reached 
London towards the end of July. It would seem 
that when he left Munich he did not contemplate 
a long absence from home, for his passport was 
taken out for three months only ; but circum- 
stances occurred which induced him to remain in 
this country for nearly, if not quite a year. An 
invention of his friend, Dr. Schafhautl, connected 
with the construction of the pianoforte, had been 
patented by Gerock's partner, Robert Wolf. The 
patent having become the subject of litigation, 
Schafhautl's presence was required in England, 
where he joined Boehm in the month of October. 27 
The current of Boehm's thoughts was now turned 
from the course in which it was running into a very 
different channel ; his mind was diverted from 
poetry to prose, from music to the production of 
iron. This subject was not new to either Boehm 
or Schafhautl ; they had not only made a study 
of it, but had set up an experimental furnace in 
the neighbourhood of Munich with a view of 

25 Infra, p. 251. * Infra, p. 277. » Infra, pp. 352, 427. 


endeavouring to discover a method of smelting 
which would enable a Bavarian nobleman to 
utilise a deposit of ironstone which had been 
found on his estate. During a previous visit to 
this country, Boehm had been favoured with 
the entree to some English ironworks ; a privi- 
lege which he was in a position to extend to 
Schafhautl. The two friends were thus brought 
into connection with an ironmaster, who became 
interested in their ideas and encouraged them 
to resume their investigations. The experiments 
were now made on a larger scale, and resulted in 
an improvement in the manufacture of malleable 
iron which was patented in Schafhautl's name. 
As the patent was not taken out until May 1835, 
it would seem that the greater part, if not the 
whole of the winter was devoted to the work 
which led to the discovery. Nor was this the 
only distraction calculated to take Boehm's atten- 
tion from music. It was during this visit to 
England that he made the model of his invention 
for communicating rotatory motion, for which he 
received a medal from the Society of Arts ; more- 
over, it seems not unlikely that three overstrung 
pianofortes (Boehm was the inventor of over- 
stringing), a piccolo, a cabinet, and a square 28 were 
made at Gerock and Wolf's in 1835. The flute, 
however, was not entirely laid aside ; we are 
told by Clinton that Boehm played several times 
in this year ; 29 on one of these occasions Ward 
was present, as we learn from his letter to the 
'Musical World.' 30 Still Boehm was so far 

28 Infra, p. 180. 29 Infra, p. 277. M Infra, p. 330. 


prevented from making it known that up to the 
end of 1835 he is said to have sold but one instru- 
ment in this country. 

In June Boehm returned to Bavaria. The 
next summer, that of 1836, he was again in 
London, where he played at a concert given on 
the 17th of June in aid of the New Musical Fund. 31 
Other visits were paid to England in 1837 and 
1839. We have evidence that in the last-named 
year the new flute was beginning to make way: 
Card was interesting himself in it, and Signor 
• Foltz was playing solos on a Boehm flute made 
in London by Ward. 32 We next hear of the 
instrument being taken up by two English players 
of distinction, Messrs. Carte and Clinton. Mr. 
Carte claims to be " the first native professor to 
perform on it in public," 33 whilst Clinton states 
that he adopted it for his own playing and pro- 
ceeded to introduce it as early as 1841, 3 * and also 
that it was he who induced Messrs. Rudall and 
Rose, the leading English flute-makers of the 
time, to undertake its manufacture. 35 But however 
this may be, it is, I believe, undisputed that by 
1843 both Carte and Clinton were playing, and 
giving lessons on the new instrument, that 
Clinton's ' Essay on the Boehm Flute,' was 
published, and that Messrs. Rudall and Rose 
were engaged in making Boehm flutes, Grev£, 
Boehm's skilful and experienced foreman, having 

31 Infra, p. 435- 

32 Ward's letter to the Musical World, p. 329. 

33 Carte's Sketch of the Flute, p. 26. 

34 Clinton's Treatise on the Flute, p. 21. 

M Clinton's School for the Boehm Flute, Introduction. 


come over to England to instruct their work- 
men. 36 

It was introduced in France somewhat earlier. 
On his return home from London in 1833 Boehm 
had passed through Paris, where he appears to 
have made his flute known .to Farrene, Camus, 
and Laurent, flute-makers of the Palais Royal. 37 
Other flying visits to Paris were paid in 1834 and 
1836, but we have no record of any instruments 
having been sold on either of these occasions. 
However, in the year following, 1837, Camus, the 
first flute at the Italian Opera, an old friend of 
Boehm, 38 brought a Boehm flute to Paris. He 
had, it seems, been commissioned by Boehm not 
only to act as an intermediary in procuring flutes 
from Boehm's factory for purchasers in France, 
but also to enter into arrangements for the manu- 
facture of the new instrument in Paris. Buffet 
became acquainted with the flute thus brought to 
Paris by Camus ; indeed, according to Buffet's 
statement, it was placed in his hands by Camus 
himself. This clever maker, who, next to Boehm, 
has played the most important part in the at- 
tempted reformation of wood-wind instruments, 
subsequently made and patented important 
improvements in the mechanism, three of which 
are in universal use at the present day. 39 It 

36 Carte's Sketch of the Flute, p. 19. 

37 Boehm's letter to Coche, p. 131. 

38 The Grande Polonaise, played by Boehm at a Philharmonic 
Concert in London, on May 9th, 1831, published by C. Gerock 
& Co., 79 Cornhill, was dedicated to " his friend " Camus. 

39 They are: I. The "needle-springs." 2. The "clutches," or 
pieces of corr.espondence, to supersede the arms employed by Boehm 
(see Fig. 36).. 3. The " sleeves," or cylindrical tubes encircling the 




appears, however, that Camus did not come to an 
understanding with him for its manufacture, but 
entrusted its construction to another Parisian 
instrument-maker, M. Clair Godefroy. 

In the spring of this year, 1837, Boehm, while 
spending a few days in Paris, on his way from 

. Fig. 2. — Auguste Buffet jeune, from a photograph taken in 1862. 

Munich to London, took the opportunity of 
showing his flute to Savart, one of the greatest 
authorities on acoustics then living. Savart at 
once recognised the importance of the invention, 

rods or axles ; by their means two actions are conveyed on the same 

In 1843, i n conjunction with Klose' (see p. 7), he applied ring-keys 
to the clarionet (Chouquet, Catalogue of the Museum of the Con- 
servatoire, p. 73), and the following year to the hautboy (ib. p. 67). 


and had it brought before the Academy of 
Sciences. Boehm attended a sitting, read a short 
paper, giving an account of the new construction, 
and submitted his instrument to the judgment of 
the Academy. A Commission was appointed to 
pronounce a formal opinion on its merits ; the 
Commissioners being Dulong and Savart of the 
Academy of Sciences, and two musicians, Auber 
and Paer from the Academy of Fine Arts, who 
were requested to join them. 40 

By this time a conversion, which ultimately 
proved a tower of strength to the Boehm cause, 
had been made in the person of a young genius, 
destined to rise to the position of an artist of the 
first rank. This was Dorus, whose magnificent 
playing established the supremacy of the Boehm 
flute in France ; it being more than sufficient to 
form a counterpoise to the opposition of Tulou, 
who had brought the whole weight of his great 
influence to bear against the new system. The 
precise year in which Dorus abandoned the old 
flute, like so many other dates connected with our 
inquiry, is the subject of conflicting statements ; 
but although it has been said to be earlier by 
three or four years, it can scarcely have been later 
than 1837. 

Camus and Dorus were not the only artists who 
had become disciples of Boehm by this year ; the 
new instrument had been taken up by M. Victor 

40 The following is the entry in the Comptes rendus (vol. iv. 
p. 705) : " Note sur une nouvelle cotistruction de la flUtej par 
M. Boehm. Commissaires, MM. Dulong, Savart. MM. Auber 
et Paer, de l'Acade"mie des Beaux-Arts, seront prie"s de s'ajoindre 
a cette Commission." 

E 2 


Jean Baptiste Coche, who, as I have already 
mentioned, held the appointment, as coadjutor of 
Tulou, of Professor in the Conservatoire of Music. 
Coche was not satisfied with playing on the 
Boehm flute for its own sake ; he proceeded to 
make advances to Boehm, and to put himself 
forward as competitor with Camus for the 
pecuniary benefits which seemed likely to spring 
from the adoption of the novel invention by 
French flute-players. 

On the 6th of November of the year to which 
we are referring, Coche wrote Boehm a letter 
which he begged him to keep secret. Notwith- 
standing the provocation Boehm afterwards 
received, he never disregarded this request, 
although, had he been vindictively disposed, he 
might have used the letter to Coche's prejudice, 
for it contained a proposal on which it was 
possible to put the construction that it was an 
offer to traffic in the name of the Institute of 
France. It was Coche's habit to profess to be 
actuated by a desire to watch over the rights, and 
to study the interest of others ; so, after alluding 
to his inexpressible admiration for Boehm's mag- 
nificent and rich instrument, the ardour with 
which he devoted himself to its study, and the 
hope he entertained of one day becoming worthy 
by his execution to share the suffrages to which 
the beautiful invention was so justly entitled, he 
went on to say that it was his duty to inform 
Boehm that a musical instrument maker of the 
name of Clair Godefroy the elder had made an 
exact copy of his flute ) had placed his name upon 


it as if he had been the inventor, and had openly 
exposed it for sale in Paris. He expressed the 
opinion that it would be to Boehm's advantage to 
put a stop to the production of this " counterfeit " 
by coming to Paris, and taking out a patent, which 
would secure for him the sole right, not only of 
manufacturing his flute in France, but also of 
importing it into that country. He then stated 
that he had caused the Boehm flute to be heard 
by Cherubini, Paer, Auber, Berton, and Halevy, 
five of the six musicians who were members of 
the Institute, adding, " I believe that I have in 
my hands the possibility of getting your in- 
strument adopted, and if private arrangements 
may be agreeable to you, on the supposition that 
you are intending to establish a depot at Paris, 
we could come to an understanding on this 
subject." 41 

At this critical moment, when the old and the 
new systems were hanging poised against each 
other in the balance, the influence which the 
adoption of a favourable report on the Boehm 
flute by the Institute of France might have on the 
future of the instrument could scarcely have been 
over-estimated. Not to mention the honour 
involved, the prestige attaching to the name of 
the Institute was, and still is immense. Every 
visitor to Paris who has crossed the Pont des 
Arts must have noticed an edifice surmounted by 
a dome standing opposite the Louvre, near the 
south end of the bridge ; it is the Palace of the 

41 A translation of this letter is given at p. 112, and the original 
at p. 133. 


Institute, the building in which the members 
meet. On the rolls of the great Society, which is 
composed exclusively of Frenchmen, are inscribed 
the most illustrious names of which France can 
boast in science, literature, and art. Although self- 
elective, it is in reality a state establishment, no 
election being valid until it has been ratified by 
the Ministry, whilst its Palace is Government 
property, and each member is in receipt of a 
stipend, paid out of the public revenue. It is 
divided into five Academies, each Academy 
being subdivided into Sections. The Boehm 
flute had already been brought before one of the 
Academies, the Academy of Sciences. A com- 
mission had been appointed whose duty it was to 
examine it, and to draw up a report. The report 
would be read before the Academy, and, unless 
opposition was offered, would, in due course, be 
adopted. Surely, then, Boehm had no need of 
Coche's assistance. Was it requisite for a foreign 
inventor to enter into "private arrangements" 
with a French flute-player in order to ensure for 
himself fair treatment at the hands of the Insti- 
tute of France ? What answer Boehm returned 
to Coche's letter we cannot tell. We only know 
that he informed him of the commission he had 
given Camus. 

On receiving Boehm's reply, Coche, without 
more ado, determined to place on the French 
market an instrument bearing his own name, and 
to divert to it the coveted distinction the Institute 
had in its power to bestow. His object he after- 
wards candidly avowed in a letter to Boehm, 


declaring with cynical frankness that as Boehm had 
empowered Camus to make the most of {/aire 
valoir) his invention, and had thus in a manner 
retired behind that artist, there was nothing left 
for him but to produce the report of the Institute, 
and to play on the flute enriched with his 
improvements in order that the public might 
judge between him and Camus. To carry out his 
design he allied himself with the flute-maker 

Coche began by endeavouring to give effect to 
an idea which Boehm had previously attempted 
to realise, and which others have since sought to 
reduce to a practical form ; he " imagined," he 
tells us, "in conjunction with M. Buffet, a sort of 
mixed instrument " on which the new system of 
construction was to be combined with the old 
fingering. The result not being satisfactory, he 
was obliged, as he confessed, to return to Boehm's 
invention, adopting its mechanism, and " adding 
to it " certain " modifications." 42 

The first of these modifications was the substi- 
tution of a closed for Boehm's open G sharp key. 
The key introduced by Coche was not constructed 
with a double action like the well-known Dorus 

42 " Dans le but de faire adopter plus vite la flute nouvelle par 
ceux qui jouent l'autre, j'imaginai (de concert avec M. Buffet jeune) 
une sorte dinstrument mixte, ou l'ancien doigte* put etre conserve* 
sans employer la complication du me"canisme de Bohm ; je ne pus 
obtenir un bon rdsultat. Je trouvai bien quelque chose de la 
qualite" de son et de la justesse qui distingue la flute de B6hm, mais 
pour ex^cuter les notes dleve'es, il fallait bien de'roger aux anciennes 
regies, aussi je fus oblige" de revenir a la flute nouvelle, en adoptant 
le me"canisme et en y ajoutant les modifications qui m'ont paru 
utiles." — Coche's Exameti Critique, p. 12. 


G sharp key, nor was it supplemented with a 
duplicate hole, as on the Radcliff flute ; it was a 
restoration pure and simple of the G sharp key of 
the old flute, 43 and, as such, it constituted a 

43 Boehm, in arguing against the application to his flute of a 
closed G sharp key, states that his fingering is based "on the opening 
and closing of the holes in regular succession." But Coche observes 
that Boehm, who had retained the closed E flat key, was not in a 
position to object with propriety to the closed G sharp key. " If, 
as a rational piece of work," he remarks in his Examen Critique, 
" Boehm wished that the fingers should be raised so as to make an 
ascending progression, in order to be consistent, he should have 
placed the E flat key open." 

In giving his reasons for returning to the closed G sharp key, Coche, 
after drawing attention to the circumstance that the easiest keys on 
the old become the most difficult on the new flute, and vice versd, 
proceeds thus : " I recollected that in playing the violoncello I had 
already noticed that the little finger of the left hand and the ring 
finger were, after their removal from the position of the hand, weak 
in the extreme. My remark is so applicable to the flute that I 
resolved to restore the closed G sharp key, just as it is on the ordinary 
flute, and to make a connexion with the G sharp key to utilise the right 
hand, which is raised in the shakes and turns made with the ring 
finger and the little finger." He then points out how much work 
can be transferred by using a closed key from the little finger of 
the left hand to the spring which closes the key. 

But the chief objection to the use of Boehm's open key for G sharp 
does not lie, as Coche supposed, in a want of strength in the little 
finger of the left hand (indeed, unless the spring is made needlessly 
strong, a child finds no difficulty in closing the key), it depends not 
on the little finger itself, but on the way other fingers are affected by 
the action of the little finger. From causes into which this is not the 
place to enter, the difficulty of raising the third, and in a less degree 
the second finger is much greater when the little finger is kept 
down, than when it is left free, so that if the flute-player attempts 
to lift either of these two fingers whilst he is pressing the little 
finger on a key, he finds them stiff, or hampered in their move- 
ment. " The great cause of difficulty," remarks Mr. Richard Carte 
in his Sketch of the Successive Improvements in the Flute, '' in 
fingering the Boehm flute arises from the necessity of constantly 
keeping the little finger and thumb of the left hand upon their keys 
to shut them, which otherwise are kept open by their springs. 
This, especially in the upper octave, cramps the action of the other 
fingers. The cause of the superior facility of the ordinary flute is 


flagrant departure from the open-keyed system, 
its effect being to veil the A, the note above the 
now closed G sharp hole. This Coche did not 
deny, but he stated that he had taken " the pre- 
cautions necessary to enable the A to preserve 
the accuracy of intonation and equality of tone of 
all the other notes." 44 The precautions which 
have since been taken by others for this purpose, 
consist in enlarging and lowering the A hole, this 
being a violation of the second of the two prin- 
ciples (the equalisation of the size of the holes) on 
which the Boehm flute is founded. 

That the reintroduction of a closed G sharp 
key, even in the improved form suggested by 
Dorus, which was so contrived that both of the 

the freedom of these fingers, the keys worked by them being kept 
closed or shut by their springs." Coche, as we have just seen, met 
this difficulty, as far as the little finger was concerned, by reinstat- 
ing the closed key of the old flute. Mr. Carte applied another 
remedy. He connected the open G sharp key with the F sharp 
key in such a way that when the first finger of the right hand was 
pressed down to make F sharp it carried with it the G sharp key. 
By this expedient not only is the left little finger set free whenever 
the first finger of the right hand is pressed on the F sharp key, but 
many other advantages are gained. Amongst them is the com- 
paratively small number of times the left little finger is required to 
move in ascending the twelve major scales and the twelve major 
common chords, the relative numbers being, according to Mr. Carte, 
as follows : on the Boehm flute 71 times, on the ordinary flute 51, 
but on Carte's flute 22 only. Moreover, on this flute the facility of . 

fingering in some of those keys in which there is no G«skarp- in ^ & %nJjAj^t/LJ 
scale, such as A major and E major, is quite astonishing ; A major ' 

becoming what was called on the old flute the Lord Mayor's key, 
whilst in E major execution is, if possible, even easier. 

* 4 " Les precautions necessaires pour que le la put conserver la 
justesse et / ''e'galiti de son de toutes les autres notes." — Coche's 
Examen critique de la Flitte ordinaire comparie a la Ftide de 
Ue/im, p. 14. 


Boehm principles were strictly adhered to, 45 was 
" a retrograde step " is asserted by a gentleman 
who certainly cannot be said to be swayed by 

45 The Dorus key was brought out in 1838, and was, it seems, at 
once adopted by Coche. In reproducing in his Method, published 
in 1839, the passage in his Examen Critique in which he states 
that he had restored the G sharp key " as it exists on the ordinary 
flute " he alludes to the Dorus key, but without mentioning Dorus's 
name, by introducing in a parenthesis, " however, G sharp keys 
are also constructed open and closed by one finger only." 

Camus, like the majority of his countrymen, became a convert 
to the Dorus key. In the English edition of his Method for the 
Boehm Flute, published in London in 1849, when he had taken 
up his residence there for the purpose of teaching the instrument, 
he wrote, " I was the first who played and taught the Boehm flute 
in France. I played it for one year just as I received it from the 
hands of the Inventor in 1837. But a year afterwards, having be- 
come acquainted with the G sharp key invented by Mr. Dorus, and 
having convinced myself that this key, though an extraordinary 
simplification, was still in no way an alteration of Boehm's system, 
I adopted it without hesitation." He expresses himself on the sub- 
ject thus: "The invention (of Mr. Theobald Boehm) has been 
appreciated in England, with respect to the correctness of intona- 
tion and equality of tone; but reasonable alarms have been 
expressed and entertained at the difficulties consequent upon too 
great an alteration of the fingering. Hence the multiplicity of 
inventions, or rather incomplete imitations of the Boehm flute, 
which would not have been attempted, if in England (as in France) 
the G sharp key so ingeniously invented by Mr. Dorus had been 
immediately adopted. That key so simplifies the fingering that in 
a very short time a person accustomed to the old system would be 
able to play on the Boehm flute. It would be erroneous to suppose 
that this key is of advantage to those only who already play upon 
the old flute ; and that for instance a beginner ought to take up the 
instrument in the state in which Boehm conceived it. I say that it 
would be erroneous, for in his system the left hand, already en- 
trusted with the support of the flute, employs four fingers to stop 
four holes, so that the little finger is constantly at work, whilst with 
the Dorus key the little finger is almost always free, and the left 
hand has the same advantage as the right, which with the three 
fingers opens and stops four holes." " A no less convincing proof 
of the efficacy of the Dorus key is the fact that it renders useless 
the crutch imagined by Boehm for the support of the flute." "This 
key has been in England improperly called a ' shut key,' for it is 


prejudice against Coche. for he confesses that he 
regards him " with feelings akin to reverence." 
Moreover this same gentleman, Mr. R. S. 
Rockstro, declares that Boehm, whom he is said 
to look upon as an ignorant impostor, "deserved 
much credit for his courageous and persistent 
efforts to bring the little finger of the left hand 
into activity," by means of an openstanding key, 
" in spite of the obstinate resistance of many 
professors and amateurs whose fingers had 
become partly incapacited by having been 
habituated to a vicious system." 46 

Another of Coche's modifications was to confer 
on the third finger of the left hand the power of 
closing the B natural hole by placing a ring round 
the A hole, and connecting it with the B flat key, 
so as to obviate the difficulty of making B flat in 
rapid passages when that note was preceded or 
followed by G. But Mr. Rockstro informs us 
that this modification would have had the effect 
of "spoiling" the high F sharp, the vent hole of 

an open key, and makes no change in Boehm's system ; the only 
difference is in a double-action spring, which enables the player to 
finger the G sharp as on the old flute." 

There being objections to the use of two springs for one key, 
flutes with the closed G key are now usually constructed with a 
duplicate G sharp hole instead of the Dorus key ; an arrangement 
with which those who play on the Radcliff model are familiar. The 
plan, however, of employing two springs, one stronger than the 
other, was retained in Ward's flute. Clinton, too, in his Equisonant 
flute employed an open C natural key which was kept closed by 
the more powerful spring of the B flat key. The same principle 
was adopted by the late M. Barret, the well-known hautboy player, 
for a highly ingenious and very novel flute which he designed ; an 
instrument which did not come before the public. 

46 Rockstro's Treatise on the Flute, section 378, p. 192. 


which it would close ; he therefore gives it as 
his opinion that "it is hardly likely to have been 
actually applied to a flute," he being " inclined to 
think that this modification only existed on 
paper." 4 * However, it is right to say that 
amongst Coche's modifications was one of real 
value ; he claims to have " imagined " the 
shake key for D sharp with which flute-players 
are now familiar, but it should be added that 
this key appears in the specification of Buffet's 

If Boehm was under the impression that in 
order to bring about the adoption of his invention 
by the Institute it was not necessary for him to 
lay on a pipe to supply Coche's cistern from the 
Pactolus which that gentleman believed could be 
made to flow from the new flute, it was not long 
before he was undeceived. The Cornmission was 
appointed in May, but month after month passed 
away, and 1837. came to an end, yet no action 
had been taken. The first to move in the matter 
was Camus. He addressed a communication to 
the Academy of Sciences calling attention to the 
circumstance that the flute on which the judg- 
ment of the Academy was to be pronounced had 
been left with him by the inventor to be placed 
at the disposal of the Commissioners, when they 
should find it convenient to examine it. Camus's 
letter came before the Academy at a sitting 
held on the 8th of January, 1838, and the Com- 

47 Rockstro's Treatise on the Flute, section 632, p. 356. This 
modification is shown in the drawing of Coche's flute in his 
Examen Critique, reproduced on p. 148. 


mission was thereupon requested to hasten on 
the report. 48 However, no further allusion to 
the report is to be found in the Comptes rendus 
of the sittings of the Academy of Sciences. 
The explanation seems to be that the affair now 
entered on a new phase ; that the hand of a 
superior power made itself felt, and that a change 
was brought about both in the venue of the trial, 
and in the judges by whom the inquiry was to be 
conducted. The Commission, it will be remem- 
bered, was composed of two members of the 
Academy of Sciences, MM. Dulong and Savart, 
and two musicians, Paer and Auber, who were 
invited to join them, from the Academy of Fine 
Arts. The two scientists Dulong and Savart 
disappear from the Commission, whilst four 
musicians, Cherubini, Halevy, Carafa, and Berton, 
are added to the two, Paer and Auber, who had 
previously been nominated ; the Commission, as 
reconstituted, consisting of the six musicians who 
formed the Section of Music of the Academy of 
Fine Arts, to which, on a request being made to 
it by the Minister of the Interior, the new flute 
was referred. How the Ministerial influence had 
been evoked, there is, as far as I am aware, no 
record in existence to show. 

48 " M. Boehm avait soumis l'an passe", au jugement de l'Acaddmie, 
une flute d'une construction particuliere, et qui fut renvoyee a 
l'examen d'une Commission. Aujourd'hui M. Camus e"crit que 
cette flute lui a e"te" laissee par l'auteur pour etre mise a la dis- 
position des Commissaires, lorsqu'ils jugeraient convenable de 

" La Commission sera invite" a hater son Rapport." — Comptes 
7-endu des Stances de VAcademie des Sciences, vol. vi. p. 52. 


To further the object he had in view, Coche 
had recourse to his pen. He prepared a pam- 
phlet, in which he came to the assistance of the 
examiners, and saved them the trouble of making 
an examination by doing the work himself. The 
pamphlet was not published at first, but was 
presented privately to the six members of the 
Section of Music who were to act as judges. It 
was entitled, ' A Critical Examination of the 
Ordinary Flute, compared with the Flute of 
Boehm.' Coche, however, did not confine him- 
self to this examination. He stated that after 
studying the new instrument for about six 
months, he had seen the necessity of introducing 
into the system certain modifications, and he 
proceeded to describe, and to set forth the 
advantages of the three modifications just men- 
tioned : namely, the reintroduction of the closed 
G sharp key, this being a modification in which 
both of the principles of the Boehm flute were set 
at defiance ; secondly, the ring placed round the 
A hole and connected with the B flat key, the 
effect of which would have been so disastrous 
that Mr. Rockstro considers it unlikely that this 
modification was ever actually applied to a flute ; 
and thirdly, the new shake key. Nor were these 
the only modifications made known to the judges 
in the pamphlet. So complete a modification 
had Coche's opinion on the subject of a " counter- 
feit " of the Boehm flute undergone on the receipt 
of Boehm's letter in reply to his invitation to 
enter into "private arrangements," that he wrote 
as follows : — " The instant this instrument was 


called by its usefulness and the choice of con- 
noisseurs to replace the old flute, a distinguished 
maker, Mr. Buffet the younger, hastened to 
study the details of the mechanism, and he has 
succeeded in manufacturing with an exactness 
truly scrupulous flutes similar to those of Boehm. 
For the future it would be strange that one tied 
himself down to get fetched from Germany an 
instrument which is going very soon to become 
popular in France." 49 . 

Whilst Coche was thus engaged Camus, on his 
side, was not idle. It appears from a letter 
which, 50 though it is unsigned, there can be but 
little doubt was written by him, that he was 
taking active steps to defeat the schemes of his 
rival. His efforts, however, as will be seen, 
proved unavailing. Coche's pamphlet bore fruit. 
Berton, one of the judges to whom it had been 
sent, drew up a report on behalf of himself and 
his judicial brethren. That the pamphlet was the 
cause of the report is asserted by Coche himself. 

The Academy of Fine Arts sits every Satur- 
day afternoon. From a statement made by 
Coche in a letter to Boehm it would seem that 
the case should have come before it early in 
January, but that delay was again interposed, it 
being put off from sitting to sitting for a period 
of nearly three months. At length, on the 24th 
of March, the report was brought up. It now 
appeared that the subject which the Academy 
had been requested by the Minister of the 

49 Exatnen Critique, p. 18. 

60 The letter will be found at p. 114. 


Interior to refer to the Section of Music was not 
the important advance made by Boehm in the 
construction of flutes and other finger-holed 
instruments, but, if the report can be trusted, 
"the improvements introduced into the manufac- 
ture of the flutes called ' flutes on the Boehm 
system ' by M. Coche," and the " method," or 
" school " as we should call it, that gentleman had 
written for facilitating the study of the new 
instrument. Instead of the flute left by Boehm 
with Camus, there was presented to the Academy 
of Fine Arts by the Commissioners one made by 
Buffet, at the construction of which Professor 
Coche was said to have " presided," and to which 
he had caused to be added " new ameliorations of 
his own invention." 

Although the Commissioners were deputed to 
examine the improvements introduced by Coche 
into the manufacture of the Boehm flute, there is 
not a word from the beginning to the end of the 
report to indicate that they understood in what 
these improvements consisted. As to how they 
conducted the examination we have no informa- 
tion ; but they had qualified themselves, as we 
learn from the report, for the task entrusted to 
them, not by conferring with Savart, but by 
" chatting" with another member of the Academy 
of Sciences who was an amateur flute-player. 
But either this distinguished gentleman did not 
prove a very competent instructor, or else his 
pupils were not sufficiently versed in the philo- 
sophy of the flute to be able to comprehend his 
explanations, for Mr. Rockstro, referring to an 


observation imputed to him in the report, 
writes : " It will be seen, from this remark, that 
the illustrious Charles did not quite understand 
the subject on which he was conversing, or else 
that his words were imperfectly reported." 51 We 
know that Coche played at the Institute, but 
whether he played to the examiners when they 
were occupied with the examination, or at the 
sitting of the Academy of Fine Arts when the 
report was read and the flute presented, there is 
nothing to show. We may be sure, however, that 
there could have been no Parisian Mr. Rockstro 
present at the trial to raise a warning voice, and 
to point out to the judges that, of Coche's three 
" ameliorations," one was a contrivance which, if 
applied to a flute, would ruin a note in the high 
octave, whilst another involved a retrograde step, 
" ill advised and unphilosophical in the highest 
degree " ; 52 for one would suppose, on reading 
the report, that Coche was entitled to almost as 
much credit as Boehm himself. "But that which 
ought, it seems to us " — I am translating a quota- 
tion from it — " to more particularly deserve our 
encouragement and our eulogies, is the constancy, 
the tenacity displayed by M. Ccche, in causing 
this happy invention to bear fruit. He carried 
off the first prize for the flute at the Conserva- 
toire ; his brilliant talent has caused him to be 
nominated there a professor for the flute class. 
Well then ! perceiving the importance of the dis- 
covery, he has had the courage to give himself 

61 See note, p. 121. 

82 Rockstro On the Flute, section 378, p. 192. 



up to the study of the new instrument, and to 
superintend its manufacture, causing notorious 
improvements to be made therein." 53 

The report, to which each of the six members 
of the Section of Music, Cherubini, Paer, Auber, 
Halevy, Carafa, and Berton had affixed his sig- 
nature, was read before the Academy of Fine 
Arts, and its conclusions adopted. The sitting 
before which it came was held, as I have said, 
on the 24th of March. " In the month of April 
following," writes Coche, " several drawings and 
tables of fingering were given to me to make 
me acquainted with Mr. Gordon as the first 

Calumny, whose voice when she is new-born 
is but a whisper, if she be not smothered in the 
cradle, will gather strength by degrees until she 
can shriek from the housetop. It is from an 
acorn, which a child can crush beneath his heel, 

es These remarks were but the echo of certain high-flown 
reflections in which Coche had indulged in his pamphlet. He 
had intimated that he was actuated by a high sense of duty in 
studying and making known the Boehm flute, and had moralised 
on the hard fate of inventors and pioneers, amongst whom he 
included himself, in working for the benefit of others. " But it 
must be admitted," he exclaims, " it is a truth sad enough which 
is applicable to the labours of all those who invent : it is by no 
means to them that their invention is of benefit. And when the 
new flute shall be diffused, estimated at its true value, we other 
artists who shall have studied it, extolled it, and caused it to be 
appreciated, we shall be far from immediately reaping the fruit of 
the pains we have taken. The footsteps we shall have traced will 
be followed by others who will no longer meet with obstacles. 

" But when a man believes that any invention whatever can be 
of general utility, he must divulge it, he must noise it abroad, it is a 
duty, even when the labours of the artist are not crowned with 
success." — Examen critique dc la Flute ordinaire comparde a la 
Flute de BShm, p. 19. 


that there springs the mighty oak a giant is 
powerless to uproot. The seed thus planted by 
an unknown hand brought forth a sapling, which, 
watered by jealousy, and watched by hatred of 
change, quickly spread its noisome arms and 
lifted high its poisoned head. This upas-growth, 
which should have been cut down and cast into 
the fire when those to whose failings it owed its 
life had passed away, has now, under the fos- 
tering influence of Mr. Rockstro's imagination, 
yielded fruit in tenfold abundance. 

Coche, having received the drawings and 
tablatures, and having heard the assertion with 
which they were coupled, conceived the idea of 
bringing forward Gordon as the inventor, and of 
thrusting Boehm into the background as a mere 
modifier, whilst he himself posed before his fellow- 
countrymen as the perfecter of the new instru- 
ment ; a design in carrying out which he certainly 
displayed diplomatic skill of no common order. 

His first step was to write to Gordon, who was 
known to be living in retirement at Lausanne, in 
Switzerland. What he said to him we have no 
means of knowing ; for, in publishing what he is 
pleased to term the correspondence on the sub- 
ject, he withheld his own letters. We can judge, 
however, of the tenor of his representations from 
the effect they produced on Gordon's wife, into 
whose hands his epistle came, owing to her 
husband having become deranged. On reading 
it, Madame Gordon came to the conclusion that 
Boehm (whose flute, it is needless to repeat, had 
been invented more than five years before) having 

F 2 


heard during the winter then just over of her 
husband's mental affliction, had taken advantage 
of his helpless condition to appropriate his inven- 
tion and bring it out as his own, excusing himself 
on the ground that, by so doing, he was prevent- 
ing its benefits from being lost to the world. She 
confessed that she was unable to throw light on 
a question respecting which Coche appears to 
have desired information — namely, whether the 
flute which Boehm had sent him was her 
husband's, or else an instrument for the idea of 
which Boehm was indebted to her husband, or, 
possibly, one perfected in imitation of that of 
her husband. In her perplexity she proposed, 
if Coche should approve of the step, to write to 
Boehm's workman with whom her husband had 
made his flute, in order to ascertain which of 
these surmises was correct. Nor can it scarcely 
be open to doubt that Coche, as was his wont, 
had not omitted to allude to the purity and 
loftiness of his motives, to his disinterestedness, 
to his sense of duty, and to his zeal in defending 
the right ; for Madame Gordon believed that she 
could discern in his actions the agency of a 
higher power, and conceived for him a feeling 
not unlike that with which, in after years, he 
inspired Mr. R. S. Rockstro — a feeling akin to 
reverence. To her it seemed that the stranger 
who had thus come forward, uninvited, as the 
protector of her stricken and prostrate husband, 
at the prompting of "a delicate sentiment," which 
impelled him " to desire to be able to render 
justice to him to whom it belongs," must be the 


chosen instrument of an unseen but ever-watchful 
Providence. The poor lady little thought, when 
assuring him, as she did, of the claims he would 
have on her gratitude and her most profound 
respect, if he would honour her with his advice 
as to what proceedings she could take to restrain 
the unscrupulous appropriator of a sick man's 
rights, that she was appealing to the very 
person who, according to his own showing, was 
endeavouring to reap for himself the fruits of 
her husband's ingenuity. 

The letter 54 in which Madame Gordon gave 
expression to these ideas suited Coche's purpose 
admirably. He had no sooner received it than 
he turned his attention to Boehm, with whom he 
was not less successful. In writing to him he 
was bound, in common fairness, in order to give 
him an opportunity for an explanation, to acquaint 
him, if not with the communication which had 
passed between him and Madame Gordon, at 
least with the drawings and tablatures which he 
informs us had been placed in his hands to make 
him understand that Gordon was the inventor of 
the Boehm flute. Instead of so doing, however, 
the course he adopted was to tell him that he 
was openly accused in Paris of palming off 
Gordon's flute as his own, but to conceal from 
him the evidence on which the allegation was 
based. Nor was this all. Although he was 
secretly engaged in collecting statements to make 
it appear that the Boehm flute was a piracy, he 
assured Boehm that he exclaimed against such 

54 This letter will be found at p. 127. 


an assertion — nay, he even took credit to himself 
for the frankness with which he was treating him. 
But he could not resist the temptation of adding, 
" Any one else would, perhaps, trouble himself 
very little about this dispute on the subject of the 
invention, and would seek to substitute himself 
for one or the other inventor, or for both of them 
together," 55 thus disclosing with unconscious 
candour what was passing in his mind. 

In answering the letter, Boehm betrayed a want 
of accuracy which, considering that his honour was 
at stake, is much to be regretted. Early in the 
year 1833 Gordon had written 56 to Boehm asking 
him to make a flute for him. Boehm had con- 
sented, and at the same time had suggested that 
Gordon should come to Munich and superintend 
its construction in person : and this Gordon 
accordingly did. But when referring to these 
occurrences in his reply to Coche, Boehm repre- 
sented them to have taken place in 1834, instead 
of 1833. He thus gave Coche an opportunity of 
attacking his character as a man of veracity, of 
which he was not slow to avail himself. 

He was able to produce a letter, 67 written by 
Gordon in July 1833, which showed that not only 
was he at Munich at that time, but that his flute 
was already finished and an announcement of it 
printed and ready for distribution. Discredit 
having thus been thrown upon one of Boehm's 
statements, all the rest were naturally received 
with incredulity, and those of Madame Gordon, 

55 A translation of Coche's letter is given at p. 115. 
6S See infra, p. 95. 67 See infra, p. 132. 


whose letter Coche printed in juxtaposition with 
that of Boehm, found general acceptance. 

In commenting on the letters, 68 Coche assumed 
an air of lofty indifference, declaring that he was 
influenced by conscientious motives only, and by 
a love of truth and justice, as it was really a 
matter of little importance by whom the instru- 
ment had been invented ; and, whilst professing 
to allow the reader to draw his own conclusions 
from them, he adroitly prejudged the case by 
bringing forward his own interpretations of con- 
troverted points, and speaking of them as if they 
were self-evident truths. 

He further followed up the advantage he had 
gained by issuing misleading engravings ; 59 and, 
although he professed to consider that it made 
little difference who was the inventor, he seemed 
determined that his own views on the subject 
should be impressed on the student at the very 
outset of his career, for he published his instruc- 
tion book under the title of a ' School for the 
New Flute, Invented by Gordon, Modified by 
Boehm, and Perfected by Coche and Buffet ' ; 
indeed, so unscrupulous was he in his attempts to 
excite prejudice against Boehm, that he did not 

68 See infra, p. 124. The letters as well as the report of the Com- 
mission and the attack on Boehm were appended to the pamphlet 
which Coche had presented to the Commissioners, and which he 
afterwards published with these additions to the world. Its full 
title is : Examen critique de la Fhtte ordinaire comparie a la 
Fhite de BShm, prisente" a MM. les Membres de Plnstitut 
{Acaddmie Roy ale des Beaux-Arts, section de la Musigue), par 
V. Coche, Professeur au Conservatoire. Paris, Chez l'Auteur, Rue 
du Faubourg-Poissonniere, No. 30. 1838. 

5 ' J See p. 273, also p. 148. 


hesitate to state on the title-page of this book, 
that the fingering of these three instruments, viz. 
those of Gordon, Boehm, and Coche, was identi- 
cal, though, as a matter of fact, no less than five 
of the notes of the Boehm flute were fingered 
differently from those corresponding to them on 
Gordon's instrument. 

1 1 




The Five-foot Flute. 
Exact date unknown. 

The plan of employing open keys to act upon 
two or more of the six holes of the flute, when 
placed so far from the others as not to be within 
reach of the fingers, was first carried out on bass 
flutes. So far from being an idea of recent origin, 
it seems to have even preceded the invention 
of the additional keys for the semitones, for 
M. Chouquet was of opinion that the flute here 
represented dates from the end of the seven- 
teenth or the beginning of the eighteenth century. 
The instrument from which the drawing is 
taken was presented to the Museum of the Con- 
servatoire of Paris by M. Dorus. On account of 
its great length, it is familiarly known as a five- 
foot flute. It measures exactly four feet (English) 
from end to end, and it requires long arms on 
the part of the performer. It is made of box, 


and the keys are of brass. The 
maker's name, J. Beuker, Amsterdam,, 

j^ surmounted by a crown, is branded 

upon it. The head is cracked, but 
it has been carefully repaired and 
clamped with a brass ferrule. 1 1 sounds 
easily, and the tone is full and rich. 
It is an octave below the concert 

The distance between the C sharp 
and B holes (i and 2) is two inches 
and an eighth, and that between the 
G and F sharp holes (4 and 5) one 
inch and seven-eighths ; an uncom- 
fortable, but possible stretch, in each 
case, for an ordinary hand. But the 
space between the B and A holes (2 
and 3) is no less than three inches and 
an eighth, and that between the F 
sharp and E holes (5 and 6) two inches 
and seven-eighths. As the A and the 
E holes (3 and 6) were thus placed 
quite out of the reach of the longest 
fingers, it became necessary to have 
recourse to mechanical means for 
closing them. The keys employed for 
this purpose are double levers of the 
kind commonly found on hautboys of 
this early period. They terminate, as 
was usual at the time,»in two cusps, 
for the accommodation of left as 
well as right-handed players. 

foot Fiuk v " The bore is conical, but funnel- 


shaped at its lower end, as the following measure- 
ments of its diameter will show : — 


At its upper end above the cork . . . . i^ 
At the junction of the first joint with 

the head i£ 

At the junction of the second joint with 

the first I 

At the junction of the foot with the 

second joint o^ 

At its lower end i 

MacGregor's Bass Flute. 

Another step in advance is here made. Two 
more of the six holes, viz. those for C sharp (i) 
and G (4), are covered with open keys. Both of 
the keys now added still survived in an altered 
form on Carte's, and one of them (that for the 
C sharp hole) on the Boehm flute (Fig. 11, c). 

In order to shorten the instrument the bore is 
doubled in the head. This gives it a singular 
appearance. 1 

The patentee, Mr. Malcolm Macgregor, musical 
instrument maker, of Bell Yard, Carey Street, 
London, thus describes his invention : — 

"Figure 1st represents the form of my new- 
invented flute of the largest size ; it is composed 

1 It must not be supposed that these ideas of Mr. MacGregor 
were new. In Diderot and D'Alembert's Encyclopedia, Paris, 
1751-80, is an engraving of a bass flute, the bore of which is 
similarly bent back upon itself in the head, and the same four holes 
covered with keys, the difference being that single instead of double 
levers are employed. 

7 6 




o-i— «* 

Fig. 4.— MacGregor's 
Bass Flute. 

of three joints, but may be made 
of a greater or less number, as 
may be judged most convenient ; 
the top joint G, which I call the 
head, is of an oval or flat form 
for the accommodation of two 
calibers or bores, which bores 
answer similar purposes to the 
two joints called the head and 
middle of a German flute hav- 
ing the four usual joints, one 
of such bores having the mouth 
hole, the other of such bores 
having three holes for the left 
or upper hand, The mouth hole 
A is placed on the side of the 
head or top joint G, at a con- 
venient distance from the three 
holes for the left or upper hand, 
so as to allow the mouth and left 
hand to be at a suitable distance 
from each other, and which they 
will be by the proportion in 
Figure 1 being observed, or 
nearly so, and so as to allow the 
body to be in an easy posture. 
The tone or sound is produced 
by the wind proceeding from the 
mouth hole up to the caliber or 
bore, in which it is made, through 
the other bore, by means of the 
communication between the two 
bores. By thus having the two 

macgregor's bass flute. 77 

bores in one joint, the larger sized new-invented 
flute is much curtailed in length and rendered 
manageable to perform upon, which would not be 
the case if such bores were made into two joints, 
i, 2, 3, in the same Figure i, represent the three 
holes to be played with the left or upper hand ; 
two of such holes, i and 3, being acted upon by 
keys, which are to be so made as to remain open 
till used ; these keys are necessary, owing to the 
distance which the holes are from each other, being 
in a new-invented flute of the largest size, about 
double to that of a concert German flute. The 
holes 1 and 3 are supposed to be hid in the 
Drawing by the flaps of the two keys. 4, 5, 6, 
in the same Figure 1, represent the three holes to 
be played with the right or lower hand ; two of 
such holes, 4 and 6, being acted upon by keys 
in the same manner as described as to 1, 2, 3, 
and the holes 4 and 6 are supposed to be hid in 
the Drawing similarly to the holes 1 and 3, as 
before described. The holes 1, 2, 3, and 4, 5, 6, 
respectively of a new-invented flute of the largest 
size are about the distance of three inches and 
one-fourth from each other. The mode of finger- 
ing this flute is similar to that of the concert 
German flute, except that the keys acting on the 
holes 1 and 3, and 4 and 6, are to be used instead 
of the fingers being placed on those holes ; the 
tails of which keys are to be so made as with 
the open holes to form about the same distances 
from each other as the finger holes of a concert 
German flute. The Drawing represents a new- 
invented flute to produce a bass or an octave 


below to the German concert flute, having only 
one key for the D sharp ; but if the new-invented 
flute be required as a bass to a German flute, 
having keys for more semitones, or descending 
to C natural below the lines, then corresponding 
keys must be added on the new-invented flute 
accordingly. The lengths of the different joints 
of the largest size of the new-invented flute as 
described in the Drawing, Figure t, are as 
follows : — The head or top, fourteen inches ; the 
second joint, about ten inches ; third joint or foot, 
about seven inches. I have given these and the 
other different dimensions as near as may be ; 
which, however, the manufacturer will regulate 
at his discretion, so as to produce the different 
notes in proper tune. As a general rule it may 
be observed, that the distances in the largest size 
new-invented flute between the holes correspond- 
ing to the finger-holes to a concert German flute, 
and between the nearest of such holes to the 
mouth hole, and the mouth hole, are about double 
those of the concert German flute/' 

■ MacGregor also proposed to bring the holes 
within reach of the fingers by boring them ob- 
liquely, and so causing them to approach each 
other in the substance of the wood. This ex- 
pedient had long before been resorted to in the 
construction of bass flutes-a-bec and bassoons. 

nolan s ring-key. 79 

Nolan's Ring-key. 

The keys of the flutes just described were 
only intended to close holes which the unaided 
finger could not reach. We now come to a 
new departure, the introduction of mechanism 
by means of which a finger, when pressed down 
to close a hole, carries with it a lever acting on a 
valve which closes a second hole ; thus conferring 
on the finger the power of doing what it had 
previously taken two fingers to accomplish. 

In the year 1808, a clergyman, the Reverend 
Frederick Nolan, of Stratford, near Colchester, 
took out a patent for " certain improvements in 
the construction of flutes, flageolets, hautboys, 
and other wind instruments." These improve- 
ments consisted, he states, " in constructing wind 
instruments, which are modulated by the fingers, 
on the principle of bringing the semitones, which 
are generally cross-fingered or played by ad- 
ditional keys, under the modulation of the fingers 
which play the regular diatonick notes." 

Amongst other curious contrivances, which it 
would be out of place to describe here, was a 
ring-key. It consisted of a ring surrounding a 
hole, and an open-standing valve ; the two being 
connected by a lever, which might be either single 
or double. The ring was made by boring a hole 
in the touch of a key ; a circumstance which has 
an important bearing on the history of the inven- 
tion of ring-keys. 



In the engraving, which is taken from the 
specification of the patent, this ring-key, g x is 
shown as applied to a flute for the production of 
G sharp. The reader will perceive that on raising 
the first finger of the right hand a player would 
pass from F sharp to G sharp (a fingering in use 
at the present day on Carte's flute), and herein 
he may discern the germ of the open-keyed 
system of fingering. But as there appears to be 


Fig. 5. — Nolan's Ring-key. 

no provision for G natural, he will no doubt 
wonder how this note was made. 

It should be mentioned, therefore, that the 
valve was only to be left free to act when music 
was being played in those keys in which there is 
no G natural. Should G natural, however, occur 
as an accidental, the performer was directed to 
place the finger, instead of on the ring, on the 
lever just above it, and so to close the G sharp 
hole whilst leaving the G natural hole open. 
Before commencing to play in a key in which G 
natural formed one of the notes of the scale, the 

nolan's ring-key. 8i 

player fastened down the valve by means of a 
catch provided for the purpose. Whilst playing, 
should he meet with an accidental G sharp, he 
had to touch the catch and so release the valve. 
This, as well as the construction of the ring-key, 
is explained by Mr. Nolan, in the specification of 
his patent, as follows : — 

" In order to bring the acute semitone under 
the modulation of the finger which plays the 
regular diatonick note, let a perforated key (I) 
be placed over a hole bored to produce the re- 
quired semitone between the proper hole and the 
hole next above it, of the following construction : — 
Let it be made of a proper length to cover both 
holes, viz. that sounding the full tone with its 
touch (e), and that sounding the semitone with 
its valve (e) ; let it be so bored through the 
touch (e) as to permit the full tone to pass freely 
through the perforation (e), or to be completely 
stopped by the finger which presses the key down ; 
let it have its hinge (5) behind the valve (c), its 
spring (d) between the perforation and the valve, 
and let it be furnished with a protecting tongue 
(a) behind the hinge, to prevent the spring from 
throwing the touch too high. For the purposes 
of modulation there should be likewise a catch 
(/) placed behind the touch, which, by turning 
on a pin or pivot, may fasten down the key when 
it is fixed to the instrument (^) in a box or ball 
properly placed for the hinge. In place of this 
key a jointed key (J) of the same kind as those 
used on the German flute and hautbois may be 
used when there is sufficient distance between 


the holes sounding the full tone and semitone to 
admit of a double lever's being employed. This 
key should be perforated, as well as the former, 
and occasionally fastened down by means of a 
catch. Hence, on loosing the catch, the acute 
semitone may be produced by the same fingering 
as the full tone. The accidental of the former 
is produced by pressing the key towards the 
valve, and permitting the sound to come through 
the perforation ; the accidental to the latter is 
produced by touching back the catch, and allow- 
ing the key to spring up. This contrivance is 
principally of use in producing g§ on the flute 
and such instruments, and f§ on the bassoon 
and clarinet, &c. ; middle £$ on the clarinet may 
be produced more simply than at present by 
placing the touch of the key which produces that 
note under the modulation of the fourth finger 
of the right hand, so as to enable the performer 
to cover the proper hole of that finger while he 
presses the key, or the former being stopped or 
plugged up to modulate the latter." 

As the advent of the Boehm flute drew near, 
attempts to devise open-keyed mechanism began 
to multiply. Thus, in the ' Allgemeine Musi- 
kalische Zeitung' for 1824, there is to be found, 
as Mr. Rockstro has pointed out, the drawing 
and description of an openstanding key by means 
of which one and the same aperture in the flute 

nolan's ring-key. 83 

could be made to do duty either as a large or a 
small hole. The first finger-hole, that for C sharp 
closed by the first finger of the left hand, was 
surmounted by a valve in which there was a 
perforation ; the perforation being smaller than 
the hole itself. The valve was acted on by a 
crescent which partly surrounded the B natural 
hole, so that when the second finger of the left 
hand was pressed on this hole the aperture in the 
flute covered by the valve would be closed, whilst 
the perforation in the valve would be left open. 
This contrivance was the proposal of a German 
amateur, Dr. Pottgiesser. A somewhat similar 



Fig. 6. — Pottgiesser's Key. 

device for the same purpose was many years 
afterwards applied by Mr. Richard Carte to the 
same hole (that for C sharp) on his cylinder flute 
with the old fingering. 

In 1826, two years after the publication of the 
account of Pottgiesser's key, Buffet, as already 
mentioned (p. 44), saw a ring-key on a clarionet 
in Paris, but neither drawing nor description of it 
is known to exist. 

In the year following (1827), Gordon com- 
menced his experiments, but no drawings of the 
flutes he made prior to his connection with 
Boehm have been preserved. The next year 
(1828) another open key made its appearance, 

g 2 

8 4 


Fig. 7.— Gottfried 


C natural Key. 

that for C natural played with 
the left thumb, with which 
we are all so familiar. It 
was described and figured 
by Gottfried Weber in an 
article in the German musical 
periodical, ' Caecilia.' But 
there was no novelty here. 
From time immemorial a hole 
closed by the left thumb had 
been in use on the fiute douce, 
and in 1 800 a proposal to close 
the C natural hole with the left 
thumb, either with or without 
an open key, had been made 
by Tromlitz. 

Again, in 1831, Boehm, as 
we have just seen, observed a 
ring-key of •&&■ sime sort on D f 
Gordon's flute. But we are ■* 
left in the dark as to the details 
of its construction, for Gordon 
subsequently discarded it to 
adopt another ring-key, the idea 
of which was communicated to 
him by Boehm. Indeed, when 
we consider how much atten- 
tion the improvement of the 
flute had attracted about this 
time, it seems not unreasonable 
to suppose that many such 
expedients, of which we have 
no record, were suggested. 

boehm's first model. 85 

Boehm's First Model, known as Gerock and 
Wolf's Flute. 


This is the flute which Boehm made during his 
visit to London in 183 1. 2 A passage in one of 
his letters to Clinton, in which he calls it his first 
model, enables us to identify it as the instrument, 
which, as he states in his letter to Coche, 3 he 
showed Gordon when he first became acquainted 
with him. 

The engraving is a facsimile, reduced in size 
by photography, of a drawing in the prospectus 
issued by Messrs. Gerock and Wolf. It appeared 
in the shape of a small pamphlet; entitled ' Scale 
and Description of Boehm's Newly-invented 
Patent Flute, manufactured and sold by the 
Patentees only, Gerock and Wolf, 79 Cornhill.' 4 

The following is an extract from it : — 

" The patentees, Messrs. Gerock and Wolf, 
having availed themselves of the valuable assist- 
ance of Mr. Boehm, principal flutist to the King 
of Bavaria, distinguished not only as a musician 
but for uncommon powers of mechanical inven- 
tion, have succeeded in perfecting a flute devoid 

2 "The first model I made at my friend Mr. Wolfs in 1831, 
proves that I wanted to preserve as many notes in the old way of 
fingering as seemed feasible." — Extract from a letter from Boehm 
to Clinton, written in March 1843, published in Clinton's Treatise 
on the Flute, p. 45. 

3 " At that time I had already made in London the model of my 
new flute, and I showed him [Gordon] everything that I had done. :J 
— Boehni's letter to Coche. (See Appendix, p. 130.) 

4 This flute was not patented. 


of those inaccuracies of intonation universally 
complained of in flutes of the usual formation, 
and are enabled confidently to invite the attention 
of the musical world to their new patent flute, in 
which, by a slight alteration in the form and 
arrangement of the keys, the following important 
results are obtained, namely : — 

"Firmness, Equality, and Richness of tone 
which have never before been combined in any 
other description of flute. 

" Simplicity of mechanism as regards Fin- 

" Facility in Filling, producing sweetness and 
freedom up to the highest C, and unexampled 
capabilities for the more delicate graces of expres- 
sion which belong to a finished style of execution. 

"It will accordingly be found that the whole 
construction of the newly-invented scale of this 
flute tends to a more complete identification with 
the natural scale of the harmonic succession of 
sounds, inasmuch as by means of the simple F 
key, as exhibited in the annexed drawing, the 
hole for the note E is placed in its natural 
situation, which gives to it all the power of the E 
flat and D. Besides which advantages, its peculiar 
formation has influence upon several of the high 
notes, which become better in tune thereby, and 
more pure, easy, and clear in tone ; giving at the 
same time a facility on several shakes or trills, 
which could never be made on the flute before. 

"In all passages of music, likewise, similar to 
the annexed examples, where the notes preceding 
or following the F natural require either the G 



sharp key to be opened, or the sixth 
hole to be closed with the third finger 
of the right hand, there is a difficulty 
on the common flutes in gliding tio or 
from the F natural keys, and a partial 
unstopping of the intermediate holes, 
which produces a sound between the 
respective notes, and requires the skill 
and practice of a first-rate professional 
artist to surmount the difficulty in 
such passages of music as are affected 
thereby ; which difficulties and inaccu- 
racies are also obviated by the newly- 
invented F key as described in the 
figure subjoined." 

On looking at the engraving, it will 
be observed that the A hole is brought 
down to its proper place, and that the 
finger of the performer is enabled to 
act upon it by means of an open key 
(a), as on the flutes represented in 
Figs. 3 and 4; but the key, being 
much shorter than that required for a 
bass flute, is constructed with a single 
instead of a double lever. English 
flute-players are familiar with this key, 
as it was made use of by Mr. Siccama 
on his "diatonic flute" — a flute which 
was adopted by two distinguished 
professional players, Richardson and 
Pratten, and became very popular in 
this country about thirty years ago. 


The E hole is also lowered; but *H&ri3&'" 


instead of employing, like Mr. Siccama, another 
key of the same kind, Boehm brings down the first 
three fingers of the right hand, and has recourse 
to a ring-key, by means of which he effects his 
well-known back-fingering for F sharp. 

The mechanism employed in the construction 
of the ring-key is very different from that which 
Boehm afterwards used ; indeed, the invention, 
regarded from a mechanical point of view, must 
be considered to be still only half complete, for 
the rod, or axle, to which the rings and the valve 
should be attached, as radii parallel to each other, 
so as to constitute a lever of the third order, is 
wanting, its place being supplied by two levers of 
the first order (6 and c) ; the action being the 
same as that of the keys of the two bass flutes 
and of Nolan's ring-key when made with a double 
lever (Fig. 5, J). . . . : 

This key for F sharp should, of course, have 
been constructed with three rings (see the Boehm 
flute, Fig. 11), but for want of the axle it was 
impossible, without departing from the simplicity 
of the mechanism, to employ more than two, the 
absence of the third being a great drawback to 
the fingering. 

Gordon's Diatonic Flute. 

When Gordon left London after his interview 
with Boehm, during which he was shown the 
instrument just described, he went to Paris. 
Whils in Paris the constructed a flute, which he 

Gordon's diatonic flute. 89 

made, he says in a letter to Boehm, as well as he 
could with his own hands. It has been suggested 
in this work (Note 18, p. 29) that the flute which 
he thus constructed in Paris may possibly be the 
original of the instrument about to be considered. 
This is merely a speculation arising out of a 
peculiarity of construction, to which I will draw 
attention, leading to the conjecture that it was 
designed after Gordon had seen Boehm's first 
model, but before he had become acquainted with 
the Boehm flute. But wherever the original may 
have been constructed, we are told by Boehm 
that a flute such as is here figured was completed 
in his workshop at Munich. 

The instrument has little in common with 
Gordon's flute as figured by Coche (Fig. 12). 
Its holes, placed out of line, betraying a want of 
knowledge of how to regulate the mechanism, 
and its clumsy, ill-shaped keys form a marked 
contrast to the elegant and symmetrical work of 
the drawing of that instrument. If not made by 
Gordon himself, it would seem at least to be the 
work of some 'prentice hand. 

It bears no resemblance to the Boehm flute 
(Fig. 1 1 ), but it is based on Boehm's first model 
(Fig. 8), which Gordon has apparently endea- 
voured to reproduce with alterations and improve- 
ments of his own. 

On comparing it with Fig. 8, it will be observed 
that, in adopting the mechanism for F sharp, 
Gordon has converted the rings into two rude 
forms (e,f), intended probably to represent 
crescents. In connection with these he has 

9 o 


Fig.g. — Gordon's Diatonic Flute. 

made an improvement which 
constitutes an important me- 
chanical advance on Boehm's 
contrivance. He has re- 
placed the double lever by 
an axle (d). 

Now the reader will re- 
collect that it was pointed 
out in the description of 
Boehm's first model, that 
there was a mechanical diffi- 
culty which stood in Boehm's 
way in furnishing this key 
with more than two rings. 
By the introduction of the 
axle this difficulty was re- 
moved. Why, then, did not 
Gordon make use of a third 
crescent, which would have 
been of so much service 
in facilitating the fingering ? 
Was it because the idea of 
doing so never occurred to 
him ? If so, it is difficult to 
resist the inference that when 
he designed this instrument 
he had not yet seen the 
Boehm flute (Fig. u). 

If the reader will now 
direct his attention to the 
key for covering the A hole 
on Boehm's first model (Fig. 
8, a), and then compare it 


with the corresponding key on this flute (a), he 
will see that Gordon has again employed an axle, 
thereby securing a better action. 

It may, perhaps, be worth while to mention 
that Gordon was not the only designer of flute 
mechanism who carried out this improvement. 
Boehm's plan for thus acting on the A hole was 
adopted not only by him, but by Siccama, Clinton, 
and Pratten. Siccama simply copied Boehm's 
key, but both Clinton and Pratten made the same 
change in it as Gordon. 5 

Boehm, having remedied in the way described 
the two most glaring defects of the old flute — the 
incorrect position and size of the A and E holes — 
made no other changes on his first model in the 
mechanism of the keys. Not so Gordon ; but it 
must be confessed that, considered as improve- 
ments, his alterations are of very doubtful value. 

Passing upwards from the A to the key next 

5 Pratten had recourse to an axle when he changed the name of 
the instrument on which he played from Siccama's Diatonic to 
Pratten's Perfected Flute. Clinton does not deny that he took 
this key from Gerock and Wolfs flute, as the following passage 
from his Treatise bn the Flute will show : " The A natural hole 
I have moved lower down upon the instrument than it was upon 
the eight-keyed flute, which renders that note perfect. This hole 
is governed by a key, in order 'that the finger may act upon it 
without inconvenient extension. The reader, upon referring back, 
will observe that this key is somewhat similar in principle to that 
which was affixed to Messrs. Gerock and Wolfs improved flute, 
but with a much better action. The key upon that flute was set 
at a sharp angle, which rendered it awkward to control, while on 
my flute it is placed horizontally, whereby a free action is obtained." 
The flute here referred to is not that to which Clinton gave the 
name of the " Equisonant Flute," but an earlier instrument, made 
for him by the late Mr. Potter, and still manufactured by his son 
and successor, Mr. Henry Potter, of 30 Charing Cross. 


above it, that for B flat, we see that Gordon has 
substituted an open for the old closed key, and 
that, with his extraordinary and inexplicable 
fondness for crescents, he has provided it with a 
crescentic appendage (Ji) to receive the left thumb, 
by which it was played, though it is probable that 
a flat plate would have answered the purpose 
much better., 

Going higher still, we come to the C natural 
key (7). Here Gordon has introduced an entirely 
new arrangement. This was rendered the more 
necessary, as Boehm, as we are told by Clinton, 
who possessed one of Gerock and Wolf's flutes, 
had, in improving the A, destroyed the C natural, 
cross-fingered with the middle finger of the left 
hand, so constantly used by players on the old 
flute. Gordon employs the closed C natural key 
of the eight-keyed flute, but he fits it with two 
levers, one (/) for the left thumb, the other {k) for 
the third finger of the left hand. The expanded 
end of the latter is brought so close to the plate 
of the A key {a), which is cut away to receive it, 
that the finger can, when required, slide on to it. 

For the three lowest notes C, C sharp, and 
E flat, Gordon has recourse to the same arrange- 
ment as that employed by him on his flute repre- 
sented by Fig. 12, to the description of which the 
reader is referred. 

The lever /, to which no reference has yet been 
made, was for making G sharp with the first 
finger of the right hand. 

The woodcut is taken from an engraving on the 
frontispiece of Clinton's ' School for the Boehm 


Flute.' In the introduction to this work, Clinton 
publishes a letter from Boehm, dated August 
'1 2th, 1845, in which he thus writes : "As some 
interested parties have circulated various un- 
founded reports respecting my invention, amongst 
which they have insinuated that it was copied 
from Mr. Gordon, I have furnished you with the 
means to refute all such charges, and should you 
consider it advisable to publish them, or this 
letter, you have my full permission to do so." 

After making some remarks on other matters, 
Clinton says : " I now come to the most important 
part of my subject, namely, the invention itself. 

"It has been most ungenerously asserted by 
some parties that Mr. Boehm copied his invention 
from Mr. Gordon, an amateur, and a captain in 
the Swiss Guards in Paris ; while others, with an 
affectation of indifference on the subject, quietly 
assert that the same idea suggested itself to both 
these individuals about the same period, but that 
Mr. Boehm, having superior knowledge and facili- 
ties, realised his conception, and Mr. Gordon did 

"The facts of the case are simply these: 
Twelve months after Mr. Boehm had completed 
his flute, he met Mr. Gordon in London, who was 
then busily occupied in devising a reformation of 
the flute ; Mr. Gordon, thinking that Mr. Boehm's 
workmen were more likely than any others to 
carry out his ideas, requested permission of the 
latter to complete his instrument at the manu- 
factory in Munich, which favour was unhesitatingly 
granted, and in 1834, Mr. Gordon's instrument 


was completed, which he called the ' Flute 
Diatonique,' a drawing of which is given in the 
frontispiece. By comparing Mr. Gordon's flute 
with that of Mr. Boehm, it will be found that 
every part of it is totally different, excepting that 
which is acted upon by the first, second, and third 
fingers of the right hand ; and even this part, 
although the same in principle, is differently 
worked in detail ; however, this is the only part 
which could possibly justify any assertion that 
Boehm had copied from Gordon. Now, to prove 
that even this part of the instrument originated 
with Mr. Boehm, Mr. Gordon had thus written : 
' La suppression des deux clefs de Fa naturel, et 
leur remplacement par une clef de Fa diese, est 
une idee dont l'application offre de grands avan- 
tages. L'idee de cette clef de Fa diese, com- 
muniquee par M. T. Bohm de Munich, a ete\ 
avec son agrement, adoptee pour la pr£sente 
flute, dont elle complete les moyens d'execution.' 
The original of the above is in my possession, and 
the following is a translation : ' The dispensing 
with the two keys for F natural, and replacing 
them with one key for F sharp, the application 
of which offers great advantages, was an idea 
suggested by Mr. Boehm, of Munich, and has 
been, by his consent, adopted on the present 
flute, thereby rendering the means of execution 

" It is now confidently hoped that this honour- 
able acknowledgment from Mr. Gordon himself 
will establish Mr. Boehm's just claim to the inven- 
tion. I likewise possess other proofs, equally 


satisfactory, but the above may be deemed suf- 
ficient on this point." 

Clinton's ' School for the Boehm Flute ' was 
published in 1846. In the year following, 1847, 
Boehm gave the world his own account of the 
origin of this flute in his pamphlet ' Ueber den 
Flotenbau.' A translation of the original 
German of the passage into French will be found 
at p. 150, whilst the following is a verbatim copy 
of this account, as it left Boehm's pen when he 
prepared the abbreviated English version of this 
pamphlet, known as his ' Essay on the Construc- 
tion of Flutes ' : — 

"At the beginning of 1832 my new flute was 

completed and not only known in public by my 

playing upon it, but I had also sold already 

several of these instruments, when I received the 

following letter from Mr. Gordon, the original of 

which is in my hands. 6 

'Lausanne, 15 febr. 1833. 
' Mon cher Monsieur 

1 Je suis depuis quinze jours de retour chez 

moi a. Lausanne, apres un sejour assez long a 

Paris, 011 je suis venu de Londres peu apres vous 

avoir vu, lorsque vous en etes parti pour Munich. 

1 Je n'ai pas perdu mon temps, et j'ai travaille 
avec perseverance a. une flute nouvelle que j'ai 
faite moi-meme aussi bien que j'ai pu, et que je 
viens de terminer. 

' Je ne vous ai point oublie, et j'ai toujours 
attendu que vous m'enverriez une flute perfec- 
tionnee que vous proposiez de chercher a faire a 

A translation of this letter is given at p. 419. 


votre retour en Allemagne. Selon votre offerte 
a Londres, je veux vous envoyer ma flute en vous 
priant de m'en faire une belle sur ce modele ; vu 
que je possede entierement le doigte pour la 
jouer. Je vous enverrai en meme temps la 
tablature du doigte. 

' Je n'ai pas voulu vous envoyer ma flute avant 
d'avoir recu de vos nouvelles. Veuillez done 
m'£crire a l'adresse ci-apres : A Monsieur Gordon 
a Lausanne en Suisse, et me dire la maniere qui 
vous croyez la plus sure de vous la faire parvenir 
sans accident ; et si vous pourriez m'en faire une 
semblable, vous en occuper le plutot possible. 
Dans l'espdrance que ma lettre vous trouvera a. 
Munich, je vous l'envoye a l'adresse que vous 
m'aviez donne. 

' Acceptez l'assurance de toute ma considera- 
tion. 7 

' Votre devoue serviteur, 

' Gordon.' 

7 There is a postscript to this letter. It is written partly in 
French and partly in German. Only the first two or three 
sentences of it have hitherto been published. It is here given in 
its entirety. 

" P.S. — Avez-vous toujours votre bon ouvrier dont vous m'avez 
parle - a Londres ? 

" J'ai vu Droudt a Paris. II aprouve ma Flute, mais il recule 
devant un changement dans le doigte". Tulou en est Ik aussi. Ce 
n'est pourtant qu'une affaire de Deux mois. 

" Ich habe ihnen, mein lieber Bohm, nicht mein ganzes Brief auf 
Teutch geschrieben, weil ich weiss dass sie sehr gut Franzosich 
sprechen und Lesen und dass ich im gegentheil mein Teutsch ganz 
vergessen habe. Leben sie recht wohl, und schreiben sie mir 



" Have you still your good workman, of whom you spoke to me 
in London? 


" Some months after my reply to this letter 
Mr. Gordon came himself to Munich, and soon 
became convinced of the defects of his flute in 
comparison to mine. He rejected his system, 
and began trying another, for the execution of 
which I allowed him to make use of my work- 
shop and my workmen. 8 After a twelvemonth, 
when he had two flutes completely destroyed by 
continual alterations, he left Munich with the 
flute represented in Fig. i (Fig. 9 of this work). 
He named his flute quite erroneously Flute 
diatonique, as only the old flute with six holes 
is diatonic, but all those since furnished with keys 
are chromatic. He published also 1834 an 
engraved scale to his flute, which he gave to 
me, and in this scale he observes, among other 
things : ' La suppression des deux clefs de Fa 
naturel,' " &c, as above. 

In the preceding paragraph, Mr. R. S. Rockstro 
would have us believe that there is to be found 
one of the many false representations which he 
endeavours to fasten on Boehm. " It is evident," 
he writes in his ' Treatise on the Flute,' " that 
the drawing published with Gordon's scale of 

" I saw Drouet at Paris. He approves of my flute, but he recoils 
before a change in the fingering. So also does Tulou. 'Tis never- 
theless but a matter of two months. 

[In German.'] 

" I have not written, my dear Boehm, the whole of my letter to 
you in German, because I know that you speak and write French 
very well, and that I, on the contrary, have entirely forgotten my 
German. Farewell, and write to me soon." 

8 In the German pamphlet Boehm added here : •' what he was in 
search of was a simplified mechanism which should permit him to 
retain several of the ordinary fingerings." 



fingering was not a representation of the flute to 
which Boehm alludes, as he implies, but of that " 9 
depicted in Fig. 12, p. 107, the instrument which 
Coche brought forward as Gordon's flute. How, 
when, or where it becomes evident we are not 
told ; it is enough for us to know that it has been 
perceived by Mr. Rockstro's mental eye. It will 
be observed that it is not only Boehm whose 
veracity is here impugned. Mr. Rockstro in- 
directly charges Clinton, also a dead man, with 
being an accomplice in this fraudulent attempt to 
deceive the world ; for Clinton, as we have just 
seen, had stated that when he wrote the intro- 
duction to his ' School for the Boehm Flute,' the 
original of Gordon's declaration was in his posses- 
sion. 10 To the method of writing history adopted 
by Mr. Rockstro, of which this is a sample, I shall 
have again and again to draw attention. 

It happens, however, that the copy of the 
" engraved scale to his flute " which Gordon gave 
to Boehm, and which Boehm placed in Clinton's 
hands, is still in existence — a circumstance of 

9 Treatise on the Flute, Section 576, p. 319. 

10 That Clinton spoke the truth when he asserted that the original 
of Gordon's acknowledgment was in his hands, is proved by the 
following extract from a letter from Clinton to Boehm, which shows 
that Boehm lent Clinton the copy which Gordon had given him of 
the announcement of his flute. The letter was written in December 
1845, after the plates for Clinton's School for the Boehm Flute 
were engraved, but before the work was published. " I enclose 
you," he writes, " two of the drawings I have had made, one of 
your flute and one of Gordon's, which I give by way of comparison, 
in order to prove that you did not copy from him. In the text of 
my work I have. given an extract from that paper of Gordon's 
which you lent me, which acknowledges that he copied from you,''' 
The words italicised are underscored by Clinton. 


which Mr. Rockstro was not aware when the 
revelation was vouchsafed to his mental eye. 
Through the kindness of Herr Ludwig Boehm, in 
whose custody it is, I am able to place before the 
reader a facsimile, reduced in size for the sake of 
convenience, of this document, which has been 
for so many years the subject of doubt, curiosity, 
and speculation. The following is a translation 
of the letterpress which covers the first page : — 

"diatonic flute. 

" The Flute as it is known at the present day 
is a very imperfect Musical Instrument. Flute 
Concertos are played with great Talent, for 
Talent is a Magician ; but the truth is that one 
cannot in any Key make a good Scale on the 
Flute. In loading it with new Keys they have 
only made it more complicated, without changing 
its defective Conformation, the sole way to 
improve it. These Keys, moreover, as well as 
the Holes, are not in their true place ; many 
Notes have not a sufficient length of Column of 
air, whence, partly, the indecision, the inequality, 
and the defective intonation of the greater part of 
these Notes. 

" The Study of this Instrument in its present 
state, is a constant struggle with these defects, 
which one can succeed in palliating, in disguising 
more or less successfully, but never in entirely 
overcoming, because they lie in the structure of 
the Instrument, which does not sufficiently second 
the Musician who plays it. 

11 2 


" It was then to be desired that the Flute, the 
Taste for which is so widely diffused, should at 
length be brought more into conformity with the 
dictates of reason, and constructed in such a way as 
to yield, in conjunction with greater ease of Study, 
more satisfactory results in relation to the tone, 
the Correctness of the Intervals (which the Name 
Diatonic should express), and of the equality 
of the Notes — in one word, new means which 
should favour execution, free and suitable for 
melody, and for brilliant passages in all the Keys. 

" We believe that these advantages are com- 
bined in the New Flute which we to-day 
announce to the Musical World. — The new dis- 
tribution of the Instrument necessarily involves a 
slight change in the ordinary fingering (see the 
subjoined Table). This fingering thus modified 
is clearly more simple. Experience has proved 
that it is acquired in a short Time. 

" The mechanism and the position of the 
Keys, eight in number, are well calculated to 
insure precision, certainty, and facility of action. 
The Flute, supported on the inner part of the 
Left hand, leaves the Fingers free from any 
contraction. 11 

" The Key for G sharp and that for C are the 
only closed Keys on the Flute. These two Keys 
are opened by pressing the finger upon that which 
is indicated by the sign X. The six other Keys 
stand open ; their Holes are closed like the other 
holes of the Flute by the pressure of the fingers. 

11 This passage seems to indicate that Gordon, like Boehm and 
Coche, used a crutch or some such contrivance. 


" The suppression of the two Keys for F 
natural, and their replacement by one Key for 
F sharp, is an Idea the application of which offers 
great advantages. The Idea of this key for F 
sharp, communicated by Mr. T. Boehm, of 
Munich, has been, with his consent, adopted for 
the present Flute, of which it completes the 
means of execution. 

"An amateur moderately advanced, will ac- 
quire after two months' practice the fingering of 
the new Flute, and from that time forward, 
seconded by his instrument, his further Study 
should assure him rapid progress." 

The two inner pages of the announcement are 
devoted to the drawing of the flute and to the 
tablature, or table of fingering. The back, which 
is otherwise blank, is adorned with a picture. It 
represents the interior of a room. In the centre 
of the apartment stands a harp, and, near it, a 
chair, in which, judging from its position, the 
harpist was accustomed to sit. Close to the 
chair, on a small mat, there lies a lap-dog. Not 
far off is a music stool, and, in front of it, a music 
stand with the desk lowered sufficiently to enable 
a performer to play from it when seated on the 
stool. On the ledge of the desk is Gordon's 
flute, with the holes turned towards the spectator, 
so that the mechanism can be seen and identified. 
Over the flute is written its superscription, " Flute 
Diatonique, par J. Gordon." 

The room is lighted by a richly curtained 
French window looking into a garden. The 
window, which is enclustered with flowers, 

*h % 


discloses a charming view ; it overlooks a sheet 
of water which mirrors a cloudless sky, whilst hills, 
bathed in sunshine, are seen rising picturesquely, 
side by side, almost from the water's edge. In 
the garden, which appears to slope rapidly down- 
wards, is a serpentine gravel walk leading, 
seemingly, towards the water. 

The picture may be nothing more than a con- 
ventional design, intended as an ornamental 
vehicle for the title of Gordon's flute ; but a flute- 
player of an imaginative turn of mind might be 
tempted to put on it a very different interpreta- 
tion. He might see in it a representation of the 
drawing-room in Gordon's house at Lausanne. 
He would observe that although the balmy 
breath of summer, laden with the fragrance of the 
garden, floats through the open window, the 
ample curtains, looped up in massive folds, tell of 
the rigour of a Swiss winter. In the fringed 
valance which adorns the chair and the music 
stool his mental sight would recognise the 
handiwork of Gordon's clever, devoted, and 
domesticated wife. To him it would seem that 
the last strains of a duet for harp and flute, which 
Madame Gordon had been playing with her 
husband, could not long have died away, for their 
tiny audience still lingers in the place by its 
mistress's side it occupied during the concert. 
The quondam little listener would reveal to the 
dreamer the secret of Gordon's expatriation. He 
would trace in the lineaments of the highly 
honoured pet reposing on its dainty cushion the 
outline of a King Charles's spaniel ; to him an 
indication that Gordon's was one of the many 


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certns dcFtuO,, aire draucoup ae.Talervt7,pareeque lc Talent eft? v/u*Jfagicien/, mats la ocrite, cs&quba. 
iupfut l aaiu.auctmTon/faire vne forme chune, sur la/ Flike> . £*■ 2a cjuvrgeanf de> Cleft nouvelles on,K,'a 
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tine. Lmguerdt ■Colone d'air sutfisantz,dekv, enpartie/, V'iadecision/,.liJte4ali&et/laftiuscte,de la, pluspart? 
de ees 2ons. 

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paroenir a palter, a depuiser plus ou- moins bien,, ?nair jamais clsur>nontZreTu^eremeK&parcc4u,ilstUiuvUr 
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dc TKeouor, a, offtirapec ueieJStude plusftuile- des rafu&Zifr pilar saasfcusans, sous le raperpde- la/ sown. 
&,, de la/Ju,ra^se^aes/?Uirvau^/t : eoue,a^iPex^rimJru^^ 
msz/ens xeiuseauiqiu/faecruenc I execution/ fronds eteonoenaHe' da/ cAanfretdw Jhadp- dans' tous lesTbnf. 

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cfte., Zaisse/ZesJJoits Hires de toute/ contraction/. 

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vrenten/ apuianb Zc doit defuS" ce qui/ est/indinue- pur l& Jign&%. Les siat> au&& Cleft sent? It- 
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Flute/, eC a^florssecortde^parsott/J}isG"umenC/ J son£tiu1e'Uitcrieure,dait/liuiassur&teripid£s2^ 

MivtatMJi& ot^SF//2&3)iaJc 



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la plus compete pour la. mcunsdaris l/ereadien dw7hfut/. 


whatever might have been Gordon's 
Christian name, if the engraver of 
the picture had before him a signature 
similar to that above, it is certainly 
not surprising that he should have 
believed that Gordon had written 
J. Gordon. It will be observed that 
the letter d in Gordon's name, as it 
appears in the picture, is so engraved 
as to resemble the same letter as 
formed by Gordon in his signature. 

The Boehm Flute. 

The engraving represents this in- 
strument in its original form. Boehm 
commenced its construction on his 
return home from London in 1831, 
and he is stated to have played it in 
public on November 1st, 1832. 12 It 
made its appearance in England in 


The change of fingering for the 
right hand, introduced on Boehm's 
first model (Fig. 8), is here retained. 
The ring-key is now constructed with 
an axle, and a third ring is added to 
the mechanism for F sharp. 

12 See p. 253. 

13 Essay on the Constructioti of Flutes, p. 13. 
See also infra, p. 278. 


The open-keyed system is extended to the left 
hand ; the C natural, the B flat, and the G sharp 
holes, which were left covered with closed keys 
on Boehm's first model, having been opened. 
The G sharp key is played, as before, with the 
little finger of the left hand, but it is kept open by 
a spring. For C natural an openstanding key, 
as previously proposed by G. Weber, and before 
him by Tromlitz, is adopted. As there are now 
six open holes with only five fingers available 
for closing them, it becomes necessary to use. a 
ring-key and thus to have recourse to a second 
back-fingering. The key selected to be acted on 
in this way is that by which B flat is made. It is 
closed by the action of the first finger of the right 
hand, an arrangement which Gordon has been 
said to be the first to adopt. It is, however, only 
fair towards Boehm to bear in mind that this, as 
has already been pointed out, 14 is a matter of in- 
ference only, the earliest flute of which a drawing 
is known to exist showing this fingering, being 
that now before us. 

The key for closing the A hole (Fig. 8, a) is 
discarded, the third finger of the left hand being 
brought down so as to cover the hole ; the other 
fingers of the left hand are lowered with it, and a 
key (c) is introduced, as on MacGregor's bass 
flute, to enable the first finger to act on the C 
sharp hole, from which it is now removed. 

The fingering of the Boehm flute is too familiar 
to need further description, but the reader's atten- 

14 Supra, p. 23, Note 7. 


tion should be drawn to the projection (a) for the 
spring of the D-shake key, the needle springs 15 
not having been yet brought into use, and to the 
arms (b, b) for closing the valves over which they 
extend, now superseded by clutches, 15 or pro- 
jections from the axles, meeting each other. The 
absence of the Briccialdi lever for making B flat 
with the left thumb will also be noticed. 

Gordon's Flute according to Coche. 

The drawing here reproduced was brought 
forward by Coche as a representation of Gordon's 
flute, when, after the failure of his proposal for 
"private arrangements " with Boehm, he offered 
his fellow-countrymen a flute improved by him- 
self. He, however, draws special attention by 
a nota bene to a statement, which he makes on 
the authority of ' Gordon's Tablature,' that two 
of the keys, viz. that for F sharp and that for 
shaking D, belong to Boehm. 16 

The open-keyed system now reaches its full 
development. Every one of the keys (with the 
exception, of course, of that for the shake), 
including even the E flat, which Boehm did not 
alter, stands open when not in use. In its finger- 
ing it departs still more widely from the old 
system than does the Boehm flute ; for though it 

15 Invented by Buffet, of Paris, p. 49. 

10 Infra, p. 273, at the foot of the engraving. 


retains one fingering (that for G 
sharp) which Boehm changed, 
it changes three (E flat, low C, 
and C sharp) which he retained. 
The statements of Buffet, 17 
the representations of Coche, 18 
the letter of Gordon to Mer- 
cier, 19 and that to Coche from 
Madame Gordon, 20 who speaks 
of her husband as having 
made his instrument, of which 
she enclosed a drawing, with a 
workman of Boehm, all com- 
bine to show, unless we are to 
impute error, fraud, or mis- 
representation, that the flute 
here depicted was constructed 
in Boehm's factory at Munich 
in the year 1833. On the other 
hand, so grave are the difficul- 
ties in the way of accepting this 
figure as a drawing taken from 
an instrument actually made, 21 
that it has been thought that it 
may possibly be nothing more 
than a design on paper in which 
Gordon has attempted to adapt 
the Boehm flute to his method 
of construction. On these 
points it will be for the reader 

17 Infra, p. 282. 18 Infra, p. 125. 

10 Infra, p. 132. 20 Infra, p. 127. 

21 Infra, p. 286. 


Fig. 12. — Gordon's Flute 
according to Coche. 


to use his judgment, or to exercise his ingenuity in 
endeavouring to discover a satisfactory elucidation 
of the mystery. 

The engraving is a facsimile (photography being 
employed to make it smaller) of that published by 
Coche, who implies, though he does not state, that 
it corresponds to the drawing forwarded to him by 
Madame Gordon. 22 


a. D -shake key taken from the Boehm flute ; the mechanism 
altered to Gordon's system of wires and cranks. It was played by 
means of the knob or button, g. 

b. Key to close the C sharp hole. This very long key worked 
upon the axle/; its shank was brought round the key e by a 
sickle-shaped curvature, underneath which was the spring. 

c. Two small holes for C natural. They were closed by the left 

d. Projection in the wood to keep the thumb in its place. 

e. Key for closing the B natural hole. B flat was made by 
closing this key by the first finger of the right hand, the action 
being brought up from the crescent r by wires and cranks. 

h. Crescent to close the key e. If this key worked on the axle/, 
there must have been some contrivance not shown in the engraving 
for reversing the action. 

o. G sharp key. This key was open when in repose, but when 
the finger was applied to the hole k, it was carried down and 
closed by means of the arms i, i, one of which was furnished with 
a small crescent j. This double-action key, with simplified 
mechanism, was afterwards known as the Dorus key. 

/. Tail of the G sharp key. 

m, 11. Tails of the low C and C sharp keys, communicating with 
the valves y, z, by wires and cranks. 

p. Knob for shaking G and G sharp with the first finger of the 
right hand. 

w, r, s, q. Mechanism for F sharp. The idea taken from 
Boehm, the rings replaced by crescents. 

/. Button to make F sharp without using either of the crescents. 

x. Open standing E flat key. 

22 Infra* p. 125. 




THESE letters, the originals of which are in the posses- 
sion of Herr Ludwig Boehm, are now (1895) published 
for the first time. They disclose a vista which forms a 
strange background to the likeness we have of Coche, 
painted by himself and retouched by Mr. Rockstro, in 
which he is represented " manfully standing forth," at the 
instigation of offended Justice, " as the champion of the 
ingenious but unfortunate Captain Gordon." 2 The sketch 
for the portrait was taken when Coche, in the discharge 
of a duty he owed to himself — the duty of endeavouring 
" to ascertain the truth" 3 — was engaged in " collecting 
and sifting the conflicting evidence " on which Gordon's 
title to be considered the real inventor of the Boehm 
flute rested. He was posing in the attitude of a " con- 
scientious 4 artist " animated by a spirit which would be, 
were it not " for a certain tendency to over-estimate 
the merits of Boehm," 5 " a spirit of judicial impartiality." 
Still, Coche, though " actuated " by the most " honour- 
able motives," 6 does not appear to be absolutely imma- 
culate, even after the picture has been varnished by 
Mr. Rockstro. The varnisher has detected a flaw in the 

1 Supra, pp. 49 to 72. 

2 Rockstro's Treatise on the Flute, section 923, p. 630. 

3 See Coche's attack on Boehm, itifra, p 124 . * Ibid. 

5 Rockstro's Treatise on the Flute, section 609, p. 341. 

6 Ibid., section 615, p. 345. 


colouring. Coche " seems to have erred," we are told ; 
but he erred "on the side of excessive generosity 
towards " the culprit whose guilt he was labouring to 
bring to light. 7 In short, so distinct is the halo of 
righteousness with which the figure is adorned that 
Mr. Rockstro has been accustomed to regard it with 
feelings akin to the reverence due to the image of a 
saint. But the great marvel of this masterpiece of art 
— a marvel on which the letters throw light — has still to 
be noticed. The painting is endowed with the mys- 
terious property of the chameleon. No sooner is the 
chivalrous exploit of the knight-errant of the flute placed 
in the magic lantern of fact than it dissolves into an 
astutely planned trade manoeuvre. 

In the first of the letters Coche informs Boehm, under 
the seal of secrecy, that he believes the possibility of 
getting Boehm's " magnificent and rich instrument " 
adopted by the Institute of France to be within his 
grasp. He suggests that the powers of the law should 
be invoked to put a stop to the manufacture of the 
Boehm flute, then just commencing in France, thus to 
compel those Frenchmen who desired to adopt the new 
invention to obtain their instruments from a depot to be 
opened by Boehm in Paris. Although he professes to 
make this proposal from a wish to promote Boehm's 
interest, he hints, in guarded but unmistakable language, 
that he is not indisposed to take a share of the profits 
which might be expected to accrue from the monopoly 
to be thus established. 

The answer which Boehm returned to this letter is not 
preserved, but we gather from the opening sentences of 
letter No. 3 that he informed Coche that he had already 
commissioned Camus to introduce his flute into France. 
In these same sentences we catch a glimpse of a 
transformation scene. Coche was not the man to 
submit tamely to a rebuff. He had quickly resolved to 

7 Rockstro's Treatise on the Flute, section 605, p. 339. 


forge a weapon to bring his rival, Camus, to the ground. 
The public, who were to be the judges of the contest, 
would reward the victor with a crown of gold. Accord- 
ingly, the richness of the " magnificent " instrument for 
which Camus was the agent was called in question ; 
Coche had " presided at the construction " of a flute 
"enriched" by himself, and in little more than four 
months from the time when he had suggested that his 
countrymen should be forced to buy their flutes at 
Boehm's Paris depot, was inviting them to purchase his 
own superior home-made article, the adoption of which 
by the Institute of France he had already secured. 

The second letter is unsigned, but there is internal 
evidence, which seems overwhelming, that it was written 
by Boehm's agent Camus. The carelessness displayed 
in the writing and the composition, together with the 
occasional erasures and other indications of haste, show 
that it was the reverse of a studied production. Whether 
the omission of the signature was accidental ; whether, 
as well may be, it arose from an unwillingness on the 
part of the writer to make himself responsible for the 
very plain speaking the letter contains ; or whether it was 
a measure of precaution to prevent his name from being 
used for a fraudulent purpose, he having given Boehm 
authority to draw on him for a sum of money, I shall 
leave to the judgment of the reader. 

The letter was written about three weeks after the 
adoption of Coche's flute by the Institute. Camus, 
assuming him to have been the writer, seems to have 
endeavoured to ward off the impending blow ; but he 
was no match for the clever Coche. The anger he 
betrays indicates clearly enough that he felt himself to 
be the beaten party ; indeed, he makes no attempt to 
disguise his defeat : " The intrigues Have succeeded," he 
tells Boehm, "and you and I are put aside (mis a 

Having vanquished the agent, Coche now determines 


to measure himself with the principal. In the third 
letter he represents Boehm as having retreated behind 
Camus, follows him to his alleged retreat, and proceeds 
to pave the way for his pictorial achievement, the pro- 
duction of an engraving which shows at a glance his 
superiority, as a flute constructor, over Boehm ; the 
engraving being so designed that he who runs may read 
that Coche was a perfecter, • whilst Boehm was only a 

The letter shows what a perfect master was Coche of 
the tactics of inimical correspondence. To the diplo- 
matist it affords an example of the method of throwing 
an opponent off his guard by expressing an earnest wish 
to protect his interest, to defend his character, and to 
wipe a stain from his honour. The epistolary strategist 
will see how, by the dexterous use of calumny passed 
through an anonymous mouth, an antagonist can be 
driven into a pitfall, where he is compelled to prove a 
negative, and at the same time forced to defend himself 
in the dark ; whilst the student of the art of taunting, 
who desires to know how to sharpen the barbs of sarcasm 
to a needle-point, \%11 learn that insult and invective 
can be covered with a veil woven out of self-exaltation 
combined with the profession of a desire to uphold justice 
and to put slander to silence. 

No. i. 
From Coche to Boehm. 

Paris, the 26th November, 1837. 

My dear Sir, 

I cannot express to you all the admiration I feel every 
day as I work at your magnificent and rich instrument, 
which is destined to make one of the most remarkable 
of revolutions in wind instruments. It is therefore with 
great ardour that I study it ; may I some day become 


worthy by my execution to share the suffrages which 
belong by right to this beautiful invention. 

I ought to inform you, my dear Sir, that an instrument 
maker of the name of Clair Godefroy, the elder, has 
made an exact copy of your instrument, and, what is 
more, has placed his name upon it as if he was the 
inventor of it. I conceive, then, that it would be to 
your interest to come to Paris and take out a patent for 
invention and importation, and then you would be the 
only maker able to manufacture it. 

I am entirely in ignorance as to what are your 
intentions on this subject ; perhaps you do not mind 
counterfeits being made, but as I was in doubt, I have 
taken all the precautions possible to prevent this hap- 
pening ; so you may judge of my astonishment when I, 
saw your instrument copied and exhibited in a passage 
of the capital. 

I beg you, then, to keep this letter Secret, to tell me 
to what professional players, and to what persons you 
have sent your flute, and what are your intentions on 
the subject of the counterfeit. 

I have got it heard by the members of the Institute, 
Messrs. Cherubini, Paer, Auber, Berton, Halevy ; I 
believe that I have in my hands the possibility of getting 
your instrument adopted, and if private arrangements 
may be agreeable to you, supposing that you are intend- 
ing to establish a depot at Paris, we could come to an 
understanding on this subject. 

Be assured of the admiration of your devoted, 

V. Coche. 

Do not forget, I beg you, the music of your com- 
position which you have promised me. 

No. 1, Violet Passage — Coche. 


No. 2. 

Addressed to Boehm, written presumably by Camus. 

Paris, the igt/i April, 1838. 
My Dear Sir, 

I have had the good fortune to dispose of the two last 
flutes that you have sent me ; unfortunately for me they 
were purchased by professionals, but at least, I am 
pleased on your account. The flute sent for Mr. Guibal, 
of Epernon, turns out in this way to be sold to another 
person, but he has not come to fetch it, and it has given 
me a fright, for I know this man too well not to con- 
gratulate myself on it : this flute had two heads, but I 
. have been obliged to give one of them to an amateur of 
Bordeaux whose flute was completely cracked. Draw a 
bill at five days sight on me for five hundred and forty 
francs (540 frs.), or, if you must come here, you will find 
this sum awaiting you — do as you please. I have again 
had many contrarieties, in spite of all the steps I have 
taken, and in spite of all your letters which I posted 
myself, the intrigues have succeeded. Mr. Coche has 
presented a perfected flute, he has played it at the 
Institute, and in a report, it has been (stated) that before 
the discovery of Mr. Coche the flutes were defective, but 
thanks to his discovery, &c, &c, he has got this inserted 
in all the newspapers, and you and I are put aside. 

His discovery consists, I believe, in making the key 
for the fourth finger to be closed, as well as that for the 

Godfroy also has put one or two articles into the 
newspapers, and I have taken care that he speaks of 
you, and that he re-establishes that to which you are 
entitled. But as regards the Institute, the mischief is 
done. I very much wish that you could come hither, but 
I do not invite you, for, as for your interests, they would 
gain nothing by your visit. Still, if you are going to 


England this year, you must try to stay a short time in 
Paris to make the newspapers say a few words, and to 
try to give the lie to the liars and the intriguers. 

Adieu, my dear Mr. Boehm ; if you are not coming, 
let me hear from you. 

No. 3. 

From Coche to Boehm. 

Paris, the 2$th May, 1838. 

If I have not replied to your letter it is because I was 
desirous of waiting for the result of the sitting of the 
Institute at which your flute was to be judged. This 
sitting, by successive adjournments, has postponed for 
nearly three months the date at which your flute and 
my work were to be judged ; but you had already em- 
powered Mr. Camus to make the most of your invention ; 
you had in a manner withdrawn yourself behind him, 
and as for me, there was nothing more than to produce 
the report of the Institute and to play on the flute 
enriched with my improvements in order that the public 
could judge between Mr. Camus and me ; an answer 
would have been to no purpose. It is amongst pro- 
fessionals that the question must be decided. 

Just now, Sir, there arises a slight difficulty, of little 
importance after all to the flautists who will play your 
flute, but which interests in the highest degree the 
inventor. It is said in professional society that the 
flute which bears your name was discovered and in- 
vented with all its present improvements by a person of 
the name of Gordon, an old pupil of Drouet ; that this 
Gordon after devoting several years to experiments and 
labours, has given up on account of illness occupying 
himself with his flute, and that your discovery, in one 
word, is no other than his. I, Sir, who have corresponded 
with you. exclaimed against such an assertion, because 

I 2 


your letters contain nothing to make it appear to me ; 
but at this conjuncture it is the amotir propre of the 
inventor which is involved, and I consider that I am 
rendering you a service in writing to you to beg you to 
put me in position to reply to all the wranglings by a 
formal denial. I repeat, Sir, that it makes little differ- 
ence to me whether the new flute is of your invention 
or Gordon's, the public will not adopt it less quickly 
whether it bears your name or that of another ; but it is 
to your interest to destroy. all the suppositions, and that 
is why I am writing to you. Any one else, perhaps, 
would trouble himself very little about the dispute on 
the subject of the invention, and would seek to substi- 
tute himself in place of the one or the other inventor, or 
of both of them together ; but, Sir, I act more frankly, 
and inform you of what is going on. I await then your 
reply : up to the 15th of June next I shall make use of 
it to put to silence the slanderers and to have justice 
done you. But whatever may be the truth, do not keep 
me waiting for your letter, for I feel sure that you will 
not by your silence put me in a position to suppose that 
your invention has an origin other than that avowed by 
you. As you are the only person interested in the 
question, be so good as to write me as soon as possible, 
and be assured of the great Regard of 

Your most faithful servant, 

V. Coche*. 





This report is so little creditable to those concerned, and 
so derogatory to the Institute of France whose great name 
it drags into the mire, that in the two previous editions 
of this work I quoted it only in the original French ; 
but, as it is now brought more into prominence owing to 
the circumstances under which it was obtained having 
' been made public, I purpose turning it into English. 

The writer, Henry Montan Berton, though not so 
well known as either of the five other distinguished 
musicians, Cherubini, Paer, Auber, Halevy, and Carafa, 
who signed the report, was nevertheless a man of mark 
He was reared in a musical atmosphere, his father being 
a singer, an operatic composer, and a celebrated con- 
ductor. He entered the orchestra of the Italian Opera 
as a violinist, according to Fetis, at the age of fifteen ; 
when he was nineteen some of his earlier works, consisting 
of oratorios and cantatas, were publicly performed, and 
in his twenty-first year his first opera was brought out. 
The numerous operas he afterwards produced, though 
not rising to the first rank as compositions, gave proof 
of his ability for skilful treatment, and contained passages 
of great melodic beauty. He at one time wielded the 
baton at the Italian Opera, and he was for many years 
professor of Harmony in the Conservatoire of Music. 
Nor was he unknown in the field of literature. He 
wrote for newspapers, contributed articles to an encyclo- 
paedia, published an elaborate book on Harmony, and 
drew up many reports on subjects connected with music, 
to be brought before the Institute of France. He was 
admitted to that distinguished body in 181 5, when the 
number of its musical members, or the Section of Music 


of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of the Institute, as 
they were collectively termed, was raised from three to six. 
Berton was born in 1767, so that when he wrote the 
report on Coche's improvements in the Boehm flute he 
was upwards of seventy years of age. By that time 
he had outlived his reputation ; his later compositions 
had proved far inferior to his earlier works, whilst he 
had been so ill advised as to indulge in an intemperate 
attack on the music of Rossini, when the star of that 
great genius was beginning to rise. Moreover, his 
circumstances had been adversely affected by the failure 
of the Opera Comique, to which institution he had sold 
the right of performing his works for an annuity of 
3000 francs. An idea of his fitness for the task of ex-' 
amining and estimating the worth of the improvements 
which Coche professed to have effected in the Boehm 
flute, may be gathered from the circumstance that he 
admits that he had obtained such information as he 
possessed on the subject of flutes and flute construction 
from a conversation with a scientist who was a tolerably 
good amateur flute-player. It can occasion, therefore, 
no surprise that he does not attempt to describe, much 
less to criticise the improvements which Coche claimed 
to have made, his method of judging being to take 
Coche at his own valuation. Indeed, so bent was he on 
eulogising his brother professor, that in a letter he wrote 
when forwarding to him the certified copy of his report — 
a letter which Coche, it is almost needless to say, did not 
fail to publish — he does not even mention Boehm's name, 
but ascribes to Coche alone the boon the new flute had 
conferred on the musical world. The letter runs thus : 

" Sir, 

" I forward you the copy of my report to the Institute, 
and I consider that you will take an useful step in 
publishing the opinion of those who signed this report 
on the importance of your work ; not only have you 
deserved well of your professional brethren in devoting 


your energies and your lucubrations to the study and 
the construction of the new instrument, but composers 
will be infinitely indebted to you for rendering the use 
of this flute more easy, so that for the future they will 
not be stopped by obstacles of old insurmountable. Now 
one will be able to employ the flute without misgiving 
or restriction throughout the extent of the chromatic 
scale, because we find in every part of it equality of tone, 
perfect intonation in all the keys, improved mechanism 
which is not more noisy than that of the other wind 
instruments, a possibility of executing the music of your 
illustrious master Tulou and all the shakes, high and low, 
on your instrument. 1 These advantages were more than 
sufficient to induce the Academy to ratify the report of 
which you can feel proud. 

" I am, yours with regards, 

H. Berton." 

1 The contents of Berton's letter were, for the most part, a re- 
flection of statements made by Coche in the pamphlet he had 
presented to the judges. The allusion to the alleged impossibility 
of executing the music of Tulou on the Boehm flute had reference 
to the following passage (p. 15): "It is evident that, after my 
changes, the keys, which were easy on the old, remain easy on the 
new flute, and that no music is excluded, as many professional 
players have sought to make believe, asserting that the greater 
part of the compositions ot our celebrated flautist M. Tulou could 
not be executed on the new flute. Moreover, only two-thirds of 
the notes of the diapason are made with the old fingering, and in 
those which have undergone some changes there still remains a 
very great analogy with the primitive fingering." 

To understand Coche's meaning, it should be borne in mind 
that the greater part of Tulou's solos, as well, indeed, as those of 
other composers for the old flute, were written in keys in which there 
was no G sharp or A flat (such as C major, G major, F major). When 
playing in such keys on the Boehm flute with the open G sharp it 
was necessary to keep the little finger of the left hand employed in 
pressing on the G sharp key, but by restoring the closed G sharp key 
of the old flute, where the work of closing the key was done by the 
spring, Coche, like Dorus and Mr. Radcliff, set the little finger at 
liberty, and thus got rid of the cramping effect produced on the 
second and third fingers — a subject already discussed in note, p. 56. 


The report, as published by Coche, was headed by a 
certificate, as follows: — 


Royal Academy of Fine Arts. 

The permanent Secretary of the Academy certifies that the 
following is an extract from the proceedings of the sitting of 
Saturday, the 24th of March, 1838." 

It is addressed to the members of the Academy of 
Fine Arts, before whom it was read. The following is a 
translation : — 

" Gentlemen, 

" In compliance with the request which has been made 
you by the Minister of the Interior, you have referred to 
your Section of Music the examination of the improve- 
ments introduced into the construction of the flutes, 
called ' Flutes on the Boehm system,' by M. COCHE, 
flute professor in our Conservatoire de Musique, and 
author of a method intended to facilitate the teaching 
and the study of this new instrument. We have applied 
ourselves to this examination, and I am about to have 
the honour of reading to you the report in which your 
Section of Music has embodied its opinion on the merits 
of this flute, and those of the method written by 
M. Coche. 

" The musical instrument to which the name of flute 
is given is unquestionably one of the earliest invented of 
instruments, and, from the Pan flute down to those now 
in use, which are called transverse flutes because they are 
played transversely, the form and the means of execution 
have continually undergone great changes, and it cannot 
be a matter of doubt that these various changes had no 
other object than to endeavour to correct the faults of 


intonation inherent in the construction of the ancient 
flutes. We are of opinion that the inventor of this new 
make has attained this object, and we are about to 
acquaint you with the means he has known how to 
employ for its attainment. 

" The enlightened, men of science as well as artists, 
have always been of opinion that it would be almost 
impossible to succeed in constructing a flute which, 
according to the laws of acoustics, should be acknow- 
ledged to be perfectly in tune throughout the whole 
extent of its compass, and that it is only through the 
skill of the gifted executant that it often appears to us 
to be so ; and they ground this assertion on the following 
reasons. One of them, the celebrated Charles, your 
illustrious colleague of the Academy of Sciences, a dis- 
tinguished amateur of music and a tolerably good flute- 
player, told us, in conversing with us, that he • greatly 
regretted having studied this instrument rather than the 
violin, an instrument on which one can succeed in play- 
ing strictly in tune, whereas on the flute this would 
appear to him to be impossible, for the reason that its 
construction was defective in several points. First, that 
the embouchure presented a great difficulty to be sur- 
mounted, that of filling (J' insufflation), for in introducing 
the column of air into the tube one could not avoid 
losing a part of it, which passes to the outside, and that 
in this way a portion of the power of the tone and the 
means of controlling it with certainty were unavoidably 
destroyed ; 2 secondly, that the boring of the holes was, 

2 The statement that the column of air, of the " fractions " of 
which Coche had discoursed in his pamphlet, was introduced into 
the flute by the performer is too much even for Mr. Rockstro, who, 
as I have already mentioned, writes, "It will be seen from this 
remark that the illustrious Charles did not quite understand the 
subject on which he was conversing, or else that his words were 
imperfectly reported." Coche, though he did not speak of intro- 
ducing the column of air through the mouth hole, had written 
thus : " With a view of facilitating the respiration and the formation 


mathematically and acoustically speaking faulty, for the 
position assigned to the holes was only calculated with re- 
ference to the possible extension of the human fingers, and 
not according to the immutable laws of physics ; thirdly, 
that throughout the whole extent of its compass there 
was a great number of vague sounds, especially those 
that one desires to bring out in the deep part, and that 
those of the acute region were often too much so ; in 
short, that the sounds of the different registers of the 
flute did not appear to be all of the same family ; 
fourthly, that it was impossible to make on such or such 
a note shakes, improperly termed cadences ; and that of 
a certainty, notwithstanding its flexibility, notwithstand- 
ing the sweetness of its tones, the flute would continue 
to be an imperfect instrument until the time should come 
when a man of ingenuity should find the means of 
remedying all these defects, and artists possessed of 
skill and of sufficient courage to relinquish their old 
habits, and to make the inventions conspicuous — inven- 
tions of novelty, and of use in cultivating the fine 

of the tone Boehm has made at the side of the embouchure an 
excavation where the lower lip rests. Whence the pencil (rayon) 
of air is more concentrated, and one succeeds in a short time in 
avoiding the troublesome hissing caused by the lost particles 
(parcelles perdues) of this pencil, which in the ordinary flute is 
too much extended, and is spread far and wide." — Examen 
Critique, p. 15. 

It was once considered to be of essential importance for the 
production of a good tone that the stream should so pass through 
the embouchure into the flute as to fill the interior of the instru- 
ment, the wheezing and feebleness of a poor tone being taken to 
indicate that the tube was not duly filled. This old notion still 
survives in our language. A flute-player with a good tone is spoken 
of as being able " to fill the flute," whilst a flautist whose tone is 
inferior is said to fail in filling the instrument. The expression, 
which is even now sometimes heard in conversation, is used by 
Gerock and Wolf in the prospectus of their flute, quoted at p. 86 : 
they claim for it that it is easy to fill. 



" Gentlemen,— We believe that the aspirations of 
the great physicist have at last been realised, and that 
an end has been puj: to all the faults pointed out by 
him. The flute that we have the honour of presenting 
to you to-day was constructed according to the proce- 
dure of M. Boehm by M. Buffet the younger, one of the 
most skilful makers of the capital. Professor Coche has 
presided at this construction, and has caused to be added 
to it new ameliorations of his own invention. 

"Impressed with the excellence of this discovery, 
several of our most renowned virtuosi are desirous of 
applying it to the manufacture of the different instru- 
ments on which they are distinguished — M. Brod, for 
hautboys ; M. Berr, for the clarinets ; M. Gebauer, for 
the bassoons, &c. This concurrence of artistic approval 
already guarantees the value of the invention ; but that 
which ought, it seems to us, to more particularly deserve 
our encouragement and our commendation is the reso- 
lution, the tenacity displayed by M. Coche in causing 
this auspicious invention to bear fruit He took the first 
prize for the flute at the Conservatoire ; 3 his fine talent 
caused him to be appointed there a professor for the 
flute class. Well, then ! perceiving the importance of 
the discovery, he has had the courage to devote himself 
to the study of the new instrument, and to superintend 
its manufacture, causing notorious improvements to be 
made therein. And, above all, that which appears to us 
to be a work of the most useful kind at this conjuncture 
is the ' Method ' which he has written ; it seemed to us 
to be drawn up in a clear style, and the rules laid down 
in it to be always supported by excellent examples. 
" We consider, then, Gentlemen, that in granting your 

3 Notwithstanding the eulogies of Berton, Coche does not seem 
to have come to the front as a flute-player ; indeed, compared with 
his great contemporaries Tulou and D'orus, he is said to have been 
a very indifferent performer. His wife, however, who was a pianist, 
was a clever artiste and a charming woman. 


approval to our report you will be doing an act of justice 
and of utility to the art of music, as well as honourable 
for M. Coche. 

(Signatures to the minute) 







" The Academy adopts the conclusions of this report. 
u Certified a true copy : 

QuatremEre de Quincy, 
Permanent Secretary? 


Translated front his Pamphlet, entitled ' Examen Cri- 
tique de la flfite ordinaire comparee a la flute de 
Bohm,' Paris, 1838. 

The report of the Institute had come to sanction both 
Boehm's invention and the modifications which I had 
applied to it, when, just as I was about to publish the 
work * which had been the cause of this report, I learnt 
that Boehm's title to the invention could be disputed. 
As a conscientious artist, I wished to decide in accord- 
ance with precise information, and to render justice to 
him who had really invented the new flute. I am well 
aware that, as far as other considerations are concerned, 
it made little difference whether the flute had been 

1 The work which had been the 'cause of this report; that is, 
Coche's pamphlet, the Examen Critique. The attack on Boehm 
did not form part of the pamphlet when it was presented to the six 
members of the Institute who were to report on Coche's flute. It 
was added just before its publication. 


invented by this or that artist ; but as I came forward as 
a propagator of the Boehm system, I was unwilling that 
any one should be able to raise objections to the state- 
ments made in my work. I therefore postponed its pub- 
lication and wrote to M. Gordon, in Switzerland, to whom 
many artists attributed the invention of the flute called 
Boehm's. M. Gordon was not in a state to return me an 
answer. I received, however, a letter from his wife (see 
No. 1) which seems to attribute the invention of the new 
flute exclusively to M. Gordon (see at the end, Fig. i). 2 
On receiving this letter I thought it my duty to write to 
Boehm, and I made him understand the necessity of 
giving me explanations which would enable me to draw 
up my opinion of the case. Boehm replied (see No. 2) 
that the invention was really his own, and that his in- 
strument, which was already finished in 1832, could not 
be compared to the attempts of M. Gordon, who was 
making experiments in Boehm's house in 1834. 

Nevertheless, in a letter dated from Munich on the 
15th of July, 1833 (see No. 3), Gordon speaks of the flute 
he had just had constructed by a skilful workman of 
Boehm. In fact, Boehm himself says that before 3 this 
time Gordon had passed nine months at his house for 
the purpose of superintending the construction of his 
flutes. In the midst of all these assertions, I cannot do 
better than place before the public the evidence from 
which conclusions can be drawn. It is a duty I owe to 
myself to endeavour to ascertain the truth, let the public 
then decide on the validity of the claims of each of the 
two inventors. 

2 A facsimile of the drawing here referred to is given on p. 148. 

3 This is a direct perversion of what Boehm did say to Coche. 
He said, that Gordon spent nine months at his house, but he asserted 
that it was not before, but after the time here mentioned (July 
^S), stating (wrongly, it may be) that Gordon came to Munich 
the year following (1834). See his letter to Coche, p. 130. As a 
matter of fact Boehm had played in public on his new flute months 
before Gordon entered his house. See p. 253. 


A point which comes out as most evident is that in 
1827 Boehm was not engaged in making flutes on the 4 
new system, as Ivan Muller 5 asserts positively ; Gordon, 
on the other hand, had already made them. The 
priority of the invention is therefore secured to him ; 
and besides, he was the first to find the division of the 
column of air ; 6 to make use of crescents, by means of 
which one can obtain the effect of several movements 
by one finger 7 only ; to have recourse to the practice of 
making an excavation to receive the lower lip with the 
view of destroying the disagreeable effect of the blow- 
ing. 8 Such are the general principles of the construc- 
tion of the new flute, which Boehm has modified, chiefly 
by the application of the keys for F sharp and the D 
shake ; by replacing by rings the crescents invented by 

4 There is a fallacy here resulting from the misleading use of the 
article " the." It is true that Gordon was the first to make a flute 
on a new system, i.e. his own system, but not on the new system, 
i.e. Boehm's system. 

If Coche had confined himself to saying that Gordon had 
attempted, as early as 1827, to construct a flute on a system of 
open keys, and that, in so doing, he had anticipated Boehm, no 
objection could be taken to his statement. But still Boehm does 
not seem to have been indebted to Gordon for the idea of this 
system, for he appears to have been acquainted with it before he 
knew him (see infra, p. 231). 

5 A clarionetist, born 1781, died 1854. In 181 1 he invented the 
thirteen-keyed clarionet. 

6 Boehm had made a flute in which the holes had been rearranged, 
and so were placed according to what was believed to he the 
division of the column of air before he made Gordon's acquaintance 
(see Fig. 8). Moreover, the same thing had been done more than a 
quarter of a century before Gordon commenced his experiments. 
Coche thought that Boehm had arranged the holes of his flute 
according to a calculation based on the divisions of the monochord, 
and that Gordon was the first to adopt this method, both ideas 
being erroneous. See note 28, p. 202. 

7 Boehm had obtained this effect by means of rings on his first 
model before he saw Gordon's crescents. 

8 Recourse was had to the practice of making such an excavation 
by Dr. Ribock long before Gordon was born (p. 201). 


Gordon, 9 and by imparting much more strength and 
simplicity to the mechanism, which, originally com- 
posed of cranks and steel wire, provided no security for 


No. i. 
o Lausanne, 20th May, 1838. 

It is quite true that my husband, passionately fond of 
music, to which he devoted every moment he could 
possibly spare from his professional duties, and unable 
to reconcile himself to the limits and imperfections of 
the flute, endeavoured, during several years, to invent 
an instrument, in which great accuracy of intonation 
should be combined with a more extensive compass and 
easy execution. He succeeded at length in 1830 — a 
year in which the Revolution of July deprived him of 
his profession, of his expectations, and consequently of 
his fortune. He thereupon conceived the idea, with a 
view of recovering it, of turning this new flute to account 
by playing on it in public in the principal towns of 
Europe, then, on taking out a patent, by establishing 
manufactories and introducing this beautiful instrument 
into the musical world. 

He began by going to Munich in 1833, to be near to 
M. Boehm, whom he had known in Paris, 1 and one of 

9 However much obscurity there may be regarding the origin of 
the ring-keys, there can be but little doubt that they were not a 
modification of the crescents as here maintained by Coche 
(pp. 41, 234). Moreover, the crescents were not invented by 
Gordon, but by Dr. Pottgiesser. 

1 I have no hesitation in saying that Madame Gordon is in error 
here. It was not in Paris, but in London that Boehm had known 
her husband. Boehm speaks precisely on this point (see pp. 21, 130), 
and I know no valid reason for calling in question the accuracy of 
his statement. Fdtis follows Madame Gordon into this mistake. 


whose workmen was the only person who could assist 
him in the construction of the flute which he had invented. 
I could not tell you at present, Sir, if M. Boehm owes to 
my husband the idea of the flute which he has sent you, 
or if he has only perfected it after his, or if, perhaps, he 
has sent you my husband's. I could write to obtain 
this information, if you would advise me, to the work- 
man with whom he made it, and would send you his 
answer. But what I know is this, that after having 
passed some months at Munich for constructing his 
flute, he then went to London to carry out his plans ; 
but as he was very shy, without introductions, without a 
knowledge of the world and of the way to set to work 
to succeed in it, he saw his pecuniary resources diminish 
and come to an end before he had been able to make 
himself known ; so that he returned hither to his family 
ill and disheartened. Afterwards there happened an 
accident to fill to the brim the cup of his troubles ; this 
instrument, which had cost him so much pains and study, 
became cracked in consequence of another improvement, 
which he wished still to make on it. Though terribly 
cast down, he set to work to make another of the same 
kind ; for he had acquired by his perseverance a skill 
far superior to that of the workmen who surrounded 
him. But the earnestness which he brought to bear on 
the work, and the difficulty of executing it without any 
assistance, added to the crosses of all sorts which his 
designs had brought upon him, have by degrees altered 
his intellectual faculties, before, he was able to finish his 
work, and he has been obliged to break it off com- 
pletely, and to keep at a distance eveiy idea which 
could bring it to his mind, in order to give his head the 
repose of which it stands in need ; and it is for this 
reason, Sir, that I take the pen in his stead without 
having been able to mention to him that which forms 
the subject of my letter. 

Perhaps M. Boehm, who must have been informed 


this winter by his workman of my husband's state, may 
have thought that, since my husband was suffering from 
a mental malady, he could, without showing a want of 
delicacy, appropriate to himself an invention, which, 
without him, would remain useless to the public. What 
makes me suppose this is the coincidence between 
M. Boehm's invention and my husband's attack. 2 How- 
ever, M. Drouet, of whom M. Gordon is an old pupil, and 
who has seen and admired his flute, will be able to tell 
you what he thinks of it, and at what period it was 
made. M. Tulou must also have seen it. 

I add to this letter the drawing of this instrument as 
well as its fingering, just as my husband had drawn it 
out, and since Providence has permitted that you should 
interest yourself in this affair, and that a delicate senti- 
ment "has made you desire to be able to render justice 
to him to whom it belongs, be so kind, Sir, as to honour 
me with your advice, and tell me what proceedings I 
could take to maintain for my husband those rights, 
which if it should please God to restore him to health, 
may be of use to him some day. I need not say, Sir, 
how entitled you will be to my gratitude, and to my 
highest esteem. 

M. Gordon. 

No. 2. 

Munich, June 2nd, 1838. 

1 am very much obliged to you for your letter, dated 
the 25th of May, and I hasten to return you an answer. 
I know Mr. Gordon very well ; he was formerly Captain 

2 It is, of course, unnecessary to point out that this coincidence 
existed only in the imagination of the writer. Had she belonged 
to the responsible sex, it would have been more than reprehensible 
on her part to place on paper such a suspicion. As it is, a double 
disgrace attaches to Coche, who did not shrink from publishing in 
a lady's name, without comment or explanation, what he well knew 
to be an abominable calumny. 



in 1 the Swiss Guards at Paris. I made his acquaintance 
in London six years ago, 3 and he had at that time a 
flute, which was very different in its construction from 
other flutes, but which was out of tune, and of little 
practical use. He had heard that I was in London, 
and, knowing that I was a manufacturer, he came to 
call upon me, to consult me respecting flutes. At that 
time I had already made in London the model of my 
new flute, and I showed him everything that I had done. 

Mr. Gordon would not adopt my flute, because it was 
not of his own invention, 4 and he laboured so much to 
find a different construction, that his efforts almost turned 
his brain. In 1834 he wrote to me from Lausanne, say- 
ing that he admired very much the workmanship of my 
flutes, and requesting me to make one according to his 
ideas. 6 I consented, and he came to Munich, where I 
put one of my workmen at his disposal. 

According to my advice, he adopted for the most part 
the position of the holes of my flute, but he persisted in 
following out his own ideas as to the mechanism of the 
keys ; and, after having laboured nine months with my 
workman, and after having constructed and tuned 
several flutes, he at last completed one, which resembled 
mine in some points. I last saw him in London in 
1836. He was then in great difficulties, and he told me 
that he intended to give up his fruitless efforts, . and 
play on my flute. Some time after, he wrote to me at 

3 Boehm made Gordon's acquaintance in 1831, seven, not six 
years before the time at which he was writing. 

4 " I asked him," said Boehm to me, speaking of Gordon, " why- 
he did not take my flute, and he said, ' because I wish to have a 
flute of my own/ " 

5 This letter, which was afterwards published by Boehm, was 
written in 1833, not 1834. There is no allusion in it to Gordon 
having admired the workmanship of Boehm's flutes ; we may there- 
fore conclude that Boehm did not refer to it when writing to Coche, 
but trusted to his memory. This may account for the inaccuracy 
regarding its date. 


Munich to send him one of my flutes for his own use. 
I wrote to him, stating on what terms I would let him 
have one, but I received no answer ; and afterwards, 
one of his countrymen told me that he had quite given 
up playing on the flute, that he had thrown his instru- 
ment into the Lake of Geneva, and was in bad health. 
Last year he wrote again to the workman in my em- 
ploy who made his flute, wishing him to join him in 
establishing flute manufactories in Paris, London, 
Vienna, &c, and at the same time there came a letter 
from his family, stating that he was very ill and that 
they wished no answer to be sent to his letter. 

I assure you, Sir, that I felt very much for Mr. 
Gordon, whom I esteemed on account of his character. 
It is unfortunate that this gentleman, who was held in 
high estimation as a brave officer of great talents and 
merit, should have lost his time and money in the vain 
desire to be the inventor of an instrument for which 
neither his knowledge of acoustics nor his skill in me- 
chanics was sufficient, and that he should have incurred 
so much expense and experienced so much anxiety 
that it affected his mind as well as his worldly affairs. 
If you wish to have certificates that my flute was com- 
pleted in 1832, and that Mr. Gordon was having his 
flutes made in my manufactory in 1834, I will send 
them to you immediately. In 1834, there was an article 
respecting my new flute in the 'Gazette Musicale de 
Leipsig,' No. 5. In 1833, MM. Farrene, Camus, and 
Laurent, manufacturers of flutes (Palais Royal) who 
knew Mr. Gordon, were already acquainted with my 
new flute, 6 and the reason that it was not then more 

6 -Coche excused himself for making assertions calculated to ruin 
Boehm's character as an honourable man by stating that he was 
actuated by justice, conscientiousness, and the duty he owed to 
himself of ascertaining the truth ; but these motives do not seem 
to have been strong enough to induce him to write to Boehm for 
the certificates he offered to produce that Gordon was having flutes 
made in his manufactory in 1834, nor does he appear to have taken 

K 2 


generally known, was, that I was too much occupied 
during three years. with ironworks in England, and also 
I played very little myself. But I shall now publish a 
history of my flute in the musical and political journals. 
At the same time accept, Sir, my friendly salutations, 7 
&c, &c. 

Theobald Boehm, 

First Flute of the Chapel Royal at Munich, 
■ and instrument maker. 

No. 3. 

Munich, i$th July, 1833. 
Sir, — Having long known how obliging you are, I 
make bold to ask you to do me a service. It relates to 
the delivery to the undermentioned of some copies of 
the papers, which I direct to you from Munich, where I 
have just had made by a skilful workman an excellent 
instrument on my model. I shall start shortly for 
London, where my address is 22 Newcastel (sic) Street, 

the trouble to inquire if Messrs. Farrene, Camus, and Laurent, of 
the Palais Royal, could confirm or contradict Boehm's statement 
that they were acquainted with his flute in 1833. Boehm, as 
already mentioned (p. 49), had spent some days in Paris on his way 
home from London in that year. 

7 It will be observed that, although Boehm does not assign any 
share of the invention to Gordon, but speaks disparagingly of his 
knowledge of mechanics and his scientific attainments, and seeks 
to convey the impression that his flute, with the exception of the 
keys, was founded on his own (compare p. 93), yet this letter 
contains no passage in which Boehm denies categorically that he 
derived any ideas "from Gordon, and I know of no such denia.1 in 
any part of his works. However, in a private letter dated May 20th, 
1878, published in Musical Opinion of March 1st, 1890, in forward- 
ing a copy of his pamphlet of 1847, he wrote : " You will find in the 
pages 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 and ir, marked with red ink, that I never had 
used anything of M. Gordon, but that he had to thank me for what 
I .had done for him." 


Strand. Be so good as to send me a line thither on 
receiving the papers, which I have prepaid as far as I 
could. We will settle, later on, for what you have to 
pay. You might leave your address with some of those 
mentioned below, so that, if any amateurs should appear, 
you would be able to let them have mine in London. 

For M. Pleyel, at the Music Warehouse, Boulevart des 
Italiens, 6 copies ; for Paccini, idem, No. 1 1 ; M. Frey, 
No. 8 Place des Victoires ; Schlesinger, No. 97 Rue 
Richelieu ; M. Laurent, Flute Maker, 65 Palais Royal ; 
M. Tulou, No. 27 Rue des Martirs ; M. Drouet, No. 28 
Rue de l'Arcade ; M. Farrene, No. 2 1 Rue S. Marc ; 
M. Camus, Rue Montmartre, opposite the Rue Mont- 
orgueil ; M. Lemoine, No. 9 Rue de l'Echelle ; Jeannet 
et Cotelle, 123 Rue St. Honor6 ; at the office of M. 
Fetis, editor of the 'Journal of Fine Arts,' No. 31 Rue 
S. Lazare. 

With thanks, which pray accept in advance, and with 
my kind regards, and to your family as well, 

Your faithful servant, 


This letter is addressed to M. Mercier, 2 Rue St. Nicaise. 

The following is the original French of the letters and 
other documents of which a translation has been given. 

No. 1. 

Paris, le 6 novembre, 1837. 

Mon Cher Monsieur, 

Je ne puis vous exprimer toute l'admiration que 
j'eprouve chaque jour en travaillant votre magnifique et 
riche instrument, qui est appele a faire une revolution 


des plus remarquables dans les instruments a vent. 
Aussi c'est avec beaucoup d'ardeur que je le cultive ; 
puissai-je un jour £tre digne par mon execution de par- 
tager les suffrages qui appartiennent de droit a cette 
belle invention. 

Je doit vous prevenir, mon cher Monsieur, qu'un 
facteur d'instruments du nom de Clair Godefroy aine 
vient de copier exactement votre instrument, et de plus 
y a mis son nom comme s'il en etait l'enventeur ; je 
crois done qu'il serait de votre interet de venir a Paris 
pour prendre un brevet d'invention et d'importation, et 
alors vous seriez le seul facteur pouvant confectionner. 

J'ignore tout a fait quelles sont vos intentions k ce 
sujet ; peut etre cela vous est-il egal que Ton fasse des 
contrefagons, mais dans le doute j'ai mis toute la discre- 
tion possible pour que cela n'arrive pas ; ainsi vous 
pouvez juger de mon etonnement quand j'ai vu votre 
instrument copie et expose dans un passage de la 
capital e. 

Je vous prie done de garder cette lettre Secrete, de 
me dire a quels artistes, et a quelles personnes vous avez 
envoye" votre flute, et quelles sont vos intentions au sujet 
de la contrefagon. 

Je l'ai fait entendre aux membres de l'institut, Mrs. 
Cherubini, Paer, Auber, Berton, Halevy ; je crois avoir 
entre les mains la possibility de faire adopter votre 
instrument, et si des arrangemens particuliers peuvent 
vous £tre agreables, en supposant que vous ayez l'inten- 
tion de faire un d£p6t a Paris, nous pourrions nous 
entendre a ce sujet. 

Croyez a l'admiration de votre devoue, 


N'oubliez pas, je vous prie, la musique de votre com- 
position que vous m'avez promise. 

Passage violet No. I. — Coche. 


No. 2. 

Paris, le 19 avril, 1838. 
Mon cher Monsieur, 

J'ai eu le bonheur de placer les deux dernieres flutes 
que vous m'avez envoyees ; malheureusement pour moi, 
ce sont des artistes qui en ont fait l'acquisition, mais au 
moins, j'en suis content pour vous. La flute envoyee 
pour Mr. Guibal d'epernon, se trouve de cette manier^ 
vendue a une autre personne, mais, il n'est pas venu la 
chercher, et il a bien fait peur, car je connais trop cet 
homme-la pour ne pas m'en feliciter : cette flute avait deux 
tetes, mais j'ai ete oblig6 d'en donner une a un amateur 
de Bordeaux dont la flute etait fendue completement. 
Tirez une Traite a cinq jours de vue sur moi de cinq cent 
quarante francs (540 fr). Ou, si vous devez venir ici, 
vous y trouverez cet argent — faites comme vous voudrez 
— j'ai encore eu beaucoup de contrarietes, malgre toutes 
mes courses, et malgre toutes vos lettres que j'ai postees 
moi-meme, les intrigues ont reussie. Mr. Coche a pre- 
sents une flute perfectionnee, il l'a jouee a l'lnstitut, 
et dans un rapport, il a ete qu'avant la dkouverte de 
Mr. Coche les flutes Staient vicieuses, mais que grace a 
sa d&ouverte, etc. etc. — il a fait mettre cela dans tous 
les journeaux, et vous et moi sommes mis a l'ecart. 

Sa d&ouverte consiste, je crois, a faire fermer la clef 
du 4 e doigt, ainsi que celle du pouce : 

Godfroy aussi a mis un ou deux articles aux journeaux 
et j'ai eu soin qu'il parle de vous, et qu'il r^tablisse ce 
qui vous revient, mais pour l'lnstitut, le mal est fait — je 
souhaite bien que vous puissiez venir ici, mais je ne vous 
y engage pas, car pour vos interets ils n'y gagneraient 
en rien — cependant, si vous allez cette annee en Angle- 
terre, il faut tacher de rester un peu a Paris, pour faire 
parler un peu les journeaux et tacher de dementir les 
menteurs et les intrigants. 

Adieu mon cher Mr. Boehm, si vous ne venez pas, 
donnez-nous de vos nouvelles. 


No. 3. 

Paris, le 25 mat, 1838. 


Si je n'ai pas repondu a votre lettre c'est que je 
voulais attendre le resultat de la seance de l'institut ou 
Ton devait juger votre flute. Cette seance successive- 
ment ajournee a reculd de pres de trois mois l'epoque 
a laquelle votre flute et mon travail furent juges, mais, 
deja vous avez donne pouvoir a Mr. Camus de faire 
valoir votre invention, vous vous etiez en quelque sorte 
retire derriere lui, et quant a moi, je n'avais plus qu'a 
produire le rapport de l'institut et a jouer la flute, enrichie 
de mes perfectionnemens, afin que le public put juger 
entre Mr. Camus et moi ; une reponse eut ete sans but : 
c'est entre artistes que la question doit se vider. 

Aujourd'hui, Monsieur, il s'eleve une petite difficulte, 
peu importante au fond pour les flutistes qui joueront 
votre instrument, mais qui interesse a un haut degre 
l'inventeur. On dit dans le monde artistique que la 
flute qui porte votre nom a 6t6 decouverte et inventee 
avec tous ses perfectionnemens actuels par un nomme 
Gordon, ancien eleve de Drouet ; que ce Gordon ayant 
employe plusieurs annees d'essais et de travaux, a 
renonce pour cause de maladie a s'occuper de la flilte, 
et que votre decouverte, en un mot, n'est autre que la 
sienne; moi, Monsieur, qui ais correspondu avec vous, 
je me suis recrie contre une telle assertion, parceque vos 
lettres ne contiennent rien qui me le prouvent ; mais 
dans cette conjoncture c'est l'amour-propre de l'inventeur 
qui est en jeu, et je crois vous rendre service en vous 
ecrivant pour vous prier de me mettre en position de 
repondre a toutes les clabauderies par un dementi formel, 
je vous le repete, Monsieur, il m'importe fort peu que la 
nouvelle flute soit de Gordon, ou de vous, le public ne 
l'adoptera pas moins vite, qu'elle porte votre nom ou un 
autre ; mais il est de votre interet de detruire toutes les 


suppositions et c'est pourquoi je vous ecris. Tout autre 
peut-etre se soucierait fort peu de ce conflit au sujet de 
l'invention et chercherait a se substituer a la place de l'un 
ou de l'autre inventeur, ou de tous les deux ensemble ; 
mais, Monsieur, j'agis plus franchement et je vous avertis 
de ce qui se passe. J'attends done votre reponse : 
jusqu'au 15 juin courant je m'en servirai pour fermer la 
bouche aux medisants, et vous faire rendre justice. 
Quelle que soit d'ailleurs la v^rite, ne me faites point 
attendre votre lettre, car je pense bien que vous ne me 
mettrez point par votre silence, dans la position de sup- 
poser que votre invention a une autre origine que celle 
avouee par vous. Comme vous £tes le seul interesse 
dans la question, veuillez m'ecrire le plutot possible et 
croire a la haute consideration de votre tout devoue 



Letter from M. Berton, the writer of the Report, to 
M. Coche. 

Je vous fais parvenir la copie de mon rapport a lTn- 
stitut, et je pense que vous ferez une chose utile en 
publiant l'opinion des signataires de ce rapport sur 
l'importance de votre travail ; non seulement vous avez 
bien merite de vos confreres en consacrant vos soins et 
vos veilles a l'etude et a la construction du nouvel 
instrument, mais les compositeurs vous sauront un gre 
infini d'avoir rendu plus facile l'usage de cette flute sans 
etre desormais arretes par des obstacles jadis insurmon- 
tables. Maintenant on pourra employer sans crainte 
et indifferemment la flute sur tel ou tel degre d'echelle 
chromatique, parce qu'on trouve toujours egalite de son, 


intonation parfaite dans tous les tons, perfectionnement 
du mecanisme qui ne fait plus que le bruit ordinaire 
des autres instrumens a vent, possibility d'executer la 
musique de votre illustre maitre Tulou, et tous les trilles 
sur tous les degres de votre instrument : ces avantages 
etaient plus que suffisans pour motiver l'adhesion de 
l'Academie au rapport dont vous pouvez vous honorer. 

Je suis avec consideration, 

H. Berton. 

acadEmie royale des beaux-arts. 

Le Seer Hair e perpe'tuel de V Acadimie certifie que ce qui 
suit est extrait du Proch-verbal de la Stance du 
Samedi, 24 Mars 1838. 


D'apres l'invitation qui vous a ete faite par M. le 
Ministre de l'interieur, vous avez renvoye a votre section 
de Musique l'examen des perfectionnemens apportes 
dans la confection des Flutes, dites FlUtes selon le 
systime de Bohm, par M. COCHE, professeur de flute a 
notre Conservatoire de Musique, et auteurd'une Methode 
ayant pour but de faciliter l'enseignement et l'etude de 
ce nouvel instrument. Nous nous sommes occupes de 
cet examen, et je vais avoir l'honneur de vous donner 
lecture du rapport dans lequel votre section de musique 
a consigne son opinion sur les merites de cette flute et 
ceux de la methode composee par M. Coche. 

L'instrument de musique auquel on a donne le nom 
de flilte est sans contredit, l'un des instrumens le plus 
anciennement crees, et, depuis la flute de Pan jusqua 
celles en usage maintenant, et que Ton nomme flutes 
traversieres, par la raison qu'on les joue en travel's, la 
forme et les moyens d'execution sur cet instrument ont 


continuellement ^prouve" de grands changemens, et Ton 
ne peut douter que ces divers changemens n'aient toujours 
eu pour but celui de chercher a corriger les vices d'into- 
nation inheVens a la construction des anciennes flutes. 
Nous pensons que l'inventeur de cette nouvelle facture a 
atteint ce but ; et nous allons donner connaissance 
des moyens qu'il a su employer pour y parvenir. 

Les personnes eclairees, savantes ou artistes, ont 
toujours pense" qu'il serait presqu'impossible de parvenir 
a construire une flute qui d'apres les lois de l'acoustique, 
fut reconnue parfaitement juste dans toute l'^tendue de 
son diapason, et que souvent elle ne nous paraissait l'etre 
que par l'habilete du virtuose executant, et ils appuyaient 
cette assertion des raisons suivantes. L'un d'eux, le 
celebre Charles, votre illustre confrere a l'Academie des 
sciences, grand amateur de musique et jouant assez bien 
de la flute, nous disait, en causant avec nous, qu'il avait 
grand regret d'avoir etudi^ cet instrument plut6t que le 
violon, instrument sur lequel on peut parvenir a jouer 
rigoureusement juste, au lieu que sur la flute cela lui 
paraissait impossible, par la raison que sa construction 
etait vicieuse en plusieurs points. i°. Que l'embouchure 
offrait une grande difficult^ a vaincre, celle de l'insufHa- 
tion, car pour introduire la colonne d'air dans le tube, on 
ne peut eviter d'en perdre une partie qui passe a l'exte- 
rieur, et que par ce fait, inevitablement on detruisait une 
portion de l'intensite" du son et les moyens de la maitriser 
avec surete ; 2°. que la perce des trous etait mathe- 
matiquement et acoustiquement parlant, vicieuse, car le 
placement des trous n'y a ete calcule que sur 1'extension 
possible des doigts de l'homme, et non d'apres les lois 
immuables de la physique ; 3 que dans toute l'etendue de 
son diapason, il y avait beaucoup de sons vagues, surtout 
ceux que Ton veut faire entendre dans la partie grave de 
l'instrument, et que ceux de l'aigu l'etaient souvent par 
trop ; enfin que tous les sons des divers registres de la 
flute ne semblaient pas tous etre de la meme famille ; 


4°. qu'il y avait impossibility de faire sur telle ou telle 
note des trilles, improprement appeles cadences ; et qu'en 
definitive, malgre la legerete, la douceur de ses sons, la 
flute resterait un instrument imparfait jusqu'au moment 
ou un homme ingenieux trouverait les moyens de corriger 
tous ces defauts, et des artistes habiles et assez courageux 
pour abandonner leurs vieilles habitudes et mettre en 
lumiere les inventions nouvelles et utiles dans la culture 
des beaux-arts. 

Messieurs : 

Nous croyons que les vceux du grand physicien sont 
enfin exauces et que tous les vices signales par lui sont 
detruits. La flute que nous avons l'honneur de vous 
presenter aujourd'hui fut construite d'apres les procedes 
de M. B6hm par M. Buffet jeune, l'un des plus habiles 
facteurs de la capitale ; le professeur Coche a preside a 
cette construction et y a fait ajouter de nouvelles amelio- 
rations de son invention, 

Pen^tres de l'excellence de cette decouverte, plusieurs 
de nos virtuoses les plus renommes veulent en faire 
l'application a la facture des divers instrumens sur les- 
quels ils se sont illustres, M. Brod, pour les hautbois ; 
M. Berr, pour les clarinettes ; M. Gebauer, pour les 
bassons, etc. Ce concours d'approbations artistiques est 
deja une surete des merites de l'invention ; mais ce qui 
nous semble devoir plus particulierement meViter nos 
encouragemens et nos eloges, c'est la Constance, la tena- 
cite que M. Coche a mises a faire fructifier cette heureuse 
invention. II a remporte le premier prix de flute au 
Conservatoire ; son beau talent Yy fit nommer professeur 
dans la classe de flute. Eh bien ! sentant l'importance 
de la decouverte, il a eu le courage de se livrer a l'etude 
du nouvel instrument, d'en surveiller la fabrication en y 
faisant faire de notoires perfectionnemens, et surtout ce 
qui nous parait etre un travail des plus utiles en cette 
circonstance, c'est la Methode qu'il a composee ; elle 


nous a paru etre r£digee avec clart6 et les preceptes y 
etre toujours appuyds par d'excellens exemples. 

Nous pensons done, Messieurs, qu'en accordant votre 
approbation a notre rapport, vous ferez une chose juste 
et utile a l'art musical autant qu'honorable pour M. Coche. 

Signe a la minute : 

Cherubini. Paer. Auber. 

Halevy. Carafa. Berton, rapporteur. 

L'Academie adopte les conclusions de ce rapport. 
Certify conforme : 

Le Secretaire perpituel, 

QuatremEre de Quincy. 


Le rapport de l'lnstitut etait venu sanctionner et 
l'invention de B6hm et les modifications que j'y avais 
apportees, lorsqu'au moment de publier le travail qui 
avait motive ce rapport, j'appris que la qualite d'inven- 
teur pouvait etre contestee a B6hm. En artiste con- 
sciencieux, je voulais fixer mon opinion d'apres des 
renseignemens exacts et rendre justice a celui qui avait 
veritablement decouvert la nouvelle flute. Je sais bien 
qu'il importait fort peu d'ailleurs que la flute eut ete in- 
ventee par tel ou tel artiste ; mais moi, qui me donnais 
comme propagateur du systeme de B6hm, je ne voulais 
point qu'on put reclamer contre les assertions contenues 
dans mon travail ; j'ajournai done la publication et 
j'ecrivis a M. Gordon en Suisse, auquel l'opinion de 
plusieurs artistes attribuait l'invention de la flute dite de 
B6hm. M. Gordon etant hors d'etat de me repondre, je 
recus neanmoins de sa femme une lettre {Voir N. 1) qui 


semble attribuer exclusivement a M. Gordon 1 l'inven- 
tion de la flute nouvelle. A la reception de cette lettre, 
je cms devoir ecrire a B6hm, et je lui fis comprendre la 
necessite de me donner les eclaircissemens d'apres les- 
quels je pusse formuler mon opinion. B6hm me re- 
pondit ( V. N. 2) que l'invention etait veritablement de 
lui, et qu'en 1832 son instrument deja complet ne 
pouvait etre compare aux essais de M. Gordon qui en 
1834 faisait fabriquer chez lui B6hm. Cependant, par 
une lettre datee de Munich du 15 juillet 1833 (V. N. 3), 
Gordon parlait de la flute qu'il venait de faire construire 
par un habile ouvrier de B6hm. En effet, B6hm dit 
lui-meme qu'avant cette epoque Gordon avait passe neuf 
mois chez lui pour surveiller la construction de ses 
flutes. Au milieu de toutes ces assertions, je ne puis 
mieux faire que de mettre sous les yeux du public les 
pieces de conviction, au moyen desquelles il pourra 
tirer des consequences. Je me devais a moi-meme de 
chercher la verite ; qu'on juge done la validite des pre- 
tentions de l'un ou de l'autre inventeur. 

Ce qui ressort de plus evident, e'est qu'en 1827 B6hm 
ne s'occupait pas de la fabrication des flutes d'apres le 
nouveau systeme, Iwan Muller l'afrirme positivement ; 
Gordon, au contraire, en avait deja construit ; l'anterio- 
rite de l'invention lui est done acquise ; et d'ailleurs, il 
fut le premier a trouver la division de la colonne d'air ; 
a faire usage de croissans, au moyen desquels on peut 
obtenir le resultat de plusieurs mouvemens par un seul 
doigt ; a pratiquer une excavation pour recevoir la levre 
inferieure dans le but de detruire 1'effet desagreable 
produit par le souffle. Telles sont les bases generates 
de la construction de la nouvelle flute que B6hm a 
modified, notamment par l'application des cles de fa 
diese et du trille de r/ en remplacant par des anneaux 
les croissans inventes par Gordon, et en donnant beau- 
coup plus de solidite et de simplicity au mecanisme 

1 Voir h. la fin, Fig. I. 


qui, dans le principe, se composait de crochets et de fil 
d'acier qui n'offraient point de securite pour l'execution. 

No. 1. 

MONSIEUR, Lausanne, le 20 mai, 1838. 

II est tres-vrai que mon mari, passionn<£ de la 
musique, a laquelle il a consacre tous les rrtomens que 
son etat ne reclamait pas impeVieusement, et ne pouvant 
prendre son parti des bornes et de l'imperfection de la 
flute, a cherche, pendant plusieurs annees, a en inventer 
une qui reunit a une grande justesse de son une plus 
grande 6tendue et une execution facile. II y reussit 
enfin en 1830, epoque a laquelle la revolution de juillet 
l'a prive de sa vocation, de ses esperances, et par conse- 
quent de sa fortune. II eut alors l'idee de tirer parti 
de cette nouvelle flute, pour la retablir, en se faisant 
entendre dans les principales villes de l'Europe, puis 
en obtenant un brevet d'invention, etablissant des fabri- 
ques et introduisant ce bel instrument dans le monde 

II commenga par aller a Munich en 1833, aupres de 
M. B6hm, qu'il avait connu a Paris, et dont un des 
ouvriers pouvait seul l'aider a la confection de la flute 
qu'il avait inventee. Je ne pourrais vous dire a present, 
Monsieur, si c'est a mon mari que M. B6hm doit l'idee 
de la flute qu'il vous a envoyee, ou s'il l'a seulement per- 
fectionnee d'apres la sienne, ou si, peut-etre, il vous a 
envoy£ celle de mon mari; je pourrais ecrire pour le 
savoir, si vous me le conseillez, a l'ouvrier avec lequel 
il l'a faite, et je vous enverrais sa reponse. Mais ce que 
je sais, c'est qu'apres avoir passe quelques mois a Munich 
pour la facture de sa flute, il est alle ensuite a Londres 
pour l'accomplissement de ses projets ; mais comme il 
etait fort timide, sans recommandation, sans connaissance 
du monde et de la maniere de s'y prendre pour y reussir, 
il y a vu diminuer et finir ses ressources pecuniaires avant 


d'avoir pu se faire connaitre ; en sorte qu'il est revenue 
lei, dans sa famille, malade et decourage. Puis un acci- 
dent est venu completer tous les chagrins qu'il avait 
essuyes : cet instrument, qui lui avait coute tant de 
peines et de veilles, s'est fendu par suite d'un perfec- 
tionnement qu'il a voulu encore y faire. Quoique desole, 
il s'est remis a l'ouvrage pour en faire un autre ; car il 
avait acquis par sa perseverance une habilete bien 
superieure aux ouvriers qui l'entouraient. Mais l'ardeur 
qu'il a mise a ce travail, et la difficulte de l'executer sans 
aucun secours, jointes aux contradictions de tout genre 
que ses projets lui avaient suscitees, ont peu a. peu altere 
ses facultes intellectuelles avant qu'il ait pu achever son 
ouvrage, et il a du l'interrompre entierement et eloigner 
toute idee qui put s'y rapporter, afin de laisser reprendre 
a sa tete le calme dont elle a besoin ; et e'est ce qui fait, 
Monsieur, que je prends la plume a sa place, sans avoir 
pu lui parler de ce qui fait le sujet de ma lettre. 

Peut-etre M. B6hm, qui doit avoir appris cet hiver 
par son ouvrier l'etat de mon mari, aura-t-il cru que, 
puisque mon mari etait atteint d'une maladie mentale, il 
pouvait, sans manquer a la delicatesse, s'approprier une 
invention qui, sans lui, restait inutile au public. Ce qui 
me le ferait supposer, e'est la coincidence de l'invention 
de M. B6hm avec la maladie de mon mari. Du reste, 
M. Drouet, dont M. Gordon est un ancien eleve, et qui 
a vu et admire sa flute, pourra vous dire ce qu'il en 
pense, et a quelle epoque elle a ete faite. M. Tulou doit 
l'avoir vue aussi. 

Je joins a cette lettre le dessin de cet instrument 
ainsi que sa tablature, telle que mon mari l'avait confec- 
tionnee ; et puisque la Providence a permis que vous 
vous interessiez a cette affaire, et qu'un sentiment delicat 
vous a fait desirer de pouvoir faire rendre justice a celui a 
qui elle appartient, veuillez m'honorer de vos conseils, 
Monsieur, et me dire quelles demarches je pourrais avoir 
a faire pour conserver a mon mari des droits qui, si Dieu 


permet sa gu6rison, pourraient lui etre utiles un jour. Je 
n'ai pas besoin de vous dire, Monsieur, tous les titres 
que vous acquerrez a ma reconnaissance, ainsi que toute 
ma consideration. 

M. Gordon. 

No. 2. 

._ Munich, le 2juin, 1838. 

Monsieur, ' J ' - 

Je vous suis bien oblige pour votre lettre du 25 mai, 
et je m'empresse de vous donner de suite une reponse. 
Je connais tres-bien M. Gordon, ci-devant capitaine dans 
la garde Suisse a Paris. Je fis sa connaissance a Londres 
il y a six ans, et il avait dans ce terns une flute d'une 
construction differente des autres flutes, mais qui etait 
fausse et peu praticable. II avait pris connaissance 
de mon sejour a Londres, et vint me visiter pour me 
consulter sur des flutes, parce qu'il savait que j'en 
fabriquais moi-mSme. Dans ce terns, j'avais deja fait a 
Londres lemodele de ma flute nouvelle, et je lui montrai 
tout ce que j'avais fait. 

M. Gordon ne voulut pas prendre ma flute parce 
qu'elle n'etait pas de son invention, et il travailla tant 
pour trouver une construction differente, que ses efforts 
lui tournerent presque la tete. En 1834, il m'ecrivit 
de Lausanne qu'il admirait beaucoup l'ouvrage de mes 
flutes, et me demanda si je ne voudrais pas lui faire une 
flute d'apres ses idees ; je consentis, et il vint a Munich, 
ou je mis un de mes ouvriers a sa disposition. 

D'apres mon conseil, il adopta, pour la plus grande 
partie, la position des trous de ma flute ; mais il voulait 
absolument suivre ses idees quant au mecanisme des 
cl6s, et apres avoir travaille pendant neuf mois avec mon 
ouvrier ; apres avoir construit et regie plusieurs flutes, a 
la fin il en eut une qui ressemblait en quelques parties a 
la mienne. Je le vis pour la derniere fois a Londres en 
1836, tres-embarrasse, ou il me dit qu'il voulait aban- 
donner ses occupations inutiles et jouer de ma flute. 



Quelque terns apres, il m'ecrivit a Munich de lui envoyer 
une de mes flutes pour s'en servir. Je lui ecrivis mes 
conditions, sur quoi je ne regus plus de lettres de lui ; 
et plus tard, un de ses compatriotes me dit qu'il avait 
renonce entierement a jouer de la flute ; qu'il avait jete 
son instrument dans le lac de Geneve, qu'il etait malade. 
L'annee passee, il ecrivit encore une fois a mon ouvrier 
qui avait fait sa flute, pour l'engager a s'associer avec lui 
pour etablir des fabriques de flutes a Paris, a Londres, 
Vienne, etc., et en me'me terns il arriva une lettre de sa 
famille, l'informant qu'il etait bien malade, et temoignant 
le desir qu'on ne lui fit point de reponse. 

Je vous assure, Monsieur, que j'eus beaucoup de 
compassion pour M. Gordon, que j'estimais a cause de 
son caractere, et il est bien dommage que cet homme, 
qui etait estime de beaucoup comme un brave officier, 
possedant de grands talens et de beaucoup de meVite, ait 
perdu son terns et son argent en ayant la folie de 
vouloir etre l'inventeur d'une chose pour laquelle ni sa 
connaissance dans l'acoustique ni son habilete dans le 
mecanisme n'etaient suffisantes, et qui lui donnait tant 
de peine que les efforts de>angerent sa tete et sa fortune. 
Si vous desirez avoir des certificats que ma flute etait 
deja complete en 1832 et que M. Gordon faisait faire 
ses flutes dans mon etablissement a Munich en 1834, 
je vous les ferai parvenir tout de suite. En 1834, il y 
avait un article concernant ma nouvelle flute dans la 
'Gazette Musicale de Leipzig,' No. 5. En 1833, MM. 
Farrene, Camus et Laurent, facteurs de flutes (Palais- 
Royal), qui connaissent M. Gordon, connaissaient deja 
ma nouvelle flute, et la cause qu'elle n'etait pas encore 
connue plus generalement, etait parce que j'etais trop 
occupe pendant trois ans avec les fabrications de fer en 
Angleterre, et que je jouais tres-peu moi-meme ; mais a 
present je ferai mettre dans les gazettes musicales et 
dans les journaux politiques une histoire detaillee de 
ma flute. 


En meme terns recevez, Monsieur, mes salutations 
amicales et ma plus haute consideration. 

Theobald Boehm. 

No. 3. 
Monsieur, Munich, i$ junta, 1833. 

Connaissant depuis long-tems votre obligeance, je 
ne crains pas de vous demander un service. II s'agit de 
faire remettre aux ci-apres nommes quelques exem- 
plaires des imprimes que je vous adresse de Munich, ou 
je viens de faire executer par un habile ouvrier un 
instrument excellent d'apres mon modele. Je partirai 
prochainement pour Londres, ou mon adresse est New- 
Castel street Strand 22. Veuillez m'y adresser un mot 
sur la reception des imprimes, que j'affranchis aussi loin 
que je puis. Nous compterons plus tard vos debourses. 
Vous pourriez laisser votre adresse chez quelques-uns des 
ci-dessous nommes pour que, s'il se pr^sente des ama- 
teurs, vous puissiez leur indiquer la mienne a Londres. 

Pour M. Pleyel, au magasin de musique, boulevart 
des Italiens, 6 exemplaires ; pour Paccini, idem, No. 1 1 ; 
M. Frey, place des Victoires, No. 8; Schlesinger, rue 
Richelieu, No. 97 ; M. Laurent, facteur de flutes, Palais- 
Royal, 65 ; M. Tulou, rue des Martirs, No. 27 ; M. 
Drouet, rue de l'Arcade, No. 28 ; M. Farrene, rue S.- 
Marc, No. 21 ; M. Camus, rue Montmartre, en face la 
rue Montorgueil ; M. Lemoine, rue de l'Echelle, No. 9 ; 
Jeannet et Cotelle, rue S.-Honore, No. 123 ; au bureau 
de M. Fetis, r6dacteur du journal des Beaux-Arts, rue 
S.-Lazare, No. 31. 

Recevez d'avance mes remercimens et mes compli- 
mens tres-affectueux, ainsi que votre famille. 

Votre devoue serviteur, 

Cette lettre est addressee a M. Mercier, rue St. Nicaise, No. 2. 

L 2 

Fig. I. 

Fiff. 2. 



Fig. 3- 

Fig. 13.— Copy of the Engraving in Coche's Pamphlet. 



" De la Fabrication et des derniers Perfectionne- 
ments des Fl&tes" 

DANS cette derniere ville, j'avais 6t€ frappe du volume 
de son de Nicholson, alors dans toute la vigueur de son 
talent. Cette quality resultait de la largeur extraordi- 
naire des trous de sa flute, mais il fallait son habilete 
merveilleuse et son excellent embouchure pour masquer 
le defaut de justesse et l'inegalite de son, resultant d'une 
disposition de trous incorrecte et condamnee par les 
principes elementaires de l'acoustique. Je vis aussi a 
Londres, a cette epoque, un amateur, M. Gordon, qui 
avait deja fait de nombreux essais de perfectionnement, 
d'abord a Paris, puis a Londres. 

Le trou de mi de sa flute etait perc6 plus bas et plus 
large que d'usage, et pour eViter le levier du fa, il avait 
adopt6 une clef a anneau ; il avait en outre fait faire une 
quantite de clefs et de leviers ingenieusement imagines, 
mais trop compliques pour offrir jamais un grand 
avantage a sa flute, construite du reste en dehors des 
bases de l'acoustique; et destinee, par consequent, de- 
meurer imparfaite. Tout cela me confirma dans cette 
conviction, fruit de mes longues recherches, qu'on n'ob- 
tiendrait aucun perfectionnement complet sans reformer 
le systeme de doigter. 

Je r^solus done de consacrer mes veilles a la construc- 
tion d'une flute entierement nouvelle,qui reunit la justesse, 
l'egalite et la puissance de son, et sur laquelle toute 
musique, ecrite dans son etendue, put s'executer. De 
retour a Munich, je me mis a l'ceuvre. Apres un mur 
examen et de nombreuses experiences de perces et de 
mecanismes, je me fixai au systeme des clefs a anneaux 
comme repondant le mieux a tobtes les exigences, 
systeme que j'avais deja medite des avant 1 831. 


Malgre ce succes, dont je me rejouis, je confesse que 
je n'ai jamais fait grand cas de mon invention, ni sous le 
rapport du meVite, ni sous le rapport du produit. Je me 
contentais de l'approbation de quelques connaisseurs 
impartiaux ; je n'avais pas meme songe a prendre de 
brevet ; mais je sais qu'on a cherche a me contester ma 
decouverte, pour en parer un homme aussi honnete que 
modeste, et qui ne peut plus protester . . . , car il est mort. 
Je crois done devoir donner quelques explications sur 
mes rapports avec M. Gordon. 

Des 1832, ma nouvelle flute etait achev^e ; je l'avais 
fait entendre maintes fois, j'en avais livre au public une 
grande quantite, quand je regus de M. Gordon la lettre 
suivante, dont l'original est entre mes mains : — 

"Lausanne, \*,ftvrier, 1833. 
"Mon cher Monsieur, 

"Je suis depuis quinze jours de retour chez moi, a 
Lausanne, apres un sejour assez long a Paris, ou je suis 
venu de Londres peu apres vous y avoir vu, lorsque vous 
en etes partis pour Munich. Je n'ai pas perdu mon temps, 
et j'ai travaill^ avec perseverance a une flute nouvelle que 
j'ai faite moi-meme aussi bien que j'ai pu et que je viens 
de terminer. 

" Je ne vous ai point oublie, et j'ai toujours attendu 
que vous m'enverriez une flute perfectionnee que vous 
vous proposiez de chercher a faire a votre retour en 
Allemagne. Selon votre ofifre a Londres, je veux vous 
envoyer ma flute, en vous priant de m'en faire une belle 
sur ce modele, vu que je possede entierement le doigter 
pour la jouer ; je vous enverrai en meme temps la tabla- 
ture pour le doigter. 

" Je n'ai pas voulu vous envoyer ma flute avant d'avoir 
recu de vos nouvelles. Veuillez done m'ecrire a 
l'adresse ci-apres : 

A M. Gordon, a Lausanne, Suisse, 

et me dire la maniere que vous croyez la plus sure de 


vous la faire parvenir sans accident, et si vous pourriez 
m'en faire une semblable et vous en occuper le plus t6t 
possible. Dans 1'espeVance que ma lettre vous trouvera 
a Munich, je vous l'envoie a l'adresse que vous m'aviez 

" Acceptez l'assurance, etc., " GORDON." 

Sur ma reponse, M. Gordon vint quelques mois apres 
a Munich, et il reconnut les imperfections de son instru- 
ment. II rejeta done completement son systeme pour 
en essayer un nouveau. Ce qu'il cherchait, e'etait un 
mecanisme simplifie qui lui permit de conserver plusieurs 
des doigters ordinaires. 

J'avais mis a sa disposition mes ateliers et mes ouvriers, 
et e'est au bout d'une annee, apres avoir entierement gate 
deux flutes par ses essais de modifications continuelles, 
qu'il termina la fl&te representee par la figure I, 2 avec 
laquelle il quitta encore Munich. 

II appelait sa flute, bien a tort, flute diatonique, car il 
n'y a que 1'ancienne fliite a 6 trous qui soit telle. 
Toutes celles faites depuis, et pourvues de clefs, sont 

II fit faire, pour le doigter de sa fliite, une lithographie 
qu'il publia en 1834. 

Dans cette tablature, que je recus de lui-meme, il dit, 
entre autres choses relatives a la description de sa flute : 

" La suppression des deux clefs de fa naturel, et leur 
remplacement par une clef defa diese est une id6e dont 
l'application offre de grands avantages. L'idee de cette 
clef de fa diese, communique'e par M. Th. Boekm, de 
Munich, a ete, avec son agre'ment, adoptee pour la prisente 
flute dont elle complete les moyens d'execution." 

Du reste, personne, que je sache, n'a ni imite ni joue 
la flilte de Gordon. Plus tard, quand je le rencontrai a 
Londres, il me manifesta le desir d'avoir une de mes 
flutes, la sienne ne le contentant nullement. 

2 See Fig. 9 of this work (p. 90). 


J'ai entre mes mains la preuve de ces faits. Comment 
done, ma fltite, anterieure a celle de Gordon, pourrait- 
elle lui avoir emprunte quelque chose, ainsi qu'on l'a 
pretendu ? 

M. Gordon a fait usage des parties essentielles de mon 
instrument pour construire le sien ; mais il l'a toujours 
loyalement reconnu. 

La preuve la moins douteuse de l'authenticlt£ de mon 
invention resultera de l'expos^ des motifs et de l'expli- 
cation des principes d'acoustique et de mecanique par 
moi mis en usage, car celui-la seul est capable d'une 
oeuvre rationnelle qui peut rendre compte du pourquoi et 
du comment dans l'execution de chaque detail. 


From the London ' Figaro ' of December 28th, 1881. 

I RECENTLY announced the death, at his birthplace, 
Munich, at the advanced age of 88, of Theobald Boehm, 
celebrated as the alleged inventor of the Boehm method 
of fingering for the flute. This gentleman must not be 
confounded with Joseph Boehm, once a celebrated 
violinist, who died in 1876. Joseph Boehm is now well- 
nigh forgotten, and his name is only recollected by a few 
as that of the teacher of two of the most celebrated 
violinists of modern times — Ernst and Joachim. Forty- 
three years ago 1 Theobald Boehm came out in London as 
a flautist. He was considered an excellent performer ; 
and it was here that he made an acquaintanceship which 
was destined to render his name famous. It is an old 
tale and, it is believed, a true one, that the Boehm method 
of fingering was really the invention of Captain W. 

1 Boehm came out in London as a flautist in 1831, or fifty years 
before this article was written. 


Gordon (an Anglo-Swiss), Captain of the Swiss Guards 
in the Paris garrison, and the pupil for the flute of 
Drouet. Gordon conceived his idea of flute improve- 
ments as far back as 1826, and in the following year 
flutes — imperfectly showing his invention, it is true — 
were made to his designs in Paris. The Revolution of 
1830 deprived him of his position, and Captain Gordon 
believed he would be able to support his wife and family 
by his new flute. In an unlucky day he showed it to 
Boehm, then on a visit to London, and Boehm, finding 
Gordon poor, 2 at once " annexed " the idea for himself. 
Gordon heard that Boehm had begun the manufacture of 
flutes at Munich, and he followed him to that town. He 
arrived there in 1833, and spent six months in perfect- 
ing two instruments. Satisfied that his invention had 
reached perfection, he printed a prospectus of the new 
instrument, and published it in Great Britain, France, 
and Germany. He expected that orders for the new 
flute would pour in upon him. But the world is slow to 
accept improvements, and the unhappy Gordon retired 
heart-broken with his family to Lausanne. Maddened 
at seeing the results of his own talent attributed to 
Boehm, his brain became affected, and in 1836 it was 
necessary to confine him in a lunatic asylum. 3 A fierce 
war arose in 1838 on the question of the invention of the 
flute, Gordon's claims being stoutly championed from 
Paris, while Boehm replied from Munich. Although, 
therefore, the invention of the so-called " Boehm method " 
cannot in justice be attributed to the Bavarian flautist, 
there is no doubt the method was perfected by Boehm. 
In 1849 he introduced a genuine improvement in the tube 

2 This, I believe, is the first time that Boehm's alleged annexa- 
tional proclivities were said to be stimulated into activity by 
Gordon's poverty. Gordon's insanity had long before (p. 128) been 
brought forward as the supposed exciting cause. 

3 A very different account of the origin of his insanity is given 
at p. 33, g. v. 


of the flute, giving it a conical instead of a cylindrical 
head. At the Great Exhibition of 185 1 the following 
report of the jury was published, signed by the late Sir 
Henry Bishop, the reporter : — 

" M. Boehm's inventions may be briefly described as 
follows : First, he brought the acoustical proportions 
of tubes and the finger-holes of wind instruments into 
correct numbers and measurement, by which means 
flutes, oboes, clarionets, bassoons, &c, can be theoreti- 
cally constructed. Secondly, he has invented mechanism 
for the keys, which gives facility and precision to the 
execution, and by which the former difficulty of reaching 
or stopping the holes at great distances or of large sizes 
is now surmounted. As by these means the holes may 
be made correct in size and position, M. Boehm has 
acquired not only a perfection in tone and tuning never 
before attained, but also a great facility in playing in 
those keys which were hitherto difficult and defective in 
sonorousness or intonation." 

At the Paris Exhibition of 1855 M, Fetis, the reporter 
of the jury, expressed himself in similar terms, The 
French writer was, however, more honest than the 
English reporter in giving our own Captain Gordon his 
share of the credit. 

Mr. William Pole, the reporter at the London Exhi- 
bition of 1862, alluded to Boehm as follows : — 

" Boehm extended brass and other metals as materials 
for flutes, clarionets, and hautboys, at the same time that 
he introduced an entirely new and scientific system of 
construction, which has done more than anything else to 
lift this class of instruments to their present degree of 
perfection both of intonation and of timbre. 

" Boehm, of Munich, the celebrated regenerator of 
flutes, clarionets, hautboys, &c, was appointed one of the 
jurors of this class, but for some reason he has not visited 
London. He has, however, sent for exhibition a geo- 
metrical diagram, with explanations, by which makers of 


tubular instruments can, with the greatest readiness and 
accuracy, construct their instruments according to any of 
the recognised pitches. Having been applied to by many 
factors for new models, M. Boehm desired to give his 
diagram and explanation the greatest publicity and 
usefulness by sending them to this exhibition." 

Boehm wrote several compositions for the flute, with, 
however, very little success. In 1847, Messrs. Schott of 
Mayence published from his pen a pamphlet 'On the 
Construction of the Flute and its new Improvements.' 


From the London 'Figaro* of January 1st, 1882. 

I am glad, says ' Figaro,' to publish the following in- 
teresting letter from Mr. Walter Broadwood in defence 
of the late Theobald Bohm. The letter will speak for 
itself ; and I will merely add that the question which 
Mr. Walter Broadwood thinks "not very material," 
whether Bohm did, or did not, originally annex or borrow 
his ideas or first notions from Captain Gordon, really 
formed the text of my remarks. Nobody doubts the 
ability with which Bohm subsequently developed those 
ideas, or his scientific or mechanical skill. The question 
of Gordon's claims was taken up by the late M. F^tis, 
and even more strongly in a pamphlet x on Bohm's in- 
vention printed forty-three years ago, soon after Bohm 
wrote his letters 2 of defence. Within the last week or 
two, those claims have been again advanced by the French 
and Belgian critics. I can, of course, only speak second- 
hand ; and I have great pleasure in giving the parole 

1 That by Coche. 

2 There is only one letter of defence, that given at p. 129. 


instead to Mr. Walter Broad wood, who not only knew 
Bohm well, but who has made a special study of every- 
thing connected with the flute : — 

" Cabalva, Radnorshire, 
Jan. 1882. 

"Sir, j 

" My attention has been called to an article in your 
journal, in which the writer brings charges against the 
late Theobald Bohm, of Munich, which are, as I think, 
both inaccurate and misleading. 

" Your correspondent seems to consider that the main 
feature in Bohm's improvement of flutes was a system of 
fingering generally (he says erroneously) attributed to 
him, but in reality ' annexed ' from one Captain Gordon. 
This it was, says your correspondent, which made 
Bohm's name famous. Gordon, we are told, invented 
and perfected this fingering ; and after vainly advertis- 
ing it throughout Great Britain, France, and Germany, 
he died of a broken heart, maddened by his failure to 
sell his invention, and by Bohm's ' annexation ' of it. 
We are not told why what in the one case failed so 
signally, succeeded in the other so completely. 

"In justice to Theobald Bohm, whom I knew very 
well for nearly forty years, I venture to suggest an 

" He was a man of very considerable scientific, as well 
as technical, attainments. Originally a gold- worker, he 
subsequently became an inspector of mines, besides 
being for many years first flute in the principal orchestra 
in Munich. Whether he did, or did not, borrow (' annex,' 
if your correspondent prefers that term) the first notions 
of what Sir H. Bishop in his 1851 Exhibition report 
calls a system ' for reaching or stopping the flute-holes 
at great distances,' is not very material. Bohm always 
claimed the invention of the fingering known by his 
name ; and I am not aware that it has ever been proved 
that Gordon's fingering was identical with it. The 


question which your correspondent begs, and on which 
he founds very serious charges, has, as he admits, been 
very 'fiercely debated,' but not conclusively settled. 
Be that as it may, Bohm soon perceived that the really 
essential points to be determined, with a view to the im- 
provement of his instrument, were : — 

" 1. The shape and proportion of the tube, more par- 
ticularly of that part known as ' the head,' where sound 
is generated. 

" 2. The exact position and proportion of the em- 
bouchure and finger-holes. 

" In order to solve these problems, Bohm set himself 
to study acoustics, under the well-known Professor 
Schafhautl, and after several years' labour produced, as 
a result, (1) 'a cylindrical tube with conical head'; 
(2) ' a geometrical diagram ' (I now quote from Mr. Pole's 
report, 1862) 'with explanations by which makers of 
tubular instruments can with the greatest accuracy 
construct their instruments according to any of the 
recognised pitches.' 

" It is upon these calculations, and upon their practical 
application, that Bohm's fame rests. It is no exaggera- 
tion to say that their publication produced a revolution 
in the manufacture of wind instruments. So little did 
the merit of Bohm's invention depend on any one system 
of fingering, that it was applicable not to flutes only, but 
also to oboes, clarionets, and bassoons, which are fingered 
quite differently. At the exhibition (185 1) competent 
and impartial musical judges pronounced it to be * an 
entirely new and scientific system of construction, which 
has done more than anything else to lift this class of 
instruments to their present degree of perfection, both 
of intonation and of timbre.' 

" If Bohm, originally like Captain Gordon, a poor 
man, had, like him, relied solely on a novel system of 
fingering, he would, probably, have been unsuccessful. 
In our days nearly every flautist has his own pet system 


of fingering, of which he proclaims' the superiority, 
and which at all events suits him best. Several of these 
have been adapted to Bohm's tubes, with more or less 

" That Bohm did not ' annex ' his scientific knowledge 
may easily be proved. His letters, of which I have still 
a considerable number, prove it conclusively. The head 
of the Pulteney Street firm, whose intimate practical 
knowledge of everything connected with the manufacture 
of pianofortes will be contested by no maker, whether 
English, French, or German, has repeatedly and un- 
grudgingly acknowledged the assistance afforded him 
years ago by Bohm when calculating what is termed the 
scale of grand pianofortes. He told me that he found 
Bohm very well versed in the acoustical bearings of that 

" But, to quote your correspondent's words, ' it is an 
old tale,' that of disputed inventions. A crude idea 
occurs to one man ; it is developed and carried out, 
perhaps, by another. The former may have had neither 
the knowledge nor the perseverance necessary to mature 
his notion into practical utility. Yet he eventually 
claims, or his friends claim for him, all the merit of the 

" The French point triumphantly to Papin, the inventor 
of steamboats, as they assert, in Louis XV.'s time. My 
friend Mr. Hipkins, in his very able and interesting 
paper (see Grove's ' Musical Dictionary '), shows with 
more probability that Cristofori invented pianofortes. 
For the sake of argument, let us associate with them 
Gordon as the alleged inventor of the Bohm fingering : 
originator, if I rightly understood your correspondent, of 
the most material modern flute improvement. 

"What would any of these, in their very different 
degrees of importance, say to their bantlings now full 
grown ? Would they even recognise them ? And what 
are we to say to those — if such indeed there be — 


who would claim for the putative progenitors all the 

"I am, Sir, 

" Very obediently yours, 

"Walter Stewart Broadwood." 

'MUSICAL WORLD' OF FEB. i8, 1882. 

To the Editor of the ' Musical World', Radnorshire, 

Feb. 13th, 1882. 

The German manuscript of the accompanying paper, 
with a translation by himself, which I have since re-cast, 
was sent me by Mr. J. P. Triggs, flutist, of Glasgow. 
He tells me that he received the manuscript, corrected 
and signed in Dr. Schafhautl's handwriting, from Mr. 
Schmidt, the publisher, of Heilbronn. I do not know 
whether it has been published in Germany, but I believe 
that it contains matter likely to interest English flute- 
players, and settles authoritatively the much-debated 
question as to the invention of the Bohm flute. 

I am, Sir, 

Very faithfully yours, 

W. S. Broadwood. 

Theobald Bohm, and the Flute called 
after him. 

Munich, January 23, 1882. 
It seems that the old dispute as to who was the 
real inventor of the " Bohm Flute " has again cropped 
up. It originated in Paris. The celebrated flutist, 


V. J. B. Coche, who was one of the first to play the Bohm 
flute, who contributed more, than any one to bring it into 
use in France, and who explained its merits in a pamphlet 
of his own composition (Paris, 1839), writes to Bohm, 
May 25, 1838: "On dit dans le monde artiste, que la 
flute qui porte votre nom a ete decouverte par un 
nomme Gordon, ancien eleve de Drouet." 

The Gordon in question was a Swiss, who had served 
as an officer in the Gardes du Corps of Charles X., and 
had been pensioned after that king's abdication. He 
heard Bohm play upon his ring-keyed flute at a concert 
in London (1831); made Bohm's acquaintance; and 
conceived the idea of himself making a new flute that 
should be free from the defects of the old flute. 1 We 
shall become better acquainted with this " new flute." 
Gordon worked at it in Paris indefatigably with his own 
hands, and showed it to his teacher, Drouet. In a 
letter dated Feb. 15, 1833, he writes to Bohm : " J'ai vu 
Drouet a Paris ; mais il recule devant un changement 
dans le doigte. Tulou en est la aussi." 2 

That Drouet and Tulou should have remembered 
Gordon when Bohm came forward with his own flute 
is easily to be accounted for ; but that they should dis- 
tinguish what was the fundamental principle on which 

\ The instrument on which Boehm played in his public perform- 
ances, during his visit to London in 1831 was, as he states in his 
pamphlet, not a ring-keyed, but an improved old flute. He cer- 
tainly showed Gordon a flute on which there was a ring-key, and 
Gordon appears to have conceived the idea of making an instru- 
ment which should be an improvement on that which Boehm 
showed him (see p. 89). 

It is to this, I presume, that Dr. Schafhautl here alludes, for 
Gordon had conceived the idea of making a perfected flute long 
before he knew Boehm, and had been engaged in endeavouring 
to carry it out for four or five years, and, when he made Boehm's 
acquaintance, he showed him the result of his experiments in the 
shape of an ingenious instrument of novel construction. — C. W. 

2 This passage does not appear in this letter as published by 
Boehm (p. 95), but in a postscript to it. — C. W. 


the flutes of Gordon and of Bohm were constructed is 
more than could be expected of most artists ; besides 
which they were reluctant to acknowledge that the new 
was more and more superseding the old flute ; for 
Coche had already won over all musicians by his per- 
formances on the new Bohm flute. 

I have frequently written concerning its origin ; for 
instance, in the Official Reports of the London In- 
dustrial Exhibition, 185 1 (Berlin, 1852, pages 882-884) J 
again, in the Report of the Jurors' Committee, Munich 
Industrial Exhibition, 1854 (Munich, 1855, pages 444- 
446) ; and finally, in greater detail, in the ' Allgemeine 
Musikalische Zeituhg,' Leipsic, 1879, No. 39, pages 

Now that Gordon and Bohm are both dead, the 
former long since, the latter only towards the end of last 
year (November 25), I feel myself doubly compelled to 
make it clear to the musical public that Theobald Bohm 
is indeed the inventor of the flute which bears his name. 

The eminent flutist, Theobald Bohm, was gifted not 
only with musical talent, but possessed also a genius 
for mechanism. After his appointment to the Royal 
Bavarian Orchestra in 18 16, he made several cleverly 
designed flutes, with a special arrangement of key 
mechanism, for himself and for his master, Rapelle, also 
a "member of the Royal Orchestra ; and, finally, in the 
year 1828, he set up a flute manufactory of his own in 
Munich. From this period dates the gradual adoption 
in England and France of the excellent system of key 
mechanism, designed and made by Bohm himself. The 
great success which Bohm achieved as a flutist in 
Munich and in Switzerland induced him at length to 
visit Paris and London, where the artistic refinement of 
his style, the fluency and certainty of his execution 
commanded general admiration. In London the extra- 
ordinarily large tone of the flute-player Nicholson, at 
that time so celebrated in England, surprised Bohm 



who hastened to make his acquaintance, and soon found 
that the secret of the power of the Nicholson flute lay- 
in the . unusual size of the holes. But even so, the 
capabilities of the instrument were very limited, for, 
except that of F, no scale was quite in tune. The 
scales on the Bohm flute were all in better tune than 
those upon the Nicholson flute, as at that time manu- 
factured by the English makers. Bohm had long been 
thinking of making a flute which should combine fulness 
of tone with accuracy of intonation ; but he foresaw 
that this could not be accomplished without a change 
of fingering, and he knew how difficult it would be to 
induce musicians, who had practised one system all 
their lives, to take to another. During this visit to 
London, however, he finally resolved to carry out his 
long cherished purpose. 

In December of the year 1832, his new flute with its 
new scale was finished. He soon mastered the new 
fingering, and in the succeeding year, 1 833, played it 
in Paris, and also in London, with great success. 

Savart, the professor of acoustics, at first received 
Bohm very coldly, and declared that to play the scale 
on the flute in tune in all keys was impossible, but 
when he heard Bohm do this he was so astonished that 
he himself introduced Bohm to the Academy. 

In London Bohm created quite as great a sensation 
as in Paris. He particularly impressed Gordon, a retired 
colonel of the Gardes du Corps of Charles X. Gordon, 
who was a pupil of Drouet, and an enthusiastic flute- 
player, at once comprehended the advantages of the 
Bohm flute, renewed his acquaintance with Bohm, and 
was initiated into his system. 3 He induced Bohm to 

3 Dr. Schafhautl does not appear to have been furnished 
with correct information respecting Gordon's movements. He 
is evidently not aware that, when Gordon visited London in 
1833, he came from Munich, bringing with him the flute made 
there in Boehm's workshop, and that the object of his journey to- 
England was to bring it out. We must either believe this or else 


have a flute tube made for him at Munich by his best 
workman, but without keys ; for he believed that the 
Bohm mechanism could be simplified so as to require 
eight keys only. To this notion he clung till the end of 
his days ; undeterred by constant failure, or by Bohm's 
warning that to obtain power, equality, and freedom of 
tone, together with fluency of execution and accuracy of 
intonation, with a flute having thirteen sound holes and 
only eight keys, was an impossibility. This notion of 
Gordon's had already become a sort of monomania. He 
clung to it to the end of his life — a very sad end, as we 
are told. 

Gordon left London " peu de temps apres votre depart 
pour Munich," as he writes in a letter of the 15th Feb- 
ruary, 1 833.* He was then working, as we have seen, 
at a flute, with the thirteen holes of the Bohm system, 
but with only eight keys, which, as he wrote, he himself 
had made. This flute was barely playable in slow move- 
ments. In rapid passages, the very unequal tone fre- 
quently missed altogether. Gordon, however, ascribed 
these ever recurring difficulties of execution to bad 
workmanship ; so that he looked upon the flutes he had 
made thus far as mere models. 

In a letter from Lausanne, dated February, 1833, 
which lies before me at this moment, he requests Bohm 
to have a flute made by one of his very best workmen 
on his (Gordon's) model. Bohm answered that it would 
be better that Gordon should come to Munich. He 

reject the evidence furnished by the letters of Gordon and his wife 
(pp. 132, 127).— C. W. 

4 Gordon is here referring to his departure from London after 
his visit in 1831, not after that in 1833. It is impossible that he 
can refer to that of 1833, because, when the letter, from which the 
extract is taken, was written, the visit of 1833 had not yet been 
paid. Gordon passed the January of 1833 in Paris, whence he 
went to Lausanne, as he states in this letter, arriving there about 
the 1st of February, and on the 15th of the month, he wrote the 
letter (see p. 29). — C. W. 

M 2 


followed this advice, and arrived in Munich, July 1833, 5 
where he remained till March 1834; Bohm placing at 
his disposition one of his most skilful workmen, but 
being himself away in London. 

Model after model was made and rejected one after 
another. I myself at first witnessed these unsuccessful 
attempts. At length a well-made flute upon Gordon's 
model was finished, and he at once brought his invention 
before the public. In 1834 Gordon advertised his new 
flute in Paris, under the name of " La Flute Diatonique," 
and brought out a lithographed ' Table of Fingering ' 
for it. 

In the introduction appended to his Table of Finger- 
ing for the " flute diatonique, fabriquee dans les ateliers 
de Bohm," he says : 

" La suppression des deux clefs de Fa dieze, [sic] est 
une idee dont l'application offre de grands avantages. 
Videe decette clef de Fa dieze, communique'e par M . Bohm 
de Munich, a <#/ avec son agr intent adopte'e pour lapre"sente 
Fltlte, dont elle complete les moyens d'execution." This 
diatonic flute had, of course, the thirteen holes of the 
Bohm system; five of which remained open for the 
fingers (E, F, F sharp, B, and C sharp). 

Gordon's eight keys intended for the other eight holes 
were connected with each other by contrivances of all 
sorts — a very puzzle of levers. Above the D sharp hole 
were the ends of three keys close together. Five keys 
had ends shaped like hackers (like the crescent of the 
moon five days before new moon), and these were for 
the shakes. 6 They were placed in the shape of a sickle 

6 Dr. Schafhautl is here at variance with Gordon, who, in his 
letter to M. Mercier, dated July 15th, 1833, states that he was 
about, not to arrive at, but to leave Munich for London, his new 
flute being already finished (p. 132).— C. W. 

6 In this description the Doctor seems to have confused the two 
Gordon flutes, of which drawings have come down to us. The 
eight keys and the five holes mentioned as remaining open for 
the fingers (those for E, F, F sharp, B natural, and C sharp) are 


round the holes, so that when one key was pressed down 
it closed two adjoining holes. Gordon worked on with 
Bohm's best workman (Bohm himself being again 
away) with great perseverance, but none of his diatonic 
•flutes satisfied him. At length despairing, he went back 
to Switzerland, and we have no reliable account of what 
became of him and his flute. It was reported that he 
threw it into the Lake of Geneva, and died in a mad- 
house. His own fixed idea appears to have completely 
over-mastered the intellect of that gallant and amiable 

In that same year (1833) Bohm went again to London, 
and created so great a sensation that the celebrated 
Dorus, then a young man, at once laid aside the old 
flute, and with his wonted energy and talent soon 
mastered the Bohm flute. In 1837 the Bohm flute 
was introduced into the Paris Conservatoire, after a 
committee — of which Savart, Prony, and Dulong were 
members — had borne the highest testimony to its merits. 

In 1846 Bohm crowned his invention by substituting a 
cylinder for the old conical bore ; he also introduced that 
parabolic curve in the head joint, which is necessary for 
correctness of intonation in the high notes. This flute 
obtained the Gold Medal at the Universal Exhibition 

seen in the flute represented in Fig. 9 (p. 90), while the five 
crescents, " like the crescent of the moon five days before the new 
moon," appear in Gordon's other flute (Fig. 12, p. 107), four of them 
being " placed in the shape of a sickle round the holes." So, too, 
the flute represented by Fig. 9 was styled by Gordon Fhlte 
diatonique, but the words fabriquie dans les ateliers de Bohm do 
not occur in the announcement of flute (see the facsimile, p. 102). 
We are thus led to infer that Schafhautl has taken his quotation 
from the tablature of Gordon's other flute, that figured by Coche. 

Flute-players will, of course, understand that the crescents were 
not for the shakes, any more than are the rings of the Boehm flute. 
But now that we are in possession of the text of Gordon's 
announcement we can understand what gave rise to the Doctor's 
remark. Gordon speaks of five branches communicating with keys, 
and serving for the shakes (see the facsimile of the tablature). — C. W. 


(London 185 1), Berlioz taking an active part in the 
decisions of the jurors. Also at the Paris Exhibition, 
1855, it carried off the Gold Medal, to which was added 
a most flattering acknowledgment of the merits of 
Bohm's system. At the present time the Bohm flute 
is played upon all over the civilised world. 

Those who know how great is the distance which 
separates the conception of even the happiest ideas from 
their realisation and introduction in a practical form, will 
see a proof of the value of Bohm's system in the fact 
that it has at length established its position in the musical 
world, notwithstanding the long-continued opposition of 
many leading artists. In a letter to Bohm, already 
quoted, Gordon writes that Drouet and Tulou approved 
of his flute ; but would not hear of a change of 

Bohm's flute would have been rejected for the same 
reason had not its superiority been such as to throw into 
the shade all others — old or new. Thus I have again 
related in its general outlines the history of the invention 
and development of the Bohm flute. Probably I am 
the best witness as to the whole matter ; for I lived 
over fifty-two years with my friend Bohm ; under my 
guidance he devoted himself most perseveringly to the 
study of acoustics. I witnessed his innumerable experi- 
ments, which embraced all wind instruments, and which 
could only be carried out by one who united in his own 
person a practical knowledge of technical mechanism 
and of acoustic science. 

That such a man should have borrowed from others 
the ideas upon which he founded the construction of his 
instruments is what no one can seriously believe. 

In later years Bohm extended the compass of the 
flute, carrying it down from C to the low G, thus adding 
a new powerful and effective instrument to the resources 
of musical art. His key mechanism, now used upon all 
wind instruments of the better class, has already secured 


for Bohm a permanent place in the history of musical 
instruments. The keys upon the foot joint of the flute, 
formerly supported by "cheeks" cut out of the wood 
and having a brass pin for axle — also the equally clumsy 
metal cups — were replaced by small pillars and slender 
steel rods and axles, revolving in the ball-shaped extre- 
mity of the pillar, and working with the accuracy and 
precision of a chronometer. The delicate steel springs 
of the mechanism furnished the means of uniting the 
action of keys placed at opposite extremities of the flute 
tube, and enabled the performer to cover a distant hole 
as perfectly, and with the same certainty, as if the key 
lay beneath the finger. Keys are indispensable for the 
large holes of the Bohm flute ; they cannot be covered 
by the unaided finger. Upon the old flute the keys 
opened small holes ; upon the Bohm flute the keys her- 
metically closed large holes. Bohm made with his own 
hands the first batch of his flutes, and he accustomed 
both his workmen and his successor to such finish of 
mechanism as has seldom been equalled and never 

(Signed) Carl von SchafhAutl, 

Doctor and Professor in the Royal Bavarian Academy, 
University, and Conservatorium. 


In summing up what Boehm has effected for the Flute, and not 
only for the Flute, but, as before observed, for all the fingered Wind 
Instruments, we can scarcely, I think, estimate this eminent marts 
services too highly. We see, from the sketch before given, the 
successive steps by which the ordinary Flute, as well as the Oboe, 
Clarionet, and Bassoon, have progressed from their primitive, 
single diatonic scale, to their present capacity of giving all the 
diatonic and chromatic scales, and that this was piling error upon 
error, the foundation being erroneous. It was Boehm who stood 
forward to oppose the deeply-rooted prejudices engendered by this 
long continuance in a wrong course; it was the enduring patience 
and perseverance of Boehm, that opened the eyes as well as the ears 
of those most blinded by former prejudices, to the value and im- 
portance of equidistant holes and open keys. He convinced their 
judgment as well as their senses. Many who at first opposed the 
movement from interested motives, as well as from prejudice, have 
at length yielded to the force of the truth. His senses must be 
indeed obtuse who cannot hear the superiority of the free tones 
gained by the open-keyed over the muffled tones of the close-keyed 
system, and who has not discernment enough to see that various 
sized holes must produce notes of various quality. It was Boehm 
who rendered these principles palpable ; and if, in what I have to 
advance respecting the Flutes I have myself patented, I shall have 
to record some strictures upon Boehm's flute, they will be strictures, 
not so much on what he has done, as upon what he has left un- 
done. — Richard Carte. 





Judge not, that ye be not judged. 

" Bohm was not the ignorant impostor I once heard him 
called by a gentleman whose claim to celebrity rested 
on the invention of a key, which Bohm (a plagiarist by 
anticipation) had already used for his oboe fingering 
some years before." 

These words are taken from the preface to a little 
book, issued in 1882 by Messrs. Rudall, Carte, & Co., 
entitled, ' An Essay on the Construction of Flutes, giving 
a History and Description of the most recent Improve- 
ments, with an Explanation of the Principles of Acoustics 
applicable to the Manufacture of Wind Instruments, 
originally written in 1847 by Theobald Bohm, and now 
first published. Edited, with the addition of correspond- 
ence and other documents, by W. S. Broadwood.' 

This literary production is an English edition of a 
pamphlet issued by Boehm when he brought out his 
cylinder flute. This pamphlet was translated at the 
time from the original German into French, and pub- 
lished in Paris. It was Boehm's wish that it should 
also appear in England. With this view he wrote the 
manuscript and presented it to Messrs. Rudall and 
Rose, who had purchased the right to patent the newly- 


invented instrument. Boehm was well versed in col- 
loquial English, but he had not mastered the language 
sufficiently to be able to prepare a work for the press ; 
the manuscript therefore required revision, and Messrs. 
Rudall and Rose did not bring it out ; indeed, it would 
never have seen the light had it not been for Mr. Walter 

The ' Essay on the Construction of Flutes ' cannot with 
propriety be called a translation of the German pamphlet ; 
it is a new version of the work. There is scarcely a page 
in which it does not differ more or less from the original. 
In some places Boehm has introduced new matter ; in 
others he has°omitted whole paragraphs, whilst sentence 
after sentence is altered and remodelled. In editing 
the work, Mr. Broadwood has confined himself strictly to 
passages in which Boehm has either not written idiomatic 
English, or else has expressed himself in such a way as 
not to make his meaning clear. A comparison of the 
manuscript with the published text shows that not a 
single sentence has been either added or omitted. 

Boehm's treatise, however, does not occupy much more 
than half of Mr. Broadwood's brochure. The other part 
consists of a preface by Mr. Broadwood, partly devoted 
to the Boehm-Gordon controversy, and partly to flute- 
gossip ; of a collection of letters from Boehm to various 
English correspondents ; of an English translation from 
Mr. Broadwood's pen of Boehm's explanation of his 
" diagram " for tuning wind instruments, and of an 
appendix containing an article in defence of Boehm by 
his friend Professor Schafhautl. 

As to the person the foundation of whose claim to 
celebrity Boehm, in the capacity of "a plagiarist by 
anticipation," had thus sapped before it was laid, no one, 
I believe, but Mr. Broadwood knew who was meant, 
and, as no one thought it worth his while to inquire,' 
nothing more would have been heard of the matter had 
not a gentleman come forward, put on the cap, and pro- 


ceeded to proclaim that it was a good fit. This was 
Mr. R. S. Rockstro, whose voluminous work on the flute 
was issued from the press last year. 1 Mr. Rockstro is of 
opinion that Mr. Broadwood intended to insinuate that 
Boehm's oboe key was identical with his great invention, 
"the Rockstro F sharp lever." He proceeds to defend 
the statement he has attributed to himself respecting 
Boehm's capacity and character, declaring that Mr. 
Broadwood's book is alone sufficient to justify the asser- 
tion that Boehm was an ignorant impostor. To use his 
own words : " the publication of this pamphlet (the 
'• Essay on the Construction of Flutes '), Professor Schaf- 
hautl's letter (also printed in Mr. Broadwood's work), 
and the hysterical adulation of extravagant partisanship 
have effectually disposed of the last remnants of Boehm's 
reputation as a scientific man." 

We should naturally expect that Mr. Rockstro, hold- 
ing such views as these, would do all he could to induce 
his readers to peruse the work in which the "ignorant 
impostor " is thus so completely pulverised by himself 
and his "hysterical" friends. This, however, it would 
seem; is far from being the case. Although he tells 
them that an English edition of Boehm's pamphlet 
" with some additions and many omissions," was " unfor- 
tunately" published in 1882, and that "much error was 
thereby disseminated," he quite forgets to give such 
information as would enable any one, who wished to 
possess the book, to order it of his bookseller, with- 
holding the title under which it appeared, the name of 
the editor, and also that of the publishers. 

The little work which the reader holds in his hand 
has been consigned by Mr. Rockstro to a still greater 
obscurity. It is true that the author's name has not 
been entirely excluded, like that of Mr. Walter Broad- 

1 A Treatise on the Construction, the History, and the Practice 
of the Flute. By Richard Shepherd Rockstro. Rudall, Carte, & 
Co., 1890. 


wood. It is mentioned, and mentioned in very good 
company, for it appears amongst the subscribers to 
Mr. Rockstro's literary undertaking ; but it has not been 
admitted to the list of writers to whom that gentleman 
acknowledges himself to be indebted, nor is the book 
itself thought worthy of a place in the catalogue, a cata- 
logue which fills no less than twenty pages, of the works 
which Mr. Rockstro has consulted in the compilation of 
his opus magnum. Nevertheless, Mr. Rockstro has done 
me the honour of making himself well acquainted with 
the contents, but so zealous is he for the welfare of flute- 
players, that when going over ground which I have 
. already trodden, rather than be the means of dissemi- 
nating error even indirectly, he prefers to allow it to be 
thought that he is exploring fresh woods, and roaming 
over the virgin soil of pastures new. 

It seems, then, that it has been my misfortune to 
be the unconscious agent in casting another slur on 
Mr. Rockstro's " claim to celebrity " by repeating a state- 
ment to the effect that Captain Gordon was also, like 
Boehm, a "plagiarist by anticipation," inasmuch as the 
"Rockstro F sharp lever" was to be seen depicted in 
the drawing of his flute. 

I blush to say that I must so far argue myself 
unknown as to admit that when I thus unwittingly 
reflected on its inventor's reputation, I knew nothing of 
the celebrated lever which sheds such lustre on the 
name of Rockstro. My offending was on this wise. I 
was acquainted with Augustus Buffet the younger, who 
has been so often mentioned in the first part of this 
work. Buffet's father was attached in the capacity of 
musical instrument maker to Charles Xth's Swiss Guards, 
in which regiment Captain Gordon held a commission. 
The King and the Court used frequently to move from 
Paris to Versailles and back again, just as our sovereign, 
in earlier and brighter days, was in the habit of going 
to and fro from London to Windsor. The Swiss Guards 


accompanied the King, and Buffet the elder accom- 
panied the Guards. Gordon, who was busy with his 
project for improving the flute, passed much of his 
time, when off duty, in Buffet's workshop, where his 
engaging manners and his tall, and handsome person 
. rendered him a welcome visitor. 

As young Buffet (when I knew him an old man of 
eighty) worked under his father, he was constantly 
brought into contact with Gordon, and so was perfectly 
familiar with his earlier efforts in flute-making. More- 
over, he informed me that he had in his possession 
for many years a copy of Gordon's « Tablature,' or Table 
of fingering. When Coche published the drawing of 
Gordon's flute he did not give the ' Tablature,' and the 
drawing without the 'Tablature' to explain it was a 
puzzle to us in England. Some of its complexities 
seemed inexplicable. Neither Mr. Richard Carte, nor 
any one else with whom I was acquainted, was able to 
understand how the mechanism was intended to act. 
When on a visit to Paris I took the opportunity of ask- 
ing M. Buffet to help us out of our difficulties, and he 
readily complied with my request. In the course of his 
remarks he pointed to an appearance in the drawing 
indicated by the letter t (see Fig. 12, p. 107), and said in 
French (in which language we were conversing) that it 
was a button for making F sharp without using either 
of the crescents. 

I was so weak as to believe that Buffet was quoting 
Gordon's ' Tablature ; ' it never occurred to me to suspect 
that he was only supposing, and so I reproduced his 
words in this little volume. It was not long, however, 
before I discovered what a mistake I had made. In the 
year following, Mr. Rockstro issued a manifesto in the 
shape of a pamphlet, 2 "hastily written and compiled," 
as he tells us in the preface, " to meet what is believed to 

2 A Description of the " Rockstro- Model" Flute, by Richard S. 
Rockstro. Keith, Prowse, & Co. 


be an immediate and pressing requirement,, already far 
too long unsatisfied." In this pamphlet, after warning 
his readers not to confound the " Rockstro F sharp 
lever " with the key on Boehm's oboe, he proceeds to set 
Buffet right by adding " nor should it be supposed that 
the button in the diagram of Gordon's flute was intended 
for a similar purpose, the crescents by the sides of the 
holes leaving nothing of the kind to be desired." More-: 
over, in his great treatise on our instrument he has 
" ventured " to draw up a scale of fingering for Gordon's 
flute, from which it appears that Gordon did not know 
how to finger the instrument he had invented. The 
kindhearted Mr. Rockstro comes to his assistance, and 
shows the poor benighted man that when, according to 
Buffet, he used to put his finger on the button, he ought 
to have placed it on one of the crescents. 3 

It is, of course, intelligible that Mr. Rockstro should 
endeavour to cover with an extinguisher those who 
seem to him to be thus plucking the laurels from his 
brow, but it is not so apparent why he should wreak his 
vengeance on the unfortunate Boehm. What has the 
poor man done that he should be so rudely disturbed in 
his long sleep? Even if, as Mr. Rockstro alleges, he 
adopted certain of Mr. Rockstro's improvements, he was 
not alone. These improvements we are told " have 
been placed on so many different kinds of flutes, and' 
have been appropriated by so many makers, that scarcely 
an open-keyed flute is now made on which some of them 
do not appear." 4 Here, then, is legitimate food for 
powder and shot ; not defunct brigands, but poachers 
still in the flesh, busily engaged in hunting in Mr. 
Rockstro's preserves. If Mr. Rockstro is eager for a 
fray, why does he not point out and pepper the rascals 
that are thus purloining his ideas ? They are alive and 
can defend themselves, and would, perhaps, return his fire. 

8 Rockstro on the Flute, section 575, p. 317. 
4 Ibid., section 679, p. 392. 


Instead, however, of attacking these marauders, Mr. 
Rockstro follows the example of Sir John Falstaff, and 
leaves the living to discharge himself upon the dead. 
Indeed, he far outdoes Sir John ; for when the doughty 
knight immortalised himself by his unparalleled exploit 
of killing a corpse, he was satisfied with inflicting on his 
prostrate foe a single stab. Not so Mr. Rockstro. He 
slashes, hews, and hacks away till his arm aches. Then 
we breathe more freely, for the fight seems to be over. 
But no ; he is only pausing to take breath ; he soon 
returns to renew the combat, and so the battle rages for 
round after round. At last he gets the corpus of his 
battered antagonist on the dissecting table, and having 
flayed it, proceeds to illustrate the old adage that 
" beauty is but skin deep " by pointing out how utterly 
unlovely he is (save in one small region, the left little 
finger) from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot. 

Before Boehm was thus anatomised, although he was 
known to have a bad memory for dates, and, like 
Mr. Rockstro, a fondness for talking about science, it was 
never suspected that he was a blockhead. Indeed, the 
charge brought against him was that he was too clever 
by half. His eagle eye was said to have taken in at a 
glance all that was worth having on Gordon's flute, and 
in a few months' time, whilst Gordon was still " labour- 
ing" at his invention, he had brought the instrument 
out as his own, having metamorphosed it so completely 
that the inventor did not recognise his bantling. 

But if Boehm's detractors thus threw doubts on the 
originality of his flute of 1832, his admirers pointed to 
that of 1847, tne cylinder with the parabola head, which 
is supplanting the cone as surely as the pianoforte sup- 
planted the harpsichord. 5 Not one of the most jealous 

5 " If I were a younger man," Boehm once said to me, " I would 
make a flute to be played like this," holding up his hands as if he 
were playing on a hautboy or clarionet. " I dare say," he added, 
" some one will do it when I am gone." Seven years after his death 



of his rivals ever hinted that in the construction of this 
instrument he was indebted for a suggestion to a single 
soul. Messrs. Gerock and Wolf, who had a good oppor- 
tunity of judging of Boehm's capacity, pronounced him 
to be a man of "uncommon powers of mechanical 
invention." The Society of Arts, when he was but a 
humble stranger in a strange land, recognised and paid 
a graceful tribute to his inventive talent by presenting 
him with their silver medal for a method of communi- 
cating rotatory motion. 6 A railway carriage in which he 
was once travelling having been set on fire by a lighted 
ember from the engine (wood was used as fuel in Bavaria 
in the early days of railways), when the burning cushions 
had been thrown out of the window, he thought out a plan 
for so constructing the locomotive that such accidents 
could be prevented. Again, whilst working for a short 
time, when a young man, in a musical box manufactory 
at Geneva, he invented a labour-saving machine by 
means of which an important part of the mechanism 
of the musical box could be constructed in one-fourth 
of the time required for the hand process. In fact he 
seems to have left his mark on almost everything he 
touched. The production of iron is an industry of such 
vast importance that men of great ability give up their 
lives to it, and many of the best intellects of the time 
are engaged in furthering its aims ; yet Boehm, a mere 

an instrument so constructed was shown at the Italian Exhibition 
at Earl's Court. 

6 The following is from the Transactions of the Society of Arts 
for 1834-35, vol. 50, p. 82 : — "The Silver Medal was presented to 
Mr. Theobald B.oehm, Member of the Royal Chapel of Munich, in 
Bavaria, for his Method of communicating Rotatory Motion, a 
model of which has been placed in the Society's Repository. The 
usual modes of communicating rotatory motion from the first 
mover," the report goes on to say, "are either by means of 
wheels and pinions, or of two plane cylinders connected by a band. 
Mr. Boehm has suggested another method." A description of the 
method and two drawings of the apparatus are given. 


outsider, devised an improved method of manufacturing 
steel which an iron-master in the North of England con- 
sidered sufficiently valuable to be worth purchasing. 7 

Strangely enough, Boehm himself seems to have 
thought but little of the successful efforts of his con- 
structive ability. Speaking, for instance, of his flute 
of 1832, he tells us that he had never placed a high 
value on it as an invention. On the other hand, he was 
fully conscious that he was exceptionally gifted. " I was 
never at a loss for an idea," he says, "and have often 
helped others on to success." In confirmation of this 
statement it may be mentioned that the Pohlmann wire, 
which is still used in the manufacture of pianofortes of 
the highest finish, is said to owe its uniform excellence 
to advice given to Herr Pohlmann by Boehm. 

There is another invention of Boehm into which I 
shall enter more in detail, for it is connected with the 
story with which this work professes to deal, the origin 
of the Boehm flute. I mentioned in the first edition of 
this work that Fetis states that Boehm invented a new 
kind of pianoforte. The particulars of this invention 
have since come to light, and it appears that it was 
Boehm who first introduced the principle of overstringing, 
or stretching the bass over the treble strings so as to gain 
greater length of string without enlarging the case of 
the instrument ; an idea which has been adopted by 
pianoforte-makers, and is now in use all over the world. 
The following account of it is taken from a paper on the 
' History of the Pianoforte,' read before the Society of 
Arts by Mr. A. J. Hipkins, and published in the Society's 
Journal of March 9th, 1883. 

"Almost simultaneously with it (the harmonic bar) 
has arisen a new development in America, which, be- 
ginning with Conrad Meyer, about 1833, has been 
advanced by the Chickerings and Steinways to the well- 
known American and German pianoforte of the present 

7 Essay on the Construction of Flutes, Appendix, p. 53. 

*N 2 


day. It was perfected in America about 1859, and has 
been taken up by the Germans almost universally, and 
with very little alteration. Two distinct principles have 
been developed and combined — the iron framing in a 
single casting, and the cross or overstringing. I will 
deal with the last first, because it originated in England, 
and was the .invention of Theobald Boehm, the famous 
improver of the flute. In Grove's ' Dictionary,' I have 
given an approximate date to his overstringing as 
1835, but reference to Boehm's correspondence with 
Mr. Walter Broadwood shows me that 1831 was really 
the time, and that Boehm employed Gerock and Wolf, 
of 79 Cornhill, London, musical instrument makers, to 
carry out his experiment. Gerock being opposed to an 
oblique direction of the strings and hammers, Boehm 
found a more willing coadjutor in Wolf. As far as I 
can learn, a piccolo, a cabinet, and a square piano were 
thus made overstrung. Boehm's argument was that a 
diagonal was longer within a square than a vertical, 
which, as he said, every schoolboy knew." 

It was on the authority of such data as these that 
Boehm was once considered to be possessed of some 
little ingenuity. Since, however, he has been so com- 
pletely laid bare by Mr. Rockstro, scales have fallen 
from our eyes. Now that we know that he was nothing 
but an impostor, we see what a waste of time it was to 
debate the question, whether he did, or did not invent 
the flute called after him. He could not have invented 
it, had not his crass intellect been illumined by "an 
intelligence far superior to his own." We are thus 
" led irresistibly to the conclusion " that he stole it from 
Gordon. Being an impostor he must have stolen it ; as 
he stole it he must have been an impostor. The meanest 
capacity would acknowledge that such an argument is 

And, on what a vast number of persons he contrived 
to impose ! So many prize medals and similar distinc- 


tions did he succeed in obtaining, that he had a drawer 
specially devoted to them. The old man seemed quite 
pleased, when, only a few weeks before his death, he 
opened it, and showed me his trophies. He little knew 
that even then the pen was at work which would unmask 
the gigantic imposture, and make it known that a prize 
medal when presented to Boehm, instead of being an 
honour to the recipient, " tells against " those by whom it 
is awarded. 8 Did they not give him a gold medal at 
the Paris Exhibition of 1855, and another in London in 
1 85 1, for the ill-tuned instrument he exhibited on these 
occasions ? Pretty jurors, indeed, they must have been 
to offer a gold medal to an impostor. To such lengths 
can folly go that Berlioz, who was one of them, himself 
a flute-player, 9 assured his brother jurymen that the 
eight-keyed flute, the instrument on which he was accus- 
tomed to play, when compared with Boehm's, was only 
fit to be heard at a fair. Berlioz, however, did not suc- 
ceed in climbing the pinnacle of absurdity. " It was 
reserved for an amateur of Plymouth," we are told, " to 
perpetrate the crowning folly. ' The Boehm flute,' wrote 
this gentleman, 'is as superior to the old eight-keyed 
instrument, as. is the latter to the one-keyed flute.' " 10 
Yet the Plymouth amateur was but an usurper. Justice 
requires that the crown should be taken from his head, 
and placed on that of one whom Mr. Rockstro regards 
" with feelings akin to reverence," M. Victor Coche, Pro- 
fessor of the flute in the Paris Conservatoire of Music. 
M. Coche makes the comparison with a twelve instead 

8 Rockstro on the Flute, section 911, p. 617. 

9 Berlioz was not, like most composers, a pianist ; his two instru- 
ments were the flute and the guitar. When he was a young man, 
his father, who wished him to enter the medical profession, suc- 
ceeded in inducing him to learn his bones by the bribe of a brand 
new flute with all the latest keys. 

10 Rockstro on the Flute, section 645, p. 368. The amateur of 
Plymouth was Dr. Kelsall. The letter in which he makes the 
statement quoted by Mr. Rockstro will be found at p. 339. 


of an eight-keyed flute, and pronounces the difference 
to be not only as great, but even still greater. 11 

But if Boehm must be regarded as an impostor when 
viewed in the light of an inventor or a man of science, 
Mr. Rockstro admits that in the character of a pirate he 
gives proofs of genius of the highest order. Indeed, his 
skill in appropriating the ideas of others was only 
equalled by the effrontery he displayed in feigning 
ignorance of the source from which these ideas were 
derived. He copied more suo, we are told by Mr. 
Rockstro, most of the improvements that had been intro- 
duced in England and France, but except in one 
instance, and that was in a private letter, he "invariably 
failed to acknowledge his obligations." He seems to 
have been ever on the look out all over Europe for 
improved flutes, just as a gigantic octopus stretches out 
its arms in search of the Crustacea on which it preys, 
seizes them, draws them in, sucks them dry, then throws 
aside the empty shells, and passes them by in disdain. 

Mr. Rockstro is smarting under a sense of a personal 
slight of this kind which he believes he has suffered at 
the hands of Boehm. It appears that on examining 
flutes sent out from Boehm's factory since the year 
1 864, that great epoch in the history of our instrument 
when "the Rockstro Model" made its appearance on 
this planet, Mr. Rockstro is under the impression that 
he has detected traces of his own improvements ; so 
much so, that he avers that Boehm did not scruple to 
copy him in many particulars. Yet " the ruling passion," 
we are told, " was strong within him almost to the end 
of his long life " ; for when he had entered his eighty- 
fifth, if not his eighty-sixth year, and so was standing 

11 " Si l'on prenait pour point de comparaison la flute vulgaire a 
six trous et a une clef, on pourrait dire que la difference entr'elle et 
notre flute a douze cles, est moins grande que celle qui existe entre 
cette derniere et la flute de Bohm."— Coche's Examen Critique, 



on the brink of eternity, he confessed that he had com- 
mitted the offence (a crime of which Mr. Rockstro will 
not admit that he was guilty) of never having heard of 
the " Rockstro Model." Indeed, he added insult to 
injury, and proceeded to declare that the perfection 
which he had been informed by a correspondent had 
been claimed by Mr. Rockstro for his flute could be 
" nothing than humbug," on the ground that " anybody 
who understands anything of acoustics or mechanism 
knows that nothing is perfect." 12 

Even in this stage Mr. Rockstro's portrait of Boehm 
is not very pleasant to contemplate, yet it is quite bright 
and attractive in comparison with the hue it is to assume 
before it is finished. It is not till Mr. Rockstro comes 
to the Boehm-Gordon controversy that he begins to 
put on his more lurid colours. Up to this time Boehm 
is only represented as an impostor, a thief, and a lying 
and contemptible hypocrite ; he now begins to appear 
as a veritable fiend. 

The charge which used to be brought against him 
was that he was deficient in a sense of truth and honour. 
It was alleged that he took " ideas " from Gordon's 
invention when shown to him in London on the occasion 
of a call, and embodied them in the Boehm flute, but 
that when* called upon by a rival to admit that the 
instrument which bore his name was the discovery of 
a gentleman of the name of Gordon, he declined to 
give that gentleman the credit of the so-called dis- 
covery. This was the old story ; but now Boehm be- 
comes a monster of perfidy from whom we recoil with 
disgust and loathing. The " ignorant impostor," it 
seems, was far too stolid to take in Gordon's ideas when 
that gentleman's flute was shown to him in London ; 
but he saw enough to sharpen his appetite. Accord- 
ingly the scene of the robbery changes from London to 
Boehm's house at Munich. The spider has invited the 

12 Rockstro on the Flute, sections 911, 912, pp. 615-19. 


fly to walk into his parlour, and the invitation has been 
accepted. Here Boehm, whilst pretending to assist 
Gordon in his efforts to complete his invention, with 
the malignant cunning of a Mephistopheles induces him 
to reject the system which he is at the same time 
slowly, silently, and secretly appropriating. 13 

If, during his researches into the history of the flute, 
Mr. Rockstro had lighted upon what seemed to be in- 
disputable proofs of the truth of such allegations as 
these, he would have acted wisely had he sought the 
advice of his friends before publishing them to the 
world, seeing that all the actors in this little drama 
have gone to their long rest, and charges against the 
dead are from their very nature ex parte statements. 
But what are we to say when we have good reason for 
knowing, as we have, that this repulsive story is purely 
fictitious ; that the loathsome scene here depicted is 
but the riot of a too exuberant imagination; when 
Mr. Rockstro himself adduces evidence, if other evidence 
were wanting, which shows that the Boehm flute was 
finished before Gordon entered Boehm's house, and 
that, whilst he was staying there, Boehm, instead of 
acting the nefarious part here assigned to him, was 
engaged in the harmless occupation of learning to play 
it? It is true that Boehm was not a man of high 
position ; but to a flute-player his good name is as 
much the immediate jewel of his soul as it is to a Lord 
Chancellor or an Archbishop. For my own part I would 
rather steal the design of a dozen flutes, and be twice 
as untruthful as Mr. Rockstro represents Boehm, than 
I would allow myself to blast the character of one rest- 
ing in the grave, however safe and easy the task might 
be, even if he were the humblest clodhopper that ever 
followed the plough. 

It is only fair towards Mr. Rockstro to say that he 
shows some compunction for what he has done. He 

13 Rockstro on the Flute, section 608, p. 340 ; section 629, p. 354. 


tells us that he has reopened the discussion with much 
regret. Commenting on this expression, a critic writes : 
" He may discover that it will be closed to his greater 
sorrow." To defend himself he raises the cry, so often 
heard before, of " Justice to Gordon ! " As if ample 
justice had not been done to Gordon long ago by 
Boehm himself, who speaks of his talents, of his inge- 
nuity, of his courage, of his modesty, of his high sense 
of honour, and of his loyalty to his engagements, bears 
testimony to the respect in which he was held, and 
sums up by declaring that he was " a gentleman in every 
respect." Gordon was not aware that he had been 
wronged. When he saw Boehm's flute, so far from 
invoking justice or showing resentment, he asked and 
obtained Boehm's permission to make use of some of 
the ideas it suggested. It was not Gordon who was 
aggrieved, but the would-be flute-inventors, and their 
grievance was that Boehm towered high above them all. 
Does Mr. Rockstro suppose that his readers are so 
stone-blind as not to perceive that this petty but 
acrimonious dispute is the outcome of trade rivalry, 
and flute-constructors' jealousy ? That " Justice to 
Gordon ! " when translated from the language of flute- 
makers into plain English is " Down with Boehm ! " 

At this point, if we could believe Mr. Rockstro to be 
given to jesting, we should credit him with treating us to 
an excellent joke. He offers to produce a witness who 
he assures us is " absolutely disinterested." The " abso- 
lutely disinterested " gentleman steps into the box, when 
whom do we recognise but one of the most ambitious 
of Boehm's would-be rivals, a rival, however, over whom 
his triumph was complete, our old friend Mr. Cornelius 
Ward. In 1831 Gordon employed Ward to make a 
flute ; but instead of giving him a second order, he 
transferred his business to Boehm. Some years after- 
wards, Ward brought out a flute of his own "which 
should afford greater mechanical facilities than had been 


attained by Gordon, Boehm, or Coche ; " 14 in other words, 
to oust the Boehm flute from the market. This revolu- 
tion Mr. Ward believed to have commenced as soon as 
his flute made its appearance, for he informs us that it 
at once had the happy effect of " directly displacing the 
Boehm in several instances." 15 How this gentleman can 
be said to have contemplated the scene from the dis- 
interested pinnacle of philosophic indifference we are not 

Unluckily Ward's evidence is as unsatisfactory as his 
disinterestedness is questionable. He deals in opinions 
and generalities. There is an instance, it is true, in 
which he gives us a specific statement, and that is when 
he informs us that the holes of Gordon's flute "were 
placed consistently with the proper length of tube 
required for each fundamental note in the chromatic 
gamut " ; but we are told by Mr. Rockstro that on this 
point he was not competent to give evidence, for the 
holes of his own flute were so badly arranged that his 
judgment was worthless. 16 Ward states that Gordon 
had " contrived a method of acting upon the additional 

14 Rockstro on the Flute, section 640, p. 364. 

15 Ward's letter to the Musical World, see Appendix, p. 329. 

16 See Rockstro on the Flute, section 568, p. 311, and compare 
the passage with another to be found in section 599, p. 335, of the 
same work. According to Mr. Rockstro, Ward, like Boehm, placed 
his holes too far apart {Rockstro on the Flute, section 642, p. 365), 
both he and Gordon, following Pottgiesser, having determined the 
position of the holes by the divisions of the monochord (section 599, 
p. 335), a method which Mr. Rockstro in another place (section 348, 
p. 168) pronounces to be fallacious. Yet, although he declares this 
method to be fallacious, when Boehm stated that Gordon's flute 
was out of tune he is charged with injustice ! (section 590, p. 328). 
Indeed, we are informed by Mr. Rockstro that it was not until he 
himself took up the subject that what he believes to be " the first 
attempt to arrange the positions of the holes of a wind instrument 
according to any rational system " was made (section 669, p. 384). 
This being the case, the circumstance that Ward was blundering, 
and poor Boehm groping in the dark, becomes more intelligible. 


apertures beyond the number of fingers," 17 but he gives 
no account of the mechanism by which he accomplished 
his purpose. He says that he heard Boehm play on a 
flute " very similar in principle " to that which he made 
for Captain Gordon, 18 but he does not attempt to show 
that the means employed for carrying out the principle 
on the two instruments were identical. He gives us his 
" decided opinion " that Gordon was entitled to more 
credit than Boehm, but he omits to give us the facts on 
which his opinion rests. If instead of giving us his 
" decided opinion " he had given us a drawing, or even a 
close description of the instrument he made for Gordon, 
he would have furnished us with valuable evidence. He 
tells us, it is true, that it closely resembled a drawing of 
a different instrument, but he fails to inform us where 
the resemblance is to be found. 

In private he appears to have made use of language 
which he was either afraid or ashamed to publish. We 
are told that his printed statements were studiously 
moderate in comparison with the latitude of expres- 
sion he allowed himself in his conversations with 
Mr. Rockstro. But whilst he was thus shouting "Stop 
thief ! " at the top of his voice, the " absolutely dis- 
interested " gentleman was quietly walking off, without 
the shadow of an acknowledgment, with Gordon's 
original idea, the crank and wire mechanism. Nor was 
Gordon's the only invention he appropriated. If we 
may believe Mr. Rockstro, he collected together the 
proposals of the greater part of the flute-reformers of 
the preceding sixty or seventy years, and converted 
them into his own property. The specification of his 
patent included no less than seven flutes, on examining 
the drawings of which Mr. Rockstro has discovered 
embodied in them not only the ideas of Boehm, Gordon, 
Coche and Buffet, but even those of the earlier German 

17 See note 12, p. 26 of this work. 

18 Ward's letter to the Musical World, Appendix, p. 329. 


workers Pottgiesser, 19 and Tromlitz. Nay, more ; not 
content with annexing the inventions of the past, this 
seer-eyed kleptomaniac turned his attention to the 
discoveries of the future, and devised a crescentic touch 

Fig. 14.— Ward's crescentic E flat key. From the specification of his patent. 

for the E flat key ; a contrivance which Mr. Rockstro 
" designed " 20 ten years afterwards. Yet the " disin- 
terested " Ward cries " Shame ! " on Boehm who, instead 
of taking out a patent, had made the world a present 
of his invention. 21 

19 Rockstro on the Flute, section 640, p. 363. 

20 Ibid., section 670, p. 386. 

21 An idea of the nature of Ward's disinterestedness may be 
gathered from a perusal of the following extract from his 
pamphlet : — 

" Our patent was obtained, and our flute adopted by many of the 
first amateurs, who speedily demonstrated its superiority. A little 
previous to this time no small stir and commotion had existed in 
the flute world, both of makers and performers, in reference to our 
invention, then only partly disclosed. As its qualities, however, 
became developed, it became very soon evident, both to makers 
and to players, that the days of the old flute were numbered, no 
person of the smallest musical sensibility hesitating a moment in 
opinion ; the performers who had attained eminence by genius or 
indomitable industry might indeed wear their hard-earned laurels 
without descending to go to school a'gain ; but it was clear that the 
new flute would become the instrument of the rising generation. 
Flutes of the costliest description were sold for a third or fourth of 
their cost, and were replaced by the new invention ; and the 
demand on the old makers was suddenly interrupted. Othello's 
occupation was gone. The result was anticipated. Experiments 
had been instituted, invention put into requisition, to produce 
something original, and mysterious rumours were circulated, on 
the monies parturiunt system, of some forthcoming wonder. All 


But it is not only as an absolutely disinterested 
witness that Ward is held up for our admiration ; he 
is pronounced to be " Boehm's superior in every way 
except in the matter of musical attainments." Still, 

these attempts proved abortive. On the completion of our patent, 
embracing, as it was found to do, the results of almost all possible 
experiments and desiderata, all these schemes and pretensions were 
dissipated to the winds ; and the expedient at last resorted to, 
because nothing else was left, was to fall back upon the formerly 
reviled and persecuted Boehm ; to discover, all at once, that it was 
perfection, and to confess how very unjustly and ignorantly they 
had condemned it. The praise of these parties is worth as much 
as their former censure, and, in its turn, may have to be revoked." 

Having thus made known what, in his opinion, were the motives 
which induced Messrs. Rudall and Rose to take up the manufac- 
ture of the Boehm flute, the " absolutely disinterested " gentleman 
turns his attention to Mr. Card, who had also crossed his path by 
bringing out an improved flute. 

" Other parties," he continues, " not prepared to proceed so far 
(vulgo 'to go the whole hog'), attached bits and morsels of the 
Gordon or other flutes to their own. Indeed, as we have mentioned 
the 'ANIMAL,' the whole affair brings forcibly to mind the pro- 
ceedings described by Cowper, after Mahomet's mysterious edict 
against the porcine genus : — 

' M uch controversy straight arose ; 
These chose the back, — the belly those. 
By some 'twas confidently said, 
He meant not to forbid the head. 
Whilst others at that doctrine rail, 
And piously prefer the tail.' 

This hotch-potch, piece-meal affair, the appropriators do not 
hesitate to name their ' New Patent Flute ' — patent, forsooth ! 
because it retains the old patent tuning head of Potter. 

" But it is time for us to return. We should not have troubled 
our readers with these matters, but that they form the strongest 
species of evidence, that of rivals in trade, as to the amount of 
importance attached to our invention, as well as to the certain fate 
of the old flute. How otherwise can be explained the bustle, the 
inventions or rumoured inventions, the pilferings or appropriations, 
the false announcements, and deceitful appellations we have de- 
scribed? How are men brought to eat their own words, and to 
bepraise as immodestly a mediocre instrument, as they before 
immoderately condemned it?" — Ward, The Flute Explained,^. 15. 


notwithstanding his superiority, the flute he made for 
Gordon only added another to that gentleman's list of 
failures, nor was it until he had recourse to the " ignorant 
impostor" that Gordon succeeded in producing an instru- 
ment which he could venture to bring before the public. 
Ward's own flute, too, quickly died a natural death, 
whilst that of his inferior in every respect has been 
advancing from strength to strength for nearly sixty 
years. Then again, Mr. Rockstro himself showed his 
appreciation of Ward's superiority in a singular way. 
In his younger days he was on terms of friendship with 
Ward, and played on his flute, but he deserted his friend 
and abandoned his instrument for that invented by the 
" ignorant impostor." And yet, judging from Mr. 
Rockstro's description, it was not possessed of charms 
which Mr. Rockstro found himself powerless to resist. 
At this time the Boehm flute was, he tells us, " an in- 
herently imperfect thing," 22 with mechanism which, not- 
withstanding " its apparent simplicity, was constantly 
out of order " ; 23 its tone was " lamentably inferior " to 
that of the best patterns of the English eight-keyed flute ; 
whilst its holes were placed so " extravagantly " out of 
their proper position, that it was " outrageously " 24 out 
of tune. Still, in spite of all this, it was the means of 
seducing Mr. Rockstro from the path of loyalty to his 

The story of Mr. Rockstro's seduction is quite 
romantic ; it adds another to the many proofs we already 
possess of the gigantic power of fascination. The ser- 
pent is not an attractive beast, still the little bird, after 
hovering for a while round its ugly head, flies straight 
into the repulsive reptile's gaping mouth. The fox is 
not an animal to which a fat turkey would desire to have 
an introduction, but .the poor creature turns giddy, loses 
its balance, flutters down from the tree in which it is 

22 Rockstro on the Flute, section 643, p. 367. 

23 Ibid., section 594, p. 331. u Ibid., section 644, p. 367. 


securely perched, and falls a helpless victim at Reynard's 
feet, as he gazes at her in silence from below. 

Mr. Rockstro seemed to have a foreboding of his 
approaching fall ; he therefore took precautions. Before 
entering into temptation, he made " a stipulation that no 
persuasion should be used." 25 But what did this avail ? 
The moth might as well make a stipulation on approach- 
ing the candle. The stipulation was loyally kept, but 
all to no purpose. Mr. Rockstro's powers of resistance 
quickly evaporated, his virtuous resolve melting away as 
melts the snow before the sun. It was not long before 
he threw himself, uninvited, into the tempter's arms, and, 
like the fair but frail Julia, 

" whispering ' I will ne'er consent ' — consented." 

" My determination," he writes, " soon began to waver, 
and before the expiration of six months I sold my flute, 
a proceeding for which poor Ward never quite forgave 
me, and began to practise steadily on " — on what ? — on 
the "lamentably," the "extravagantly," the "outrage- 
ously," the " inherently imperfect thing," produced by 
Ward's inferior in every respect, except in the matter of 
musical attainments. 

And now comes a grand display of the wonders of 
science — of real, genuine, Rockstro science, not the 
spurious Boehm article. Indeed, the sequel, more 
marvellous even than science, reads like a fairy tale ; it 
is a modern version of the story of " Beauty and the 
Beast." I shall not avail myself of the fairy's spell to 
transform Mr. Rockstro, as he has thought proper to 
transform Boehm, into Ward's inferior, or into an inferior 
of any sort or kind, but into a loving and compassionate 
being in whose pure unsullied breast no poison of envy, 
hatred, or jealousy has ever rankled ; a gentle maiden 
whose disposition is as sweet as perfume of the roses 

25 Rockstro on the Flute, section 925, p. 633. 


amongst which she dwells ; whose heart is as soft and 
tender as the strains she draws from the harpsichord on 
which her fingers stray. No sooner, then, had Beauty 
been united to the Beast than the " inherently imperfect 
thing " began to yield to the magic of the fairy's wand. 
Its holes, placed so " extravagantly " far apart, drew 
themselves miraculously together ; a re-born crescent 
rose to gleam from the touch of the E flat key ; whilst 
the dry old stick, like Aaron's rod, put forth a bud, 
and soon the " Rockstro F sharp lever " blossomed on 
the parent stem. In fact, to cut a long story short, 
the " most wretched " 26 old monstrosity, which Beauty 

26 "The earlier metal flutes made after the model of Boehm 
were most wretched in tone, as well as in intonation, and it was 
only after a series of improvements, culminating in 1864, that they 
became the charming drawing-room instruments they are at 
present." So we are told by Mr. Rockstro in the 320th section 
(p. 145) of his Treatise on the Flute. But a gentleman who devoted 
himself exclusively to drawing-room playing, and was acknowledged 
to be the most finished drawing-room player of his time, writing to 
Boehm in the name of the firm of which he was the head, and 
underscoring the words here italicised, expresses himself as follows : 
" The French seem to be going from your original intention, and 
their instruments are not equal to your silver flute in our pos- 
session ; there is not the slightest dotibt as to the vast superiority 
of your metal flute over every other. Indeed, we think that there 
is no wind instrument that possesses so many charms." Referring 
to. a metal flute of Boehm's make, he adds : " The Name of the 
Flute has been suggested by a Gentleman of Classical Knowledge 
and a Flute- Player of great Taste, as the most expressive of its 
perfections, viz. the Siren Flute? This was not written in the year 
1864, when the silver star was 

" Riding near her highest noon " 

in the meridian of the Rockstro model, but on the 2nd of September, 
1847, just after the new luminary had appeared above the horizon, 
it having emerged from the creative brain of Boehm in the previous 
year. The gentleman who wrote thus of this " most wretched " 
drawing-room instrument was Mr. George Rudall. Whether 
Mr. Rudall was, or was not, qualified to judge of the tone and 
intonation of a drawing-room flute may be gathered from the 
following account of his playing given by Mr. Rockstro : " It was 


"again and again" had striven to love, but had 
" always " relinquished " in disgust," 27 vanished, and 
there burst upon the gaze of an astonished and delighted 
world a new and " charming " model ; a model whose 
birthday, we are told, ought never to be forgotten by 
him who is about to select a flute, 28 for the name of this 
peerless form is Perfection. 

But we must descend from the region of fancy to the 
prosaic sphere of historical fact. The spring of 1831 
found Boehm and Gordon both in London. Boehm 

always a source of regret to his friends that Rudall could never be 
induced to play in public ; he even declined an invitation to play 
before George the Third, but as a drawing-room player he was 
immensely popular. I well remember my delight on first hearing 
him play ; I thought that he produced the most charming music I 
had ever heard. Though his tone was not powerful, it was so 
clear, so sweet, and so indescribably sympathetic, that, once heard, 
it was not likely to be forgotten. His expression was absolutely 
enchanting, and his execution, as far as it went, perfect." 

Mr. Rudall does not confine himself to his own opinion. In 
another letter he mentions the effect the " wretched " instrument 
produced on those who heard it. " You know," he writes, " that I 
am not a player of difficult passages, but I have played in my own 
style in a great number of parties, and your metal flute has 
astonished and delighted every one. They all exclaim that they 
had no conception of the flute being brought to such perfection." 
He admits, however, that one of the notes was not satisfactory. 
" There is some little imperfection about the D, which Clinton says 
that you are aware of ; if so, there is no fear of your capacity to 
remedy it." 

27 Rockstro on the Flute, section 668, p. 383. So convinced were 
musicians in Paris of the superiority, for orchestral purposes, of the 
instrument (Boehm's cylindrical flute with the parabolic head joint) 
which excited Mr. Rockstro's disgust, that they brought about its 
compulsory adoption, to the exclusion of all other flutes, in those 
orchestras for which there was a State subvention. Moreover, it 
was rendered obligatory on the players engaged to use metal flutes, 
yet Mr. Rockstro tells us that flutes made of metal "are, and must 
be, eminently unfitted for orchestral performance" (section 320, 

p. 145)- 

28 Ibid., section 703, p. 4.13. 


appears to have come to England on a musical errand, 
if we may judge from the circumstance that he was 
engaged to play the flute at the Philharmonic and other 
concerts. But whatever might have been the primary 
object of his visit, he soon had an opportunity afforded 
him of employing his talent for invention. 

Gordon was on his travels in search of a flute-makei; 
After devoting some years to his project of Improving 
the flute, he considered that he had succeeded in the year 
previous, 1830. But though satisfied with his invention, 
he was very much dissatisfied with those he employed to 
carry out his design ; for not one of their instruments 
was playable. Parisian flute-makers having failed, he 
tried Swiss watch-makers, but in vain. Thus foiled on 
the. Continent, he determined to have recourse to the 
flute-playing island, and accordingly he came to London 
and put his model into Mr. Ward's hands. Ward's 
efforts only resulting in another disappointment, he 
decided on consulting Boehm, who, as we have seen, 
was busy with his inventions at Gerock and Wolf's, in 

It was during the call which Gordon made on Boehm 
for this purpose that the theft of his invention is alleged 
to have been perpetrated. 29 We have it, however, on 
the authority of Gordon himself that Boehm told him 
on this occasion that it was his intention on his return 
home to try to make an improved flute (une flute per- 
fectionnee), and that he promised to send him one of these 
perfected instruments. 30 Now if Boehm had not in his 
mind the intention of making such a flute before Gordon 
entered the room, we must credit him with a rapidity of 
conception simply superhuman. The idea of appro- 
priating the design Gordon was showing him, of bring- 
ing it out as his own, and of crowning his piratical 
achievement with the daring stroke of genius of sending 

29 Supra, p. 153. 30 Infra, p. 419. 


Gordon his own invention ]n. a new dress, must have 
flashed through his brain with more than the speed of 

It is, of course, unnecessary to point out that the 
accusation brought against Boehm was a defamatory 
libel. It affected his character for honour, honesty, and 
trustworthiness, and so was calculated to injure him as 
a man of business. It should not be forgotten that 
Coche, Clinton, and Ward, by whom the defamatory 
statements were put forth, were all of them men who 
had set themselves up in opposition to him as rivals 
in the flute trade; and it is significant that Coche did 
not make the discovery that the Boehm flute was 
invented by Gordon until he became a flute-maker, 
whilst Clinton was loud in his defence of Boehm as long 
as he taught and sold the Boehm flute, but no sooner 
had he put on the market a flute of his own, than he 
joined the hue and cry against him. Moreover, not one 
of these gentlemen comes into court with clean hands. 
Each of them had taken what suited him from Boehm's 
invention ; Coche boasting that he had copied the Boehm 
flute with the most scrupulous exactitude, whilst both 
Ward and Clinton had adopted the ring mechanism of 
that instrument. Nor was this all. Clinton openly 
acknowledged that he had taken the idea of one of his 
keys from Gerock and Wolf's flute, which was the pro- 
duction of Boehm ; whilst Ward, in addition to his 
annexation of Boehm's ring-keys, had secretly ap- 
propriated Gordon's crank and wire system. The 
spectacle of Boehm hunted by such pursuers as these on 
the ground that he was a bigger wolf than either of 
themselves, with Mr. Rockstro as huntsman to the pack, 
lustily winding his horn, and waving aloft his model flute, 
as he follows in the chase, is truly edifying. 

In endeavouring to ascertain whether or not there is 
any foundation for the allegations put forward by the 

O 2 


libellers of Boehm, the first thing we should wish to see 
would naturally be a drawing of the flute which Gordon 
showed Boehm on the occasion of the interview to which 
reference has just been made, it being the instrument from 
which the ideas were alleged to have been stolen. Ward, 
had he thought proper, might have furnished us with 
such a drawing, but for reasons best known to himself 
he has left us in the dark. But, although the flute from 
which Boehm was alleged to have derived his ideas was 
gone for ever, on looking into the case I saw that there 
was available evidence of still greater value. Before the 
interview took place, " I had already made in London," 
says Boehm, " the model of my new flute, and I showed 
him (Gordon) all that I had made." I was able to point 
out that a drawing of this model which Boehm showed 
to Gordon was still in existence. 

It came to light in the following way. The overstrung 
pianoforte was not the only invention on which Boehm 
was engaged at Gerock and Wolf's ; he undertook to 
make for this firm an improved flute. This flute was 
finished, and Mr. Wolf was endeavouring to introduce it 
to the English players whilst Ward was still engaged in 
constructing Gordon's instrument. 31 An engraving of the 
instrument survived, for Gerock and Wolf had published 
a ' Scale and Description of Boehm's Newly-invented 
Patent Flute,' manufactured and sold by the Patentees 
only, Gerock and Wolf, 79 Cornhill ; and a copy of this 
publication, believed to be unique, was in the possession 
of Mr. Richard Carte. Now, on comparing two expres- 
sions used by Boehm in his letters, it became apparent 
that this instrument was the model which Boehm showed 
Gordon on the occasion of the call to which I am 
referring. 32 

This discovery threw a new light on the subject ; a 
light which, as will be seen, proved very disastrous to the 

31 See Ward's letter to the Musical Wo%ld, p. 329. 

32 See p. 85. 


libellers of Boehm. It enabled us to examine the case 
from a better standpoint than that of mere assertion and 
denial ; it being obvious that any ideas we find embodied 
in this model, from whatever source Boehm might have 
obtained them, could not have been taken from Gordon's 
flute, inasmuch as the model was finished before he saw 
that instrument. 

How does our historian deal with all this ? He does 
me the honour of repeating my quotations, which identify 
Gerock and Wolf's flute with Boehm's first model, and 
he acquiesces in my conclusion that they are one and the 
same ; but the use to which he and I put the instrument 
is very different. Mr. Rockstro converts it into a stick 
with which to beat Boehm. He declares Boehm to have 
been " particularly reticent " about the rod he had thus 
unwittingly put into pickle for his own back, and ignoring 
the circumstance that hundreds of copies of the engraving 
of it had been struck off and scattered over the world in 
this little book, he treats Gerock and Wolf's pamphlet 
as a thing specially preserved by good fortune and 
Mr. Carte for his own purpose. Taking the ' Scale of 
Fingering,' which he reprints, as a handle, he proceeds 
to belabour the poor old man with all his might. 

Judging from Mr. Rockstro's representations, the in- 
strument was a disgrace even to an impostor. It is true 
that he does not profess to have either seen or heard it, 
but this drawback presents no difficulty to him. En- 
dowed with the gift of clairvoyance, he enjoys the use 
of spiritual eyes and ears, and what they reveal to him 
" must be" as reliable as Gospel-truth. Indeed, in his short 
description of this flute we are called upon to swallow 
no less than five mtists. Unless there was a mistake in 
the scale, the high E " must have been " horribly flat, and 
much worse than the same note on a one-keyed flute ; 
the high F " must have been " at least three-quarters 
of a tone higher than the next semitone below, although 
the fingering for this note " may be a misprint " ; 


the fingering given for the high G "must have" ren- 
dered that note nearly a quarter of a tone too flat as 
compared with next two notes below ; the instrument 
itself " must have been " far inferior, on the whole, to the 
ordinary eight-keyed flute as generally made in England ; 
whilst the notes of the third octave especially " must- 
have been more out of tune than on any well made one- 
keyed flute, or any eight-keyed flute ever constructed." 
In addition to all these must-have-beens, one of Boehm's 
vent-holes was " most improper," and the holes of his 
foot-joint, if the engraving is to be trusted, were "shock- 
ingly" ill-placed. Nor does Mr. Rockstro confine his 
slashing blows to Boehm. He flies at Gerock and Wolf, 
who were guilty of the crime of encouraging the " ignorant 
impostor," and administers a stinging backhander, de- 
nouncing their flute as an imposture, and by implication 
branding these gentlemen as impostors because they 
did not carry out their design of taking out a patent ; 
Boehm having, as we have just seen, announced his 
intention of constructing a flute with still greater im- 
provements soon after this instrument was completed. 33 

33 In the extract given in this work from Gerock and Wolfs 
pamphlet announcing their new flute, I commenced in the middle 
of a sentence, and Mr. Rockstro, to make amends for ignoring my 
existence, has paid me the flattering compliment of beginning at 
the very same word. In the pamphlet, however, the extract was 
preceded by an historical sketch, as follows : — " The flute, in its 
earliest and most simple state, was recognised and appreciated as 
one of the most effective of musical instruments, but, from the 
peculiarity of its construction and consequent irregularity of its 
scale, remained long intractable, even in superior hands, except in 
the two or three keys that were natural to it, and into which keys 
all music intended for it was necessarily transposed. 

" The mellifluous quality of its tone, however, created so general a 
desire that it might be rendered more extensively available that 
invention had a powerful stimulus to improvement, and ingenious 
men succeeded in attaching keys, that amounting in the end to 
eight or nine in number, widened in a surprising manner the sphere 
of its usefulness in skilful hands ; and then it was found to possess 


But whilst we are watching Mr. Rockstro as he is thus 
engaged in kicking the dead lion, we are losing sight of 
matters of greater importance. Leaving what Gerock 
and Wolf's flute "must have. been" to Mr. Rockstro, let 
us consider what it was. Whether it was better or worse 
than a one-keyed flute, we know " that Mr. Wolf .dis- 
played considerable talent in his performance upon it." 34 

capabilities for expression as well as tone that were not previously 
supposed to belong to it. Hence the practice of the flute became 
universal, so as to supersede in a great measure that of the violin, 
from which only had hitherto been expected accuracy of intonation 
and variety of expression, which it was now found might be 
elicited, though probably in a minor degree, from the flute. 

" The sanction of public favour on its behalf attracted the talents 
of first-rate masters, and original compositions for this interesting 
instrument, increased in number and in science until it was found 
unequal to all the variety that was required from it, and deficient 
in accuracy upon some passages, more or less, according to the 
abilities of the performer who drew forth its powers ; and, both in 
the orchestra and in the drawing-room, desires for still greater 
perfection, especially in concerted music, became generally 

"Acting on this impression, the patentees, Messrs. Gerock and 
Wolf, having availed themselves," &c. For a continuation of this 
extract see p. 85 of this work, and section 583, p. 323, of Mr. 
Rockstro's Treatise on the Flute. 

There is no date to this pamphlet, but we learn from Ward's 
letter to the Musical World (p. 131) that it was published by 
Messrs. Gerock and Wolf at the time they made the flute — that is in 
the year 183 1. Mr. Rockstro, however, gives 1832 as the year in 
which it was issued {.Rockstro on the Flute, section 582). It turns 
out, however, that the authority for this date is of the must have 
been kind. The pamphlet was reviewed in the Harmonicon of 
April 1832 ; ergo, according to Mr. Rockstro, it must have been 
issued in that year. Mr. Rockstro's Treatise on the Flute was 
reviewed in Musical Opinion of February 1891, so if we are to 
trust such logic as this, the work was issued in 1891 ; but if this is 
the year in which it must have been issued, as a matter of fact, 
it was distributed to the subscribers in the summer or early in the 
autumn of the preceding year 1890. 

34 Ward's letter to the Musical World, see Appendix, p. 329. 


Whether or not it was inferior to any eight-keyed flute 
ever made, it was an instrument on which English 
flute improvers (with the exception of Mr. Ward, who, 
Mr. Rockstro has ascertained, adopted ideas of German 
origin) lived for twenty years ; it being the source from 
which Card, 35 Clinton, Siccama, and through him Pratten, 
drew their inspiration. 

To us, however, its chief value lies in the light it 
throws on the charges brought against Boehm by his 
libellers. These libellers I now purpose bringing to 
trial. But in their trial I will not confine myself to the 
information to be obtained from the drawing of this 
flute ; I will avail myself also of the facts brought to 
light by Mr. Rockstro. Indeed, we will engage this 
gentleman in a double capacity ; we will subpcena him 
as a witness for the prosecution, and at the same time 
retain him as counsel for the defence. We shall find 
his evidence strangely at variance with his advocacy. 
The one is a continuous vindication of Boehm, the other 
as constantly vilifies and loads him with ignominy. In 
fact, like Balaam of old, whilst striving with all his might 
to curse, Mr. Rockstro finds himself constrained at every 
step to bless. 

In the indictment under which the libellers will be 
arraigned there will be five counts. They will be 
charged with publishing statements to the effect that 
Boehm took from Gordon, first, the idea of making an 
excavation to receive the lower lip ; secondly, the idea of 
how to find the division of the column of air ; thirdly, 

35 Ward, in his letter to the Musical World, pronounces Card's 
flute to be " a part " of Boehm's first model, and in the extract just 
given (note, p. 189) from his pamphlet he terms the instrument 
a " hotch-potch affair." But whilst he was thus throwing Card's 
"annexations" in his teeth, he was concealing so carefully the 
chief source from which his own hotch-potch was derived that 
Mr. Rockstro did not discover it for forty-four years. See his 
Treatise on the Flute, section 489, p. 262. 


the idea .of constructing flutes on a system of open keys ; 
fourthly, the fingering of the Boehm flute ; fifthly, the 
idea of the ring-key. We will see how far they can 
defend themselves by establishing that their allegations 
are true either in substance or in fact. 

First, the excavation to receive the lower lip. 

Was Coche's statement that Gordon was the first to 
make such an excavation 36 true or false? Alas, poor 
Coche ! You little knew when you made this assertion 
what occasion you would have to exclaim, save me from 
my friend ! We will put Mr. Rockstro into the witness- 
box, and he will at once tell us that before Gordon was 
born, Dulon, the blind flute-player, when on his travels, 
visited Liichow, where he made the acquaintance of and 
played duets with "a most engaging and intellectual 
man, whose well-contrived flutes were far superior to 
many manufactured by so-called masters." This was 
Dr. Ribock, an enthusiastic amateur, and a zealous 
worker in the field of flute reform, who invented keys, 
endeavoured to improve the bore, and wrote a treatise 
on the instrument. Dulon mentions that the Doctor 
had a fancy for " an excavation he was in the habit of 
making in that part of the head-joint of a flute which 
rests on the chin, thinking by that means to bring the 
flute nearer the mouth, so as to prevent any slipping in 
the event of the chin perspiring." 3? 

As to the advantage believed to result from the use 
of this excavation Coche held a different opinion to that 
advanced by Dr. Ribock. He considered it to be a cure 
for the hissing, which is as great a reproach to our instru- 
ment, as is scraping to the fiddle. But however this 
may be, the substitution of a flattened for a cylindrical 
surface where the instrument is brought into contact 
with the lip is certainly a pleasant change. Moreover, 
the excavation can be so made as to cause the symphysis 

36 P. 126. 

37 Rockstro on the Flute, section 868, p. 568. 


of the chin to share with the teeth the pressure of the 
flute, a matter deserving consideration when we take 
into account the vital importance of the lower incisors to 
the flute-player. 

Secondly, the statement that Gordon was the first to 
find the division of the column of air. 

The division of the column of air is a fine phrase, and 
the use of it serves to show what a scientific man was 
Coche. As a matter of fact, however, as I will point out 
before I have done, it is a disputed point whether science 
has or has not succeeded, even to this day, in putting 
her finger on the division of the column of air within the 
flute. 33 One of the two principles on which the Boehm 
flute is founded is that the holes should be equalised, or 

38 j n j rcLi) p. 297. An erroneous notion was once prevalent that 
the proper place for the finger holes could be discovered by a 
calculation based on the divisions of the monochord, an instrument 
on which a stretched string is furnished with a movable bridge, by 
means of which the precise length of string required for each note 
can be ascertained. Ward, whilst admitting the difficulties of the 
calculation, does not seem to have the slightest doubt but that 
"the apertures should be placed consistently with the ratio of the 
divisions of the monochord." He even goes into details, adding : 
" The lengths of the tubes for each of the fundamental notes of the 
flute must be each about one and a half inch shorter than the 
monochord indicates." Gordon had adopted this method of tuning 
his flute, and Coche stated that he was " the first to " thus " find 
the division of the column of air," but Mr. Rockstro has ascertained 
that Pottgiesser had previously had recourse to this plan. Coche 
fancied that Boehm also had employed this method. " After he 
(Boehm) had settled the proportions ot the bore,'' I am translating 
from Coche's Examen Critique (p. 13), "dividing the portions of 
the column of air as those of the monochord, he assigned to the 
holes a size and relative' distance, calculated according to the 
proportion of the tempered notes." Boehm, however, who was 
aware that this idea was illusory (see p. 463), had adopted a very 
different way for fixing the approximate position of the holes of his 
conical flute of 1832. He made a series of experiments for the 
purpose. See his Essay on the Construction of Flutes, p. 19 ; also 
infra, p. 415. It will be observed that Coche falls into a fourfold 
error. He is under the belief first that the true place for the holes 
of the flute can be ascertained by a calculation based on the 


at least properly graduated in size. When this principle 
was adopted, it became necessary, in order to tune the 
instrument, to arrange them at distances from each other 
diminishing from below upwards in a regular ratio. 
Stripped of the jargon of science, it is this equalisation 
of the holes, and their consequent rearrangement, which 
Coche here attributes to Gordon. In this Coche does 
not stand alone ; Clinton followed him, and stated that 
this " new principle " " resulted from the sagacity of 
Captain Gordon." 

Now, Mr. Rockstro, you are under examination, will 
you tell us if this statement is correct ? Poor Coche ! 
Mr. Rockstro -gives his revered friend another knock- 
down blow ; but he is an iconoclast of so singular a kind, 
that when he has smashed his idol, he still regards the 
fragments with unabated reverence. He proceeds to 
inform us that the German school of flute reformers, who 
preceded Boehm and Gordon, were fully alive to the 
importance of a rearrangement of the holes. Tromlitz, 
the master of Dr. Ribock, and Dr. Pottgiesser, another 
worthy son of ^Esculapius, who had devoted his leisure 
to the improvement of our instrument, had both at- 
tempted to deal with the problem ; indeed, Pottgiesser 
had gone so far as to equalise the size of all but two of 
the holes. 39 The idea, then, was not new, nor did it 
result from the sagacity of Captain Gordon. 

But how came it to pass that the holes of the flute 
were in so sad a plight that a reformation was thus im- 
peratively demanded ? The law of the survival of the 
fittest, not having contemplated the contingency of man 
becoming a flute-playing animal, had made no provision 
for causing certain of his fingers to develop until they 

divisions of the monochord ; secondly, that Boehm had arranged 
the holes of his flute on this principle ; thirdly, that Gordon was 
the first to make the calculation ; and fourthly, that Boehm had 
availed himself of Gordon's discovery. 

3 ' J Rockstro on the Flute, section 543, p. 292. 




Fig- 15-- 
keyed , 

had become long enough for his require- 
ments, and the flute-makers, following out the 
plan adopted with such signal success by 
the prophet Mahomet in his treatment of the 
mountain, as the fingers would not come to 
the holes, had brought the holes to the fingers. 
To borrow the beautiful language quoted in 
Coche's scientific and philosophical pamphlet : 
" The piercing of the holes was, mathematically 
and acoustically speaking, vicious, for their 
position was calculated only on the possible 
extension of the digits of man, and not accord- 
ing to the immutable laws of physics." 

The culprit amongst the digits to whose 
charge the crime of misplacing the holes 
must be laid, was the third ; the finger of 
Apollo, the god who, finding himself worsted 
in his musical contest with Brother Marsyas, 
was not ashamed to take a mean and unfair 
advantage, and having in this way obtained 
an award in his favour, did not wait, as the 
humane Mr. Rockstro would have done, until 
our poor brother was dead, but proceeded to 
tie him to a tree, and to flay him forth- 
with. 40 

*° What a farce was this so-called contest ! At first 
the umpires appear to have believed that it was to be 
a bond fide competition, and so when Apollo and 
Marsyas had each played an air, they did not attempt 
to disguise the truth that the flute, which could sustain 
tone, was better adapted for giving effect to a melody 
than the lyre. Thereupon, Apollo began to sing as 
well as to play, and Marsyas to protest, on the ground 
that Apollo was using, in addition to the lyre, another 
instrument, his voice. Apollo replied, that as Marsyas 
was using his mouth, he was at liberty to do the same. 
The jurors could not have failed to see through such 
sophistry as this. It must have been as evident to 
them as it is to us that the voice and the mouth are 
very different things ; that Apollo was at liberty to 


A glance at an eight-keyed flute (Fig. 1 5) will show- 
that the third finger of each hand had drawn its hole 
(a and e), upwards far above its proper 
place. Fig. 16 is a diagram showing the 
relative size and position of the holes, 
which are here represented in one line. 
From this we see that in the worse case, 
that of the right hand, this finger had 
arrogated to itself a hole (<?) at least five 
times as far from the next below as it 
was from the next above, although the 
musical interval was in each case the same, 
that of a semitone. 41 

Let us now turn to Boehm's first model, 
the flute designed for Gerock and Wolf, 
the instrument which Mr. Rockstro does 

use his mouth only if it would assist him in play- 
ing the lyre. By this time, however, no doubt it 
had become evident that the umpires dared not 
give an honest judgment. No one can believe for 
a moment that Apollo would have consented to 
be flayed, if they had decided against him. The 
glittering fellow would have reduced the whole 
party to ashes, or destroyed them with pestilence, 
as he did the subjects of Laomedon, who refused to 
satisfy the demands he made on the occasion of the 
building of the walls of Troy. That Marsyas had 
the sympathy of public opinion may be inferred 
from the circumstance that so many tears were 
shed for him as to give rise to a river which was 
called by his name. 

41 " If we instance no farther than that from 
the low E flat to the E natural (but one semitone) 
there are nearly two inches and a half to cut off ; 
and for the next semitone only about half an inch ; 
for the next about the same ; and then for the next 
about one inch and a quarter, and so on, we feel 
sure we need not say another word to convince 
every one of the excessive absurdities of its con- 
struction." — Ward, The Flute Explained, p. 5. 



Fig. 16. — Diagram 
of Holes of Eight- 
keyed Flute, show- 
ing their Relative 
Size and Position. 



not deny that Boehm had made before 
he came into contact with Gordon. 

To spare the reader the trouble of turn- 
ing to a distant page, I have reproduced 
the engraving of it (Fig. 17), and on ex- 
amining it we see that Boehm, when he 
constructed it, was no stranger to the im- 
portance of remedying the mischief. He 
had dealt with both of the offenders, the 
third fingers, but he had not dealt with 
them both in the same way. In the case 
of the right hand he had brought the 
finger to the lowered and enlarged hole (b), 
carrying down with it the whole hand. 
The left he treated differently, keeping the 
hand in its old place, but furnishing the 
third finger with a key (a) to enable it 
to act on its hole, now placed beyond its 
a reach. At present we will confine our atten- 
tion to this key, leaving the mechanism 
adopted for the right hand until we come 
to the fifth count of the indictment. 42 

42 A special drawing, here reproduced, of this key 
is given in Clinton's Treatise on the Flute. We 
owe it to the practice but too common, as we have 
seen, amongst flute-makers of throwing discredit on 
their rivals by endeavouring to make it appear that 

Fig. 18. — Boehm's Key, after Clinton. 

their ideas are not original. Thus Clinton, in 
attacking Siccama, published this drawing to show 
that the key, which was characteristic of Siccama's 
Diatonic Flute, was taken from Gerock and Wolf's 
Fig. 17.— Boehm's instrument. 

First Model. ^ ^ be observcd th;lt thcrc j s no b ec l for the 


It should not be supposed that there was the slightest 
novelty in Boehm's proposal. This expedient had often 
been resorted to in the con- 
struction of flutes of unusual size 
long before it was applied to 
the concert flute. It appears, for 
instance, m Fig. 19, which repre- 
sents an interesting instrument 43 

pad of the key, but that Boehm has 
had recourse to another well-known 
expedient for securing a stop. He has 
lined the hole with a tube, the edge of 
which rises above the level of the wood, 
and thus forms what flute-makers call 
a saddle. It may be conjectured that 
Boehm also lined the holes c and b 
(Fig. 17) with tubes, and that the rings 
for these holes, being made a little 
larger than the tubes, when pressed 
down, passed outside of and encircled 
the ends of the tubes, and thus the 
fingers came into contact with their 
projecting rims. What makes this not 
improbable is the circumstance that it 
was in this way that Boehm constructed 
his metal flute when, in its earliest form, 
the holes were so small that they could 
be closed with the finger. In his 
conical wood flute of 1832, however, 
Boehm adopted a different plan. He 
excavated a groove in the wood to 
Fig. 19. — Flute receive the ring when it was pressed 
showing Valve d own ; an expedient which Pottgiesser 

for dosing the ' f *> 

third hole. had previously adopted for his crescent 

key. See the drawing, p. 83. 
13 The material of this instrument is boxwood, 
stained of a dark colour. It is 30 inches in length, 
irrespective of the doubled portion (7 inches) of the 
head. The head is made out of a single piece of 
wood. The ascending and descending portions of 
the bore are not united by a metal elbow, but open 
directly into each other. The opening above their 

Fig. 20. — Base 
.English Flute, 
wita key for 
the third hole. 



belonging to a Belgian gentleman, Mr. Cesare 
Snoeck. Indeed, this key may be traced 
back to the bass English 44 flute, as shown in 
Fig. 20, an instrument which is also the pro- 
perty of Mr. Snoeck. 

Now, although this key was quickly dis- 
carded by Boehm, it is remarkable as having 
formed the chief feature of a flute which 
forty or fifty years ago bade fair to oust from 
popular favour the eight-key flute, which, 
though it subsequently yielded to the cylinder, 
Boehm's cone had failed to supplant. I allude 
to Siccama's diatonic flute, of which Fig. 21 
is an engraving. It will be seen that Siccama 

junction is closed by a large cork. The cork is con- 
cealed by the brass cap which covers the upper end 
of the instrument. The hole for the third finger of 
the left hand, covered by the open key, is placed far 
away from the hole above. The three holes for the 
right-hand part are brought within reach of the fingers ; 
the first finger hole, for tuning purposes, being made 
very large and sloped upwards from the exterior in the 
substance of the wood, whilst that for the third finger 
is very small in proportion and is sloped downwards. 

44 The performer on the bass English flute played 
sitting, the wind being conveyed from his mouth to the 
top of the instrument by means of a tube, which in this 
case is a restoration. The instrument was often fitted 
with a rod at the bottom, forming a foot to rest it on 
the ground, as in that represented in the engraving. 
The lower end of the instrument thus being closed, 
a hole was provided, placed in this specimen at the 
back, for the lowest note. The total length of the flute 
here represented is 4 feet 6| inches ; the instrument 
itself measuring 42 inches, and the foot 14! inches. 
It bears the maker's name, J. Boekhont ; below it is a 
lion rampant, above, a crown. It will be understood 
that the key for the little finger of the left hand is an 
open, not a closed key like that of the instrument 
represented in Fig. 19. It appears closed in the 
engraving, owing to the spring, which should keep it 
B'iatoricFlute. open, happening to be broken. 



did not confine the use of this key, like Boehm, to the 
left hand, but that he had recourse to it for the right as 
well (Fig. 21, a, e.) 

In borrowing this key from Boehm, poor Siccama, 
like Gerock and Wolf, has fallen under the ban of 
Mr. Rockstro's displeasure. He is held up to contempt, 
and is made the subject of an attack which I do not 
hesitate to say is as unjust as it is uncalled for. His 
want of inventive genius is represented to be only 
exceeded by his ignorance of the flute ; whilst we are 
asked to believe that his motive in becoming a flute- 
maker was the gratification of his vanity ; his object 
being to bring out a flute associated with his name. 
The popularity of his instrument is ascribed partly to 
his commercial skill in advertising, and partly to an 
appeal he is stated to have made to the cupidity of 
flute-players by presenting one of his flutes to any 
professional flautist willing to take up his system. As 
to the instrument itself, if it is not pronounced to be, 
like the Boehm flute, "an inherently imperfect thing," 
it is stigmatised as " an unnatural and unphilosophical 
combination of two incompatible things." 45 In short, 
in Abel Siccama, as painted by Mr. Rockstro, we are 
treated to another portrait, this time, it is true, only a 
miniature, of an ignorant impostor. 

I speak from personal knowledge of Mr. Siccama, on 
whose flute I once played, and with whom I have spent 
many hours in conversation on the subject of flute- 
making, when I say that this portrait is as unlike the 
original as it is sordidly and ungenerously drawn. 
Siccama was a German by birth. He was a good 
classical scholar and an accomplished modern linguist. 
Before he became a flute-maker, he was engaged in 
tuition at Oxford. His enthusiasm for the flute was 
unbounded. His chief aim was simplicity of construc- 

43 Rockstro on the Flute, sec. 646 et seq., p. 369. 




tion ; the pet object of his ambition being to contrive a 
chromatic flute without keys ; an ideal which, however 
visionary it may be, will be acknow- 
ledged by all flute-players to be a 
consummation devoutly to be desired. 
He got so far with his project as to 
design a. flute with only one key, a 
closed key for C natural played with the 
first finger of the right hand (Fig. 22) ; 
but he assigned one of the holes, that 
for G, to the right thumb, an expedient 
which has been a source of failure in 
flutes made both before and since his 
time, as this thumb cannot be spared 
from its work of holding the flute. 

The instrument by which Siccama 
was known to the public is his diatonic 
flute (Fig. 21, p. 208). It is perfectly 
true that he claimed perfect intonation 
for this flute; but here Mr. Rockstro, 
who is in a glass house, cannot with 
propriety commence throwing stones. 
Whatever can be said against the dia- 
tonic flute, it is unquestionable that in 
its finish and workmanship the highest 
degree of excellence was reached, and 
that its tone was of surpassing beauty ; 
indeed, Siccama, when preluding on it, 
used to elicit notes which exceeded in 
purity and sweetness any sounds I have 
ever heard issue from a musical instru- 






t Ig. 22. 

Siccama'h One-keyed 
Chromatic Flute. 

In accounting for the success of this 

flute Mr. Rockstro imputes bribery to 
Siccama and corruption to his brother artists. Perhaps 
I may be allowed to say that I was well acquainted 
with Richardson and Pratten, it having been my 


privilege to receive instruction from each of them, and 
I have too high an opinion of them both to believe 
that the present of a Siccama flute would have been 
a sufficient inducement to either of them to adopt the 
system, unless he honestly believed it to be superior 
to that of the eight-keyed flute which he discarded for 
its sake. Siccama's diatonic flute, as I have said, is 
pronounced by Mr. Rockstro to be an unnatural com- 
bination of two incompatible things ; yet for Pratten, 
who attempted to perfect this unnatural combination, 
the union of the old fingering with the new distri- 
bution of the holes, there is nothing but praise, and 
Mr. Rockstro confesses that he was highly gratified at 
being asked by that gentleman to assist in the work, 
and that he had great pleasure in complying with the 
request. 46 

In justice to Mr. Rockstro I ought not to omit to 
mention that in his sketch of Mr. Siccama he assigns 
to him one redeeming feature ; he adopted the plan 
Mr. Rockstro afterwards followed, and "avoided the 
mistake of placing the holes generally too far apart." 
Indeed he had made a Boehm flute which I often saw 
at his office in Fleet Street, for which he claimed that 
the intonation was far more correct than that of the 
instruments constructed with the holes placed where 
Boehm recommended. 

On the other hand, three of the four flutes included 
in the specification of Siccama's patent are pronounced 
to be "absolutely worthless." Yet on looking at the 
engraving of these absolutely worthless instruments, 
what do we see ? Alas ! poor Siccama, you are undone ! 
You have committed the unpardonable sin. You are 
another plagiarist by anticipation. There is the oboe 
key of the unhappy Boehm ; the fatal button of the 
luckless Gordon (43, Fig. 23). Stay ; is there not a 

46 Rockstro on the Flute, sections 671, 672, p. 3S6. 

P 2 



loophole through which you can escape? You have 
shifted the hand a semitone upwards, so that your lever 
does not close the hole for G like Mr.' Rockstro's, but 
that for G sharp. But this will not avail you. Your 
key is played, as the description too clearly shows, 
by the same fingers of the same hand as that of 

Fig. 33. — Siccama's Lever for closing the G sharp hole. 

Mr. Rockstro, and its object is the same, to close the 
valve without using either of the rings. 47 

There is nothing new under the sun. When ex- 
amining the wind instruments in the Museum of the 
Paris Conservatoire, what should my eye light upon 
but a bass flute on the Siccama plan made certainly 
half a century, possibly a century before Siccama 
was born. So little attention had this instrument 

47 The following is from the specification of Siccama's patent 
(p« 5) : " 37 i s a varve over tne G (G#) sharp hole ; this valve 
is kept open by the spring 38, except when closed by the 
fingering, and it is affixed by an arm to the axis 39, which turns 
in the bearings 40, 40. 41, 42, 42% are rings affixed to and 
forming arms on the axis 39, so placed, as that when the first 
finger of the right hand closes the G (GJj) natural hole, one or 
the other of these rings will be depressed, closing the valve 37 ; 
or the valve 37 may be closed by either the second or the third 
finder of the right hand pressing upon the arm 43 on the axis 39." 
The italics are mine. 



attracted, that the maker's name (J. Beuker) 
had not been properly deciphered for the 
catalogue, in which it was incorrectly- 
given, nor had it been observed that the 
place where it was made (Amsterdam) 
was branded on one of the joints. 48 I 
happened to have in my pocket at the time 
an ordinary inch measuring tape, with 
which I took some measurements, whilst 
M. Gustave Chouquet, the then Curator 
of the Museum, kindly made for me a 
sketch of the instrument — rough, it is true, 
but still sufficiently accurate to show the 
two Siccama keys. (Fig. 24.) 

As to the date of this flute, opinions 
differ. M. Chouquet believed that it was 
made towards the close of the seventeenth 
century ; but M. Victor Mahillon, the 
Curator of the Museum of the Brussels 
Conservatoire, considers this date to be too 
early. However, my description 49 appears 
to have had the happy effect of stimulating 
Mr. Rockstro. He has been furnished by 
M. Pillaut, M. Chouquet's successor, with 
further particulars and fresh measurements ; 
he has also made many efforts to discover 
the exact date of its manufacture, but 
up to the time of the publication of his 
' Treatise on the Flute,' his labours had not 
been crowned with success. 

Thirdly, the substitution of open for closed 

The closed keys : what a tale of preju- 
dice, conceit, and obstinacy can these keys 
unfold ! 

48 This was set right in a subsequent edition. M , Fig. su. 

m'o r.i • 1 r -nr t> 1 . "i Old Bass FJute on 

* B bee p. 74 Of this WOrk, 237 01 Mr. RoCKStro's. the Siccama Plan. 


' First Flute. 

Second Flute. 

Fig. 25.— Angels playing a Flute Quartett. From a Manuscript Service Book 


Third Flute. 

Fourth Flute, 
in the Library of the Abbey of St. Gall (1562). The original is charmingly coloured. 






£Mt am: I imrr 
















• l.l. 











Fig. 26. — Key- 
less Cylindrical 

In olden days our instrument was a 
simple cylinder without a single key. Fig. 
25 is a representation of four angels, two 
of the masculine and two (judging by the 
way the hair is dressed) of the feminine 
gender, engaged, whilst dancing on the 
clouds, in playing a quartett on these key- 
less flutes. On the next page is an ' Air 
de Cour' specially written, Mersenne, from 
whose work it is taken, tells us, as a short 
illustration of the style of composition suit- 
able for four such flutes, by the Sieur 
Henry le Jeune, who, he says, is perfectly 
familiar with their compass and their stave 
(portii). To show what sort of music our 
great-great-grandfathers and grandmothers 
were accustomed to read, I have given a 
facsimile of the original ; I give it also in 
modern notation, to which it has kindly 
been reduced by Dr. Turpin. The com- 
poser, I should add, was possibly an 
amateur, for Mersenne refers those of his 
readers who may desire other examples of 
such music to the masters of the art. 

An instrument of the kind on which the 
angels are performing is represented in 
Fig. 26. This precious relic, which formerly 
belonged to Count Giovanni Correr, is now 
in the Museum of the Brussels Conserva- 
toire of Music. Its material, of a pale cof- 
fee colour, is stated to be Cyprus (cypress ?) 
wood. In front, above the embouchure, is 
the maker's name, Rafi, associated with a 
trefoil, whilst below it is a shield bearing a 
griffin, a device which is repeated between 
the third and fourth finger-holes. The 
instrument is 28^ inches long, and the 
diameter of the bore is |ths of an inch. 


These keyless cylindrical tubes were pierced with six 
finger holes. These six holes, with the addition of that 
which formed the open end of .the tube, served to pro- 
duce the seven notes of the scale for which the flute was 
intended. There were no holes provided for accidentals. 
When the player was in want of an accidental he had 
recourse to an expedient from which we should naturally 
imagine every member of the celestial quartett party 
would recoil with horror ; he proceeded to murder the 
note above the semitone required by smothering, chok- 
ing, and suffocating it till it yielded an expiring murmur, 
or dying groan, which did duty for the sound required. 
It was the spurious notes thus produced, with their 
feeble wheezing tone and defective intonation, which 
brought the flute and those who played it into such con- 
tempt with musicians ; a circumstance which did not 
escape the observation of Burney, but which Hawkins 
failed to perceive. 

Now it is a fact, that when the Sieur Henry le Jeune 
composed his ' Air de Cour ' for four keyless flutes, closed 
keys, so far from being unknown, had attained a develop- 
ment which would be incredible were it not for the 
drawings which have come down to us. It would seem 
that closed keys first made their appearance on the bag- 
pipe. But, however this may be, in Mersenne's time 
there was in existence an instrument, belonging to that 
family, whose pipes Mersenne informs us "make all the 
semitones like the organ." It was constructed on a 
system of closed keys in comparison with which the 
most elaborate modern clarionet is simplicity itself. The 
instrument, which was of Italian origin, was called the 

Not the least remarkable circumstance in connection 
with the Sourdeline was the way in which the closed 
keys were constructed ; it is no exaggeration to say 
that they put to shame the keys of the eight-keyed 
flute as made 200 years later. The lever, instead of 
working in a groove cut in a knob or projection of the 



wood, was placed between plates of metal soldered 
together so as to form what is technically a box 

Fig. 27.— Pipes of Sourdeline showing closed Keys (1637). 

(a, Fig. 27), a contrivance still placed by Messrs. Rudall 
& Co. on some of their piccolos, but only those of the 
highest finish. 


When Mersenne wrote, it would appear that it was 
only in Italy where the manufacture of closed keys was 
understood ; for he mentions that a gentleman who had 
invented an instrument 60 based on a system of closed 
keys, having failed to find any one in Germany capable 
of carrying out his ideas, placed his invention in the 
hands of Jean Baptiste Ravilius, a maker of Ferrara, 
by whom his instrument was completed to perfection. 
The sourdeline had not been introduced into France, 
and so Mersenne, to enable his countrymen to construct 
others like it, "because the said keys are difficult to 
understand on the pipes," gives a drawing of one sepa- 
rate from the instrument; indeed, so minute is his 
description, that he does not omit to mention the little 
piece of sheepskin which was to be glued to the flap to 
secure a good stop. 

In Mersenne's time the German flute, though well 
known, was not so much in favour as the flitte douce, or 
English flute, yet this writer, with the extraordinary 
acumen of which he gives so many proofs, 51 seems to 

50 This instrument appears to have been a sort of bassoon of 
unusual compass downwards, blown, like a bagpipe, with bellows. 
The following is an extract from Mersenne's description of it : — 

" II est compose" de deux Bassons, dont les trous se ferment par 
des ressorts, que Ton ouvre avec les doigts, comme ceux dont j'ay 
parld dans l'explication des instruments precedens : et que l'on use de 
deux soufflets, ou plustot de deux peaux, dont l'une est accommode'e 
a un soufflet, comme celle de la Musette, ou de la Sourdeline, que 
Ton met souz le bras droict, et l'autre est semblable a la peau des- 
dites Musettes, qui sert pour envoyer le vent dans le Fagot, lequel 
ne parle point si l'on n'ouvre ses ressorts, comme il arrive a la 
Sourdeline, que l'on peut mettre entre les Fagots." — Harmonie 
Universelle, Book v. Proposition xxxiii. p. 305. 

51 Mersenne, whose fertility in expedients was inexhaustible, 
makes suggestions for overcoming the difficulty of manipulating the 
bass German flute, and such is the tendency of flute-makers to dish 
up old ideas and serve them as new, that the contrivances he pro- 
posed formed the subject of a patent taken out in England in 18 10, 
nearly two hundred years after his time (see p. 76). " As the bass 
(German) flute," he says, " cannot be made sufficiently long to go 


have recognised its superior capabilities, and to have 
foreseen that it was destined to eclipse its more popular 
rival. He was not slow to perceive what might be 

down low enough, the sackbut, or the serpent, or some other bass 
is used to take its place ; for if the German flute was made long 
enough to do this part, the hands could not easily be stretched as 
far as the last holes whilst it was being held to the mouth, although 
one could supply this deficiency in the basses of the said flute by 
sundry keys, or by severing or doubling them back, as is done to 

The sackbut, now called the trombone, appears to have under- 
gone little change, except in name since it was described and 
figured by Mersenne. It must surely have been ill-adapted to form 
the bass in a flute quartette. Yet it was so much used as a bass, not 
only for flutes, but for instruments of other families, that Mersenne 
states that it had obtained the name of the harmonic trumpet. The 
serpent, one would think, was still less fitted for the purpose. The 
anecdote told of Handel, that on first hearing this instrument, he 
asked in amazement " what de tevel be dat," and that on being 
told that it was a new instrument termed the serpent, he exclaimed, 
" Oh ! de serbent ; but it not be de serbent dat seduced Eve," 
is no doubt apocryphal, for the serpent was invented long before 
Handel's time ; but it conveys an idea of the repulsive effect of this 
terrific instrument. So closely did its tones resemble the voice of 
a calf deprived of its mother, that a west country farmer, who had 
lost a calf, happening to pass a house in which a person was play- 
ing the serpent, was so firmly persuaded that his property was 
within, that the occupier, for the sake of his own character, allowed 
him to satisfy himself by searching the premises. Its use in 
churches roused the indignation of Berlioz, who declared that its 
" frigid and abominable blaring " was better suited to the sanguinary 
rites of the Druids than to a Christian service ; but he admits 
that " it seems to be invested with a kind of lugubrious poetry 
when accompanying words expressive of all the horrors of death, 
and the vengeance of a jealous God." 

It seems, however, that the serpent got the bad name it has left 
behind through the want of skill of those who played it. The 
instrument could be as soft and refined as it was coarse and savage. 
Mersenne says of it, that "though it is capable of sustaining twenty 
of the loudest voices, it is so easy to play that a child of fifteen can 
sound it as loud as a man of thirty," but he adds, " its tone can be 
so subdued that it will be suitable to blend with the sound of soft 
chamber music, the delicacies (les mignardises) of which it imi- 


gained by having recourse to closed keys. He taunts the 
musical instrument makers with the neglect with which 
they had treated the German flute in comparison with the 
pains they had taken to improve the organ, and giving 
the reins to his fertile imagination, suggests that in 
addition to the holes with which the instrument was 
already furnished for the diatonic scale, others should 
be bored, one set for the chromatic, another for the 
enharmonic genus, and then, he triumphantly exclaims, 
" one could easily execute all that the Greeks knew with 
a little piece of wood : but," he adds, " I leave this 
investigation to the makers." 52 

tates." Burney, too, who often heard it played in church during 
his musical tours on the Continent, says, " it is in general over- 
blown, and too powerful for the voices it accompanies ; otherwise, 
it mixes with them better than the organ, as it can augment or 
diminish a sound with more delicacy, and is less likely to overpower 
or destroy, by a bad temperament, that perfect one of which the 
voice only is capable." 

52 It seems strange that this proposal of Mersenne should not 
have attracted the attention of modern writers. To show how 
clearly it was expressed I quote his own words. Referring to flutes, 
he says : " Si Ton vouloit prendre la peine de les percer tellement, 
que le genre Diatonic estant d'un coste - , comme il est en effet, le 
Chromatic et l'Enharmonic fussent des deux autres costez, l'on 
executeroit aysdment tout ce que les Grecs ont sceu, avec un petit 
morceau de bois : mais je laisse cette recherche aux Facteurs, 
aussi bien que la recherche du Diapason necessaire pour les percer 
justement, quoy que les precedens monstrent les endroits des trous 
Diatoniques assez exactement pour en faire d'autres a 1'imitation." 
— Harmonie Universelle, Book v. Proposition ix. p. 243. 

So full was Mersenne of ideas to which the notion of applying 
closed keys to the flute had given rise, that he imagined an organ 
composed of four flutes with all their holes covered with these keys. 
Each of them was to be pierced with a sufficient number of holes to 
make nineteen notes, so that the three genera of music should be 
heard in their perfection. The instrument was to be " so light that 
any one could carry it as easily as a violin or a lute." The flutes were 
to be English, not German flutes ; each was to be of the compass of 
an octave, one above another ; their heads were to be inserted into 
a sound-board, and for portability they were to be made in joints. 


Now, if the makers, without troubling themselves 
about the refinements of the Greek intervals, had only 
bored the five additional holes which were required to 
enable the flute to " make all the semitones like the 
organ," the history of the " little piece of wood " with 
which Mersenne's sagacity had led him to perceive that 
such great things could be done, would have been 
shortened by something approaching a century and a 
half. But though the holy father's words were ringing 
in their ears, and his drawings were before their eyes, 

The way the keys were to be acted on was to be left to the makers, 
but Mersenne favoured the idea of a little drum, which would 
" make the diminutions and the cadences with greater exactness 
and rapidity than the fingers of the most skilful organist." In fact, 
it was to be a barrel-organ. He describes it as follows : 

"J'adiouste maintenant plusieurs choses qui n'ont pas este* 
remarquees, dont la premiere consiste a faire un Orgue si leger que 
chaqun le puisse porter aussi aysdment que le Violon, ou le Luth : 
ce qui arrivera si Ton use de quatre Fleutes douces, dont chacune 
ayt l'estendue d'une Octave l'une par dessus l'autre, a fin de leur 
donner estendue du clavier de l'Orgue, car Ton pourra ouvrir et 
boucher leur trous par le moyen de petits ressorts doublez de cuir, 
comme j'ay desia monstre" dans le cinquiesme livre des instrumens, 
lors que j'ay parle" de la Sourdeline, ou Musette de Naples, dans la 
trentiesme Proposition, et parce qu'elles se peuvent couper en 
plusieurs lieux, Ton pourra les assembler and les mettre en aussi 
pen de lieu que le Cervelat, ou 1'un des moindres Bassons, dont j'ay 
traite - dans ledit livre. 

" Quant au sommier, il suffit qu'il ayt quatre trous pour recevoir 
les quatre testes des quatre Fleutes ; je laisse le reste a la disposition 
des Facteurs, qui peuvent user d'un petit tambour, ou barillet, qui 
fera les diminutions et les cadences plus justes and plus vistes que 
les doigts des plus habiles Organistes : de sort que le mesme mouve- 
ment du tambour levera les soufflets, et ouvrira les soupapes, et les 
clefs de tous les trous des Fleutes, lesquels on peut faire en si grand 
nombre sur quatre Fleutes, que chaque Octave aura dix-neuf sons 
pour faire ouyr les trois genres de Musique en leur perfection : or 
il seroit plus ayse" d'accommoder ces Fleutes au Luth, ou a la 
Viole, que les autre tuyaux des Orgues." — Harmonie Universelle, 
Book vi. Proposition xxxix. p. 388. 


they made no attempt to follow out the investigation he 
had commended to them. However, after 
the lapse of thirty or forty years, one of 
Mersenne's countrymen summoned up 
courage, and took a step forward. There 
was one of the five semi-tones for which 
no wheezing substitute, good, bad, or in- 
different, could be found, and for this he 
had the temerity to construct a closed key. 
In Fig. 28, which is a drawing of an ebony 
one-keyed flute belonging to Mr. Snoeck, 
we see the little stranger. We also observe 
that the flute-makers, however little dis- 
posed they might have been to attend to 
Father Mersenne's suggestions, were ready 
enough to make changes of their own. 
The instrument is no longer in one piece, 
but is divided into three joints. The head 
and the middle meet each other within a 
massive ivory hoop, into a socket in which 
the pin is thrust. The head, too, is sur- 
mounted by an ivory cap, and the pear- 
shaped foot is composed wholly of that 
material. Vestiges of this use of ivory 
have survived till our own time in the 
tips and ferules with which the flute is 
sometimes ornamented. 

The changes the makers had introduced 
were not confined to the exterior, nor to 
the material of the instrument, they were 
accompanied by an alteration in the bore. 
In the head the bore still retains its 
cylindrical form and its diameter of six- 
eighths of an inch, but in the middle it 
has begun to taper slightly, the upper end 
of this joint being a sixteenth wider in the interior than 
the lower, and it diminishes another sixteenth in the foot, 


Fig. 28. — Early 
One-keyed Flute. 



thus making a total difference in the dia- 
meter of an eighth of an inch. 

Fig. 29 is another one-keyed flute, the 
property of Messrs. J. and R. Glen, on 
which the new-comer is not constructed 
of brass, as in the last example, but is 
honoured with the noble metal silver. In 
this instrument, which is made of box- 
wood stained, and bears the maker's name, 
Rippert, on each of its three joints, ivory 
is more sparingly used. In Fig. 30 we 
have a gentleman of the period (angel 
flautists having become scarce) performing 
on such a flute. 

The introduction of this key, one would 
think, must have been quickly followed by 
that of its four brethren, whose presence 
was so urgently needed. What deterred 
the makers ? They were frightened by an 
apparition ; the spectre of Perfection ap- 
peared and raised her threatening arm to 
stop the way. When an amateur timidly 
ventured to give expression to the opinion 
that the instrument placed in his hands 
was not free from some trifling defects, his 
professional master, a priest of Perfection, 
would turn fiercely on him with the crush- 
ing reply that it was not for the flute, but 
for his own fingers and his own lips that 
Perfection should be invoked ; 53 just as, at 

53 The following extract will give an idea of the 
way in which the pupil was addressed by his 
master : — " ... in regard to its (the one-keyed 
flute's) supposed imperfections, they are absolutely 
founded .on false principles, attributing that to the 
Instrument, which is in effect y e want of a good Ear or abilities in 
the Performer, whose (those ?) necessary requisites which only can 
enable him to make it appear what it realy is, and which indeed to 

Fig. 29. — One- 
keyed Flute 
by Rippert. 


Fig. 30. — Flute-player, from the ' Music Master,' 1730. 

Q 2 


the present day, when a sound, the intonation of which 
offends the ear, is heard to issue from Mr. Rockstro's 
model, we are told in language, if less brusque, certainly 
not less decided, that the note has been rendered false 
by unskilful blowing. 54 

Time sped. Half a century had rolled by since the 
key had seen the light, when the alarming discovery was 
made that the poor solitary little fellow had given offence 
to the hobgoblin that haunted the flute. The votaries 
of Perfection were commanded by the great Quantz to 
prostrate themselves before their fetish, and to go through 
the solemn farce of fingering, where it was possible, the 
buzzing apologies for the semitones which were as yet 
unprovided with holes, in such a way as to make believe in 
enharmonic differences ; thus the muffled wail which 
went by the name of B flat was to be fingered differently 
from the stifled moan called A sharp ; the strangled C 
sharp known as B sharp, from the asphyxiated D flat 

attain requires a closer attention than most Persons who undertake 
this Instrument will bestow on it. But to obtrude these remarks 
on the Judicious would be an affront to the understanding of those 
who have already experienced its perfections, and the agreable 
sensations it affords in the Hands of a skillfull Performer." This 
extract is taken from a code of instructions prefixed to a collection 
of Duets for two German Flutes, published by J. & J. Simpson, 
Sweetings Alley, Royal Exchange, which cannot have been printed 
long before the extra keys for the semitones were introduced. The 
same cry was raised when the perfection of the eight-keyed flute 
was called in question. "It is not the flute that is at fault," 
exclaims Old Howling Stick (p. 327), "but the man who sits 
behind it." In the present day the outpourings of the believers in 
the old system, who, like the battalions of Kosciusko, are 

"... few, but undismay'd," 

breathe a spirit of pious resignation. " Lord, forgive them, for they 
know not what they do," is the prayer of the sorrowful, but not too 
reverent Terschak. 

54 Rockstro on the Flute, section 367, p. 186; also section 759, 
p. 446. 


styled C natural. 65 The unhappy key, 
however, could only make D sharp, 
whilst Perfection demanded E flat as 

Quantz came to the rescue of the 
offender. He appeased the angry 
spirit by introducing a second key to 
carry out her behest, 66 and again the 

66 See the table of fingering given at the 
end of Quantz's Essay, or Rockstro on the 
Flute, section 436, p. 233. For F natural, 
one of the four notes for which holes were not 
provided on the one-keyed flute, no alternative 
fingering could be found. As regards the 
three others, A flat was fingered by Quantz 
differently from G sharp in the second, and 
C natural from B sharp, and A sharp from 
B flat, in both the first and the second 
octave: In the third octave alternative 
fingerings were not attempted. It will, of 
course, be understood that the alternative 
fingerings were not confined to the fork- 
fingered notes ; they were to be used, when 
possible, in all cases where it was required 
to distinguish between a major and a minor 
semitone. Whilst admitting that such theo- 
retical niceties of intonation could not be 
produced by the harpsichord, on which re- 
course was had to Temperature {sic) or Parti- 
cipation, yet, as they could easily be observed 
by singers and performers on instruments 
played with the bow, Quantz maintained that 
it was only right that they should be ex- 
pressed on the flute. It should be men- 
tioned that Quantz was not the first to pro- 
pose alternative fingerings. In a table of 
fingering for the one-keyed flute, published 
by Louis Hotteterre in 1699, more than fifty 
years before Quantz brought out his essay, 
G flat was fingered differently from F sharp, 
and D flat from C sharp. 

56 The naivete' with which Quantz informs 
his readers that, as he learnt by little and 

Fig. 31. — Flute of Quantz 
showing separate Keys for 
DJ and Et\ enlarged from 
the Drawing in his Essay. 


tyrant reigned supreme. However, after wielding the 
sceptre till the last two decades of the eighteenth century 
were drawing near, Perfection yielded, and the four other 
closed keys necessary to enable the " little piece of 
wood " to " make all the semitones like the organ " were 
allowed to take their places on the instrument. 57 But 
still the ghostly voice was not silenced ; to this day 
Perfection continues to force from time to time her fitful 
accents on the ear, but her cry, like the song of the 
banshee, is ill omened ; it tells of the death of progress 
and improvement. 

But we are forgetting our trial. The Court is sitting, 
the libellers of Boehm are at the bar, and Mr. Rockstro 
is in the witness-box. 

The closed keys held their own for about sixty years, 
when they were called upon to make way for their open- 
standing successors. There are two principles which 
underlie the Boehm system : one that the holes should 
be fairly equal in size, the other that the keys should 
remain open when not in use. The Boehm flute did not 

little to understand the nature of the flute, he discovered that 
there was still a trifling defect (" un petit deTaut ") to be found in 
this otherwise immaculate instrument, is truly charming (ch. i. 8). 
Writing twenty years after he had remedied this defect by means 
of his second key, he is puzzled to account for the circumstance 
that his invention had not come into general use. Either its 
utility, he thinks, cannot have been recognised, or else players 
were dismayed by the difficulty it involved — a difficulty which he 
takes the trouble to prove to be little more than imaginary (ch. 
iii. 9). What would he have said had he known that flute-players 
were destined to encounter the difficulties of eight, and even four- 
teen keys ? As for the Boehm fingering, it would make him turn in 
his grave. 

67 The precise date of the application of these keys to the flute is 
involved in obscurity, nor is it known with certainty by whom they 
were introduced. The subject is discussed by Mr. Victor Mahillon 
(Encyclopedia Britannica, ninth edition, art. Transverse Flute), 
and by Mr. Rockstro {Treatise on the Flute, sections 452, 455, 
pp. 243, 245). 


see the light until 1832, but in the year previous Captain 
Gordon made his appearance in London with a flute on 
which he had attempted to carry out both of these 
principles. Gordon then was in the field before Boehm. 
So Clinton, who only knew of three " palpable " flute- 
irnprovers, Nicholson, Gordon, and Boehm, jumped to 
the conclusion that it was the "sagacity" of Gordon 
that " laid the foundation " of these principles, which he 
believed to be new. 

We have just seen how ill-founded was this assertion 
as far as regards the rearrangement of the holes, but 
was it true in relation to the idea of an open-keyed 
system ? Turning to Mr. Rockstro, we elicit from him, 
in answer to this question, that it was not to Gordon, 
but to Tromlitz, who died in 1805, twenty years before 
Gordon took up the subject of flute reform, that "we are 
perhaps more deeply indebted than to any other flute- 
constructor for the excellent system of open keys now 
in vogue, as it was he who first conceived the idea of 
extending the application of the open finger-holes of the 
primitive diatonic flute to the chromatic one of more 
recent times." 58 

The idea, then, of the open-keyed system was not 
originated by Gordon. Nor was it through Gordon 
that Boehm became acquainted with this idea. We 
have only to look at the drawing of his first model 
(Fig. 17, p. 206) to see that he had already opened one 
of the keys, that for F natural, on the flute he showed 
Gordon when he came to call upon him ; a circumstance 
which gives us an insight into his meaning when he told 
him, in the conversation which took place on the occa- 
sion, that it was his intention to endeavour, on his return 
to Munich, to construct an improved flute. The task 
he had to accomplish was to extend to the whole of the 
flute the two principles, the equalisation of the holes and 
the opening of the keys, which he had already in his 
58 Rockstro on the Flute, section 842, p. 551. 


first model applied to a part of the instrument. The 
mechanism by means of which he succeeded in carrying 
out his undertaking will be treated of when we come to 
the fifth count of our indictment. 

Fourthly, the fingering of the Boehm flute. 

How many times has Boehm been charged with 
copying his fingering from Gordon, but how few of those 
who have heard the statement repeated again and again 
have taken the pains to ascertain for themselves how 
far it can be sustained ! 

To render a comparison easy I will place together in 
a tabular form the fingering of each note on the two flutes 
in the first register from C 1 to CJf 2 and leave the 
reader to judge for himself what foundation there is for 
Coche's assertion that these two instruments, though 
they differ in mechanism, have the same fingerings. 69 

69 " II faut observer que ces trois instrumens [Gordon's, 
Boehm's, and Coche's] diffe'rents quant au me'canisme ont d'ailleurs 
les memes doigtes." This appears on the title-page of Coche's 
Mithode pour servir a Venseignement de la nouvelle Flute, In- 
vents par Gordon, modifide par Boehm et perfectionnie par V. 
Coche et Buffet J™. 

Mr. Rockstro would pin Clinton to a statement almost as mis- 
leading by quoting the following passage : — " To take a general 
view of the subject, we find, practically, there are but two 
systems of fingering in existence — that of the old eight-keyed flute, 
and that of Gordon, known in this country as the Boehm flute." 
Had Mr. Rockstro only continued and finished the sentence, he 
would have allowed Clinton to make his meaning clear, for he adds, 
" the former being on the shut and the latter on the open-keyed 
principle." The open-keyed principle, it is needless to say, admits 
of an infinite variety of fingerings. There is Gordon's fingering, 
Boehm's fingering, Carte's fingering, Radcliff's fingering, all on this 
principle, and the list could be doubled. 

Clinton never intended to assign to Gordon the credit of the 
Boehm fingering, as the following from the same pamphlet (A 
Few Practical Hints to Flute Players) shows : — " Mr. Boehm 
made a step in the right direction by following up Gordon's plan of 
equal size and distance in the arrangement of the holes ; by those 
means he rendered the instrument infinitely superior to the old 
flute. His system of fingering, too, is by far the best for open 



is fingered by 
Boehm Gordon 

By putting down the little finger By putting down the little finger 
of the right hand. of the left hand. 

By putting down the little finger By putting down the little finger 
of the right hand. of the left hand. 


By taking up the little finger of By putting down the little finger 
the right hand. of the right hand. 

By putting down the littie finger By taking up the little finger of 
of the right hand. the right hand. 


As on the old flute. As on the old flute. 


Taken by Gordon from Boehm. 


Taken by Gordon from Boehm. 
By putting down the little finger By taking up the little finger of 
of the left hand. the left hand. 

G# . 
By taking up the little finger of By putting down the little finger 
the left hand. of the left hand. 

As on the old flute. As on the old flute. 


By putting down the first finger By putting down the first finger 
of the right hand. of the right hand. 

keys that has ever appeared ; still we should not allow admiration 
for his efforts to blind us to the shortcomings of his instrument." 

So violently opposed was Clinton to the open-keyed system that 
he wrote, " The conclusion I have drawn from the end of my labours 
is, that no other system than the shut-keyed can ultimately succeed, 
while any attempt to improve the open-keyed must end in dis- 
appointment and failure." 


Boehm. Gordon. 

By putting down the left thumb. By putting down the left thumb. 

By taking up the left thumb. By taking up the left thumb. 

As on the old flute. As on the old flute. 

It will thus be seen that when we take away those 
notes which are fingered as their representatives on the 
old flute, and those for the fingering of which Gordon 
acknowledges that he is indebted to Boehm, there 
remain but three out of the fourteen which are fingered 
in the same way by Boehm and Gordon, and Mr. 
Rockstro has furnished us with evidence that two out 
of these three fingerings (B natural and C natural fingered 
with the left thumb) were not new ; 60 thus leaving one 
only (B flat fingered with the first finger of the right 
hand), which cannot be shown not to have been origi- 
nated by Gordon. 

Fifthly, the ring-keys. 

We now come to the last and incomparably the most 
important point, the ring-key introduced to the world 
by Boehm. To say that the inventor of this ring- 
key was the inventor of the Boehm flute would, of 
course, be an exaggeration ; but to the inventor of this 
ring-key undoubtedly belongs the credit of making the 
Boehm flute a possibility. Boehm, it is true, makes 
light of the invention : it is easier, he says, to invent 
keys than to improve notes. Never did a man make 
a greater mistake. It might have been easier to him, 
for he was a born genius as an inventor, and to him, as 
he has told us, his inventions seemed to be mere trifles 
which did not occur to the minds of others at the right 
moment. But the inventive faculty is a rare natural gift. 

60 Rockstro on the Flute, sections 564, 565, pp. 308-9. 


Long before Boehm's time Tromlitz and others had 
improved notes, but they had all failed to reform the 
instrument because they could not invent keys. The 
problem was how to enable nine fingers to act on eleven 
holes, and the problem was solved by the invention of 
this ring-key. To show that the charge brought against 
Boehm of taking the idea from Gordon was as false as 
it was defamatory, we have only to appeal to our touch- 
stone, Boehm's first model (Fig. 1 7, b, c, p. 206), where we 
find it in existence before he had seen that gentleman. 
How then did this ring-key originate ? 

When I first interested myself in this inquiry two 
views of its origin were entertained : the Boehmites 
declared it to be an original invention of Boehm, whilst 
the Gordonites were equally positive that it was a 
modification of Gordon's crescents. It occurred to me, 
when I was putting together the materials of this book, 
that possibly both of the disputants might be mistaken ; 
and I set to work, as already narrated in these pages, 
to endeavour to ascertain whether any traces could be 
found of the existence of ring-keys before Boehm or 
Gordon appeared on the scene. My efforts, however, 
proved fruitless, and I was on the point of giving up the 
search, when I bethought me of a sepulchre of inven- 
tion, where rest in peace the countless offspring of pro- 
jectors' brains — the Patent Office. 

In this charnel-house of ingenuity, haunted by the 
lingering shades of dreams of wealth and fame, the 
lifeless forms of the progeny of genius, encoffined in 
portfolios, and entombed like the Mauleverers upright, 
sleep in their blue shrouds in thousands. Thither I 
repaired, and I had not gone far with the task (no 
pleasant one) of disinterring them from the unstratified 
deposits of soot and dust beneath which they were so 
deeply buried, 61 when there came to light a ring-key in 

61 In justice to the authorities, I ought to say that the place has 
now (1891) been properly cleaned. 


its very inception ; a ring-key which had fallen unnoticed 
from the womb of talent, immature and still-born. 

More than eighty years ago a clergyman in deacon's 
orders conceived the daring design of taking out a 
patent for certain improvements in the construction of 
finger-holed instruments, "whereby," to use his own 
words, " they receive greater Truth of Tone, and give 
more Facility in Playing the Flat and Sharp Notes, 
than is produced by such Instruments now in Use." 
This ambitious young flute reformer, who was the 
last surviving head of an old family, afterwards became 
a distinguished personage in the world of theology 
and letters ; indeed we learn from his epitaph that 
he was " endued with intellect of the highest order, 
adorned with learning of rarely equalled extent, and 
distinguished by every virtue which could adorn the 
Christian minister, the husband and the friend." Yet, 
such is the irony of fate, his youthful exploit, the inven- 
tion of a key for the flute, bids fair to be remembered 
long after his learning, his piety, and his social virtues 
are forgotten. 62 

In order to enable the finger which plays " the regular 
diatonick note " to act on " the acute semitone " of this 
note, Doctor, then Mr., Nolan proposed to cover the 

62 Frederick Nolan was born in Ireland in 1780 or 1781. In 
1796 he was sent to Trinity College, Dublin. In 1803 he entered 
as a Gentleman Commoner at Exeter College, Oxford. He was 
ordained deacon in 1806, and'priest in 1809. In 1828 he took the 
Oxford degrees of B.C.L. and D.C.L. by accumulation. He was 
Boyle Lecturer in 1812-15, Bampton Lecturer in 1833, and War- 
burton Lecturer in 1833-37. He was elected a member of the 
Royal Society of Literature in 1828, and of the Royal Society in 
1832. He was also an honorary member of the Statistical Society 
of Paris. In 1822 he was presented to the Vicarage of Prittlewell, 
in Essex, and he retained it until his death in 1864. The titles of 
fifteen of his principal published works will be found in the 
Gentleman's Magazine for 1864, vol. ii. p. 788. He left a mass of 
manuscripts on important subjects which were to be offered to the 
Trustees of the British Museum. 


hole for this semitone with the valve of an open-standing 
key, and to place the tail or touch of this key over the 
hole for " the regular diatonick note." In the touch a 
perforation was to be made (e, Fig. 32) through which 
the diatonic note could issue when the valve, which 
closed the hole for the acute semitone, was pressed down 
{g, Fig. 32). What remained of the touch after the 
perforation was made assumed the form of a ring 
(e, Figs. 32 and 34). 

Now Mr. Rockstro, who has followed me to the 
Patent Office, satisfied himself of the correctness of my 

Fig. 32.— Nolan's Perforated Key, after the engraving in the published 
specification of his patent. 

account of Dr. Nolan's invention, and has repeated in 
his Treatise on the Flute the quotation given in this 
work from the specification of his patent, is of opinion 
that the perforated key of Nolan is the veritable embryo 
from which the ring-key, such as it appeared on the 
Boehm flute, was developed ; so that, if he is correct in 
his judgment, this invention has been here traced to 
its birth, and even caught in the very act of its con- 

A glance at the drawing will show that the performer, 
on placing his finger on the perforation in the key, would 
close, by one and the same movement, two holes. But 


in order to virtually increase the number of the fingers, 
he must be able to close them not only together, but 
separately. This Dr. Nolan endeavoured to accomplish 
in the following way : when the player had occasion to 
close the valve whilst leaving the uncovered hole open, 
he was required, either to place his finger on the shank 
of the key, above the perforation, or else to fasten down 
the key with a catch f. The catch worked on a pin 
passing through a small hole shown in Fig. 33. 

Unfortunately Dr. Nolan was too much occupied 
with his studies as a scholar and a divine to make 



Fig. 33. — Nolan's Catch. Fig. 34. — Portion of Nolan's Flute. 

himself a master of the technique of the art of drawing, 
so that it is not easy to say with certainty what he 
intended to portray in his design, as it is represented in 
the printed specification of his patent. However, on 
adjourning, from the Patent to the Record Office, and 
causing to be unrolled the parchment cerements which 
enveloped this supposed progenitor of the ring-key, and 
Dr. Nolan's own drawing to be brought to light, the catch 
appeared in situ, as it is represented in Fig. 34. There are 
also indications which give reason for believing that the 
Reverend inventor intended to show that the ring, when 
pressed down, was sunk in the substance of the wood, 63 

63 Dr. Nolan directs that his perforated key should be so bored 
through the touch as " to be completely stopped by the finger which 
presses the key down," but he omits to state 
how the stopping is to be effected. To an 
expert as a draughtsman it would seem that 
at e (Fig. 32) the doctor intended to depict the 
under surface of the perforation in his key, and that he wished to 
show that it was furnished with a groove as here represented. 


and it will be seen that on moving the finger slightly 
sideways, the catch would be pushed aside, and the key 

Now it was in the means thus adopted for conferring 
this power of closing the two holes one without the 
other that Dr. Nolan failed. The reason is obvious. 
No player would have time in a rapid passage to release 
a catch, or to slide his finger from a hole to the shank 
of a key. 

This difficulty was surmounted in the simplest of 
simple ways, by repeating Dr. Nolan's own idea: by 
abolishing the catch and substituting for it a second 
perforated key, acted on by another finger, to do the 
catch's work. Fig. 35 shows such a piece of mechanism 
as it appeared on Boehm's first model ; c representing 
the first or original perforated key, and 
b the second added to take the place of the 
catch. 64 

To whom did this happy thought occur ? t 
Surely so ingenious an idea could not have 
been originated by the benighted intelli- 
gence of the " ignorant impostor." Yet I 
Mr. Rockstro expresses the opinion that 
Boehm copied Nolan's key. 65 But if he Fi f; r |5 -b oehm 's 
copied it, who but he introduced the 
second perforated lever? Thus our Balaam, whilst 
cursing Boehm by branding him with the stigma of 
copying another man's invention, assigns to him the 
credit of making this great advance in the construction 
of the ring-key. 

But the ring-key was not yet complete. In the form 
in which it appeared on Boehm's first model its use was 

64 In the original drawing the draughtsman has omitted to 
indicate the junction of the two levers. In the engraving, for the 
sake of illustration, it has been placed at d, but it was probably 
somewhat lower down. 

6 "' Rockstro on the Flute, section 593, p. 330. 



Fig. 36. — Boehm 
Flute of 1832. 

still limited ; in order to make it available 
for general purposes it was necessary that 
the jointed lever should be replaced by an 
axle. The account Mr. Rockstro gives of 
the introduction of the axle is that Boehm, 
not being satisfied with the ring-key thus 
made with jointed levers on his first model, 
"contrived the now discarded mechan- 
ism " 66 of the ring-key as it appeared on 
the Boehm flute of 1832 (Fig. 36). In this 
mechanism, so scornfully described as. dis- 
carded, was the axle ; but the axle, so far 
from being discarded, is in universal use to 
this day. It is not the axle which has been 
discarded, but the appendage to the axle, 
the arm b (Fig. 36), which has been super- 
seded by the clutch invented by Buffet. 

If, then, we are to accept Mr. Rockstro's 
version of the history of the ring-key, this 
invention was originated by Nolan and com- 
pleted by Buffet ; but we must admit that 
the two most important contributions, the 
second ring and the axle, owe their exist- 
ence to the ingenuity of Boehm. 

I have now passed in review the five 
accusations brought against Boehm. I 
have pointed out that when examined by 
the light of evidence the validity of which 
Mr. Rockstro does not dispute, they can be 
shown, with the exception of the fingering 
of a single note, to be devoid of founda- 
tion. Whether Boehm did or did not get 
the idea of the fingering of this note (B 
flat) from Gordon is a question to which 
we have no means of returning a satisfac- 
tory answer. It will, of course, be under- 

66 Rockstro on the Flute, section 607, p. 340. 


stood that Coche and Clinton (unless we feel bound to 
except certain of Coche's statements 67 ) are not charged 
with wilful and deliberate falsehood ; their crime — for it 
is a crime — was that they allowed jealousy of Boehm 
to convert their ignorance into a cloak for malicious- 
ness, and accused him of -stealing from Gordon ideas of 
the origin of which they had no knowledge. 
. It is to Mr. Rockstro that Boehm is chiefly indebted 
for clearing his character, as it. is he who has dispersed 
the mist which enshrouded that period of the history of 
the flute, which immediately preceded the time when 
Boehm and Gordon appeared on the scene. It is there- 
fore not without interest that we ask what part of his 
flute, irrespective of the B flat key just mentioned, 
Mr. Rockstro believes Boehm to have copied from 
Gordon. We ask, but we ask in vain. Will it be credited 
that when we interrogate him on this point, the answer we 
get from his book is, " much." The man who holds up 
Boehm to scorn and detestation as having invited Gordon 
to his house to rob, deceive, and lead him astray, shelters 
himself behind the indefinite " much." 

Can we imagine a person going into a court of justice 
to prefer a charge of stealing, and when placed in the 
witness-box and called upon to state what had been 
stolen, proceeding to ejaculate "much"? The judge 
would instantly tell him that if he were treated according 
to his deserts he would be transferred to the dock and 
committed to prison for instituting so frivolous, vexatious, 
and malicious a prosecution ; unless, indeed, he came to 
the charitable conclusion that his head was affected, and 

67 I have already drawn attention to Coche's statement respect- 
ing the identity of the fingering of Boehm and Gordon. Another 
of his assertions seems, if possible, still more difficult to reconcile 
with a due regard for veracity. Whilst professing to be engaged in 
fulfilling the duty he owed to himself " to ascertain the truth " he 
attributes to Boehm words which not only had he never used, but 
which bear a meaning precisely contrary to that of those he had 
really written. See his attack on Boehm, p. 125, note 3. 



that he ought to be placed under medical care. In any 
case there is a bar to which he could not escape being 
brought, and that is the bar of public opinion. 

Perhaps it might be of interest, as a psychological 
study, if we were to trace the mental process by which 
Mr. Rockstro has been brought to the belief that Boehm 
did copy " much " from Gordon. Our universal genius, 
having exhausted the resources of science and history, 
has had recourse to logic. But logic is a dangerous art 
to play with ; a man who invokes its aid to throw dust 
into the eyes of others may unexpectedly find that he 
has blinded himself. Thus the modern Balaam having 
duly saddled and mounted his logical animal, is unable 
to see the Angel of Truth who is standing in the way, 
with his sword drawn in his hand, to bar the poor ass's 

To give his logical steed a preliminary canter, Mr. 
Rockstro puts her through the following syllogism : — 

Gordon loyally acknowledged everything that he 
borrowed from Boehm ; 

Gordon did not acknowledge that he borrowed any- 
thing from Boehm but the key for closing the G natural 
hole ; 

Therefore Gordon borrowed nothing else from Boehm. 

Nothing could be more decisive than this brilliant 
logical tour de force ; but unfortunately, as a matter of 
fact, Gordon did borrow another key, in addition to this, 
and, as I will show further on, loyally acknowledged his 
obligation to Boehm. 68 

68 See infra, p. 271. Not only did Gordon borrow these two 
keys from Boehm, but, following Boehm's advice, he adopted for 
the most part the position of the holes of his (Boehm's) flute. So 
says Boehm in his letter to Coche, and he repeats the statement in 
his book of 1847. Mr. Rockstro, however, declares this assertion 
to be " so opposed to all trustworthy evidence at our command that 
it may be dismissed without further comment" {Treatise on the 
Flute, section 608, p. 341), and he adds, " this statement of Boehm's 
has been expunged in the English translation of his book." In 


Mr. Rockstro now plunges into his argument to prove 
that Boehm borrowed " much " from Gordon. This 
argument is based on two assumptions ; one, that what 
Gordon borrowed from Boehm was but little, although 
Boehm declares it to be an essential part of his inven- 
tion ; the other, that there is a close resemblance between 
Gordon's flute and Boehm's " in the general principles 
of their construction and fingering," whereas nine men 
out of ten would say, on comparing the two instruments, 
that the difference was greater than the resemblance. 69 
With such statements as premisses Mr. Rockstro proceeds 
with his reasoning, but when we expect him to bring 
forward another sweeping syllogism, our logician sud- 
denly climbs down, and throws his conclusion into the 
form of a humble enthymeme, thus : " As Gordon 
obviously borrowed little from Boehm, much must have 
been borrowed by Boehm from Gordon." 

dismissing the assertion without comment, Mr. Rockstro has 
exercised a wise discretion, for, had he commented on it, he could 
scarcely have avoided saying whether there is, or is not, in 
existence one scrap of evidence, trustworthy or untrustworthy, 
beyond Boehm's assertion. Ward informed Mr. Rockstro that the 
position of the holes of the flute he made for Gordon was deter- 
mined by the divisions of the monochord {Treatise on the Flute, 
section 599, p. 335). Seeing that Mr. Rockstro, as I have already 
mentioned (note, p. 186), states that this method is fallacious, to 
me, I confess, it does not seem improbable that Gordon when, 
having ceased to employ Ward, he was working in Boehm's factory, 
should have taken Boehm's advice as to the position of the holes of 
his flute. 

As regards the alleged expunging in " the English translation " 
of Boehm's book, the book in question has been translated into 
French, but no English translation of it has ever appeared. The 
Essay on the Construction of Flutes, which Mr Broadwood edited, 
is not a translation, but an English version of the work, altered 
and abridged by Boehm himself. It is certain that the expunging 
process has not been resorted to by Mr. Broadwood, for no such 
words as those stated to have been expunged appear in the 

C9 The two instruments are figured side by side at p. 273. 

R 2 


Why does the mountain in labour, instead of thunder- 
ing forth a syllogism, and shaking the earth beneath our 
feet, quietly usher into the world the ridiculus mus of an 
enthymeme ? For a very good reason. An enthymeme, 
it is needless to mention, is a syllogism with one premiss 
suppressed, and Mr. Rockstro's major, which he here 
suppresses, is false. It is assumed (this being assump- 
tion number three) that instruments between which there 
is a close resemblance, must be copied one from the 
other ; a proposition which it is as impossible to 
establish, as it would be to prove that one pea is copied 
from another, because two peas are alike. The various 
pianofortes, on so many different systems, closely 
resemble each other in " the general principles of their 
construction and fingering"; but the fingering of the 
pianoforte was in use, and the general principles of its 
construction carried out on the clavichord, the spinet, and 
the harpsichord long before the hammer was introduced 
into the instrument. Both Gordon and Boehm took up 
and added to the ideas of the flute reformers by whom 
they were preceded, but if Gordon contributed even so 
much as a link to the chain of ideas which led up to the 
Boehm flute, the secret has perished with Boehm. The 
attempts to identify such a link have failed, as we have 
seen, even when made with eyes sharpened by jealousy 
and self-interest. It is far more illogical and a greater 
abuse of language to call the Boehm flute Gordon's, than 
it would be to assert that a Broadwood pianoforte was a 
Cristofori, an Erard a Broadwood, or a Chickering an 
Erard. 70 

70 The following is Mr. Rockstro's argument in extenso : — " Now 
if Gordon had acknowledged having made use of any contrivance of 
Boehm's, besides the one in question (the F sharp key), it is not 
reasonable to suppose that Boehm would have suppressed the 
information ; therefore we have the following syllogism : Gordon 
loyally acknowledged everything that he borrowed from Boehm. 
Gordon did not acknowledge that he borrowed from Boehm any- 


We are too prone to forget how complex a thing is 
mechanical invention. Inventions are not brought into 
existence like the Goddess Minerva who leaped, full- 
grown and armed, from the head of Jupiter, when Vulcan 
cleft his pregnant skull ; they spring from the efforts 
of many minds, and come into being by a process of 
evolution. The inventor is not necessarily the originator 
of the ideas crystallised in the thing invented ; he is the 
man whose master-mind welds these ideas together, and 
reduces them to a practical form. In his endeavours to 
accomplish the purpose he has in view, he, like the poet 
and the musician, seeks for ideas from without as well 
as from within. Behind him there may, and often do 
stand, seen or unseen, known or unknown, many experi- 
menters, designers, and suggesters, and it is almost 
always difficult, and sometimes quite impossible for 
even a bystander, much less a stranger, to ascertain the 
source from which the inventor's ideas spring. I will 
give an instance. 

The mechanism of the flute known as the 1867 patent 
is the invention of Mr. Richard Carte. In 'Musical 
Opinion ' of January 1, 1 890, Mr. Benjamin Wells, writing, 
I have not the slightest doubt, in the most perfect 
good faith, states as follows: — "In the year 1867, Mr. 
George Spencer, an amateur flautist who took a deep 
interest in flutes and flute-players, and more particularly, 

thing but the idea of the key for closing the G natural hole. 
Therefore Gordon borrowed nothing else from Boehm. 

" It is clear that in the construction of his flute Gordon freely 
adopted the ideas of his predecessors, and it is equally clear that 
it was not to Boehm that he was indebted, except in the instance 
above mentioned, and considering the close resemblance between 
the two flutes in the general principles of their construction and 
fingering, it may be further argued, irrespectively of the direct 
evidence on the subject, that as Gordon obviously borrowed little 
from Boehm, much must have been borrowed by Boehm from 
Gordon." — Treatise on the Ftute, section 605. p. 338. 



being an engineer, in the mechanical construction of the 
instrument, suggested that the complicated mechanism 
necessary for the long F natural key (played with the 
little finger of the left hand) might be dispensed with by 
doing away with the hole on that side altogether, and 
making another, to be played with the first finger of 

Fig. 37. — Development of Carte's '67 Flute (No. 1). 

the right hand. This was done, and the 1867 patent 
sprang into existence." This instrument, then, should 
be called, not the Carte, but the Spencer flute. Yet, as 
a matter of fact, it was not from Mr. Spencer that 
Mr. Carte derived the idea of how to dispense with the 
complicated mechanism necessary for the side-hole by 
doing away with this hole and making another at the 
top, but from your humble servant. This idea, instead 
of being elaborated in the brain of an engineer, originated 

& a 

Fig. 38. — Development of Carte's '67 Flute (No. 2). 

in the fortuitous circumstance that I once accidentally 
injured my right forefinger. 

In Mr. Carte's flute of 1851, a portion of which is 
represented in Fig. 37, the hole referred to {a) was 
placed by Mr. Carte at the side of the flute because 
there seemed to be no room for it on the top, the place 
required for it being occupied by the finger-plate b ; 
the idea of placing one key over another, simple as it 


seems when once thought of, never having occurred to 
him. I played at one time on Carte's 185 1 flute, and 
for the accommodation of my damaged digit, I had this 
finger-plate b raised up as represented in Fig. 38. 

It now became apparent that another hole with its 
key could be placed under the upraised finger-plate, and 
accordingly I designed for my own use a flute as repre- 
sented in Fig. 39, in which amongst other changes 
the hole a was thus placed, the complex mechanism, 
necessary when it was at the side, abolished, and a 


Fig. 39.— Development of Carte's '67 Flute (No. 3).™ 

better action secured, although the long F natural key 
c, now brought across the flute, was still retained. 

This was in October 1865. I have before me the 
drawings I drew at the time for Messrs. Rudall & Co.'s 

71 The axle on which the valves for covering the E, the F natural, 
and the F sharp holes work is here brought over to the side of the 
instrument opposite to that on which it was placed on Carte's 185 1 
flute. The object of this change was to enable me to carry the 
action upwards, and so to establish a connection with the valve 
covering Carte's open D hole. This arrangement enabled me 
to make C sharp with either the second or the third finger of the 
right hand, and so to dispense when I pleased with the use of the 
third finger of the left hand for the purpose, and thus to get over 
what was to me the chief drawback to the use of that valuable 
invention the open D, the work it throws upon the third finger, this 
finger being in the majority of persons ill adapted, from an anatomi- 
cal cause, for independent action. The closed F natural key d, 
with its hole, is also brought to the side of the flute opposite to that 
which it formerly occupied, but only to avoid the disadvantage 
of having three axles together on one side. Its action is precisely 
the same as it was before, and the axle is carried up to make B flat 
as on Carte's flute. 


workman, James Collins by name, who made the flute, 
and they bear this date. On my bringing this plan for 
placing the side hole at the top, under the finger-plate, 
to the notice of Mr. Carte, he at once gave orders for a 
flute to be made for himself with this change carried 
out ; but of the origin of the idea of substituting a 
second finger-plate for the long F natural key, and of 
the other changes brought about in the 1867 flute, as 
represented in Fig. 40, I know nothing. 

Fig. 40. — Development of Carte's '67 Flute (No. 4). 

On the subject of mechanical invention Boehm has 
made remarks which are so well expressed and so 
appropriate, that I make no apology for quoting them. 
" If it were desirable and possible," he says, " to analyse 
all the inventions that have from time to time been 
brought forward, we should find that in scarcely any 
instance were they the offspring of the brain of a single 
individual, but that all progress is gradual only ; each 
worker follows in the track of his predecessor, and 
eventually perhaps advances a step beyond him. I was 
myself," he adds, " never at a loss for an idea, and have 
often helped others onwards towards success ; it depends 
frequently on some mere trifle, which may not occur to 
a man's mind at the right moment." 72 

We have now disposed of the charges brought against 
Boehm of stealing Gordon's ideas. We have seen 
Mr. Rockstro driven from point to point by the evidence 
of facts which he has himself been the means of bringing 
to light, until at last he was forced to fall back on 
sophistry as weak and hollow as it was transparent 

72 Essay on the Construction of Flutes, p. 5 3. 


We shall next find him blackening the memory of the 
Munich inventor by confounding fact with fiction and 
allowing himself to accept as an actual occurrence a fig- 
ment evolved from the inner consciousness. 

Let us return to our historical narrative. We left 
Gordon in London calling upon Boehm to consult him 
about his flute. We saw that Boehm promised to make 
a flute for him, and also that he informed him that it 
was his intention on his return home to construct an 
improved flute. 

We have no information which will enable us to fix 
the date of Boehm's departure from London. The last 
concert at which he is reported in ' The Harmonicon ■* to 
have played was Hummel's which was given on the 20th 
of June. If he followed the example of the majority of 
the foreign artists who visit our shores, he left London 
at the close of the season, and this would bring him back 
to Munich in July, August, or September. 73 On his return 
he tells us, he immediately set to work, and in the 
following year (1832) his new flute was finished. 

We hear nothing more of Gordon until 1833. On the 
[ 5th of February of that year he wrote to Boehm re- 
minding him of his promise to make a flute on his 
model, and referring to the improved flute Boehm had 
told him he intended to try to construct on his return 
home. 74 In his reply Boehm suggested that Gordon 
should come to Munich, and superintend in person 
the fabrication of his instrument. Gordon came, and 
Boehm placed at his disposal a small private room in 
the upper part of his dwelling, and gave up to him his 
best workman. 

Now comes an important question. When Gordon 
reached Munich, was the flute Boehm had told him that 

73 Since this was written, Boehm's passport has come to light. 
It shows that he passed through Strasbourg on his way home on 
the 8th of September. 

74 The letter will be found at p. 95. 


he intended to make on his return home, constructed, or 
was it not? Boehm, as we have seen, was not only- 
acquainted with the two principles which underlie the 
invention, the opening of the keys, and the equalisation 
of the holes, but had already in his first model, made in 
London, applied these principles to the right-hand part 
of the flute. It cannot be said that he had not had 
ample time for carrying out his project ; there was what 
remained of 1831, ihe whole of 1832, and the early part 
of 1833. That during this period he had completed his 
flute, we have not only his own testimony, but that of 
Professor Schafhautl who was on terms of intimacy with 
him, and informs us that he was an eye-witness of his 
" innumerable " experiments. 

But in deciding the question we are not dependent 
solely on the testimony of Boehm and his friend Dr. 
Schafhautl. We have evidence from other sources. 
'The Harmonicon,' mentioned above, was a monthly 
musical periodical which was published in London from 
1821 to 1833. It had a correspondent at Munich who 
chronicled and expressed his opinion upon the chief 
musical events of that city, his criticism being dis- 
tinguished by intelligence, judgment, and discrimina- 
tion. He began to contribute to ' The Harmonicon' soon 
after it was established, and continued to do so up 
to the time it ceased to appear. In the August 
number, 1833, after noticing a performance of Handel's 
'Alexander's Feast' and the dtbut of a singer in ' La Gazza 
Ladra,' he went on to say, "The Royal Hofmusikus 
Bohm has, by his great mechanical talents, given such 
perfection to the flute, that all the tones of the instru- 
ment are rendered equally full, pure, and vibrating. Its 
pianos are uncommonly sweet and delicate, and the 
fortes exceed by far the power of an ordinary flute. In 
addition to these advantages, this new instrument pre- 
sents an equal facility in all the keys, the most difficult 
not excepted. Although Mr. Bohm has only practised 
this new instrument for about six months, his execution 


on it is almost as great as on the flute hitherto in use. 75 
He is on the point of setting out on a professional 
journey to England." 

Now, if we trace the statements here made to the 
source from which, as there can be but little doubt, 
the Munich correspondent of ' The Harmonicon ' derived 
his information, we find that they were published at 
Munich three months before they found their way to the 
pages of 'The Harmonicon ' in London. They appeared 
in a periodical entitled ' Der Bazar,' edited by M. G. 
Saphir. In the issue of Thursday, April 25th,, 1833, 
there was a report of a grand vocal and instrumental 
concert, given at the Odeon. The report was signed 
with the letter P, the initial of the nom de plume, Pellisov, 
of Dr. Schafhautl. 76 The concert, which opened with 
the first movement of Beethoven's symphony in D major, 
was arranged by Herr Treichlinger, a violin artist, who 
was the conductor of the orchestra of the " Theater an 
der Wien," at Vienna. The following is a translation of 
an extract from the report : — 

"Variations for the newly invented flute of our ex- 
cellent Bohm concluded the first part of the concert. 
Bohm has succeeded, thanks to his extraordinary talent 

75 This paragraph gives Mr. Rockstro a fine opportunity for the 
display of his imaginative powers, and for showing his faith in 
the credulity of his readers. To admit that the instrument on 
which Boehm was playing in the spring or summer of 1833 was 
the Boehm flute would be fatal to his contention that at this time 
Boehm was engaged in leading Gordon " off the scent " in order to 
appropriate his invention. He would therefore have us believe 
that the instrument, here referred to as new, was not the improved 
flute Boehm told Gordon he was going home to construct, but 
Gerock & Wolfs flute, which he had made in London in the year 
1 83 1, two years before this time. Unfortunately for Mr. Rockstro's 
prolific imagination, the writer of the account, from which the 
Munich correspondent of The Harmonicon appears to have derived 
his intelligence, mentions that the new instrument involved a total 
change ot fingering, whereas, in Gerock and Wolf's flute, Boehm's 
object was to reform the holes, and yet " to retain as many notes in 
the old way of fingering as seemed feasible" (see p. 85). 

76 See infra, p. 35, note 3. 


for mechanical devices in so remodelling the flute, this 
the most delicate and feeble of all orchestral instruments, 
that it will henceforth rank with the most perfect of 
wind instruments. The tones of this new instrument 
are all equally full, clear and strong : they are, moreover, 
very soft in piano passages, and give at least thrice as 
powerful a forte as the ordinary flutes. The new flute, 
although its fingering differs totally from that of the old, 
can be easily played, it being consistently constructed, 
and rendering the most difficult scales easily manageable. 
These,flutes, as well as the Tromlitz flutes, manufactured 
in Bohm's workshop, are remarkable for their elegance, 
all of them being constructed according to the principles 
of mechanics. They are therefore as skilfully made as 
are mathematical or astronomical instruments. Although 
Herr Bohm has been practising on his new flute for 
barely six months, he has already attained to a degree 
of virtuosity which is scarcely inferior to his well-known 
proficiency on the Tromlitz flute. Next week he will 
start on a trip to England. 77 


" Herr Treichlinger and Herr Bohm had several recalls 
after their performances. 

* « p » 

77 This notice of the Boehm flute in the Bazar was an epitome 
of an account of the instrument which was published in full in The 
Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, but it did not appear in that 
journal until nine months afterwards, in January 1834. In the 
ordinary working of the periodical press, matter of the nature of 
reviews is pigeon-holed time after time to make way for more 
pressing items ; indeed, such articles are often purposely put aside 
until they are required to fill a vacant place. The clever 
Mr. Rockstro takes advantage of the delay to transform the state- 
ment that Boehm " has only been able to practise on his new flute 
for about half a year " into the assertion that Schaf hautl says that 
Boehm first had an instrument of the new kind on which to practise 
in July 1833 ! See the quotation from his Treatise on the Flute, 
given in note 80, infra, p. 254. 


We here have evidence that by April 1833 Boehm had 
mastered the difficulties of his new flute, for he played 
variations so brilliantly as to be recalled several times. 
But we can trace back his appearance in public with 
the instrument yet another period ; four months before 
this time he was so far advanced as to be able to " let " 
an audience "hear something pleasing." Early in 1833 
there appeared in the ' Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung ' 
a review, not like the account in ' Der Bazar/ from the 
pen of Schafhautl, 78 of the most important musical 
events in Munich of the previous year. In the notice 
of a concert given on the 1st of November of that year 
(1832) is a statement, of which the following is a literal 
translation : " Herr Boehm let us hear something 
pleasing on the flute which he himself, with his own 
hand, has ingeniously remodelled with several keys and 
new openings, with a view to a higher effect." 79 

We are now, after the lapse of more than half a 
century, asked to believe that these statements, as far 
as they enable us to say that 1832 was the year in which 
the Boehm flute was constructed, are a tissue of false- 
hoods. On what grounds are we called upon to reject 
them ? On the ground that they involve an impro- 
bability so great as to amount to an impossibility ; 
" such a comprehensive improvement " being beyond the 
powers of a dolt like Boehm, no matter whether we 
give him three months or two years in which to effect 
it, " unless he had meanwhile received much light from 
an intelligence far superior to his own." This light did 
not begin to shine until Gordon arrived at Munich in 
1833. Mr. Rockstro is "thus led irresistibly to the 
conclusion that Boehm copied the general design of his 

78 Infra, p. 418. 

79 "Herr Bohm hat tins etwas Angenehmes horen lassen auf der 
Flote, die er sclbst tnit elgener Hand und mit mehreren Klappen 
und tteuen Oeffnungen erfinderisch zu hoherem Effecte um- 


flute from Gordon's, but that he altered, and to some 
extent simplified the mechanism." 80 But 

" O, what a tangled web we weave, 
When first we practise to deceive ! " 

The web is just as tangled whether the deceit we 
practise is on others, or on ourselves. We shall now 
have to see to what straits Mr. Rockstro is reduced in 
his efforts to extricate himself from the meshes of the net 
in which he has thus become enveloped. 

On his arrival at Munich, Gordon, we are told, " com- 
pletely rejected his system." Why did he reject it ? 
We get an answer to this question from Boehm. " He 
soon became convinced," he says, "of the defects of his 
flute in comparison to mine." 81 But according to Mr. 
Rockstro the Boehm flute had not seen the light — it 
was still lying hidden in the womb of time, the theft to 
which it owed its existence not having been yet com- 
mitted. It therefore becomes necessary to draw on the 
imagination for another explanation. Accordingly we 
are told that Gordon rejected his system " because 
Boehm induced him to do so." 

80 To show that I have not misrepresented Mr. Rockstro, I give 
his own words : — " On comparing the flute said by Boehm to have 
been made ' at the beginning of 1832,' with that said to have been 
made by him in 1831, one cannot help being struck by the improba- 
bility of such a comprehensive improvement having been effected 
by Boehm in so short a time unless he had meanwhile received 
much light from an intelligence far superior to his own. Even if 
we were to adopt the account of Schafhautl (§ 597), and to fix the 
date of the completion of the flute from the time at which he says 
Boehm first had an instrument of the new kind on which to 
practise, which would have been in July 1833, the improbability 
would not be much lessened. We are thus led irresistibly to the 
conclusion that Boehm copied the general design of his flute from 
Gordon's, but that he altered, and to some extent simplified, the 
mechanism." — Rockstro on the Flute, section 605, p. 338. 

81 Essay on the Construction of Flutes, p.. 15. In the printed 
copy " defects " appears as " effects," but " defects " is the word 
Boehm wrote. 


Ce 11 est que le premier pas qui coute. Mr. Rockstro, 
having thus put his foot in, determines to take a plunge. 
Acting on the principle advocated in the homely adage, 
" Tis as well to be hanged for a sheep as a lamb," he 
adds, we are almost driven to the conclusion that " while 
the poor gentleman was thus being led off on a false 
scent, Boehm was engaged in appropriating the ideas, 
and modifying the details of the scheme that he had 
persuaded his rival to abandon." 82 It is true that there 
is here a saving clause. We are not quite driven. This 
time the conclusion is not absolutely irresistible. But 
how are we almost driven to believe so abominable an 
imputation ? Are we driven by testimony ? Are we 
driven by evidence ? Are we driven by the logic of 
facts? • Or are we driven by listening to the story of 
a dream ? 

But it is not only Boehm and the other Munich 
witnesses whom Mr. Rockstro finds it necessary to accuse 
of mendacity in order to convert his dream into a reality, 
he is forced to charge Gordon himself with falsehood ! 
Having become dissatisfied with his instrument, Gordon, 
with the assistance of Boehm's workman, proceeded to 
make another flute, in the construction of which, as he 
himself states, he adopted Boehm's mechanism for F 
sharp, or, as Mr. Rockstro prefers to call it, for closing 
the G hole. But according to Mr. Rockstro's hypothesis 
this mechanism had as yet no existence, the flute on 
which it appeared not having at this time been invented. 
How then could Gordon have borrowed it from Boehm ? 
Mr. Rockstro, who combines the wiles of Ulysses with 
the audacity of Jack the Giant-killer, meets this objection 

82 " We are, in fact, almost driven to the conclusion that Gordon 
for the time ' completely rejected his system ' (see § 576) because 
Boehm induced him to do so, and that, while the poor gentleman 
was being thus led off 'on a false scent,' Boehm was engaged 
in appropriating the ideas and modifying the details of the scheme 
that he had persuaded his rival to abandon."— Rockstro on the 
Flute, section 608, p. 340. 


by a bold stroke. Notwithstanding Gordon's specific 
assertion, he denies that Gordon did borrow it of Boehm, 
and, what is more, he asserts that Boehm himself attri- 
butes to Gordon this very mechanism, the origin of which, 
it will be remembered, we have so lately endeavoured 
to trace. 

To render Mr. Rockstro's modus operandi more intelli- 
gible I will beg leave to be allowed to give an illustra- 
tion of the ingenious and interesting plan he has adopted 
of dealing with subjects with which he is not acquainted. 
As this delightfully simple process effects an immense 
saving of time and trouble by rendering information 
unnecessary and useless, it cannot be too highly com- 
mended to our Universities, our Public Schools, and our 
other seminaries of useful and scientific learning.- It is 
not free, it is true, from a trifling drawback. It presents 
a suspicious resemblance to a method which once reigned 
supreme ; a method under which authority arrogates to 
itself the right to burke truth ; the method by which 
Galileo was politely requested to state that he was mis- 
taken when he said that the earth moves round the sun. 
If facts do not agree with Mr. Rockstro's notions, so 
much the worse for the facts. However, in these de- 
generate days this system is so far exploded that Mr. 
Rockstro cannot treat those of whose opinions he does 
not approve, as Galileo would have been treated, had he 
not caved in. He can do his best to keep the thoughts 
of other minds, and the works of other hands out of 
sight, but he cannot rekindle the fires of Smithfield for 
the benefit of such heretics as Mr. Walter Broadwood, 
Mr. Victor Mahillon, or your humble servant. He can 
throw the pall of silence and darkness over Mr. Radcliff 
and Mr. Collard, but he could not, even if he were so 
disposed, put these gentlemen into the pillory and cause 
their obnoxious models to be burnt by the common 

If we are to trust the accounts of travellers, and the 


evidence of our senses, there is a flute which is played 
with the nose instead of the mouth. 

The chief home of the nose-flute is the islands of the 
Pacific Ocean. It is found in both Polynesia and 
Melanesia ; but it is not confined to these regions. 
Instruments played with the nose are used in the Malay 
Peninsula ; they have been traced to the Guarani of the 
interior of South America, and have even been seen in 
the hands of the Botocudos of the east coast of Brazil. 
Scores of nose-flutes have been brought to Europe. In 
one room alone of one museum, the Pitt-Rivers room of 
the New Museum at Oxford, there are more than a dozen 
such instruments. 

To the anthropologist the nose-flute is an object of 
great interest. How could such an instrument have 
originated ? What, he asks, could have induced a man 
possessed of lips to apply the flute to his nose ? Is the 
nose-flute related by birth to the mouth-flute, or does it 
belong to a separate stock ? 

Assuming that the two instruments are members of 
the same family, in what relation do they stand to each 
other ? Peradventure can it be, as has been suggested, 
that the nose-flute is the father of our instrument ? It 
certainly cannot be denied that in the nostril we have a 
natural flue, whilst that formed by the lips is purely 

Or is the nose-flute a son or a brother of the mouth- 
flute, a scion who owes his popularity to the unassuming 
softness of his plaintive voice — soft notes being con- 
sidered by the Pacific Islanders "good to hear," as we 
are told by Dr. Codrington ? 

This explanation will commend itself to those who 
are of opinion that the flute is a humble instrument, 
whose strength lies in its weakness ; that to attempt to 
make it rival the trumpet, or, to use Nicholson's expres- 
sion, to cause it to " roar," is only to expose it to con- 
tempt ; that the soft complaining notes elicited by the 



blind beggar from his yellow flute, so touching in their 
expression of feebleness, humility, and patient suffering, 
should be regarded as typical of the true flute-tone. 83 

13 " Each instrument," says Walckiers in his Method, " has a 
character which is peculiar to it. The characteristics of the flute 
are sweetness, tenderness, and melancholy ; to will that it should 
have the fire and the thrilling force {le brio et le mordant) of the 
violin is folly." That Boehm recognised these to be the true 
qualities of the flute, and was alive to the folly to which Walckiers 
alludes, is evident from the following description of his playing by 
a critic who contrasts his style with that of Molique on the violin 
(see infra, p. 386) : " The difficulties he (Molique) conquers are 
incredible, and the force of his playing carries his hearers away 
with a feeling of confidence in his safety and correctness. Bohm, 
on the other hand, appears differently as a flautist. The character- 
istic of his playing is a soft development of a mild elegiac 
sentiment, a beautiful romantic longing ; his singing on his instru- 
ment springs from a profoundly sensitive breast. He is distinguished 
by the way he expresses all the shadings and nuances, and the 
sweet melancholy of his charming style." 

On the subject of the flute viewed as an orchestral instrument, 
Berlioz expresses himself thus : " The sound of this instrument 
is sweet in the medium, rather piercing in the high notes, and 
very characteristic in the low ones. The quality of tone of 
the medium and that of the high portion has not a very special 
or decided expression. It may be employed in melodies, or 
accents of varied character, but without equalling the artless 
gaiety of the hautboy, or the noble tenderness of the clarinet. 
It would seem, then, that the flute is an instrument well-nigh 
devoid of expression, but which may be introduced anywhere 
and everywhere, on account of its facility in executing groups of 
rapid notes, and in sustaining high sounds useful in the orchestra 
for adding fulness to the upper harmonies. Generally speaking, 
this is true; nevertheless, on studying the instrument carefully, 
there may be discovered an expression peculiar to it, and an 
aptitude for rendering certain sentiments, in which no other instru- 
ment can compete with it. If, for instance, it were requisite to 
give to a sad air an accent of desolation, but of humility and 
resignation at the same time, the feeble sounds of the flute's medium, 
in the keys of C minor and D minor especially, would certainly 
produce the desired effect. One master only seems to me to have 
known how to avail himself of this pale colouring ; and he is Gluck. 
In listening to the melodramatic movement in D minor, which 
he has placed in the Elysian Fields scene of Orfeo, it will be at once 


The nostril cannot be compressed like the lips, and so 
the performer on the nose-flute is freed from the danger 
of giving way to the temptation, should it assail him, of 
attempting to produce those " reedy " or " horny " sounds 
to which some so love to listen, but which others regard 
with abhorrence as the embodiment of what is most 
coarse, vulgar, and offensive in flute-playing. 

Or, again, could the nose-flute have been brought into 
existence out of deference to some one or other of the 
many religious fancies which in primitive days ruled man- 
kind ? Could it have been required for some rite, func- 
tion, or observance, all knowledge of which has perished? 
Or can it owe its origin to some mysterious curse 
which may have been pronounced on the mouth-flute ? 
For instance, could the ban under which whistling, that 
wicked practice which even in Europe is still said to 
make the angels weep, and to scare away the Holy 
Ghost, 84 was once placed, have been extended to the 

seen that a flute only could fittingly utter this melody. A hautboy 
would have been too puerile, and its voice would not have seemed 
sufficiently pure ; the corno inglese is too low ; a clarinet would 
doubtless have answered better ; but certain sounds would have 
been too powerful— none of its softest notes would have reduced 
themselves to the feeble, faint, veiled sound of the F natural of the 
medium, and of the first B flat above the lines, which imparts so 
much sadness to the flute in this key of D minor, where these notes 
frequently occur. In short, neither the violin, the viola, nor the 
violoncello, used in solo or in masses, would serve to express this 
very sublime lament of a suffering and despairing departed spirit. 
It required precisely the instrument selected by the author, and 
Gluck's melody is conceived in such a way that the flute lends 
itself to all the uneasy writhings of this eternal grief, still imbued 
with the passions of earthly life. It is at first a voice scarcely 
audible, which seems to fear being overheard ; then it laments 
softly, rising into the accent of reproach, then into that of profound 
woe, the cry of a heart torn by incurable wounds, then falling little 
by little into complaint, regret, and the sorrowing murmur of a 
resigned soul. What a poet ! " — Modern Instrumentation, Berlioz, 

p. "7- 

84 " The Arabs generally disapprove of whistling, called by them 

S 2 


mouth-flute on account of its shrillness, for the pucker- 
ing of the lips necessary for the embouchure, or for some 
other unknown reason ? 

But, however this may be, there is an instrument 
blown with the nose still employed for the purpose of 
charming, that is, influencing that mystery of mysteries, 
the spiritual essence : the toomerie of the Indian snake- 
charmer. 85 In India a religious or ceremonial origin is 
assigned to the practice of using the nose instead of the 
mouth. It is said that the toomerie is blown with the 
nostril because a Hindoo of high caste is defiled if he 
touches with his mouth anything which has been pre- 
viously touched by the mouth of one of lower caste; 
but this defilement does not extend to contact with 
the nose. Now should the nose-flute prove not to be 
older than the institution of caste in India, and if it can 

el sifr. Some maintain that the whistler's mouth is not purified 
for forty days ; whilst others are of opinion that Satan touching a 
man's person causes him to produce the offensive sound. The 
natives of the Tonga Islands, Polynesia, consider it wrong to whistle 
as being disrespectful to their gods. In European countries people 
are met with who object to whistling on a certain day of the week, 
or at certain times of the day. The villagers in some districts of 
North Germany have the saying, that if one whistles in the evening 
it makes the angels weep. The villagers in Iceland say that even 
if. one swings about him a stick, whip, wand, or aught that makes 
a whistling sound, he scares from him the Holy Ghost ; while other 
Icelanders, who consider themselves free from superstitions, 
cautiously give the advice : ' Do it not ; for who knoweth what is in 
the air ? ' " — Engel's Musical Myths and Facts, p. 91. 

> 85 The toomerie is a variety of the snake-charmer's poongee, a 
double pipe played with a reed like that of the arghool. The tops 
of the tubes (one of which is a drone) with the reeds are inserted 
into one end of a gourd, or a cuddos nut, the performer impelling 
his breath through the nostril into the opposite end. The music 
produced will entice the largest and most dangerous cobra from its 
hole. See Engel's Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the South 
Kensington Museum, p. 166. The irreverent Engel makes the 
scoffing suggestion that " perhaps the serpents mistake it for the 
quacking of ducklings, for which they may have a taste." 


be shown that the idea of playing the flute with the nose 
originated in the Hindoo instrument, an explanation of 
the origin of the nose-flute will be established which will 
have an important bearing on a not unimportant subject. 
It will indicate that there was once a connection, con- 
tact, or intercourse of some kind or other between the 
interior of Asia and the islands of the Pacific Ocean ; 
and thus a link will be added to a chain of evidence 
which tends to show that certain waves of culture have 
floated from India over the south-east or Indo-Chinese 
region and the Indian Archipelago, and thence into 
Melanesia and Polynesia. 86 

Attention was first drawn to the nose-flute by Captain 
Cook, the instrument represented overleaf being one 
brought home by Reinhold Forster who accompanied 
that distinguished navigator in the capacity of naturalist. 
Its length is rather more than fifteen inches. It is 
bound with sennit made of the fibres of the palm, and 
in addition to the nose-hole {a) it is pierced with two 
finger-holes (b and c), whilst a knot in the bamboo of 
which it is made acts as a stopper. 

Mr. Henry Balfour, the Curator of the Pitt-Rivers 
collection, to whom I am indebted for the photograph 
from which the engraving is taken, is an_ expert per- 
former on the nose-flute. He fails to understand why it 
should be considered less easy to sound the flute with 
the nose than with the mouth. Every flute-player who 
has made the attempt knows how exceedingly difficult 
it is to blow the Egyptian nay. Yet Mr. Balfour makes 

86 The subject is discussed in an interesting paper by Dr. Tylor, 
entitled Notes on the Asiatic Relations of Polynesian Culture, pub- 
lished in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute, May 1882. 
To render the argument conclusive, it would be necessary to show 
that there is evidence, in the construction or the method of using 
the nose-flute, of it having been copied from the Indian instrument. 
Otherwise, there would be no proof that each of the two instru- 
ments might not have had an independent origin, or that they 
might not both have sprung from some common source. 





Fig. 41. — Nose- 
Flute, a, Nose- 
hole;^, c, Finger- 

speak with the greatest ease by means 
of the nostril a form of nose-flute which is 
blown, like the nay, across the open end of 
the tube, there being neither stopper nor 
nose-hole. The tone he produces on the 
instrument shown in Fig. 41 is extremely- 
agreeable to the ear, and so closely does 
it resemble a tone which can be elicited 
from the modern cylinder blown with a 
loose lip, as to be scarcely, if at all, dis- 
tinguishable from it when the two flutes are 
sounded together. 

In the history of his first voyage Captain 
Cook gives the following account of a per- 
formance of nose-flute music to which he 
was invited by a chief of Otaheite : " On 
the 22nd (of April 1769), Tootapah gave 
us a specimen of the music of the country ; 
four persons performed upon flutes which 
had only two stops, 87 and therefore could 

87 Captain Cook adds : " To these stops they 
apply the forefinger of the left hand and the middle 
finger of the right. They also have an expedient to 
.bring the flutes that play together into unison, 
which is to roll up a leaf so as to slip over the end 
of the shortest, like our sliding tubes for telescopes, 
which they move up and down till the purpose is 
answered, of which they seem to judge by the ear 
with great nicety." — Hawkesworth's Voyages, vol. 
ii. p. 205. 

It seems not unlikely that the leaf, instead of 
being slipped over the end of the flute, was slipped 
into it, for there is an enlargement of bore which 
one cannot help supposing to be designed to receive 
the leaf, and so to form a socket for this primi- 
tive tuning-slide. v Indeed, it may be interesting to 
notice that it was to the lower end of the one-keyed 
flute that the tuning slide was first applied. Before 
its introduction, flute-players raised or lowered the 
pitch of their instruments by means of interchange- 


not sound more than four notes by half tones : they were 
sounded like our German flute, except that the per- 
former, instead of applying it to his mouth, blew into it 
with one nostril, while he stopped the other with his 
thumb : to these instruments four other persons sang, 
and kept very good time ; but only one tune was played 
during the whole concert." 

A comparison of the nose-flute Fig. 41 with one of 
my mouth-flutes bears out to the letter the accuracy of 
Captain Cook's statements respecting the instruments 
he heard at Tootapah's concert. The four notes sounded 
" by half tones " are G\ A 1 flat, A 1 and B l flat of our scale 
at the English pitch. 88 The notes are produced by 

able middle joints, or corps de rechange, varying in length. " It 
was conceived," writes M. Victor Mahillon (Encyclopedia Britan- 
nica, ninth edition, art. Transverse Flute), " that the just relation " 
interfered with by the use of corps de rechange " could be re-estab- 
lished by dividing the foot into two pieces below the key. These 
two pieces were adjusted by means of a tenon, and it was asserted 
that, in this way, the foot could be lengthened proportionately to 
the length of the middle joint. Flutes thus improved took the name 
of flutes a registre. The register system was about 1752 applied 
by Quantz to the head joint." 

88 It should not be supposed that all nose-flutes yield these four 
notes. Nose-flutes differ in length, in size, and in the number and 
position of the finger-holes. They are often made double — two instru- 
ments, each with its own finger-holes, on the same tube, with a nose 
hole at each end. Sometimes the nostril is closed with the left, 
sometimes with the right thumb. 

In the Marquesas, according to Melville, the nostril is not closed 
with the thumb, but " by a peculiar movement of the muscles about 
the nose," and thus a " soft dulcet " sound is elicited from a " beauti- 
ful scarlet " instrument. 

The following is from Ellis's Polynesian Researches, ch. viii. : 
" The vivo or flute was the most agreeable instrument used by the 
islanders. It was usually a bamboo cane, about an inch in diame- 
ter, and twelve or eighteen inches long. The joint in the cane 
formed one end of the flute ; the aperture through which it was 
blown was close to the end: it seldom had more than four other 
holes, three in the upper side, covered with the fingers, and one 
beneath, against which the thumb was placed. Sometimes, how- 


raising the fingers in the usual way ; the A being got 
by a back fingering, by closing c but leaving b open. 89 

Much has been written about the difficulties to be 
encountered in bringing the holes of the flute within 
reach of the fingers ; but it will be observed that the 
untutored Polynesian flute-maker has discovered a spot 
within two inches of the nose-hole, and so lying just 
under the first finger of the hand with the thumb of 
which the nostril is stopped, where a hole (b) can be 
bored on opening which there is produced a note (A), 
the hole for which his European brother considers 
himself obliged to place about a foot from the mouth- 
hole ; and that he has found a second spot, situated in 
a convenient position for the middle finger of the other 
hand, where he has made an aperture (c), on uncovering 
which, while the first-named hole (b) is kept open, there 
is heard a note (B flat) half a tone higher still. Although 
the musical interval between these two notes is only that 
of a semitone, yet the two holes are nearly ten inches 
apart. 90 I ought to have mentioned that the distance 

ever, there were four holes on the upper side. It was occasionally 
plain, but more frequently ornamented, by being partially scorched 
or burnt with a hot stone, or having fine and beautifully plaited 
strings of human hair wound round it alternately with rings of 
braided cinet. It was not blown with the mouth, but with the 
nostril. The performer usually placed the thumb of the right hand 
upon the right nostril, applied the aperture of the flute, which he 
held with the fingers of the right hand, to the other nostril, and 
moving his fingers on the holes, produced his music. The sound was 
soft, and not unpleasant, though the notes were few ; it was generally 
played in a plaintive strain, and frequently used as an accompani- 
ment to their pehes, or songs. These were closely identified both 
with the music and the dances. The ihara, the drum, and the 
flute were generally accompanied by the song, as was also the 
native dance." 

89 That is to say, the G is produced by closing the two finger- 
holes b and c ; the A flat by opening c, but keeping b closed ; the 
B flat by opening both b and c ; the A by closing c only. 

90 The explanation of this acoustic puzzle is (at least so it seems 
to me) that the hole b does not produce a note of its own, but acts 


from the nose-hole to • the first finger-hole is about 
i-J-f inch, to the second 11-^ inches; the diameter of the 
nose-hole about ^ inch, of the first finger-hole ■£% inch, 
of the second rather less than ^ inch, and the diameter 

by raising the two notes G and A flat to A and B flat respectively. 
The larger the embouchure of a flute, the higher become the notes. 
With this property of his instrument every flute-player is familiar, 
as he makes constant use of it by turning the flute outwards, and 
so increasing the size of the embouchure by uncovering a larger 
part of it, when he wishes to sharpen a note. By boring a special 
hole below, but within a certain distance of the nose-hole, the nose- 
flute maker is able to avail himself of this power of sharpening to 
such an extent that he raises the notes of his instrument a whole 
tone. Thus the nose-flute here figured has, properly speaking, only 
two notes, G and A flat; but these two notes are raised by un- 
covering the hole Ho A and B flat, and in this way two notes are 

About a century ago it was proposed to apply this principle to 
our flute. On the 24th of July, 1801, Mr. William Close addressed 
a communication to Mr. Nicholson, the editor of the yournal of 
Philosophy, " on the Properties of Wind Instruments consisting of 
a single Pipe or Channel, with Improvements in their Construction." 
" Our small wind instruments," he remarked, " have many im- 
perfections, but are the subject of so little direct importance to 
society that we do not expect much celerity in their improvement." 
The improvement he proposed was the introduction of a new way 
of making the semitones by conferring on the player the power of 
raising any note half a tone. He writes : " In some experiments 
.... I have endeavoured to realise a project for a very easy 
method of introducing the chromatic semitones into the natural 
scale, and of sharpening any number of diatonic notes at pleasure." 
One of the expedients to which he proposed to have recourse for 
this purpose is thus described : " Insert one end of a round pipe, 
three-tenths of an inch in diameter, and one inch long, into the 
inside of a German flute, so much nearer the holes for the fingers 
than the sound hole that a line which encircles the flute, and passes 
through the middle of this last hole, may be seven-tenths of an inch 
from the centre of the interior orifice of the pipe. . . . Turn this 
pipe by the side of the flute, and let its exterior orifice be closed by 
a valve or key, which may be opened by the thumb of the left hand." 

Mr. Close indicates the pipe by dotted lines in a drawing he 
gives of the model on which the experiment was made, but. he 
states he had not had a flute constructed in the way described. 


of the bore at the nose-hole -|-| inch ; towards the 
lower end, below the second finger-hole, between ^V 
and -^ inch less. Thus the diameter of the bore of 
this flute comes very close to that of our cylinder, which 
measures § inch. 

Now it seems that Mr. Rockstro, sitting at home at 
ease, knows far more about the nose-flute than Captain 
Cook and all the other travellers who have seen and 
heard it played. 91 The statement that it is sounded 
like the German flute is a traveller's tale, a mere halluci- 
nation. The nose-flute is simply " nothing of the kind." 
The thing is "an impossibility." Of course it is. It 
is just as great an impossibility as that Boehm could 
invent his own flute. The impossibility of blowing the 
flute with the nose requires no demonstration ; it is 
" manifest." Certainly ; it is not- less manifest than that 
Boehm was an ignorant impostor. 

But this is not all. Mr. Rockstro does not stop 
here. He is not content with enlightening us on what 
the nose-flute was not, he can set Captain Cook right, 
and tell us what it " must have been." It was neither a 
flute, a clarionet, a hautboy, a bassoon, nor a bagpipe ; it 
"must have been" the pet object of Mr. Rockstro's 
aversion, a whistle. Tootapah's quartett of nose flute- 

" Had he done so," remarks Mr. Rockstro, " the experiment must 
have been musically unsuccessful." But whatever it " must have 
been " in the hands of Mr. Close, it seems that the Pacific Islanders 
have been able to turn the principle to account. 

91 The latest description of nose flute-playing with which I am 
acquainted is the following from Lambert's Voyage of the ' Wanderer 1 
(1883) : " Now we hear a deep whistling sound " (the 'Wanderer ' 
was touching at one of the Tonga Islands) " varying up and down 
only two or three notes, and find a lot of natives playing on hose- 
flutes made of bamboo. To perform on these you block up one 
nostril with your thumb, while the fingers belonging to the same 
hand extend along the instrument, and with the other nostril you 
play your tune — if you know how ! The effect produced is very 
like that of the sign of contempt called by boys ' taking a sight.' " 


players must have been nothing of the kind ; they 
were so many performers upon whistles. 92 In fact, 
Mr. Rockstro has made so fierce a raid on the tree of 
knowledge, that not satisfied with taking the fruit, he 
has carried off the leaves as well, and so has left the 
poor plant to perish. 

Fig. 42.— Girl playing Nose-flute. From Williams's Fiji and the Fijians. 

We will now return to Boehm and Gordon. When 
Boehm saw Gordon in London he observed that "the 
E hole of his flute was bored lower down than usual, 
and was covered with a key ; and to avoid the F lever 
he made use of a ring-key." 93 We should naturally 
like to know how he avoided the F lever, and of what 
sort of ring-key he made use ; but on neither of these 
points have we any information. There are, as we 
know, ring-keys of various kinds. I have already had 
occasion to mention three : Nolan's ring-key, the ring- 
key of Gerock and Wolfs flute, and the ring-key of the 
Boehm flute. Mr Rockstro has brought to light a 
fourth, a ring-key employed by Dr. Pottgiesser, a key 
which combines a ring with a crescent, and so deprives 
poor Gordon of what we had previously believed to be 
his original idea, the crescent-key. Thus four kinds of 

92 Rockstro on the Flute, section 306, p. 136. 

93 Essay on the Construction of Flutes, p. 1 2. 


ring-keys are known to us, whilst, in addition to them, a 
ring-key of some sort was seen by Buffet on Bleve's 
clarionet in 1826; 94 nor can we say how many others, 
the designs of which have perished, may not have been 


Fig. 43. — Dr. Pottgiesser's Ring and Crescent Key. 

What we know of the ring-key which Boehm saw on 
Gordon's flute is chiefly of a negative character. We 
know, for instance, that it was not the same as that 
which Boehm employed, for Boehm placed the finger on 
the E hole, whilst Gordon covered this hole with a key. 
That it was not a satisfactory arrangement we know 
from the reference made to it by Clinton, who says " it 
was not until Mr. Boehm suggested a mechanism for the 
right-hand part that his (Gordon's) improvement (of the 
flute) became in any shape available " ; and we know 
from Gordon's own admission that it left " the means of 
execution " on his instrument still incomplete. 

No sooner, however, does Mr. Rockstro appear on the 
scene than the clouds of darkness which had previously 
enveloped the ring-key which Boehm saw on Gordon's 
flute are instantly dispelled. The method of inquiry 
which he has applied with such transcendant success to 
the nose-flute is brought to bear with a result equally 
startling on Boehm's account of Gordon's ring-key. 
Again, Mr. Rockstro has brought to light an "im- 
possibility " ; again, the impossibility becomes " mani- 
fest " ; again, Mr. Rockstro knows what it " must have 
been." The discovery which he has thus made is, as he 
very properly remarks, of a curious character. It is 
nothing else than that Boehm in his allusion to Gordon's 

94 See p. 44. 


contrivance attributes to Gordon the mechanism for 
closing the G hole which Gordon afterwards took from 
Boehm. Below I reprint Mr. Rockstro's announcement 
of his discovery in his own words, to enable any one, 
who may be so disposed, to attempt to thread his way 
through the maze of his must-have-beens, and to find the 
path, if he can, to his " inevitable conclusion." 95 

■In his struggles with evidence, Mr. Rockstro meets 
with the difficulty which Hercules had to encounter in 
his combat with the Hydra ; no sooner is one of his 
antagonist's heads cut off than two others spring up in 
its place. If Gordon had this key for making F sharp 
on his flute before he made Boehm's acquaintance, how 
came it to pass that he gave a certificate that he was 
indebted to Boehm for the knowledge of it ? 

The logical Hercules is again equal to the occasion. 
He seizes his trusty club Must-be, and with a few 
vigorous strokes smashes Gordon's statement to atoms. 
At first he modestly ventures, but immediately " we can 
scarcely refuse," then " it may be assumed," next " we 

95 With regard to the mechanism for closing the G natural hole, 
we have curiously conflicting statements by Boehm attributing it to 
Gordon, see section 558, and by Gordon attributing it to Boehm, 
see section 604. We will first examine the statement by Boehm : 
" The e hole of his flute was bored lower down and was made larger 
than usual. It was covered with a key, and in order to avoid the 
lever for F natural, he employed a ring-key." Although this may 
appear, at the first glance, a very simple recital, it contains an 
absolute contradiction. The only object of covering the e hole with 
a key must have been to enable the third finger to close the hole 
while the first and second fingers remained in their usual positions. 
The only object of the ring-key must have been to enable the first 
finger to close the g hole while the third finger remained in its 
usual position. The impossibility of the correctly placed g and e 
holes being closed directly, and at the same time, by the first and 
third fingers of an ordinary hand is manifest, but either one of the 
above mentioned contrivances would have been sufficient to effect 
the desired object, and the combination of the two would have been 
absurd. We are therefore left to the inevitable conclusion that the 
two appliances were on different flutes. 


may easily suppose," now " it is clear," further it 
" appears," afterwards " if would seem," and finally it 
again " appears." 96 

But, under cover of the clatter of the blows of the 
club, Mr. Rockstro is quietly leading us away from the 
point we are discussing, to plunge us into the fallacy of 
an ignoratio elenchi, or false issue. The conclusion he 
draws from his chain of fancies is that Gordon was a 
man of such extraordinary honour and generosity that 
he lied in order to assign to Boehm a larger share of 
the credit than was due to him ; whereas the question 
we have to settle is not whether Boehm was entitled to 
much or to little credit, but whether he did or did not 
communicate the knowledge of this key for F sharp to 

On this point nothing can be clearer, or more explicit 

96 In the following, which is a continuation of the passage quoted 
in the last note, the italics, I need not say, are not Mr. Rockstro's. 
" Leaving further discussion of the key for covering the e hole, 
which was no doubt similar to that of Tromlitz, we will revert to 
the declaration of Gordon. ' The idea of this key for F sharp, 
communicated by Mr. Theobald Boehm of Munich, has been, with 
his consent, adopted for the present flute.' In order to reconcile 
this statement with Boehm's, I venture to suggest the following 
explanation. We can scarcely refuse to accept the evidence of 
Boehm, namely that, the notion of using a ring-key in order to 
avoid the necessity for the employment of the old closed F natural 
key was originated by Gordon, and it may be assumed that the 
ring-key was for the purpose of covering the G hole. We may 
easily suppose that Gordon was not satisfied with this contrivance, 
and it is clear that Boehm was not satisfied with the ring-key that 
he made for Gerock and Wolf, which appears to have been partly 
copied from Nolan's open G sharp key. // would seem that Boehm 
then improved upon this arrangement, and contrived the now 
discarded mechanism shown in Fig. 56 (Fig. 36, p. 240, of this work). 
Gordon appears to have adopted an arrangement somewhat similar 
to this, employing Pottgiesser's crescent instead of Nolan's ring, 
and having thus made some use of Boehm's invention, he, following 
the dictates of his well-known generous disposition and punctilious 
sense of honour, attributed to Boehm a larger share of the credit 
than was justly due to him." 


and precise, than the language of Gordon's declaration. 
He does not say that he merely "made some use of 
Boehm's invention," but he states that he was indebted 
to Boehm for the very idea of this key. His words are : 
" the suppression of the two keys for F natural, and their 
replacement by one key for F sharp, is an idea, the 
application of which offers great advantages. The idea 
of this key for F sharp, communicated by Mr. Theobald 
Boehm of Munich, has been, with his consent, adopted 
for the present flute, of which it completes the means of 
execution." Which are we to believe, Captain Gordon 
or Mr. Rockstro ? 

We have already had opportunities of admiring 
Mr. Rockstro's accomplishments in the character of an 
historian and a logician ; we shall now see him display- 
ing his versatile talents in another capacity, that of a 
conjuror. Such is his skill in turning black into white, 
that it would cause a professor of the art of making our 
eyes " the fools o' the other senses," as Macbeth terms 
it, to die of envy. He treats us to an exhibition of 
sleight of hand which combines the wonders of the 
Disappearing Lady with those of the conversion of a 
gentleman's watch into a live rabbit. 

The key for F sharp was not the only one which 
Gordon took from the Boehm flute, he took also that for 
shaking D {a, Fig. 12, p. 107). It appears that Capeller, 
Boehm's master, used a key for making this shake, but 
this did not prevent Gordon from taking the idea from 
Boehm, and acknowledging that it was from him that he 
obtained it. This we learn from Coche who, publishing 
the drawing of Gordon's flute in his Method, caused the 
fact to be engraved on the plate in the following words, 
at the same time giving his authority, Gordon's Tabla- 
ture, thus : The key for F sharp and the key for the shake 
of D belong to Mr. Boehm (Gordon's Tablature). 

On p. 273 is a reproduction of Coche's pictorial puff 
of himself and his flute, with the original French, as 


it here appeared. But no sooner does our magician 
wave his wand than the' words " Gordon's Tabla- 
ture " vanish, and the sentence is converted from an 
acknowledgment by Gordon of his indebtedness to the 
Munich flute-maker into a proof that Coche " seems 
to have erred on the side of excessive generosity towards 
Boehm." 9T 

This is indeed a marvellous triumph of the black art ; 
but I fear that lawyers who have the bad taste to prefer 
their nasty, dry, dusty, rusty, fusty, musty, crusty facts 
to juggling tricks, no matter how cleverly performed, 
would say that such a transformation as this was 
garbling carried to the extent of falsifying evidence. 
Lawyers have no imagination. Ne sutor ultra crepi- 
dam. Let them confine themselves to their yellow old 
title deeds. 

We have already had enough of logic and legerdemain. 
However, I will give one more instance (it shall be 
the last) of Mr. Rockstro's expedients for meeting the 
difficulties he has raised up for himself. 

97 " Coche, who seems to have erred on the side of excessive 
generosity towards Boehm, appends this footnote to the engraving 
of Gordon's flute in his Me"thode : ' La cle" du F\, et la cU du Re, 
afifiartiennent d M. Boehm.'' (The key for F % and the key for the 
shake with D fcl belong to Mr. Boehm.) Evidently Coche knew 
nothing of the d" key invented by Boehm's instructor, Capeller." 
{Rockstro on the Flute, section 605, p. 339). Nor did Mr. Rockstro 
know when he wrote these words that we should be told by Boehm's 
biographer, Dr. Schafhautl, that the mechanism of Capeller's flute 
was the invention of Boehm (see p. 377). According to Mr. 
Rockstro, Capeller is chiefly remembered as the inventor of the 
contrivances of this mechanism {Treatise on the Flute, section 884, 
p. 580), so that, if the contrivances in question were invented by 
Boehm, he shines with a borrowed light. Although what Boehm 
had done aroused in Mr. Rockstro a feeling of " disgust," yet this 
gentleman sets forth in various parts of his work the advantages of 
the D shake key, and adds, "The strongest proof of the value of 
this invention lies in the fact that it is in constant use on every 
flute of modern construction." 





(If.B.) la Cli du FA jf, tt la Cli du TrOle du BE, appartiennenl a Mr. BOEHM. (Tablatnre Gordon.) 
Fig. 44. — Coche's Pictorial Puff. 



It becomes necessary for him to prove Boehm's asser- 
tion that he played upon his new flute in London in the 
year 1833 to be false. It was stated, as we have seen, 
in 'The Harmonicon' of August 1833, that Boehm was 
" on the point of setting out on a professional journey to 
England." If he did not carry out this intention of 
visiting England until two years afterwards, it would 
not affect the evidence which the paragraph in 'The 
Harmonicon' affords, that in July 1833 Boehm had been 
practising on his new flute for about six months ; but if 
Boehm did visit England, and was playing that flute 
in London at the time when Mr. Rockstro represents 
him to be engaged at Munich in robbing Gordon of the 
idea of it, that gentleman's story falls to the ground. 
Mr. Rockstro has therefore to get Boehm's alleged visit 
to London in 1833 out of the way, and this he 
endeavours to do in the following manner. 

He prints the statement in ' The Harmonicon ' of 
August 1833 : "Mr. Boehm is on the point of setting 
out on a professional journey to England," in juxta- 
position with the following, published in a German news- 
paper about twelve months afterwards (July 2nd, 1834) : 
" Mr. Bohm of Munich, the inventor of a new flute, is 
going to Bremen and to Hamburg, and thence to England, 
at which places he will give concerts and perform on his 
new instrument." The interpretation which ordinary 
minds would put on these statements is that they refer 
to two separate visits ; one undertaken in 1833, the other 
in 1834. Boehm, as he .told me himself, came to 
England no less than nine times. When we consider 
that at this time he had his pianoforte project in hand 
at Gerock and Wolfs, and that it was in 1833 that he 
began to connect himself with the ironworks, 98 there is 
nothing improbable in the circumstance that he visited 
London two years in succession. Mr. Rockstro, how- 
ever, comes to a very different conclusion. He is of 

98 Essay on the Construction of Flutes,^. 13. 


opinion that the two newspaper statements " may be 
taken together as fair proof that Boehm did not visit 
this country in 1833." 

To a casual reader this argument seems innocent 
enough ; it is only trifling with common sense. But it 
assumes a very different complexion in the eyes of those 
who know that Mr. Rockstro is here having recourse 
to tactics to which controversialists object still more 
strongly than even to garbling; he is suppressing 
evidence. The evidence which is suppressed does not 
appear in a work of the existence of which, as of this 
little book, Mr. Rockstro feigns ignorance, but is found 
in a pamphlet which he acknowledges, catalogues and 
quotes, Clinton's Treatise on the Flute. Mr. Clinton can 
tell us not only that Boehm came to London twice, 
but that the English public had an opportunity of ex- 
amining as well as of hearing his new flute, for it was 
offered for sale at Gerock and Wolf's. He even knows 
how much, or rather how little business Boehm did on 
these occasions. 

Clinton's connection with Boehm has been divided into 
two stages : the one friendly, during which he played on 
his flute, and defended him from the attacks made upon 
him ; the other hostile, when he became an apostate, and 
having set himself up as a rival flute-maker, proceeded 
to disparage the Boehm flute, and to impugn Boehm's 
title to the originality of the invention. It was in the 
second, or hostile period of Clinton's career that this 
pamphlet was written in which the passage referred to 
occurs. In the extract I am about to make, I will put 
Clinton's statement regarding Boehm's visit to London 
in 1833 into italics, so that it may catch the reader's eye 
should he not be inclined to go through the whole of 
what follows, for I shall quote at some length, as it will 
give me an opportunity of explaining how Clinton's 
belief that Gordon was the originator of the idea of 
equalised holes and of open -standing keys arose, and of 

T 2 


showing how it was the result, as I have said, of the cir- 
cumstance that he was not acquainted with the previous 
history of the flute. 

He gives his readers a sketch of the development 
of the instrument, in which, after mentioning Mr. Miller, 
who in the year 18 10 took out a patent for cylindrical 
fifes made of metal, he goes on to say : " The first 
palpable improvement was effected by my late esteemed 
friend Charles Nicholson, who, by increasing the size of 
the holes, and altering the diameter of the bore, con- 
siderably augmented the volume of tone in the instru- 
ment ; nevertheless, the radical defects of the old eight- 
keyed flute, as above stated, were left untouched." 

As Clinton thus had no knowledge of the work done 
by the German school of flute reformers, by whom " the 
new principle " attributed to Gordon was originated, we 
can easily understand how it came to pass that he went 
on to write as follows : " The next improvement we have 
to notice was the germ of that present complete re- 
arrangement of the flute which has been effected, and 
resulted from the sagacity of Captain Gordon, who 
held a commission in the Swiss Guards. He turned his 
attention to the disposition of the holes, and having 
made them of equal size, arranged them over the instru- 
ment at equal distances. His flute was accordingly 
well in tune, and the volume of tone on each note was 
equalised, as far as such a system would allow. He 
laboured for a considerable time to mature his improve- 
ments ; but it was not until Mr. Boehm suggested a 
mechanism for the right-hand part, that his improvement 
became in any shape available ; so uncertain, however, 
was its action even then, that it was ultimately relin- 
quished as a failure by all parties. It will be necessary," 
continues Clinton, " here to digress for a short space, in 
order to give the reader some idea of the fundamental 
difference between this last improvement in the flute, 
and the principle of all former ones, which consisted in 


these two prime points ; first, an entire change in the 
system of fingering ; and, secondly, a change from a 
shut into an open-keyed instrument ; this latter part 
will need some explanation." 

Here follows a digression devoted chiefly to an ex- 
planation of v/hat is meant by the open-keyed principle. 
After this, Clinton goes on to notice Gerock and Wolfs 
flute. " The effects," he says, " of this new principle 
were subsequently attempted to be carried out in a more 
practical shape by the late Messrs. Gerock and Wolf; 
with an endeavour also to preserve the old fingering ; " 
and after pointing out the. drawbacks to this flute he 
resumes thus : — 

" About the year 1832, Mr. Boehm completed a system 
of improvement upon the flute, which for some time 
previous he had been constructing ; this instrument re- 
sembled the Gordon flute, in having its holes at equal 
distance and of equal size, and being constructed upon 
the system of open keys. It was supposed, from this 
resemblance, that Mr. Boehm copied his mechanism 
from Captain Gordon. The ideas might have been 
adopted from him, but the general plan was so superior, 
that I conclude we are chiefly indebted to Mr. Boehm 
for the first great advance in the knowledge and con- 
struction of the flute generally. It was brought to 
England and laid before the public, who had an oppor- 
tunity the following year of hearing the inventor play upon 
it, and also of examining its merits, it having been offered 
for sale at Gerock and Wolfs in Cornhill. In 1835, 
Mr. Boehm again visited London?* and again played 

99 According to Fe"tis {Biographical Dictionary, first edition, 
article ' Boehm '), Boehm arrived in London late in the year 1834, and 
remained till 1835. "The only information," he says, "I have 
about this artist is that he repaired to London in the autumn of 
1834, and that he was still there in the early months of 1835." 
Fdtis adds, ' Boehm a introduit quelques perfectionnements dans la 
construction de la flute, et a invente" un nouveau genre de piano. 


upon it several times ; but neither on this, nor his 
previous visit, did his flute seem to gain the public appro- 
bation ; since during his whole sojourn in this country- 
he disposed of but one instrument." 

The preceding remarks on Mr. Rockstro's denial of 
the truth of Bochm's statement that he visited England 
in 1833 appeared in the second edition of this work, 
but since that edition was published I have been made 
acquainted with evidence of the journey having been 
undertaken, which no one, I apprehend, but Mr. Rockstro, 
will be disposed to reject. Amongst other old papers 
in the hands of Herr Ludwig Boehm is the passport 10 ° 
with which his father travelled in that year. The visas 
on it show that on the 2nd of May he was making pre- 
parations for starting from Munich ; that he had reached 
Ostend by the 2 1st, and was about to embark for London 
on the English steamboat, the Earl of Liverpool, Captain 
Lomax; that on the 17th of July he was going to leave 
London to return home through Paris ; that he was in 
Paris on the 25th of that month, and that he passed 
through Stuttgart on the 3rd of -August. 

Lest Mr. Rockstro, who seems to have taken so 
seriously the Psalmist's too rapid generalisation on the 
mendacity of mankind, should imagine that the "ruling 
passion," of which he credits Boehm with being the slave, 

C'est pour faire entendre cet instrument qu'il a fait son voyage a 
Londres en 1834." 

Fe*tis wrote thus in 1835. From Boehm's passport, however, we 
get further particulars. We learn that he had reached Calais by the 
22nd of July, 1834, and that he did not obtain the visa in London 
for his return journey until the 27th of June, 1835. An account of 
his proceedings in England during his visit has already been given 
at p. 46. 

100 The passports in the possession of Herr Ludwig Boehm are 
twenty-five in number, nine of them being for England. These 
nine were issued in the following years: 1831, 1833, 1834, 1836, 
1837, 1839, 1845, 1847, 1852. There is no passport for 1851, 
although it is certain that Boehm was in England in that year. 



To face j>. 278. 




^fy*74i/34tW t &%6&C7>i 






■&r oMWn^W4J|^cM«f yvM# sutler R 

ottlitsv q&TH>r, 














7V> yh^-^ /. 279. 


has descended from father to son, or that the mantle of 
falsehood, with which he believes him to have been 
clothed, has fallen on his humble defender, I have asked 
and obtained the permission of Herr Ludwig Boehm to 
have the passport reproduced by a copyist whom even 
Mr. Rockstro will scarcely venture to charge with wilful 
deception — the sun. Plate III. is a representation on a re- 
duced scale of the front of the document, and Plate IV. of 
the back, on which the visas are written, by an autotype 
process, which shows the smears and smudges on its 
surface, the creases where it has been folded, and the 
slips of adhesive paper by which it was repaired when it 
was in danger of falling to pieces from the effects of the 
friction to which it was exposed in the pocket where it 
was constantly carried. The passport, copied by another 
process, that of photozincography, which renders the 
writing somewhat more legible, is given in Plates V. 
and VL 

It will now be for flute-players to decide for them- 
selves. Shall we accept this facsimile as a proof that 
Boehm did not lie when, he stated that he came to 
England in 1833, or shall we place reliance on Mr. 
Rockstro's assertion, "There is no reason to believe 
that the long deferred visit to England was made prior 
to 1835 ;" so "we may conclude" that "his journey was 
put off from time to time in order that his flute might 
be completed to his satisfaction, and that he might have 
time to practise on it before he set out " ? 101 Ought we 
to hear the voices from the grave which tell us that the 
flute which he brought with him, exposed for sale at 
the shop of Messrs. Gerock and Wolf in Cornhill, and 
gave Englishmen an opportunity of examining as well 
as hearing, was the instrument which bears his name ; or 
should we listen to Mr. Rockstro, who maintains that there 
are no "grounds for believing that the flute on which 
he played in 1832 and 1833 differed from that" he had 

101 Rockstro on the Flute, section 598, p. 334. 

*T 4 


constructed in London for Messrs. Gerock and Wolf 
during his first visit to this country ? 102 

And now, before dismissing Gordon's flute, I should 
like to ask a question : Was the instrument of any 
practical value ? Hitherto it has been regarded as the 
ingenious production of a talented enthusiast, but how- 
ever clever it might have been, it has always been pro- 
nounced by friends and foes alike to be unplayable. 
Boehm says that it was too complicated to be of any 
real use ; Schafhautl tells us that it was barely play- 
able in slow movements, whilst in rapid passages it 
frequently missed altogether ; Coche states that its 
mechanism, composed of cranks and steel wire, provided 
no security for execution ; whilst Clinton informs us in 
the words I have just quoted, that "it was not until 
Mr. Boehm suggested a mechanism for the right-hand 
part, that his (Gordon's) improvement became in any 
shape available ; so uncertain, however, was its action 
even then, that it was ultimately relinquished as a failure 
by all parties." 

Three of the statements have remained unquestioned 
for forty or fifty years ; but we are now asked to believe 
that all these gentlemen were wrong. Instead of being 
complicated, the mechanism of Gordon's flute, we are 
told, was " positively simple " when compared with that 
of a popular modern hautboy ; so far from giving no 
security for execution, the action of the crank and wire 
system " is practically perfect." For confirmation of 
this statement Mr. Rockstro appeals to Ward's flute ; 
but whilst informing us that Ward used the crank and 
wire mechanism for closing the two C valves on the foot 
of his flute, he quite forgets to mention that for the holes 
closed by the fingers he employed Boehm's ring-keys. 103 

But if Mr; Rockstro has the courage of his convictions, 
there is an easy way in which he can prove his sincerity. 

102 Rockstro on the Flute, section 595, p. 331. 

103 lb., section 571, p. 314. 



He has the drawing of the Gordon 
flute, and he professes to know how 
to finger it even better than Gordon. 
Instead of continuing to occupy the 
invidious position of one who heaps 
obloquy on him to whom he is in- 
debted for the instrument on which 
he plays, let him have a Gordon flute 
made, and let him discard the pro- 
duction of the hated and despised 
Boehm. The pigmy seated on the 
shoulders of a giant can see farther 
than the giant, but it would ill be- 
come him were he, whilst expatiating 
on the extent of the view he com- 
mands, to kick at the stalwart form 
by which he is supported. If Boehm 
is to be criticised by Mr. Rockstro, 
the fitness of things requires that he 
should criticise him on his knees. 

It now only remains to trace Gor- 
don's visit to Munich to its close. 
According to Coche's version of the 
story, on the 15th of* July, 1833, Gor- 
don wrote to a friend in Paris, a M. 
Merrier, 104 telling him that he was 
about to quit Munich for London, and 
stating that he had just had "made 
an excellent instrument after his 
model by a skilful artisan. He en- 
closed in this letter for distribution 
in Paris a number of copies of a printed 
'Tablature,' i. e. a table of fingering, 
of this flute. 105 In the 'Tablature,' 

104 A translation of the letter will be found 
at p. 132 and the original at p. 147. 

105 In the second edition of this work I 

C o 

o . 


3 ► 
v — 

P. a 


*■ c 






or in a preface to it, 106 Gordon, as we have seen, 
acknowledged his indebtedness to Boehm for the F sharp 
key, and for the D shake key. 107 There accompanied 
the ' Tablature ' a drawing of the instrument. 

Several copies of the 'Tablature'. with the drawing 
thus distributed in Paris by M. Mercier, were placed 
in Coche's hands ; 108 and it is a copy of this drawing 
which Coche professes to have given to the world as a 
drawing of Gordon's flute (Fig. 12, p. 107). This is so 
apparent that Coche does not think it necessary to state 
it in so many words ; but to make assurance doubly 
sure I questioned Buffet on the point, and he instantly 
replied that such was the fact. Buffet was perfectly 
familiar with Gordon's drawing, he had a copy of it 
with the ' Tablature,' and this he told me he kept until 
1 85 1 ; but when in London on a visit to see the Great 
Exhibition of that year, he lent it to a French gentle- 
man, by whom it was unfortunately either lost cr acci- 
dentally destroyed. 

Mr. Rockstro states that the " original drawing " of 
Coche's engraving was sent to Coche by the wife of 

gave what I believed to be the title affixed to this Tablature, but 
it was based on the slender foundation of an inference from an 
expression used by Dr. Schafhautl (see note 6, p. 164). Coche 
speaks of having received " several drawings and Tablatures," but 
he does not enter into particulars. I have now thought it best to 
confine myself to Coche's statement. 

106 Was there a preface to the Tablature ? It is scarcely con- 
ceivable that Gordon should have issued a table of fingering 
without some introductory remarks, and we know that there was a 
preface to his other table of fingering (p. 99), so that there is 
every antecedent probability of the existence of a preface. How- 
ever, all we learn from Coche's words, " La Cli du Fa% et la Cli 
du Trille de Re" appartiennent a. Mr. Boehm (Tablature Gordon)," 
is that the Tablature contained the acknowledgment. 

107 See p. 106. 

108 "piusieurs dessins et tablatures me furent donne"s au mois 
d'avril suivant" (April 1838), "pour me faire connaitre Monsieur 
Gordon comme le premier inventeur." — Coche's Method, p. 2. 


Gordon. This is the truth ; nevertheless, not being the 
whole truth, it conveys a false impression. If we are 
to accept the statements made in Paris, the ' Tablature ' 
and the drawing which Madame Gordon enclosed in 
her letter to Coche, were nothing but another copy of 
the printed ' Tablature ' and of the drawing, with several 
copies of which, as I have just mentioned, Coche states 
that he had been furnished before he received her 
letter. 109 

If we now turn from Coche's narrative to that of 
Boehm, we come to a point where there appears to be a 
direct antagonism between their representations. Ac- 
cording to Coche, Gordon wrote to M. Mercier as we 
have just seen, and enclosed the drawing of a flute 
(Fig. 12, p. 107), with which he was about to quit Munich. 
Boehm states that Gordon left Munich with a very 
different instrument, his Diatonic Flute, the facsimile of 
the * Tablature ' of which has been given opposite p. 102. 
Here Mr. Rockstro, who has so repeatedly accused 
Boehm of untruthfulness, suddenly deserts his friend 
Coche, " assuming the partial accuracy " of Boehm's 
statement. But if Mr. Rockstro rejects Coche's story 
and accepts that of Boehm, what becomes of Gordon's 
letter to M. Mercier ? Was this an invention of Coche, 
the gentleman whom Mr. Rockstro has been accustomed 
to regard "with feelings akin to reverence"? Or, if 
it be genuine, what were the printed papers enclosed in 
it ? Were they copies of the ' Tablature ' of Gordon's 

109 The letter is given in the Appendix — in French at p. 143, and 
in English at p. 127. 

This letter shows plainly enough that Madame Gordon intended 
to convey the impression that she forwarded a representation of 
an instrument made at Munich. She offers to write to Boehm's 
workman, " with whom he (her husband) made it." She states 
that it was " this instrument : ' that her husband cracked when 
endeavouring to effect a further improvement on it, and it was 
the drawing and tablature of " this instrument " that she says she 
encloses in her letter to Coche . 


Diatonic Flute, not of the instrument which Coche 
wishes us to accept as Gordon's ? 110 Then, again, there 

110 It will be remembered that the Tablature of the " Diatonic 
Flute " was preceded by a preface or introduction in which Gordon 
announced the new instrument " to the Musical World." Although 
Coche ignored Gordon's Diatonic Flute, a comparison of Gordon's 
preface with Coche's Examen Critique, the pamphlet he presented 
to the members of the Institute, suggests the idea that he was not 
unacquainted with the announcement of it, he having seemingly 
availed himself of the preface in the composition of his pamphlet, 
expanding Gordon's simple phrases into more highly sounding 
periods, and clothing his unaffectedly expressed ideas with pompous 
verbiage. For instance, Gordon begins his preface thus : " The 
flute, as it is known at the present day, is a very imperfect musical 
instrument." Coche commences his pamphlet as follows : " Of all 
musical instruments the flute is the most ancient ; it is that of 
which the use has never been interrupted, and which, nevertheless, 
has remained always imperfect." In the following the resemblance 
is more marked ; indeed, looking at the sequence of the sentences, 
it would seem to be not impossible that Coche had a copy of 
Gordon : s Tablature before him when he was writing. It will be for 
the reader to form his own opinion as to whether the correspondence 
between the two is or is not accidental. I will therefore place, for 
his convenience, the quotations in parallel columns. 

Gordon. Coche. 

In loading it (the flute) with Of all the attempts made up 
new keys they have only made to the present time by makers 
it more complicated without or artists, not one has remedied 
changing its defective conforma- the primitive defects in the con- 
tion, the sole way to improve it. struction of the flute ; they still 

exist in their integrity in the 

instrument of the present day, 

overloaded with a crowd of keys 

which injure its sonorousness, 

and complicate the embarras- 

ments of the fingering. 

These keys, moreover, as well The defectuosity of the flute 

as the holes, are not in their true may be attributed to the in- 

place. correct placing of the holes, 

which, since the origin of this 
instrument, have been pierced 
according to the natural exten- 
sion of the fingers. By this 


is the drawing Coche published of Gordon's flute. How 
could this have originated ? Did Coche imagine it? 

However it came into existence, it is unquestionably 
a very extraordinary and incomprehensible production. 

Gordon. Coche. 

Many notes have not a suffi- system the greater part of the 
cient length of column of air, holes do not correspond to the 
whence, partly, the indecision, fractions of the column of air 
the inequality, and the false in- that give the acoustic propor- 
tonation of the greater part of tions ; whence arise the differ- 
these notes. ences in the size and the distance 

of the holes, and, in consequence, 
defective and unequal intona- 
tions, such as ; 

The study of this instrument such are the principal dim- 
in its present state is a constant culties before which the best 
struggle with these defects, which artists will always run aground, 
one can succeed in palliating, in because these difficulties proceed 
disguising more or less success- from defects inherent in the 
fully, but never in entirely over- flute, 
coming, because they lie in the 
structure of the instrument. 

Gordon's preface has already been given in French in the facsimile 
of the Tablature. For the sake of comparison I append the original 
of the above quotation from Coche's pamphlet : " Ainsi, de tous les 
essais tenths jusqu'a present par des facteurs ou des artistes, aucun 
n'a reme'die' aux vices primitifs de la construction de la flute ; ils 
existent encore inte'gralemen.t dans l'instrument actuel, surcharge^ 
d'une foule de cl^s qui nuisent a sa sonoritd et compliquent les 
embarras du doigte\ 

On peut attribuer la deTectuosite de la flute au placement inexact 
des trous, qui, depuis l'origine de cet instrument, ont 6t6 perces 
d'apres l'e'cartement naturel des doigts. Par ce syste'me, la plupart 
des trous ne correspondent pas aux fractions de la colonne d'air 
que donnent les proportions acoustiques ; de la naissent les differ- 
ences dans la grandeur et la distance des trous, et, par suite, des 

intonations vicieuses et indgales, telles que ; telles sont 

les principales difficulte's devant lesquelles les meilleurs artistes 
e'choueront toujours, par ce que ces difficulte's proviennent de 
deTauts inhe'rents a la flute." 


I will examine one key only, that for closing the B 
natural hole ; a key which we have already had occasion 
to discuss from another point of view. It is indicated 
in the drawing by the letter e (see p. 107). Judging 
from the way in which it is depicted, it would seem to 
have been the intention of the draughtsman to represent 
this key as working on the axle/. But if this were so, 
the finger would open instead of close, as it ought to 
do, the valve e. It is true that flute-makers are familiar 
with a device by which the action could be reversed, 
but such mechanism could not be placed on the flute 
without it being visible. 

Mr. Rockstro proposes a different explanation. He 
considers that instead of working on the axle /, the 
shank of the key passed clear over this axle. But we are 
thus only landed in a still greater difficulty, there being 
no axle shown on which the key could have worked. 
Mr. Rockstro says that the axle must have been at or 
near h, " perhaps under the crescent." But even if we 
assume that it would be possible for it to have been so 
concealed by the crescent as not to be visible to the eye 
of the draughtsman, our difficulties are not lessened by 
Mr. Rockstro's explanation ; for had it been placed at k, 
no action could have been obtained on pressing the 
finger on the crescent, as the pressure of that part of 
the finger which was above, would neutralise the pres- 
sure of the part which was below the axle, half the 
force being applied to the lever on one side and half 
on the other side of the fulcrum. Thus it is open to a 
Boehmite, should he condescend to adopt the tactics of 
his opponents, to say that the person who made the 
drawing, by one of those strange oversights by which 
so many attempts to deceive have been brought to 
light, has depicted a key, which either opens the hole it 
ought to close, or else has no attachment to the flute. 

That Coche was not free from certain of the pro- 
clivities with which Mr. Pecksniff's name is usually asso- 


ciated is only too apparent on his own showing, 111 but 
God forbid that we should allow him, now that he is 
no longer able to explain or defend himself, to be pro- 
nounced guilty of forgery on such evidence as this, 
or on the authority of Mr. Rockstro's assumption. And 
as regards the seemingly conflicting statements of 
Coche and Boehm, surely, instead of striving to prove 
that one of two dead men must be an Ananias, to most 
minds it would be a more congenial task to en- 
deavour to ascertain if some means could not be found 
of reconciling what seems contradictory. Why, for 
instance, should not Coche and Boehm both be right ? 
Who can say that Gordon did not leave Munich with 
two flutes ; that which Coche produced, and that which 
Boehm brought forward? Boehm designed two flutes, one 
on which he sought to retain, the other on which he aban- 
doned the old fingering. How can we tell that Gordon 
too might not have wished to have two instruments, an 
improved old, and also a new flute ? Tulou had con- 
demned his change of fingering. Schafhautl speaks of 
him as wedded to an eight-keyed flute ; whereas Gordon's 
flute, as figured by Coche, is a still greater departure 
from the old flute than is the Boehm. Indeed, it would 
seem to be far from impossible that Schafhautl saw 
the two flutes in Boehm's workshop, for, in describing 
Gordon's flute, he mentions things peculiar to each of 
the instruments. 112 

I was once in a position which would have enabled 
me, I have little doubt, had I availed myself of the 
opportunity, to make known far more on this subject 
than Boehm had previously thought proper to publish. 
It was on the occasion of my first interview with him. 
He was sitting alone expecting my visit when I entered 
the room. Whether or not he was gifted with the faculty 
of second sight, and had been mysteriously warned that 
one was approaching who was destined to tell the story 
111 See p. 71. 112 See Appendix, p. 164, note 6. 


of his flute I cannot say ; but certain it is that, although 
I was a perfect stranger, in the very breath in which he 
greeted me, he began with singular abruptness to speak 
of Gordon. He was in a communicative mood, and was 
evidently desirous of going fully into the story. But his 
words fell on deaf ears. At that time I little thought 
that I should ever interest myself in Gordon or his flute. 
I paid no heed to what he said ; ' I was only thinking of 
how to lead the conversation to another subject on which 
I was anxious to have his opinion. 

Is history a record of facts, or a product of the 
imagination ? 

How often has this question forced itself on those 
who endeavour to ascertain the truth or falsehood of the 
narratives with which its pages are filled. We have just 
seen how difficult it is to sift fact from fiction in the 
statements made in the past respecting the origin of the 
Boehm flute. And now, in the year of grace 1891, 
there has appeared a new and totally different version 
of the story. 113 Whether this fresh addition to the 
literature of the subject is more, or less credible than 
Mr. Rockstro's account, whether the evidence on which 
it is based is better or worse, I shall leave others to 

To such a degree has the march of events been 
quickened in these days of railways and telephones, that 
the Boehm-Gordon incident has already reached the 
stage of myth. Boehm, it is true, has not been identified 
with Marsyas, nor Mr. Rockstro with Apollo. The 
azure sky, the mountain breeze, and the brawling of the 
Nysaean torrent are conspicuous by their absence. The 
story has taken the form of a medieval legend ; we smell 
brimstone and catch sight of blue flames. 

So incredible does it appear that any human being 
could have inflicted on his fellow mortals the maddening 
task of attempting to master the difficulties of the Boehm 

113 See the National Observer, Jan. 17, 1891. 


fingering, that it has come to be believed that this 
fingering must be the invention of the Enemy of Mankind. 
The legend presents points of resemblance to that of the 
Devil and Dr. Faustus with which poets and dramatists 
have made us so familiar. Boehm, like Faust, sold his 
soul, not, however, for a beautiful woman, but for a new 
flute. Gordon becomes a Mephistopheles, Satan dis- 
guised as an angel of light. 

How the tempter first assailed his victim is as yet a 
mystery. Whether he revealed himself in a vision of 
the night, as he did to Tartini, and ravished Boehm, 
whilst he slept, with a supernatural flute solo ; whether 
he appeared to him as he was struggling, file and 
hammer in hand, to construct some new key by the dim 
light of a midnight lamp ; or whether, to disarm sus- 
picion, he introduced himself by broad daylight at 
Messrs. Gerock and Wolfs in the simple gufse of an ex- 
officer of the French army, are still matters of conjecture. 
But wherever might have been the scene of the pre- 
liminary negotiations, it was not in a murky den of 
this crime-stained Babylon, nor in some quiet recess of 
Boehm's peaceful home that the bargain was finally 
struck. It was on a blasted heath that the unholy bond 
was signed, sealed, and delivered. Here 'midst the 
crashing and flashing of thunder and lightning, the 
hurtling of hail, and the hoarse cry of the storm-fiend, 
the Boehm flute was ushered into the world. 

Mr. Rockstro will be delighted to hear that Boehm, 
whom he believes to have imposed on so many thousands 
of flute-players, proved to be no match for the Old 
Gentleman. Gordon, less honest than the Mephisto- 
pheles of Faust, having secured the reversion of Boehm's 
soul, palmed off upon him in return an instrument with 
a well-nigh impossible fingering. On discovering that 
he had been duped, the selfish and mercenary Boehm, 
instead of burying the accursed model deep under- 
ground, proceeded to console himself for his bad bargain 



by disposing of it to confiding brother flautists ; thereby 
entailing on the world of flute-players greater ills than 
those which afflicted mankind on the opening of 
Pandora's box. 

The legend as I shall present it to the reader has 
been wafted from far Samoa. It comes from a very dis- 
tinguished pen, that of Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson, 
who has thrown it into verse, as follows : — 


(Inventor of the New Fingering which bears his Name). 

An Autobiographical Reminiscence. 

As o'er your flageolet we lean, 

Mark your two D's — 
The sharps, I mean — 
And tell me, how came these 

In that relation ? 
Or take your A's — 
You've three of those 
Attained in the most diverse ways 
Plainly to drive the virtuose 

To desperation — 
You surely cannot mean me to suppose 

This strange derangement sprang from calculation ? 

Was it in dream, 

O Boehm, 

You saw these keys that seem 

So singularly mingled ? 

The Devil doubtless, on some lonely track, 

While the rude wind swept by you with a hiss 

And on your back 

The hailstones tingled, 
Met you by assignation, and displayed 
Three models 1M diabolically made : 
From which (being all amazement) it was this 

You rashly singled. 

114 The three models, from which Boehm selected one, are men- 
tioned at p. 24 of this work. 


One moment in your soul (which you had sold) 

Joy doubtless glowed 

As, pipe in hand, you took the road 

Towards your plain abode 

In some unknown and old 

And spiry German city. 
Joyful, no doubt, you sat you down 
And trimmed your light, 
And to the drowsy murmur of the town 
Prepared to charm the night 

With some old ditty. 
One moment only : then the whole 

Infernal cheat 

Dawned on your soul, 

And you broke forth in words I can't repeat, 

Or with a groan 

Sat turned to stone : 
Iago, O, the pity ! 

Say, Boehm, long dead, long damned, 

What did you then, 

When you beheld yourself thus bammed, 115 

The most beguiled of men 

Since Hell could over-reach ? 

Say, did you put your sentiment in speech 

Or fear to say it ? 
Say, did you hurl to ground 
That most unsound 
Fallacious flageolet, 
And set 

Your foot upon 't, to bray it ? 
It may be. Fancy trembles to conceive 
The doings of that eve, 
Your rage, your pain, 
When, in a clap of thunder, you saw plain 
You had your pipe, dear bought, and bought in vain — 

You had your pipe, and you could never play it ! 

How long, O Boehm, before 

Hope, like the sunshine in a shady place, 

Revived ? arid could restore 

The glory to your face, 

Glory so bright that never bard could tell it ? 

115 " Bammed? an abbreviation of bamboozled. 

U 2 


How long before that thought 
Burst on you in a jet ? 
And your proud back you bowed, 
Picked up that dearly bought 
Still precious flageolet, 
And cried aloud : 
" I cannot play, by God, but I can sell it ! " 

And now, having disposed of Boehm and Gordon, I 
will say a few words on a subject of more importance to 
us than a flute-makers' paltry squabble — the connec- 
tion between science and the construction of our instru- 

In these days of enlightenment every man seems to be 
proud of science, but ashamed of art. Makers and com- 
pounders of every sort and kind fancy that they can lift 
themselves above the level of their fellows by holding 
on to the skirts of Faraday, Tyndall, or some other man 
of science. Every article touters invite us to purchase 
is a scientific production ; every nostrum we are advised 
by quacks to swallow is a scientific remedy. Indeed, 
so universally has science become diffused, that she has 
found her way to our nether garments, and has even 
descended into our boots. 

But leaving such mysteries as these to scientific 
trouser-cutters and scientific shoemakers, let us ask this 
question : Is the science of acoustics as yet sufficiently 
advanced to admit of its discoveries being applied to the 
art of flute-making ? " It is easy," as Clinton says, " to 
show how the vibrations and the waves of air in the 
flute are governed by the laws and principles of acous- 
tics ; and to the uninitiated ear it smacks in some degree 
of learning," but to what extent does it assist the flute- 
maker ? In order to obtain an answer to this question 
we will see what help the flute-maker can get from 
science in settling the five most important considerations 
which claim his attention in constructing a flute, viz. : — 
the material of the instrument, its bore, the place for its 


cork, the configuration of its embouchure, and the 
position of its finger-holes. 

First as regards the material. Does the material of 
which the flute is made affect the tone of the instru- 
ment ? 

Boehm tells us that flutes made of hard German silver 
give a clear but shrill tone, inferior to that produced by- 
tubes of brass or silver ; and he further states that, in 
comparison with these, " the tone of flutes made of wood 
sounds literally wooden." 116 Now is, or is not this distinc- 
tion in the quality of the tone an illusion of the sense 
of hearing ? m M. Victor Mahillon regards it as a blot 
on Boehm's reputation that he was unable to emancipate 
himself from such old prejudices and accept the teaching 
of his own theory that it is the air alone that vibrates 
in the flute. 118 

116 Essay on the Construction of Flutes, p. 45. 

117 To test the question of how far the tone of a wind instrument 
is influenced by the employment of metal or wood as the material 
of which it is made, M. Victor Mahillon constructed a cavalry 
trumpet of wood, with the result that it yielded precisely the same 
bright, shrill, brassy, ringing sound as the ordinary metal trumpet ; 
indeed, no difference could be distinguished in the timbre of the 
two instruments. See his Elements cT A coustique, p. 64. 

Those who remember the introduction of the silver flute will 
recollect that its opponents expressed a most violent dislike to its 
tone. To meet them, it was usual to place a flute-player behind a 
screen, or in an adjoining room, where he was to play alternately 
on a wood and a silver flute, and to ask them if they could say with 
certainty, without seeing the instrument, on which of the two he 
was playing. To such an extent did flautists of the old school 
allow themselves to be influenced by prejudice against flutes of 
metal that Edward Marshall of Oxford, a pupil of Nicholson, and 
a good professional player on the eight-keyed flute, having at one 
time become subject to fancies, and imagining that he was about 
to die, once said to the author, '• I shall soon be in Heaven, and 
then I shall play on a golden flute, but mind," he added, raising 
his voice and speaking with great energy, " it must be lined with 

118 That Boehm held the opinion that the vibration of the material 
of the flute is an essential factor in the production of the tone is 


How is the bewildered flute-maker to decide between 
these two authorities ? Has Sir John Herschel, Lord 
Rayleigh, Sir George Airy, or any other scientist come 
to his rescue, and demonstrated for him whether or not 
the difference in tone alleged to exist between a silver 
and a wood flute is real, or imaginary ? No ! he is left 
to what " will naturally be supposed " ; and he is further 
told that " attempts to argue theoretically on questions 
of this kind are almost useless." 119 

Secondly, there is the bore of the flute. Is the flute- 
maker indebted to science for its form and proportions ? 

Let us hear what Mr. Rockstro has to say. " As far 
as I have been able to discover," remarks that gentle- 
man, "all improvements that have ever been effected 
in the bores of wind instruments have been absolutely 
empirical." 120 

The diameter of the widest portion of the bore of the 
flute is to this day six-eighths, or *75 of an inch, just as 
it was when the primitive, keyless tube figured at p. 218 
was made, 121 long before science had demonstrated the 
nature of the undulations of the column of air the bore 
encloses. For the bore we now use, the combination of 
the cylindrical body with the tapering head, we are 

evident from a passage in his Essay on the Construction of Flutes, 
p. 26. " In order to obtain the sound of a wind instrument, the 
column of air within the tube must be brought into certain vibra- 
tions, different from those of strings, tuning forks, or metallic 
springs. These vibrations must react upon the body that surrounds 
the air column, and excite its molecular vibrations, without which 
no sound can arise." In his later work Boehm uses this theory to 
explain the ease with which the tone of a silver flute can be elicited, 
referring it to the small quantity of material required to be thrown 
into vibration. 

119 Rockstro on the Flute, section 247, p. 95. 

120 Ibid., section 341, p. 162. 

121 I ought to mention that this measurement was not taken with 
an instrument capable of measuring millimetres, such as flute- 
makers use. I had only an ordinary tape for the purpose. 


indebted wholly and solely to the " ignorant impostor," 
the last rag of whose science, we are told, has been torn 
from his back by the spasmodic clutching of well-meaning 
but hysterical admirers. Five-and-forty years ago Boehm 
made hundreds of patient experiments to ascertain the 
best form and proportions for the bore, and if some 
flute-makers have departed slightly from what he re- 
commended, it has not been in obedience to the dictates 
of science. The floods of scientific light which have 
been poured on the production of sound in tubes have 
left no mark on the bore of the flute. Science has not 
touched the bore with her little finger. 

The third point is the position of the cork, or stopper. 

Have we now at length reached the domain of science ? 
It would seem so to judge from the way she has applied 
herself to enlighten us on the nature of the undulations 
of the air in tubes open, and tubes stopped at one end. 
If she has so much to say on this subject, surely she can 
tell the flute-maker where to put his stopper. But no ! 
it is by " experiment " 122 that the position is ascertained 
which gives the best results. Indeed it is not to Dame 
Science, but to Lady Chance 123 that we are indebted for 
the discovery that the position of the stopper exercises 
an influence on the harmonics. 

Madame Science can talk by the hour about the 
oscillations to and fro of the particles of air confined in 
tubes. She can discourse of their condensations and 
their rarefactions, of their reflexions positive and nega- 
tive, of their nodes and of their antinodes ; she can even 
reveal to our wondering eyes the secret gambols of their 
mystic dance. But when we ask her to give us an 

122 Rockstro'on the Flute, section 331, p. 155. 

123 " Le hasard fit de"couvrir qu'en dtablissant une cavite" a la 
gauche du trou d'embouchure, le partage du tuyau ne'cessaire a la 
production des harmoniques, s'ope'rerait en e*tablissant le japport 
ne'cessaire entre les uns et les autres."— Mahillon, Elements 
(PAcoustiqtte, p. 192. 


account of the behaviour of the column of air between 
the cork and the mouth-hole, she is silent. Instead of 
being able to teach, she still has everything to learn. 
Mr. Rockstro has been poring over books of science for 
thirty years, and all that he has been able to extract from 
them on the subject amounts to this, that the vibrations 
in this column of air " appear to be somewhat similar in 
their nature to those which extend beyond the lower end 
of the instrument, and to be even less understood." 1U 

Fourthly, there comes the embouchure. 

What a mystery have we here ! The embouchure is 
the larynx of the flute ; nay, it is its very heart. It is 
the embouchure which quickens the pulse whose flutter- 
ing throb endows the dead stick with the gift of speech, 
and transforms it into a living being. It would be indeed 
strange if so wonderful an organ had not attracted 
the attention of Science ; accordingly, we find that 
amongst those whom she has deputed to lay bare its 
secrets are some of the most able of her sons. Are they 
agreed on the nature of its functions ? We will again 
appeal to Mr. Rockstro. "There is probably no sub- 
ject," he declares, " in the whole range of the science of 
acoustics on which greater uncertainty and diversity 
of opinion prevail." 

The last addition to these scientific speculations is 
the clever contribution of Mr. Hermann Smith, but Mr. 
Rockstro throws doubts on its soundness. Sir George 
Airy says that this obscure matter demands more com- 
plete investigation, Lord Rayleigh speaks of our ignorance 
as to the mode of action of the wind, and Helmholtz 
expresses a hope of being able to investigate it more 
extensively. Instead, then, of having so far reached 
the deductive stage as to be able to formulate laws for 
the guidance of the flute-maker, it is possible that the 
science of the embouchure has not yet advanced from 
hypothesis into theory. 

124 Rockstro on the Flute, section 338, p. 158. 


Boehm was fully alive to the importance of the em- 
bouchure. He made its shape, its size, its depth, and 
the angle at which it should slope, the subject of his 
experiments. Mr. Rockstro, too, has his ideas as to its 
form, but they do not agree with those of Boehm. On 
this uncertain topic Boehm is satisfied with telling us 
what he thinks best adapted to the purpose, and what 
"according to" his "views" is "most suitable," 125 and 
giving us his "opinion" 126 for what it is worth. But 
what is doubtful to Boehm is obvious to Mr. Rockstro. 
He rushes in where Boehm fears to tread, and presents 
us with a diagram of a "perfect" embouchure. 127 But 
from the nature of the case its perfection is of the musi-be 
order, not the offspring of applied science. 

Finally, we have to consider the position of the finger- 
holes, and here, at last, we enter on debatable ground. 

Boehm, who prided himself far more on his knowledge 
of science, to acquire which had cost him so much time 
and trouble, than on the mechanical gifts with which he 
had been so liberally endowed by nature, used his utmost 
endeavours to place the position of the finger-holes on a 
scientific basis. He embodied the result of his labours in 
a Schema, or Diagram for the use of musical instrument 
makers in tuning their instruments, and in this Schema 
the position of the finger-holes was made to depend on 
a calculation of the wave-length of the column of air. 

It appears, however, that the belief—a belief in which 
I confess that I once shared— that flute-makers make 
use of the Schema is erroneous. M. Cavaille-Coll states 
that the best flute-makers he has consulted have admitted 
that to get at the position of the finger-holes they feel 
their way by repeated trials. As far as I have been 
able to learn, Messrs. Rudall, Carte, & Co. are guided 

The Flute and Flute Playing, translated by Mr. Triggs, 

ch. 2 

126 Essay on the Construction of Flutes, p. 38 

127 Rockstro on the Flute, section 336, p. 157. 


by experiment and the results of experience, whilst 
Mr. Rockstro arrives at the position of two or three of 
his holes by " direct experiment," and then, to save time 
and trouble, has recourse to a geometrical calculation, 
taking these holes as data, to find the place of the 
others. 128 

But if a flute were constructed with its holes placed 
where Boehm's Schema requires, would it prove a well- 
tuned instrument ? On this point opinions are divided. 

It is, of course, needless to say which side Mr. Rockstro 
would take on such a question. Mr. Rockstro knows of 
two attempts to construct a flute according to the Schema. 
They were made by gentlemen whose names he does 
not think it necessary to mention, but one of them was 
an eminent flute manufacturer. The failure of both 
experiments was complete. Mr. Rockstro has already 
pronounced Boehm's efforts in flute-making to have ter- 
minated in the production of an object of " disgust " ; 
"an inherently imperfect thing," "most wretched" in 
tone and tune, " lamentably," " extravagantly," and " out- 
rageously " bad. But the vocabulary of vituperation is 
not exhausted. So horrible, shocking, and dreadful was 
the result of his experiment, that it was declared by 
the eminent but anonymous flute manufacturer to be 
"ghastly." 129 

M. Cavaille-Coll, however, has come to a very different 
conclusion. This gentleman was deputed by the jury to 
examine Boehm's Schema when it was sent to the Paris 
Exhibition of 1867. He reported that it was vitiated 
by a fundamental error ; Boehm had miscalculated the 
length of the sound-wave. The matter dropped ; but 
after the lapse of fifteen or sixteen years M. Cavaille- 
Coll's attention was again drawn to the subject. There- 
upon he borrowed, and proceeded to measure a silver 

128 Rockstro on the Ftute, section 350, p. 170. 

129 Ibid., section 349, p. 169. 


flute on the Boehm system on which M. De Vroye was 
playing. To his surprise he discovered that it corre- 
sponded exactly to the proportions of the Schema, not 
only in the length of the tube, but even in the position 
of the finger-holes. On reflection, he became convinced 
that his statement that Boehm had miscalculated the 
length of the sound-wave was the result of an oversight. 
Temperature exercises an influence on the sound-wave, 
as every flute-player knows to his cost, and M. Cavaill6- 
Coll had omitted to notice that Boehm had based his 
calculations on the length of the sound-wave in air at 
the temperature to which the interior of the flute is 
raised by the breath of the performer. This led him to 
reconsider the whole question, and the conclusion at 
which he arrived, as stated in a paper which he pub- 
lished, 130 was that the Schema is perfectly correct, and 
that it satisfies all the requirements of the flute-maker. 

On the other hand, Dr. Schafhautl states 131 that the 
problem involved in the position of the finger-holes is 
so complicated that the attempts made to solve it, 
though they come near, have not as yet reached reality. 
Whenever Boehm attempted to make flutes with the 
side-holes placed according to his (Schafhautl's) calcula- 
tions, there were always a few vibrations in excess or 
defect. Empirical formulce, the Doctor goes on to say, 
alone can help here. So, too, M. Victor Mahillon, speaking 
with the double authority of a flute-maker and a writer on 
acoustics, informs us that a study of the work in which 
Boehm made his principles known has convinced him that 
Boehm either did not carry out his theory in his prac- 
tice, or else did not completely divulge the result of his 
researches. An organ-pipe, he admits, can be made the 
subject of scientific calculation, but not the tube of a 
flute. Not even for its length, much less for the position 

130 This paper is reprinted in this work, p. 306. 

131 Infra, p. 464. '- 


of its finger-holes, do the figures prove absolutely correct. 
The results are approximative only. Theory and prac- 
tice, he adds, do not agree ; an admission, as it is need- 
less to point out, that the true theory, as far as the flute 
is concerned, has still to be ascertained, or that a 
second theory is required to account for the residual 
phenomena, the nature of the disturbing influence and 
the laws which govern it having still to be studied. 132 
If, then, there is not one of these five departments of 

132 u n ous a vons dit que les lois des longueurs ne donnent que des 
rdsultats approximatifs. II suffit, en effet, de comparer ces chiffres 
avec la longueur re'elle de la flute et la position de ses trous late'raux 
pour se convaincre que la the'orie n'est pas d'accord avec la pratique. 
Cette divergence existe non seulement pour les tuyaux de la 
flute, mais pour toutes les colonnes d'air en ge'ne'ral. En i860, 
M. Cavaille'-Coll, le celebre facteur d'orgue, pre'sentait a l'Academie 
des Sciences de Paris une formule qui permet de calculer d'une 
fa^on exacte la longueur d'un tuyau d'orgue. Cette formule 
applique'e aux tuyaux cylindriques est la suivante : 

N 3 

dans laquelle L reprdsente la longueur du tuyau, V la vitesse du 
son N le nombre de vibrations, D le diametre. Cette formule n'est 
pas applicable au calcul de la longueur d'une flute traversiere ; 
Fembouchure de celle-ci, par sa position sur la paroi late'rale du 
tube et par son diametre infe'rieur a celui de la section du tuyau, 
abaisse le son plus que le fait la bouche des tuyaux d'orgue ; par 
suite de cette conformation d'embouchure, le tuyau de la flute 
traversiere se range parmi ceux que Ton de'signe sous le nom de 
tuyaux par tiellement douche's. De plus, la partie de la flute com- 
prise entre le trou de l'embouchure et le bouchon qui sert a opdrer 
la fermeture supe'rieure du tube, agissant en tuyau fermt, doit 
compter pour double dans revaluation de la longueur totale de la 
flute. Cet espace compris entre le bouchon et le centre de 
l'embouchure est en moyenne de o m 017. Dans ces conditions il 
est difficile de calculer avec une precision absolue la longueur de la 
flute. Le calcul de la position exacte des trous late'raux est plus 
complique' encore." — Mahillon, Etude sur le doigti de la Flute 
Boehm, p. 8. 


his art in which the flute-maker can press acoustics into 
his service, and use her as his handmaid to assist him in 
his difficulties, where, it will be asked, is the flute-maker's 
science ? The flute-maker's science is as yet unborn. 
She is waiting for some competent investigator to bring 
her into the world by devoting himself to the problems 
which have still to be solved before she can see the 
light. But whoever he shall be that may undertake the 
task, it will be for him to bear in mind that to the student 
of Natural Science — and the most distinguished scientific 
man is but a student — there is no must-be. His first 
lesson is Humility. At every step he doubts and tries ; 
then doubts and tries again. There are domains of 
thought which the must-be gentlemen can claim as their 
own, but these gentlemen have no place amongst the 
workers in the field of inductive science. 

One other word — a word on behalf of my younger 
and less experienced brother amateurs. 

It is high time that a protest should be raised against 
the practice of dangling before the eyes of flute-players 
the bait of perfection — a practice by which so many of 
us have been induced to lighten our pockets and waste 
our time, only to discover that we have been invited to 
grasp at a will-o'-the-wisp. 

How often have we been mocked by this illusion even 
within the memory of men still living ! First came 
Coche. He, however, was far too clever to claim per- 
fection in his own name. They manage such things 
better in France. He was able to bring forward Berton, 
Cherubini, Paer, Auber, Halevy, and Carafa as sponsors 
for the statement that in his flute were to be found 
" perfect intonation and equality of tone." 133 These 
distinguished composers, though they were ready to 
vouch for the fact that all the faults of the old flute had 
been corrected, did not profess to be competent to 

133 See Berton's letter to Coche, and the report of the Academie 
Roy ale des Beaux- Arts, pp. 118 et seq. 


explain, of their own knowledge, in what these imper- 
fections consisted. 

They represented that they had obtained their infor- 
mation on the subject whilst "chatting" with a gentle- 
man yclept the celebrated Charles, a gentleman who 
combined the accomplishments of a great physicist 
(grand physicien), a distinguished amateur of music, and 
a " pretty good " flute-player. Unfortunately, however, 
the great physicist betrays such ignorance of the 
acoustics of the flute that even Mr. Rockstro cannot 
help laughing at him, and as for the vaunted perfection 
of Coche's instrument, that gentleman informs us that 
in intonation it was almost as defective, and in tone 
decidedly inferior to " the inherently imperfect thing " 
turned out at Boehm's factory at Munich. 

Next comes Siccama. He reduces his right to the 
throne of perfection to a mathematical demonstration. 
The passage in which he brings forward his claim is 
quoted in these pages, 134 and Mr. Rockstro has been so 
complimentary as to repeat it in his ' Treatise on the 
Flute.' Mr. Rockstro makes short work of Siccama. 
He pronounces his Diatonic flute to be " an unphiloso- 
phical and unnatural combination of two incompatible 
things," and so far was it from attaining perfection, that 
" its third octave," we are told, " was almost irredeemably 

Siccama was followed by Clinton. When Clinton 
first became a flute-maker he spurned the idea of per- 
fection. " No flute is perfect," he said, " nor can be ; 
the principle by which we obtain the sounds of thirty- 
seven pipes, varying in length and size, from one single 
tube, precludes the possibility of perfection." But alas 
for consistency ! A few years afterwards Mr. Clinton 
brought out a new model to which he gave the name 
of the Equisonant flute, and at the same time he pro- 

lSi Supra, p. 17. 


ceeded to assure the world of flute-players that he had 
obtained an instrument "perfect in tone and tune." 135 

The Equisonant fares even worse at Mr. Rockstro's 
hands than does the Diatonic flute. He makes merry- 
over it. A facetious gentleman, he informs us, once 
asked Mr. Clinton if Equisonant did not mean equally 
bad all over. "Unfortunately," adds the witty Mr. 
Rockstro, the instrument " had not even that negative 
merit, it was unequally bad." 

And now I come to a circumstance which seems well- 
nigh incredible. So irresistible appears to be the temp- 
tation to which flute improvers are exposed to claim 
perfection that the very man who has been denouncing 
and ridiculing the perfection of others, having thus 
cleared the ground, steps into the vacant place. Mr. 
Rockstro, who denies that Perfection ever deigned to 
bestow a glance on those of his predecessors who boasted 

is5 « ^jy. en( j ea vour has been to obtain an instrument worthy of 
its class ; perfect in tone and tune ; equal in all the keys of music ; 
to secure that corresponding equality in the three octaves which 
has hitherto been so difficult and apparently so hopeless ; and 
lastly, to combine with it that simplicity of fingering without which 
all our efforts to obtain fluency and certainty of execution and ex- 
pression must prove ineffectual. I have no difficulty in showing that 
in these particulars my labours have been attended with complete 
success." — Clinton's Hints to Flute Players, p. 23. 

When, in reliance on these representations, I purchased of Mr. 
Clinton one of his Equisonant flutes, I had not read the work in 
which the following occurs. In this extract I have taken the 
liberty, with many apologies to the City Editor of The Times, 
of interpolating the word flute. " Do not listen to what other 
people have to recommend. People who are engaged in commerce 
in all its multifarious ramifications care only for themselves, and 
for no other single soul ; it is at all times consequently idle to put 
any other construction upon advice to buy a certain flute, tendered 
apparently with the most benevolent motives, than that it is to serve 
directly or indirectly the purpose of him who recommends the pur- 
chase. In business every one is for himself, and, as the saying is, 
'the devil take the hindmost. '" — Crump oti the Theory of Stock 
Exchange Speculation, p. 59. 


that they had enjoyed her favours, is as certain that the 
coy Goddess has descended from heaven to take up her 
abode with him, as was Endymion that the chaste Diana 
came down from the clouds to crown with bliss his 
amorous slumbers. 136 

It would be useless to deny that it was a source of 
regret to more than one of Mr. Rockstro's well-wishers 
to find that a work we were all so ready to welcome into 
the world, a work which, when it appeared, proved to be 
rich in the fruits of observation and research, and distin- 
guished by a literary style for the excellence of which we 
were not prepared, had been made the vehicle for such 
pretensions. Indeed it was not long before the author 
himself had cause to repent him of his indiscretion. 
An American reviewer 137 of his ' Treatise on the Flute,' 
not content with charging him with denouncing Boehm 
and his work in order to heighten the value of his own, 
pronounced his ponderous volume to be "one of the 
most stupendous advertisements in book form of modern 
times," and called attention to what seemed to his 'cute 
transatlantic mind to be a master stroke of smartness, 
that the " advertising scheme " was carried out " all at 
the expense of a large and respectable list of subscribers 
named in the last pages." 

" O wad some power the giftie gie us 
To see ourselves as others see us ! 
It wad frae monie a blunder free us, 
And foolish notion." 

In conclusion, I can only express a hope that when 
Mr. Rockstro has gone to his long rest, when the pen has 
fallen from his clay-cold hand and his tongue is silent 
for ever, his memory may meet with more tender treat- 

v 136 Rockstro on the Flute, section 68 r, p. 393, section 703, p. 413 : 
section 367, p. 186. 

137 See The Leader, a monthly musical journal published at 
Boston, for January 1891. 


ment than that which he has accorded to those who have 
preceded him in the path he is treading. I do not say, 
may he not be assailed as he has assailed Boehm, for 
such an attack would only recoil on him by whom it 
was made. But may no future improver of the flute 
who proceeds to tear the perfection of others to tatters, 
and then to set up his own, use him as a butt for sorry 
jests, as he has jeered at Clinton sleeping in his quiet 
grave, or point at him the finger of scorn, and describe 
him as he has described the dumb and defenceless 
Siccama, of whom he has not scrupled to write : " About 
the year 1842 he conceived the unfortunate idea that he 
was destined to be the inventor of a new flute that should 
eclipse everything that had been made or imagined. 
Having become imbued with this notion, he set to work 
with all the vigour of an energetic nature. He had little 
knowledge of the flute and less inventive genius, but he 
determined to bring out a flute associated with his name, 
and he did so." 





From the '£cho Musical' of Brussels for January ii, 1883. 

LORS de l'Exposition universelle de Paris en 1867, 
Monsieur Theobald Bcehm fit appel a l'attention du jury 
de la classe 10 sur un Schema ou diapason pour la con- 
struction des flutes de son systeme intitule 1 (par lui) : 
Illustration graphique de la gamme moyenne, d'apres le 
diapason normal et de la progression giomttrique pour 
mettre d? accord ces proportions avec chaque diapason. 

Le jury des instruments de musique nous ayant confie 
la mission d'examiner ce Schema, une note redigee par 
nous sur ce nouveau travail de Bcehm a et6 publie in 
extenso dans le rapport du jury de la classe 10 (' Instru- 
ments de musique,' tome deuxieme, pages 280 et 283). 

Dans cette note, nous faisions remarquer que la base 
du diapason de Bcehm donnait des longueurs d'onde 
trop grandes par rapport au ton normal francais de 870 
vibrations par seconde, a la temperature moyenne ; que 
la longueur d'onde du la 3 normal est de o m 39i 

tandis que la longueur indiquee sur le Schema 
de Bcehm est de o m 398 

soit une difference en plus de o m 007 

et si nous comparons la longueur d'onde de l'ut 3 
grave de la Flute, nous trouvons sur le Schema 
une longueur d'onde de o m 6yo 

au lieu de l'onde du ton normal de o m 6$y 

soit une difference en plus de o m oi3 

m. cavaille-coll on boehm's schema. 307 

En terminant nous faisions remarquer que malgre ces 
differences qui pourraient resulter de la vitesse du son 
que 1'auteur du Schema aurait pu prendre pour base, 
on devait reconnaitre que cette echelle graphique des 
divisions de la gamme avait ete etablie par 1'auteur 
avec beaucoup de soin et d'une maniere rationnelle ; 
tandis que jusqu'alors, et de l'aveu meme des meilleurs 
facteurs que nous avions consultes, leurs instruments 
avaient toujours ete faits experimentalement et par 

Depuis l'Exposition de 1867 nous n'avions plus entendu 
parler du Schema de Bcehm, alors que dernierement 
notre ami, Monsieur Victor Mahillon, a publie dans 
' L'Echo Musical ' de Bruxelles une serie d'etudes tres- 
interessantes sur le doigte de quelques instruments a 
vent, dans lesquelles il parle ex-prof esso de la flute Bcehm. 

La lecture de ces articles nous a beaucoup interesse 
et a reveille notre attention sur le fameux Schema que 
nous avions ete charge d'examiner par le jury de l'Expo- 
sition de 1867. 

Or, comme nous avions critique la base de ce Schema, 
dont les longueurs d'onde se trouvaient, suivant nous, 
trop grandes par rapport a notre diapason normal, 
nous avons voulu de nouveau verifier ce diapason, et 
nous nous sommes rendu compte que l'augmentation 
d'etendue donnee par Bcehm aux ondes sonores qui 
servent de base a son Schema avait sa raison d'etre. 

D'abord, pour nous assurer de la conformite du dia- 
pason avec l'execution de la flute elle-meme, nous avons 
prie M. De Vroye, l'un de nos meilleurs flutistes, de 
nous confier son instrument (une flute en argent systeme 
Bcehm). Or, cette flute presentee sur le Schema s'est 
trouvee tres-exactement conforme au diapason, tant pour 
la longueur totale que pour la division des trous lateraux 
de la i re octave chromatique. 

Nous devons avouer que cette conformite . nous a 
d'abord surpris ; mais avec un peu de reflexion', nous nous 

x 2 

3p8 history of the boehm flute. ■ 

sommes convaincu que cette augmentation d'etendue 
des ondes sonores de la flute provenait de l'echauffement 
de la colonne d'air de l'instrument par le souffle de 
l'instrumentiste. 1 

II est facile de reconnaitre que cet echauffement eleve 
la temperature de l'air a 26 centigrade en moyenne, ce 
qui donne a la vitesse du son 346 m 6o par seconde au 
lieu de 340 m , comme on le suppose a la temperature 
moyenne ambiante. De cette maniere la longueur 

d'onde du la normal = 34 „ = o m 3Q8 

et celle de l'ut grave = ^- — = o m 07o 

o 517 30 

ce qui est conforme a la base du Schema ou diapason 
de Boehm. 

D'apres ces nouvelles observations on doit conclure 
que le Schema ou diapason de Bcehm a 6t6 tres-exacte- 
ment etabli, et qu'il repond a tous les besoins de la 
facture de cet instrument. 

Nous devons ajouter ici quelques observations qu'il 
nous a et6 donne de faire pour la verification de la flute 
Boehm que possede M. De Vroye : 

i° La longueur totale exterieure, depuis le joint de 
la petite calotte mobile de la t£te destinee a regler le 
bouchon, jusqu'a l'extremite ouverte, est exactement 
egale a la longueur d'onde de l'ut 3 , soit o m 6yoo 

2° La longueur positive de la colonne d'air, 
depuis le bouchon jusqu'a l'extremite' ouverte = o m 6i85 

3 La reduction de longueur d'onde = o m 05 1 5 

1 M. De Vroye nous a fait observer, en effet, qu'avant de jouer la 
flute me'tallique on avait soin d'e'chauffer l'instrument en l'insufflant 
par son embouchure, apres avoir prdalablement fermd tous les 
trous lateYaux et aussi extre'mite' ouverte, en l'appuyant sur le 
genou. De cette maniere, la flute prend presque aussit6t la tem- 
perature et ne varie plus de ton durant un concert. 

La flute en bois est plus difficile a e"chaufler que celle en me*tal. 
On sait que le me"tal est meilleur conducteur de la chaleur que le 
bois, ce qui explique le phe*nomene. 

M. cavaille-coll on boeiim s schema. 309 









4° Le diametre interieur de la partie cylindrique de 
la flute est de o m oi9, sur une longueur de o m 4485. 

5° La portion conique du tube ou est situee l'em- 
bouchure, depuis le bouchon au joint de la flute, est de 
o m i7 de longueur. 

6° Le diametre au bouchon est de o m oi6 et au joint 
de la flute il est de o m oi9, conformement a la figure 

Note Explicative. 

i° La ligne C indique graphiquement et en chiffres les 
longueurs d'onde au ton normal francais de 87o v , a la 
temperature de 26 centigrade, laquelle donne a la vitesse 
du son 346 m 6o par seconde. 

2° La ligne B, divisec pareillement a. la ligne A, porte, 
inscrites au-dessus de la ligne, les longueurs positives de 
la colonne d'air de la flute a partir du bouchon, et la 
distance de la ligne du bouchon a l'extremite bouchee 
de la flute, soit o m o5i5- Cette mesure represente la 
correction des longueurs d'onde pour tous les tons de 
la gamme chromatique de la flute. Au-dessous de la 
meme ligne B, on a inscrit les nombres de vibrations par 
seconde correspondant a chaque intervalle de l'echelle 
au ton normal et d'apres le temperament egal. 2 Pour 
determiner les longueurs positives du tube sonore, il suffit 
de retrancher de la longueur d'onde la correction deter- 
minee experimentalement, qui est ici de o m 05i5, et la 
difference donne la vraie longueur du tube sonore. 
Exemple : — 

La longueur de l'ut 3 = o m 6700 

Et la correction etant de o m 05 1 5 

La longueur positive est de o m 6i85 

corame l'indique le Schema. — Pour l'ut 4 la 

longueur d'onde = o m 335o 

La correction £tant de o m o5 1 5 

La longueur positive est de o m 2835 

2 On trouvera les nombres dans les deux tableaux ci-apres. 

m. cavaille-coll on boehm s schema. 311 

On trouvera de la m£me maniere tous 
les autres intervalles de l'echelle chroma- 
tique de la flute en ut 

FlOte Alto en Sol. 

La fltite alto en sol, indiquee sur le 
meme Schema, pr£sente quelques differ- 
ences de diapason avec la flute en ut. 
II est probable que la perce de cette 
fltite, pour laquelle il n'est donne aucune 
explication sur le Schema, differe de 
celle de la flftte en ut. La correction est 
plus grande et les longueurs d'onde plus 
petites. En comparant les longueurs 
d'onde des deux ut 3 on trouve : 

Pour la flute en ut o m 670o 

Et pour la fltite en sol o m 6630 

Soit une difference en moins 
de o m oo70 

Et si Ton compare les longueurs 
positives du m£me ut 3 , on trouve : 

Pour la flute en ut o m 6i8$o 

Et pour la flute en sol o^o^oo 

Soit une difference en moins 
de o m 0235o 

Or la correction de la flute 
en sol = o m o68o 

Et celle de la flute en ut = o m 05 1 5 

La difference ces deux me- 
sures = o m oi65 

Si nous ajoutons la difference 
des longueurs d'onde ci-dessus 
de o m 007o 

On trouve un total de o m 0235 


X K. 




p 1 



Conforme a la difference des deux longueurs positives 
des deux tubes indique^s ci-dessus. 

Ainsi que nous l'avons dit au commencement de cette 
note, on ne peut s'expliquer la difference de diapason 
employe pour ces deux flutes que par la difference de 
perce de la fliite alto que nous avions supposee conique 
et non cylindrique comme la flute en ut 

Cependant M. De VrOye, a qui nous avons fait part 
de cette observation, nous a assure avoir vu et joue la 
flute alto de Bcehm, et que cette flute en sol etait 
cylindrique comme la flute en ut, mais d'un diametre un 
peu plus grand. 

Cette circonstance permet bien d'expliquer la differ- 
ence des corrections et celle des longueurs positives des 
deux instruments par la difference des diametres des 
tubes sonores ; mais on ne voit pas bien pourquoi 
Bcehm s'est servi pour le diapason de la fliite en ut des 
longueurs d'onde correspondant a la temperature de 26 
et a la vitesse de 346 m 6o par seconde, tandis que pour 
la fliite en sol les longueurs d'onde correspondent a 
20 et a la vitesse de 343 m par seconde, comme nous 
l'avons indique dans le titre des deux tableaux ci-apres. 

La seule raison que nous puissions donner de ces deux 
bases, c'est que la flute en ut etant plus petite s'6chauffe 
facilement a la temperature de 26 , tandis que la flute en 
sol etant plus grande ne s'echauffe qu'a la temperature 
de 20 . 

Le savant auteur de la flfite Boehm connaissait trop 
bien la theorie et la pratique de la facture instrumentale 
pour que nous puissions supposer la moindre erreur dans 
ses diapasons. 

Nous joignons ci-apres deux tableaux des longueurs 
d'onde et des longueurs positives de la flute en ut et de 
la flute en sol 

Ces deux tableaux peu vent servir a constituer le 
diapason graphique ou Schema de Bcehm comme nous 
l'avons indique ci-dessus. 

m. cavaille-coll on boehm's schema. 313 

Tableau des Longueurs d'onde de la Flute en Ut Systeme 
Bcehm, d'apres le ton normal francais de 870 vibrations a la 
temperature de 26 degres centigrade, ce qui donne a la vitesse du 
son 346 m 6o par seconde. 

Denomination des tons de 

Nombre de 



l'echelle chromatique. 




I. Ut, 


O m 6l8,50 

o m 67o,oo 

2. Rej? ou Utjf 


o m 58o,89 

o m 632,39 

3- Re 


o m 545,40 


4. Mib ou Re! 


o m 5ii,9o 

o m 563,40 

5- Mi 


o m 48o,27 


6. Fa 


o m 45o.43 

o m 5Qi,93 

7. Soli? ou Fafl 


O m 422,26 

om 4 73,76 

8. Sol 


o m 395,67 


9. Lat> ou Soljf 


o m 37o,57 

O m 422,07 

10. La 

8 0,00 


o m 398,38 

1 1. Sib ou Lag 



o m 376,o2 

12. Si 


0^303, 41 

o m 354,9i 

13- Ut, 


o m 283,5o 

o m 335,o° 

N.B. — Pour determiner les longueurs positives, on retranche des 
longueurs d'onde correspondantes, la correction experimentale qui est ici 
de. . . . o™05i5. 

Le diametre du trou de l'embouchure = o m oi2. 

La distance du bouchon au bord de l'embouchure = o m ou. 

Flute Alto en Sol, a la temperature de 20 degres centigrade et a la 
vitesse du son de 343™ par seconde. 

Denomination des tons de 

Nombre de 

• Longueurs 


lVchelle chromatique. 




i. Soljj 


o m 8i7,oo 

o m 885,oo 

2. La[? ou Solfl 


o m 767,32 

o m 835,32 

3. La 


o m 72o,44 

o m 788,44 

4. Sit? ou Lalf 


o m 676,i9 

o m 733,*9 

5- Si 



m 7O2,42 

6. Ut, 


o m 595,oo 

o m 663,oo 

7. Ret? ou Ut* 


o m 557,78 

o m 625,78 

8. Re 



o m 59o,66 

9. MiP ou ReJ 



o m 557,5i 

10. Mi 



O m 526,22 

II. Fa 


o m 428,68 

o m 496,68 

12. Solb ou Fa8 


o m 40o,8i 

o m 468,8i 

13. Sol 


o m 374,5o 

o m 442,5o 

N.B. — Pour determiner les longueurs positives, on retranche des 
longueurs d'onde correspondantes, la correction experimentale qui est ici 
de. . . . c^c^S. 

Le diametre du trou de l'embouchure = o m oi2. 

La distance du bouchon au bord de l'embouchure = o m oi45. 

Pour les autres details lire attentivement la note qui precede ces 





The following letters were addressed to the Editor of 
'The Musical World ' in the year 1843, when the Boehm 
flute was beginning to oust from popular favour its older 
rival. They give an insight into the violence of the 
passions which agitated the flute world on the outbreak 
of the revolution. Those who peruse them will see an 
apostle of the new creed, backed by a solitary convert (for 
when the fight began the rest of the little band, it seems, 
forsook him and fled), boldly proclaiming their strange 
doctrines, whilst the votaries of the old faith, wrought to 
the utmost pitch of exasperation, are gnashing their 
teeth with fury. They will be treated to the spectacle of 
Clinton, whose only crime was that he had discarded the 
old flute for Boehm's, bespattered by " ignorant pre- 
sumption " with the mud of " low abuse," insulted by 
having his nationality (he was an Irishman) thrown in 
his face, and accused of foisting on flute-players as his 
own, an essay written by another hand. But they will 
observe that the bystanders speedily grew tired of 
watching the fray, for it was apparent from the first 
that the uproar owed its origin to the old, old motive 
which eighteen hundred years before, had impelled the 
silversmiths of Ephesus, to shout till they were hoarse, 
" Great is Diana of the Ephesians ! " The scene, how- 
ever, is not without its lesson. If the disciple was 
scoffed at, how can we expect that the Master would 


escape being reviled ? When the essay Clinton had 
written on the Boehm flute was falsely stated to be a 
translation of some foreign production, what wonder is it 
that the instrument itself should have been pronounced, 
instead of being the work of Boehm, to be nothing but 
a copy of another man's invention ? 

The most instructive point, however, in connection 
with the letters is the light one of them (No. 8) throws 
on the character of Mr. Cornelius Ward, the gentleman 
whom we are taught to regard as an " absolutely dis- 
interested witness," and " Boehm's superior in every way, 
excepting in the matter of musical attainments." He 
gives us an overwhelming proof of his absolute dis- 
interestedness by rushing into the thick of the fight, 
and laying about him in all directions with such 
vigour that neither Clinton, Coche, Card, Boehm, nor 
Rudall and Rose escape his blows. Having demolished 
these gentlemen to his satisfaction, he draws himself up 
to a height of superiority which reaches the sublime. 
He affects to believe that it was the consciousness of 
their inferiority to him, jealousy of his inventive powers, 
and envy of the success of his patent flute that had 
effected the conversion of Messrs. Rudall and Rose from 
the old to the new belief; whilst as for Boehm, his 
triumph over him had already commenced, for no 
sooner had his own invention made its appearance in the 
world than some of the most talented English players 
at once threw aside his rival's pirated instrument to 
adopt this " original " production. However, his efforts 
at self-inflation, instead of distending his form to the 
proportions of that of his gigantic rival, resulted, 
like the exploit of the frog in the fable, in disastrous 

The correspondence was occasioned by a notice in 
the columns of the .'Musical World' of Clinton's 
' Theoretical and Practical Essay on the Boehm Flute ' 
as follows : — 


" We are not flautists, but we respect new inventions, 
that is, provided they be good as well as new. Mr. 
Clinton stands in the foremost rank of modern British 
theoretical and practical flautists. He is an accomplished 
player and a good writer for the instrument. Mr. Clin- 
ton's word in flute matters is consequently of high 
importance, and Mr. Clinton tells us that the ' Boehm 
Flute ' is a vast improvement on the ancient flute, and 
we are bound to believe Mr. Clinton — especially as he is 
not himself the inventor of the new instrument which he 
has taken under his protection. The flute was, it 
appears, full of imperfections, all of which imperfections 
are remedied by Herr Boehm in this his new invention. 
We have not space to particularise the defects of the old 
or the remedies of the new instrument, but our readers 
will put faith in what we state, viz. that Mr. Clinton's 
carefully written and sensible essay has perfectly con- 
vinced us of the justice of his cause, and, for the future, 
quoad the flute, we are decided Boehmisers, without 

No. I. 
(From J. Clinton.) 

The Boehm Flute. 

14 Greek Street, Soho Square. 
Dear Sir, 

My essay on the Boehm flute being intended expressly 
for the flute-playing community, may possibly have de- 
terred you from entering fully into the details, in the 
review of it in your last number, but whether we view 
Boehm's system as a specimen of considerable ingenuity 
and mechanical skill, or as an undoubted improvement 
on the flute, it must, I conceive; be alike interesting to 
your readers, because his system is totally different from 
all others, and as the flute has been experimented upon 


in various ways by the different manufacturers and pro- 
fessors, each considering that they had approached nearer 
to perfection, the public may probably only view Boehm's 
system in much the same light, and I am therefore 
anxious to undeceive them. 

Any person who is acquainted with the divisions of a 
string, as exhibited on a monochord, must at once clearly 
perceive that the arrangement of the holes on the old 
flute is false and unnatural in the extreme, not only as 
regards distance, but size, for these two points equally 
influence tone and intonation. 

I cannot imagine that the makers and performers were 
ignorant of the prevailing error ; indeed, their constant 
efforts to approach perfection prove their knowledge of 
the then existing faults, which, they were doubtlessly 
aware, could have been at once rectified by an equal 
and natural distribution of the holes. 

Now, although this would render the instrument per- 
fect in a theoretical point of view, the old system of 
machinery or keys became quite useless, consequently 
it was deemed impossible to make the flute practically 
correct, until Boehm, in his twofold capacity of performer 
and mechanist, discovered that the fingers could not only 
be brought to govern the holes when equally formed and 
distributed, but with even • greater facility than before, 
thereby removing the numerous imperfections of finger- 
ing at the same time. By the result of his labours we 
obtain "perfection of tune, increase of power, superior 
quality of tone, greater susceptibility of sweetness, equal 
strength upon the notes, a very considerable increase of 
facility in producing the sounds, much less extension 
of the fingers, and perfect control over all the keys." 
Having myself been fortunate enough to become ac- 
quainted with these important advantages, I was naturally 
anxious to introduce the Boehm flute to the English 
players, and it affords me no inconsiderable degree of 
pleasure to find that those who have already obtained 


instruments from the manufacturers, Messrs. Rudall and 
Rose, are as clearly convinced of the truth and efficacy 
of the system in every point as I led them to expect ; 
this is further proved by the numerous orders which the 
makers have already received, although the Boehm flute 
may at present be considered in its incipient state in 
this country. My knowledge of mankind induced me 
to imagine that an invention so true and philosophical 
was certain to meet with its share of abuse and oppo- 
sition at first, and I therefore hinted as much in my 
essay, but I must confess I did not anticipate that I 
myself should share in the abuse ; however, so it is, for 
I well know that certain parties lose no opportunity to 
rail against Boehm's system, and slander me for intro- 
ducing it, which may possibly deter some amateurs from 
embracing that which is pure and musician-like. 

Mais riitnporte, truth may be for a time concealed, but 
when it does become apparent, as eventually it must, 
how ridiculous and contemptible those will appear, who 
now, from ignorance of the system and malicious opposi- 
tion, endeavour in vain to prevent its general adoption. 

Amongst other falsehoods uttered against me, it has 
been asserted that I am not the author of my essay, but 
that it is a translation ; may I not reasonably demand 
the production of the original, and publicly state, that 
until it be produced, the individual who circulated such 
a base report, must be contented to bear the epithet 
given to those with whom a strict adherence to truth 
is not the most besetting sin. But enough of this, we 
live in too enlightened an age to have so excellent an 
invention thrown into oblivion by mere assertions ; the 
advanced state of the arts generally, more particularly 
music, is quite sufficient to induce all reflecting minds to 
enquire dispassionately into the merits of Boehm's inven- 
tion, and to make the enquiry of those who really under- 
stand and can practically illustrate it, by which means 
only they will be enabled to form a just estimate. 


Should you deem these observations worthy a place 
in your journal, which always advocates everything tend- 
ing to improve or advance the art of music, I shall feel 
flattered by their insertion. 

I have the honour to remain, 

Your humble servant, 

J. Clinton, 

Professor of the Flute in the 
Royal Academy of Music. 

No. 2. 
{From T. Prowse.) 

The Boehm Flute. 

13 Hanway Street, 
Sir Nov - 3°**> l8 43- 

Judging I might take the liberty of sending you 
a few lines for the readers of your valuable paper, I 
have written the following in answer to the Puff on a 
Boehm Flute, edited by Mr. J. Clinton ; and should you 
think the following lines suitable for your columns, you 
will oblige your humble servant by inserting them. 

Mr. Clinton, in your last number, gives himself the 
credit of being the first to introduce the Boehm Flute 
in this country, and appears willing to forget what has 
been going on in the musical world for the last few 
years. Therefore, I feel myself obliged to state to him 
and friends, however unpleasant it may be, after such 
an assertion in print, that T. Boehm was the first in 
this country to introduce his new flute, and not Mr. C, 
and (his flutes were manufactured by Messrs. Gerock 
and Wolf about 14 years ago) has Mr. C. forgotten also 
that Dorus preparing himself to play a solo on the 
Boehm flute at the Philharmonic in London, did 
actually play the ' Swiss Boy,' by Boehm ; the same 
piece that Boehm had played years before him? and 


when solicited for another solo, the ' Swiss Boy ' was 
again to be the piece ; and because he had no other, they 
did without his services ? (By the bye, the ' Swiss Boy,' 
by Boehm, appears to be a favourite subject with this 

M. de Folley seven years back, previous to his visiting 
England, was requested by " Cochi and Buffett," the 
original makers of Boehm's flute in Paris, to distribute 
a pamphlet when in London in reference to the said 
flute. Mr. C. probably was not aware of this, although 
a member of the profession, and possibly may thank 
me for refreshing his memory on this point, "but 
alas ! " Mr. C. might then have been in Ireland, and 
therefore was not likely to hear any thing about it ; 
having I think said enough to convince your impartial 
readers, that Mr. C. was not the first for introducing 
the new flute as he terms it : allow me to say a word 
or two in respect to the instrument mentioned by him, 
and am sorry that Mr. C. has not stated any thing 
whereby we may be able to judge for ourselves, in 
fact he has only made assertions without proof, as I am 
not aware that more than one solo has ever been played 
on that instrument. I do not think that any one else 
has done anything to prove its superiority : I must 
therefore beg Mr. C. in future to ponder well the sub- 
ject before he sends it to press, because, that is a living 
testimony against him and which he cannot retract, but 
however the reader may say I have stated that it was 
a puff, and therefore I ought to be above noticing it ; 
in answer, allow me to say that where a professor, who- 
ever he may be, gives his opinion and no more, I should 
not have noticed it as it is a matter of business, but 
when he openly states the manufacturers in London 
(and I suppose he includes myself as one, having been 
the maker of flutes for the late C. Nicholson), knowing 
the defects that were in the instrument, had tried 
various ways to rectify the evils, and must ultimately 


descend from our high position, and copy that which 
is known to be a decided failure, "viz. the Boehm 
Flute," and in contra to the talented Mr. C, my opinion 
blended with that of Mr. Saust, M. de Folley, and Herr 
Friesch is this, that the instrument is a failure, for the 
only key the Boehm flute is playable in is C, indepen- 
dently of the change of fingering, and the further you 
remove from the key of C, the greater the imperfections 
are, or why is it that the solos played on that instru- 
ment are in that and no other key ; and are the 
beautiful gliding passages, which so frequently occur 
in Nicholsons music, and other writers, to be forgotten, 
as those passages cannot be accomplished on this, owing 
to the rings used, instead of the more natural way of 
stopping with the fingers ; and allow me further to ask 
how it is, that with so perfect an instrument as this, for 
the upper tones to be so weak and thin as they are ? 
I do not allude to any particular maker on the Boehm 
system, as all the flutes in this respect are alike, 
whether French or English. . 

Is Mr. C. aware that M. de Folley, after giving the in- 
strument a fair trial of six months (and the instrument 
was made by " Buffett," the maker for Boehm,) gave it 
up, for he found so many defects in it, that his old in- 
strument was far more perfect. 

Has Mr. C. forgotten also the trial that was given both 
flutes at the Conservatoire in Paris, at which meeting 
Herr Friesch gained so complete a triumph over the 
disciples of Boehm, Herr Friesch on his own flute playing 
the music that Boehm had written for his peculiar instru- 
ment, whilst the professors on Boehm's system failed. 
This meeting consisted of the following gentlemen : 
' Dorus,' ' Cochi,' ' Camus,' ' Tulou,' and ' Friesch.' The 
essay by Mr. C. states, "margin, page 4," the result of 
a critical examination of the old and new flutes at the 
Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Paris, and the names 
mentioned are those of five pianoforte composers — and 



what in the name of common sense can they know about 
the difficulties, or, vice versd, of the flute. May I ask, if 
the piece played was the ' Swiss Boy/ by Boehm, in the 
key of C. 

Hoping the foregoing remarks may not be considered 
too lengthy for your columns, 

I remain, 

Your obedient Servant, 

T. Prowse. 

No. 3. 

{From J. Clinton?) 

The Boehm Flute. 

Nov. 6th, 1843. 

My Dear Sir, 

The letter of Mr. Prowse, which appeared in your last 
number, reluctantly compels me to trouble you with a 
few lines to vindicate myself from his scurrilous attack, 
and I trust you will do me the justice to give them 
publicity. That my adoption of the Boehm flute 
proceeds entirely from disinterested motives, must be 
quite evident from the fact, that I am neither the in- 
ventor nor maker, nor have I any interest whatever in 
the manufacture of it. I think your readers will say 
that Mr. Prowse's position is widely different, for he, as 
a maker of the old flute, feels Boehm's system as an ugly 
thorn in his side, and consequently sets all his engines 
at work to defeat it, although in his letter he unhesita- 
tingly pronounces it to be " a decided failure." Now, if 
it really be a failure, why does he take such infinite pains 
to abuse it ? The only excuse he offers is, that when I 
in my letter alluded to the manufacturers, he supposes I 
included him, and so offers that supposition as a justifi- 
cation of his personal attack. Had he been prompted 
by pure motives only, he would have attacked the system, 


and not the individual who advocates it. That his 
incoherent and vulgar epistle merits silent contempt, I 
feel aware, but as silence might be construed into assent, 
I will condescend to reply. Inprimis — Mr. Prowse takes 
infinite pains to prove that I was not the first to intro- 
duce Boehm's system to the English flute players, 
because (as he states) it was manufactured fourteen 
years ago, and played upon by the inventor and M. 
Dorus. Now to make use of Mr. Prowse's words, 
" however unpleasant it maybe to himself and his friends" 
I must in justice to myself state, that the flute for which 
I have written my essay, and which is manufactured by 
Messrs. Rudall and Rose, is on a different principle from 
that originally played upon by Herr Boehm, the in- 
ventor, therefore Mr. Prowse's first statement is not in 
strict accordance with truth— but if we were even to 
suppose that my essay had been written for the instru- 
ment of which he is dreaming, he ought to know that 
the mere act of making and playing upon an instrument 
do not constitute the essentials to render it general : its 
nature and properties must be explained, and instructions 
given for its acquirement, ere the professor or amateur 
can render it available. 

Now, as chance has made me the first to accomplish 
this, I think I may be fairly considered as the first to 
introduce it effectually ; at the same time, I wish it to 
be clearly understood, that I claim no credit whatsoever, 
neither can I see any credit to be claimed in forsaking 
a false and imperfect instrument for one that is proved 
to be true and perfect. 

He next claims my thanks for refreshing my memory 
as to the existence of a certain pamphlet, and in the 
same moment states that, being in Ireland, I might not 
probably be aware of the existence of that pamphlet. 
Here is a bull with a vengeance — " Refresh a man's 
memory with a subject he never heard of;" alas, Mr. 
Prowse, if you could but make flutes as perfectly as you 

Y 2 


can make bulls, there would be no occasion for Boehm's 
system ; and to make his letter even more ridiculous, he 
gives a mutilated quotation from my essay, which 
quotation happens to be taken from that very pamphlet, 
and runs (in my essay) thus : — "As the French say, there 
are not two notes on the old flute which appear to belong 
to the same family. Vide the report made from the 
result of a critical examination of the old and new 
flutes, at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Paris, by 
Messieurs Cherubini, Paer, Auber, Halevy, Carafa, &c, 
&c." Now, sir, let us see Mr. Prowse's version, which he 
gives thus : — " The essay by Mr. C. states, * margin, 
page 4,' the result of a critical examination of the old 
and new flutes, at the Royal Academy of, Fine Arts in 
Paris, and the names mentioned are those of five piano* 
forte composers — and what in the name of common sense 
can they know about the difficulties, or vice versd, of the 

So you perceive, Mr. Editor, that Mr. Prowse finds it 
convenient to leave out the sense and pith of the 
quotation, and to make mere pianoforte composers of 
five of the greatest musicians in Europe, and likewise 
to attach no importance to their opinions, by a weak 
effort in confounding tone and intonation with the diffi- 
culties of fingering, although fingering is not mentioned 
in that part of my essay. 

It is well known to all sensible men, that the difficulty 
of fingering an instrument cannot in the abstract affect 
the tone or tune ; but that part of my essay which treats 
of the fingering, fully proves that the old flute is infinitely 
more perplexing and difficult than the new, so that 
Mr. Prowse's attempt at mutilation completely upsets his 
own argument. He appears to dwell very much upon 
the idea that the Boehm flute can only be played in the 
key of C, because Dorus played Boehm's variations to 
the ' Swiss Boy ' in that key, and (as he asserts) could 
olay no other piece, although it is a w % ell known fact, 


that Dorus has been one of the greatest favourites in 
Paris as a solo performer for many years. But Mr. 
Prowse is not over nice in his ignorant, although it may 
be to his interest to throw it into oblivion. Having 
already, I fear, intruded too much upon your journal, I 
will merely add, that if the Boehm flute were never 
heard, I should be nothing the poorer, and if the manu- 
facturers, Messrs. Rudall and Rose, sell 100 per diem, I 
shall be nothing the richer ; ergo I have done, — 
And have the honour to remain, 

My dear Mr. Editor, truly your's, 
John Clinton, 

Professor of the Flute in the 
Royal Academy of Music. 

No. 4. 

(From Flauto.) 

The Bore'em Flute. 

Birmingham, Nov. 6th, 1843. 


A vast deal has been written, said, and sung lately, 
respecting a flute denominated the Boehm, which, in my 
simplicity, I put down as so many puffs to blow the said 
flute into favour ; for all that have written on the subject 
are more or. less interested in the affair. I should like 
very much to hear the impartial and unbiassed opinion 
of a competent judge of the instrument, giving, at the 
same time, a sketch of the. improvements (?) said to be 
made on it, so that we amateurs might have our under- 
standings enlightened on the subject ; for, as the matter 
stands at present, it is all a mist and mystery. I have 
been a performer on the flute through all its changes, from 
the simple one-keyed instrument of Hale, to Potter's six 
keys and Manzoni's eight and ten, and have found them 


all, in some notes, imperfect in intonation ; but, being 
aware of the defects^ I have contrived to play tolerably 
well in tune. Do the eulogisers of the Boehm flute 
undertake to say that every note producible on it is 
perfect, without having recourse to cross-fingering, and 
without adding to its complexity ? If they will guarantee 
all this, I may, perhaps, put aside my auld acquaintances 
and take to the new; but if this cannot be proved to my 
entire satisfaction, I shall be content ; and I trust that 
your readers generally will petition your correspondents 
not to Bore' em any more with a subject in which very 
few indeed take the remotest interest. 

Yours, &c, &c, 


No. 5. 

{From Old Howling Stick.) 

On Flutes. 

Permit an old amateur flutist to have a say respecting 
the flautomania attempted to be introduced for French 
flutes. I wish to caution my brother amateurs to pause 
. before they purchase. I complain of these professors 
and flute makers telling us amateurs that all our old 
flutes are good for nothing ; they have just discovered 
this, and wonder at our ignorance so long on the subject. 
I have bought various expensive instruments of one of 
our best makers, and always had them warranted perfect"; 
as they have all along been working in the dark, they 
ought, now they have got illuminated on the mystery of 
flute perfecting, to return me my money, and take back 
my old flutes : but no, they say old ones are of no use. 
now to them ; buy a Boehm, price only sixteen (or more) 
guineas, and then how the tone will come out ! ! I, as 
an Englishman, think in our own home-made flutes, 
since Nicholson's time, a national instrument, wc have 


equalled, and perhaps excelled, all foreigners on this 
instrument ; we have men who can yet play a little on 
the wretched old flute I calculate, therefore, my brother 
amateurs, hold hard a while until these new lights shine 
better in their playing and extinguish our old ones, or 
till our orchestra players adopt them. Nicholson has 
written, " it is not in the size or make of the finger holes 
that playing in tune and good tone depends, but in the 
management of the mouth hole or embouchure ; a good 
player can make a note a quarter of a tone sharper or 
flatter, weaker or stronger, at pleasure ; it is not the 
flute that is at fault, but the man who sits behind it ; " 
in conclusion, I again warn my brother amateurs against 
hastily changing their flutes as many I know have done, 
and eventually could not play upon either, between the 
two stools, or tools > they have got floored. 

Yours, &c, 

Old Howling Stick. 

No. 6. 

{From Omega.) 
Dear World, 

Your last number contains a letter, headed " On 
Flutes," in which your clever correspondent, " Old 
Howling Stick," asserts that a good player can make 
a note a quarter of a tone weaker or stronger, at pleasure. 
Perhaps he, or you, will have the kindness to enlighten 
your readers as to the meaning of this novel musical 
phenomenon ; it reminds me of the clever sportsman 
who said he could " shoot round a corner." 

Make a note a quarter of a tone weaker ! or stronger ! ! 
Bravo, Old Howling Stick ! Bravissimo ! ! ! 

Yours, &c, 



No. 7. 

{From Thomas Prowse) 

On the (Non) Boehm Flute. 

13 Hanway Street, 
Nov. 2\st, 1843. 

Mr. Editor, 

Allow me to notice one observation which Mr. Clinton 
mentioned in his last letter in the 'Musical World' — 
"He" (meaning myself) "should not forget that he 
has lately advertised to bring out a new flute of his own, 
stating his intention of doing so to me and others." 
Does not this fact prove that I do not (using his own 
expressions) " vainly attempt to hoodwink the public 
as to the merits of the Boehm flute ? " for being much 
on the principle of Mr. Clinton's (different principle) 
Boehm flute I was not anxious to push my unsuccessful 
attempt before the public, and I do not consider that 
my reputation is lessened by endeavouring to improve 
on another more complicated system than the one so 
much approved of, and recommended by the late 
Charles Nicholson, and which I find by experience has 
not up to this time been excelled by any other inven- 
tion, nor do I believe that the public will think worse 
of me for withholding my suggestion. If this be not 
a satisfactory reply to Mr. Clinton's letter, I will trouble 
you (with your permission Mr. Editor) with a more 
minute investigation of the (non) Boehm flute next 

And remain, Your obliged Servant, 

Thomas Prowse. 


No. 8. 

{From Cornelius Ward.) 

The Boehm Flute. 

36 Great Titchfield Street, 
Nov. yth, 1843. 

I have observed in the two last numbers of the 
'Musical World,' some letters, containing statements 
and remarks upon an instrument styled the "Boehm 
Flute," which are calculated to mislead the public. I 
therefore need no other apology for soliciting you to 
allow me to state a few facts relative to the subject, in 
your journal. 

From the tone and strain of Mr. Clinton's letter, one 
would suppose that he is not aware of the transactions 
that have taken place in this country, relative to the flute 
in question, otherwise I cannot account for his pretensions 
to so much credit regarding its introduction to " English 
players." It appears that Mr. Clinton would wish to 
convey the impression that he was the first to make the 
attempt. I shculd be sorry to state that he is desirous 
of concealing, or suppressing, a knowledge of the efforts 
of other professors, and English professors too, in the 
same way, for years past. I would rather suppose that 
he does not know that in the year 1831 Messrs. Gerock 
and Wolf manufactured a flute, purporting to be the 
invention of Boehm, and that Mr. Wolf displayed con- 
siderable talent in his performance upon it. They, at 
the time, published a " Scale and description of Boehm's 
newly invented patent flute, manufactured and sold by 
the patentees only" (I cannot say that they had a 
patent for the same), a copy of which now lies before 
me. It contains a sketch of the flute, which shows it 


to be a different one to that since put forth as Boehm's. 
It was not successful with " English players," and was 
very incomplete as to its pretensions ; Mr. Card's 
improvement is a part of it. 

About the same time when Mr. Wolf was endeavour- 
ing to introduce the Boehm to " English players," I 
made a flute for, and under the direction of Captain 
Gordon, of Charles the Xth's Swiss Guards, which, I 
believe, will prove to be the origin of that which is now 
called the Boehm flute. I could give many particulars 
in support of this belief. The captain tried to introduce 
it to M English players," without success. He afterwards 
went to Paris, and at Munich, at which places also, the 
captain endeavoured to introduce it. 

In 1835, I heard Boehm perform his fantasia, 'The 
Green Hills of Tyrol,' at the Choral Fund Concert, upon 
a flute very similar in principle to that which I made 
for Captain Gordon. Boehm was very zealous, but 
failed in introducing it to " English players." Shortly 
after this, Camus commenced practising it in Paris, and 
Godfrey to make it. Dorus then took it up, and added an 
improvement ; Coche also modified it, or as he modestly 
says, perfected it, and employed Buffet to make it. 

In 1839, I began to make what is termed the Boehm 
flute in London, as improved by Dorus, and Signor Folz 
performed upon one made by me, at many concerts in 
England, in the course of that year. Mr. Card, too, 
persevered for some time to introduce it to " English 
players," but without any good results, and besides, we 
had Camus and Dorus endeavouring to introduce it to 
" English players," by both public and private per- 

Now, we may with reason ask what Mr. Clinton's 
present connection were doing all this time ? Why, 
they did all they could to obstruct its being adopted in 
this country, and very shortly before they were fortunate 
enough to become acquainted with its advantages, they 


succeeded in persuading several not to adopt it who were 
anxious so to do, and some of whom were respectable 

I fear trespassing too much upon your time and 
columns, otherwise I would state facts further to prove 
that Gordon laboured in the .invention ; that Boehm was 
the first who endeavoured to introduce the instrument to 
the professors and players of England, France, and 
Germany ; and that Mr. Clinton's present friends were 
strongly opposed to it until very lately. 

Some may be puzzled as to the means by which Mr. 
Clinton and his present coadjutors were so very suddenly 
converted into " Boehmites " •, they were these : I lately 
constructed an original flute, for which I obtained a 
patent, and which was immediately adopted by some of 
the most talented " English players," directly displacing 
the Boehm in several instances, as well as the ordinary 
flute ; and after Mr. Clinton and his present friends 
heard its effects and witnessed its success, they then 
bestirred themselves to produce something new, but not 
succeeding in the field of discovery, they ultimately 
took to the object of their former dislike — the " Boehm," 
the simple " Boehm " — that is, the one that could be 
made with the least "expense, minus the French addi- 
tions and finish, which make it more complete and 
elegant as an instrument. 

I have endeavoured to be brief, but am apprehensive 
of being considered tedious, though I must beg to assert 
my claim to the merit of having converted Mr. Clinton 
and others named in this letter to the feelings which 
they now choose to manifest towards the Boehm flute. 

I am, Sir, 

Your obliged Servant, 

Cornelius Ward. 


No. 9. 

{From W. C. Hodgkinson.) 


42 Hart Street, Bloomsbury Square, 
Oct. 31st, 1843. 

As public attention has been called to the , flute 
invented by T. Boehm, I am induced, for the sake of the 
amateurs practising this delightful instrument, to make 
known the following particulars. T. Boehm's flute first 
appeared about fourteen years ago at Covent Garden 
Theatre, on which the inventor played his variations on 
the ' Swiss Boy.' Messrs. Gerock & Wolfe, Cornhill, 
manufactured the flutes, but were not successful in 
persuading the public to change the flutes manufactured 
by Clementi of Cheapside, called " C. Nicholson's im- 
proved." The Boehm flute since that period has not 
been heard of. Mr. Nicholson, at the time it first 
appeared, did not speak of it as deserving any particular 
attention more than any other -German flute, which 
is known to almost every amateur to be in its tone 
extremely thin and out of tune, the only difference 
being that; the system of fingering was entirely changed 
and complicated, and did not possess the qualities of 
the English manufactured flutes. Amateurs will, I 
trust, be convinced by the following facts, that neither 
in England, France, nor Germany is the Boehm flute 
patronised. In Germany, the celebrated Herr Frisch, 
whose performances for execution when in London 
astonished the professors and amateurs, does not play 
upon the Boehm flute, nor does his gifted countryman 
Saust, nor do the celebrated Drouet and Tulou, flautists 
to the King of France, play upon the Boehm flute. In 
England, neither does Ribas nor de Folly, flautists 


at the Italian Opera House, play upon the Boehm 
flute. These facts do not speak much in favour of the 
flute that is said to surpass all others. The public are 
informed that half-a-dozen French composers (not flute 
players) have given their opinion in favour of it, but it 
is not said who performed upon it in order to obtain 
their opinion — certainly not their first flautists. I cannot, 
therefore, place much faith on their judgment, except 
when they say "on their old flutes there are not two 
notes which appear to belong to the same family." 
I agree with them, for French and German flutes are 
the most imperfect instruments manufactured. The 
celebrated Nicholson and his father did more for the 
flute playing community than all the professors in 
Europe. What professor can say there were not tv/o 
notes belonging to the same family when Nicholson 
played ? Mr. James, in his word or two on the flute, 
thus speaks of him : — " The tone which Mr. Nicholson 
produces on the flute is, perhaps, the most extraordinary 
thing that he does. It is not only clear, metallic, and 
brilliant, but it possesses a volume that is almost in- 
credible ; and this, too, be it observed, in the very 
lowest notes of the instrument. The similarity between 
his tone and that of an organ is very striking, and the 
amazing command which this of itself gives over his 
instrument is astonishing. He is also, perhaps, better 
acquainted with the delicacies of the instrument than 
any other performer ; his shakes are in general regular, 
brilliant, and effective, and possess the rare quality 
(which is not the least of their beauties) of being 
perfectly in tune, also the effect of his chromatic ascen- 
sion of the scale. It is a complete rush, like the torrent 
of a waterfall, 1 and, to the ear, is almost overwhelming 

1 Torrents which rush downwards are common enough, but water 
falling upwards is a phenomenon which would astonish the shade 
of' Newton. Possibly, however, Mr. James was an Irishman. 
Nicholson in his School for the Flute, compares the effect of a well- 
executed ascending chromatic scale to the rush of a skyrocket. 


and irresistible. His adagios are full of fervour and 
feeling, for the truest test of a performer's talent is in a 
slow movement" After such facts, I need scarcely say 
that no amateur will adopt a Boehm flute ; for who has 
not heard the exquisite performances of Mr. Richardson 
on a Nicholson flute ? Can any impartial person speak 
one word disparagingly of his tone or execution, or will 
he venture to say there are not two of his notes which 
appear to belong to the same family ? the idea is pre- 
posterous. I shall dismiss the subject, relying on your 
kindness to give insertion to this letter, in the hope that 
amateurs will long continue to appreciate the beauties of 
the celebrated C. Nicholson's flute, which is, and has 
always been, the admiration of all the first-rate flautists. 

I have the honour to be, Sir, 

Your very obedient Servant, 

Professor of the Flute. 

No. IO. 

{From John Pask.) 

The Boehm Flute. 

Lowther Arcade, Strand. 
Dear Sir, 

My attention having been drawn to a letter which 
appeared in the columns of your valuable journal, 
written upon the subject of the Boehm flute, and so 
highly eulogistic of its merits and great superiority over 
all others, and the fact of that letter being addressed 
principally to amateurs, to induce them to lay aside the 
flutes now in use, and adopt those manufactured by 
Messrs. Rudall and Rose upon the above named 
principle, I feel myself called upon in justice to them to 


make a few brief remarks,* the result of my own ex- 
perience, and drawn from the evidence of those who 
have given that particular instrument a trial. 

It is not my intention to occupy your valuable time 
and space in contending for the identical person who 
introduced this great boon to the flute players of this 
country. It is true Mr. C. has awarded to himself all 
the merit due to such an individual, but enough has been 
said on this head in a letter written by Mr. Prowse which 
appeared .in your journal of November the 2nd, and 
ought to be read by all interested in this subject, being 
full of incontrovertible facts, supported by the testimony 
of those who I am sure Mr. C. will admit to be capable 
of forming an opinion. 

The. genuine Boehm flute, made by Buffet in Paris, 
and which was the property of that celebrated player 
Herr Frisch, and one of the best that has been made 
upon that principle, was laid aside by that gentleman, 
and placed in my hands for sale. Of course in my 
business as a maker I had frequent opportunities of 
showing the same to several distinguished flutists, and 
eliciting from them their impartial opinions, which were 
to this effect — that the Boehm system was perplexing in 
the extreme, especially to those accustomed to the 
established method, and if those difficulties could be 
surmounted the performer would soon be convinced that 
he had only made himself master of a more defective 
instrument. The following will in some degree illus- 
trate this : — The flute alluded to was placed in my 
window for sale, and soon attracted a goodly number of 
flute players to inspect and try it, but notwithstanding 
its saleable advantages in having belonged to so great a 
player, together with the reduced price it was to be sold 
at, still it was nearly eight months before a purchaser 
presented himself. This gentleman having heard of its 
(pretended) superiority over those in use by him, felt 
anxious to give it a trial ; mark the sequel : about six 


months after the purchase 'the same gentleman waited 
upon me again, and was anxious for me to take it back 
to find him a customer, for he could make nothing of it. 
I did not agree to this, and heard nothing more of this 
said Boehm flute for at least a year, when I was again 
solicited to try and dispose of it by another person. It 
was again placed in my window, but I could not succeed, 
and ultimately returned it to the owner. 

Another instance came under my notice ; a gentle- 
man brought me a Boehm flute to repair, I did what 
was required, and concluded from the way in which he 
handled it, he must have had considerable experience 
upon it. I solicited his opinion, when he was candid 
enough to tell me that he had been originally instructed 
upon and played for some years on the flute now in use, 
but having met with a disciple of the Boehm system 
when in Paris, he was prevailed upon to give it a trial, 
which he said he exceedingly regretted, for after having 
devoted an immense deal of time to its study, under the 
tuition of Cochi (when in that city), he then discovered 
it to be much more imperfect than the old system, and 
he would cheerfully retrace his steps to the old method, 
but for fear of mixing up the now confirmed habits of 
the new system with that of the original, and so 
depriving himself of the pleasure of using either effec- 

Mr. C. among the many qualities he attaches to the 
Boehm flute, states, that perfection of tune is attained. 
How can this possibly be, when the same fingering must 
be used for the sharps as well as the flats ? The effect 
such an instrument (with this imperfection) would pro- 
duce, when played with stringed instruments, can easily 
be conceived. This defect alone shows the great 
superiority of the flute now in use over that upon the 
Boehm principle, as in the former it can be remedied 
while in the latter it must remain ; the beautiful effect 
produced by gliding must be excluded, and the facility 


of fingering attainable on our flutes, must of necessity 
be obstructed by the introduction of the rings round the 

This latter fact was apparent to many who were 
present at Mr. Carte's concert, and has been noticed in 
a report of the same by one of the musical periodicals ; 
but the giant evil of all is that which has, I think, been 
satisfactorily proved by several of our greatest artists 
whose names have appeared upon this subject — I allude 
to its incapacity of being used effectually in any other 
keys than those of C, G, or F — thus excluding the 
beautiful keys of three or four flats, in the use of which 
our own flutes stand so pre-eminent, and in which most 
of our best compositions for the flute are written. 

There are other minor objections I might mention to 
show the futility of expecting that the Boehm flute can 
ever come into general use ; but I fear, Sir, I have 
trespassed too much upon your time already, my object 
being simply thus to place before flute players a few 
important facts which have come under my immediate 
notice, together with my own practical knowledge as 
a maker, and supported by the living testimony of some 
of the most talented flutists of the present day ; for I 
unhesitatingly admit, that if no other test was given 
than the extravagant praises which Mr. C. in his letter 
has lavished on the Boehm flute, it would be sufficient 
to create dissatisfaction among the performers on the 
instrument now in use, and probably lead them to 
abandon a beautiful and comparatively simple instru- 
ment for one whose chief recommendation is that of 

I would here remark what I wish to be thoroughly 
understood, that in detailing the above incidents to show 
the defects of the Boehm flute, I am actuated by no 
motives of prejudice against the instrument or its 
patrons, for I should . hail with delight any invention 
calculated to simplify the difficulties, and remove t*he 



defects of that (now reviled) instrument, which, notwith- 
standing, in the hands of Drouet, Nicholson, Richardson, 
Frisch, and others, has made such a lasting impression, 
as, I fear, the performers on the Boehm flute will find it 
difficult to efface. 

Dear Sir, — If you do not think the above remarks 
too lengthy and unimportant for the columns of your 
journal, I shall esteem your inserting them a great 
favour ; and permit me to subscribe myself 

Your very obliged Servant, 

John Pask. 

No. ii. 

{From Old Howling Stick?) 


If your learned correspondent " Omega " will put on 
his spectacles and mind his stops, by again reading my 
former paragraph, he will find it thus — " A good player 
can make a note a quarter of a tone sharper or flatter ; 
weaker or stronger, at pleasure ; " then if Omega can blow 
a flute in tune, let him select any note on the treble clef, 
say G (as it stands for Goose, or rather Geese, ourselves 
to wit) and finger it in the usual manner, blowing very 
piano and increasing it to very forte ; he will thus find, 
that by means of the embouchure alone, he has hit the 
method (without shooting round a corner for it) of 
" making a note weaker or stronger, at pleasure " without 
blowing it out of tune. 

Your obedient Servant, 

Old Howling Stick. 


No. 12. 

{From Embouchure.) 

The Boehm Flute. 

I pray you, Sir, to put a mute \ 

On all this noise 'bout Boehm's flute. 

Your powers arouse 

To muffle Prowse, 

Nor let old Card 

Contend with Ward, 
But quash at once the dull dispute. 


(We would gladly oblige our jingling correspondent, 
only that we wish to adhere to our motto, which is Audi 
alteram partem. — Ed. M. W.) 

No. 13. 

{From Henry Kelsall, M.D.) 

The Boehm Flute. 

9 Union Terrace, Plymouth, Devon. 

Having observed that contradictory opinions on the 
merits of the Boehm flute have lately been expressed, I 
was anxious to ascertain the true state of the case, 
previous to providing myself with so expensive a play- 
thing ; and being in town for a few days, I made some 
enquiry of Mr. Pask, in the Lowther Arcade, on the 
subject, and came away, with certainly a degree of 
prejudice against the Boehm flute, having understood 
from Mr. Pask that the instrument is imperfect, except 
in the key of C, and that the tones of the upper octave 
are thin and weak. I have just had a Boehm flute 
piaced in my hands, and can only say I am quite 

z 2 


astonished how anything derogatory to it could have 
been promulgated — the tones of the instrument I 
examined are perfect, brilliant and powerful in every 
key, to an extent I was quite unprepared to expect. I 
would therefore recommend every amateur, to do as I 
have (examine the flute himself) and I will venture to 
say he will come to my conclusion, viz. that the Boehm 
flute is as superior to the old eight-keyed instrument, as 
the latter is to the one-keyed flute. 

I am, sir, 

Your's &c, 
Henry Kelsall, M.D. 

(Puff! Puff! ! Puff! ! !— Ed. M. W.) 

No. 14. 
{From Auletes.) 

London, Nov. 27 lh> 1843. 


The flute controversy which has for some weeks been 
carried on in your columns, has set me about instituting 
some calculations as to the relative merits of the prin- 
cipal instruments which have attracted any attention 
within the present century. I cannot here give either 
the grounds on which my conclusions are drawn, or the 
details of the calculation ; but, am prepared to substan- 
tiate the general correctness of my position, which are 
these, viz. — 

That, supposing 1 00 to represent perfection, the best 
ordinary flutes — I will not say whom I consider the 
best maker, because I differ from current opinion — 

but the best, I quote at 25 

The English Imitation Boehm at 51 

The Genuine Boehm, Paris make, at 64 

The New Ward's Patent Flute at 95 


If any say my opinion, as an anonymous writer, is 
worthless, I will wager with him one hundred guineas, 
that, in a jury of 24 honourable flute professors, 12 
chosen by each side, I will have a majority of votes for 
English Imitation Boehm, over ordinary flutes, or for 
genuine Paris, over Imitation English Boehm, or for 
Ward's patent over Paris Boehm. 

If any one accepts the above challenge in your 
columns, you shall have my deposit and name at once. 
Till when, 

I am, 

Your constant reader, 


(Puff! Puff! ! Puff! ! !— Ed. M. W.) 

No. 15. 

{From Jim Crow.) 

The Boehm Flute. 
My Dear Sir, 

The letter of Mr. Clinton, which appeared in your 
last number but one, compels me to answer him con- 
cerning this new Boehm flute. 

When Mr. Clinton can prove that the Boehm flute is 
far superior to a Nicholson's flute I will then give up my 
flute and purchase a Boehm, but while the new flute has 
got so many imperfections there is no chance of its ever 
knocking a Nicholson flute into eternity, Mr. Clinton, 
does not Old Howling Stick say, " It is not in the size 
or make of the finger holes that playing in tune and 
good tone depends, but in the management of the mouth 
hole or embouchure. A good player can make a note a 
quarter of a tone sharper or flatter, weaker or stronger, 
at pleasure ; it is not the flute that is at fault, but the* 
man who sits behind it." Is not this true ? And 


now, Mr. Clinton, I do not doubt but I am quite right, 
and you are quite wrong, so the public will perceive how 
much confidence can be placed in you. Most unfor- 
tunately for your silly and childish assertions, one of the 
principal beauties of the Nicholson flute is that it can be 
played perfectly in every key, that of course renders it 
infinitely superior to the Boehm flute, which I know 
by experience, having practised upon the Boehm flute 
for more than twelve months, and I now condemn the 
Boehm flute for its imperfections. Mr. Prowse, I have 
heard, is about to bring out a new fantasia by M. de 
Folly, which I know they cannot play upon their Boehm 
flute, and which I KNOW CAN be PLAYED upon a 
NICHOLSON, because I have heard De Folly play it 
upon a Nicholson flute twice or thrice (so much for the 
Boehm system). And now, my brother amateurs, if 
you wish to become possessed of a superior flute, I 
advise you as a friend to go direct to Nicholson's Flute 
Manufactory, Hanway-street, and order one with the 
latest improvements, and I'll warrant he does not take 
you in ; but I should be rather cautious in introducing 
you to Rudall's party; and, to prove that my words are 
true, how is it that Richardson, Saynor, Downes, Royal, 
Hodgkinson, Tull, Dipple, Minasi, and a great many 
more play upon Nicholson's flute ? Is it because Boehm 's 
flute is superior, or is it vice versa ? Answer me this, 
Mr. Clinton, and I will thank you for your trouble by 
answering your next saucy letter. 

Yours, &c. &c, 

Jim Crow, London. 

[The intemperate tone of this letter would have been 
a sufficient reason for our declining to insert it had we 
not felt assured that our talented correspondent Mr. 
Clinton, who has the manliness to place his name at the 
end cf his letters, could only be benefited by the fact of 
his arguments, being unanswerable except by low abuse 


and ignorant presumption. We have omitted some 
paragraphs in the letter too gross and personal to suit 
our paper. — Ed. M. W.] 

(Puff! Puff!! Puff!!! again.) 

No. 16. 

{From E. N. F.) 

The Boehmites— the Non-Boehmites. 

Dec. nth, 1843, 


If those quarrelous flautists and others, the flute 
makers and re-tail-ers, will dispute about old things 
being called new, or, contrariwise, new things being but 
old inventions, let them, and they can amuse themselves 
with such like absurdities ; but, for Heaven's sake, do 
not continue to inflict on your subscribers a series of 
such useless letters in the pages of your journal, and 
about what ? A Boehm flute ! With how much valu- 
able matter could you not have filled the columns of 
The World, that have been so long thrown away, or, 
perhaps speaking more correctly, invaded by this Boehm 
correspondence ! 

See, Mr. Editor, we have an essay from the pen of 
Mr. Clinton, but not content, he tortures The Musical 
World readers with a very heavy epistle, to which Mr. 
Prowse vouchsafes a reply, remarkable for being ex- 
tremely Pro-jv? ; and then, again, Mr Clinton comes 
down with a C\\nt-er. Thus ends the dispute P. versus 
C. ; but where meddlers dwell is there any peace ? " Old 
Howling Stick " — what a champion ! — steps forward to 
make his bow, and makes his exit ; but that portentous 
" Omega " must needs draw him from his retirement, 
and again " Old Howling Stick." " Everything begets 
his like," says one proverb, and another, that " One fool 


makes many." Even so, one scribbler induces a dozen 
more or less able ; and Mr. Pask, because he must play 
a part, runs into the arena of discussion to exhibit his 
ableness in " Much ado about Nothing," and, be it said, 
he is as successful as his predecessors. 

So much for the " Boehms," — so much for the " Non- 
Boehms." Mr. Editor, give each an opiate that they 
may rest from their disputes, and be at peace. — I am 
your obedient servant, E. N. F. 

[We hope the Boehmites will profit by this truly 
humorous epistle. — Ed. M. W.] 

No. 17. 
{From " Obadiak.") 

The Boehm Flute. 

Aspen Cottage, iZth of the 12th Month, 1843. 

Friend World, 

It grieveth my spirit, to behold so much of thy 
valuable hebdomadal publication, taken up by puffs, 
breezes, and squalls, relative to a piece of perforated 
wood, called by the profane, a Flute, yea, a Boehm flute. 
I will give thee a piece of advice — nay, gratuitously will 
I give it unto thee, in a couple of lines, videlicet — 

If its puffers have any more to say for it, 

I recommend thee to make them all^y for it. 

Thine, Obadiah. 

P.S. My spouse Rebecca, begs thy acceptance of a 
piece of plum-pudding, of her own amalgamating. 

[The donation is received with infinite relish. — Ed. 
M. W.] 


NO. 1 8. 

{From " Anti- Monotonous"*) 

The Boehm Flute. 

Balderton, near Newark, 
Dec. \th. 

Mr. Editor, 

I am rather surprised that you should allow so much 
space of your valuable work to be occupied with a dis- 
cussion on the " Boehm Flute," which seems to be 
interminable, and can lead to no good. Your corre- 
spondents should remember that not i-20th of your 
subscribers are flute players, consequently, such matter 
to them is quite uninteresting ; the piano-forte players 
might with as much propriety, spin a yarn every week 
respecting the superiority of the tone of a particular 
maker of the piano-forte, over that of another. Excuse 
this scrawl. 

In haste, yours, 


No. 19. 

{From a Professor of Counterpoint^) 

(It should be mentioned, in order to make this letter 
intelligible, that the Boehm flute was not the only 
subject of personal rather than general interest, on which 
a correspondence had been carried on in the columns of 
'The Musical World.') 

Mr. Editor, 

Much as I have felt pleased with some of the recent 
articles in your admirably conducted work, I think you 
have allowed full scope to everything that can be said 


about the " Boehm Flute," as well as the Antiquarian 
and Contrapuntists Societies ; and if I am not mistaken, 
some of your correspondents upon these subjects have 
been making use of the ' Musical World ' for the 
purpose of letting the public know that there are such 
persons in existence, by a very " antiquarian " manoeuvre, 
somewhat detrimental to the interests of Somerset 
House, and equally trying to the patience of your 

For my own part, at least, what with antiquarian 
doctors, Italian professors, the French Flowers of meta- 
phor, used by certain bachelors (to say nothing of the 
cabals about dissenting chapels), I have had (and so I 
think your subscribers generally will say) quite verbuni 
sat. So roughly handled as the " essay " on the Boehm 
flute was on the first " review (?) " of it, I am astounded 
that the monotonous tootle tootle in your columns upon 
that instrument should have been tolerated so long. 
Many of the performers (?), I doubt not, would have 
found themselves more in type at a lathe or bow-string, 
than in endeavouring to make fools of compositors, and 
wasting the midnight oil of laborious editors in framing 
their lucubrations into comprehensible phraseology ; and 
as to the — the — country punsters (pshaw ! you know 
what I mean, although I can't write or pronounce the 
word, — conter — pun — pun — contrapuntists — aye, that's 
it), I thought these learned "pundits" would never 
have brought their perscrutations to a point or finale. 
Do, Mr. Editor, have a little mercy upon us pour Vavenir, 
and if in noting your papers, you find any more con- 
tributions from these advertising scribblers just pop them 
into the fire ; assuring them in your " notice to corre- 
spondents," that " Timothy Trueism and Peter Prosey's 
letters are advertisements." 

In tendering advice to these erudite gentlemen who 
have made their debut for the first and (I hope), last 
time, I am powerfully reminded by the soporific effect 


produced by these Bohemian and other correspondents, 
of the lines somewhat paraphrased in the opera of Rob 


Before the first remembrance dies, 
Lo " Nicholson " and " Prowse " arise, 
Whose place then " Hodgkinson " supplies, 

With borne ! borne ! borne ! 
" Hark, hark, from some one member's nose, 
A cadence deep — a dying close," 
At which the Contrapuntists rose, 

For home ! home ! home ! 

A Professor of Counterpoint. 



In an age like the present when signs of a decline of in- 
dustry, the sure forerunner of national decay, meet the 
eye on every side, to trace the career of an orphan, who 
by untiring assiduity won for himself a front place in the 
race of life, is a task at once agreeable and instructive. 

Carl Emil von Schafhautl was the son of a Bavarian 
army surgeon. 1 He was born at Ingolstadt on the 
l6th of February, 1803. Early in youth he had the 
misfortune to lose both his parents. His education was 
commenced in the elementary school of his native town, 
and was continued at the Priests' Seminary and Gram- 
mar School (Gymnasium) at Neuburg on the Danube. 
Schafhautl was endowed by nature with a passionate 
love of music ; throughout his long life music, as he 
tells us in his biography of Boehm, though he could 
only regard it as a side issue, filled his -.vhole heart. At 
Neuburg he was so fortunate as to receive instruction in 
the art to which he was so ardently attached, as music 
formed part of the curriculum of the school. He was 
taught the pianoforte and singing ; he also learnt 
orchestral playing, for in the Roman Catholic institutions 
of Germany the pupils formed a band of their own 
which played in church on solemn occasions. 2 

1 For the materials of this biographical sketch the author is 
chiefly indebted to a comprehensive account of Schafhautl's life 
and work by Herr Ludwig Boehm, which appeared in the Bayer 
Industrie- und Gewerbeblatt, No. 17, 1890. 2 Infra, p. 395. 




To face $■ 348. 


On leaving school Schafhautl returned to Ingoldstadt 
where he joined a member of his father's profession, an 
apothecary. With him he learnt pharmacy, and what 
he valued more highly, practical chemistry. His leisure 
he employed in practising the violin and the double bass, 
in playing on the organs in the different churches, in 
studying German literature, and in writing verses, essays 
and stories for the Ingolstadt weekly paper. One of his 
early literary productions, a tale for children entitled 
' The Old Man of the Mountains,' which appeared in 
1 8 19, is still to be found in booksellers' shops. 

We next hear of Schafhautl as a student at the Uni- 
versity of Landshut devoting himself to mathematics 
and natural science. From Landshut he returned to 
Ingolstadt, "and occupied himself with experiments. 
The following incident shows the determination with 
which he met the obstacles which beset his path. The 
comet of 1 8 18 having drawn his attention to astronomy, 
he had proceeded to study that science, but he had no 
telescope with which to gratify the curiosity his studies 
had aroused. He therefore entered into an arrange- 
ment with a watchmaker in whose house he resided, by 
which, in return for instruction in mathematics and 
physical science, he was taught the arts of turning and 
grinding ; he was thus enabled to construct for himself a 
reflecting as well as a refracting instrument, the glasses 
for both of which he ground with his own hands. 

It was not until 1827, when Schafhautl was twenty- 
four years of age, that there came, a turning point in his 
career. Scheifele, the Rector of Ingolstadt, who had 
taken an interest in the fatherless but persevering youth, 
now used his influence to procure for him an appoint- 
ment in the Library of the University of Landshut, a 
library in which were enshrined many literary treasures 
of suppressed Bavarian monasteries. The University 
of Landshut had just been transferred to Munich, so to 
Munich came Schafhautl. How he revelled in the riches 


of the bibliothecal shelves with which he was surrounded 
can easily be imagined. But Munich had for him 
another and a more potent attraction — its music. Not 
to mention its concerts and its opera, in Caspar Ett, the 
Court organist, it possessed a skilful performer, a man 
of high repute as a composer of church music, and a 
learned musical antiquary. Moreover, being a clever and 
conscientious choirmaster, he had brought the singers 
of St. Michael's, the Court church, into a state of un- 
usually high training, and thus by the production of 
such works as the Penitential Psalms of Orlando di 
Lasso, an Alleluia of Handel, Allegri's Miserere, he 
regaled the ears of the delighted Schafhautl with feast 
after feast, until the impressionable young man began to 
regard him with a feeling not far short of idolatry. 

Schafhautl had not been long in Munich when there 
sprang up the friendship which has brought his name 
into these pages. Theobald Boehm, who was a hand- 
some man of prepossessing manners, was now in the 
prime of life and at the zenith of his reputation as a 
flute-player. He was not only gifted with the natural 
talent and temperament necessary to form a musician, 
but he was endowed, in addition, with the two essential 
requisites for an artist of the true type, intelligence and 
sensibility. As a performer he was remarkable for his 
great execution, for the beauty of his tone, for the refine- 
ment of his style, for the tenderness and delicacy of his 
expression, and for the skill and conscientiousness of his 
phrasing. Like Ett, he was a Court musician. Long 
before this time his artistic gifts had attracted the atten- 
tion of King Maximilian, who, on the occasion of a 
vacancy, had taken the opportunity of introducing him 
into his orchestra, and placing him by the side of his 
former teacher and ever warm friend, Kapeller. 

But the magnetic attraction of musical sympathy was 
not the only bond of union between Schafhautl and 
Boehm; they were drawn together by a higher and a 


deeper tie. Both were athirst for knowledge ; both were 
ready to devote themselves to the task of wresting her 
secrets from Nature by the tedious and toilsome process 
of cross-examining her through her operations ; both 
were eager to turn to account the information they might 
thus elicit. Moreover they were admirably qualified to 
work together. Boehm was a clever mechanic, possessed 
of great manipulative skill, and endowed in a rare degree 
with the faculty of invention ; whilst Schafhautl was a 
highly trained mathematician, and a physicist well 
steeped in theory and scientific lore ; thus one could 
supply what the other needed. 

To eke out his slender salary of 300 florins, Schaf- 
hautl, under the pseudonym of Pellisov, 3 began to 
contribute to various periodicals as musical critic and 
essayist. An extract from a production of his in this 
capacity — an account of one of the first concerts at which 
Boehm played on the flute which bears his name, has 
already been given in this volume. 4 He did not, how- 
ever, confine himself to ordinary journalistic work, but 
wrote, for publications of a more scientific character, on 
acoustical topics, such as sound, tone, and detonation ; 
on musical instruments in general ; on the theory of 
covered cylindrical and conical pipes, and German flutes. 

His articles soon brought him into notice, and pro- 
cured for him the acquaintance of most of the artists 
and composers of Munich. Amongst his essays was a 
paper on the ^Eolian harp, in which was propounded a 
theory which Schafhautl conceived could be applied to 
the construction of the pianoforte. How he communi- 
cated his views to Boehm ; how Boehm quickly put them 
into a practical shape ; how the workmen who made the 
model, instigated by their employer, betook themselves 
to London and forestalled Schafhautl's agents, Gerock 

3 Pellisov, i. e. pellis ovis, a Latin translation of the word 
Schafhautl, which signifies sheepskin. 

4 Supra, p. 25. 


and Wolf, in taking out a patent ; how, in consequence, 
litigation arose which obliged Schafhautl to come to 
England, has already been alluded to in this work, 5 and 
will be told in Schafhautl's own words on a subsequent 
page. 6 

Schafhautl arrived in London in October 1834. Here 
were disclosed to him the wonders of a new world. The 
vast life and turmoil of the English metropolis ; the rich 
treasures of science and art in the British Museum and 
other collections ; the Medical Schools ; the works for 
the construction of machinery and of organs and piano- 
fortes, all on so gigantic a scale compared with those 
with which he was hitherto acquainted, served to con- 
firm the opinion which he had previously formed from 
Boehm's description, that England was the Promised 
Land of technical art. 

No sooner was the lawsuit brought to a successful 
termination than Schafhautl and Boehm set out for 
Sheffield to make a study of the iron and steel works 
for which the town is so celebrated. At that time a 
method of getting rid of certain impurities, such as 
carbon, silicon, phosphorus, and sulphur, which have a 
tendency to render malleable iron brittle, was a desi- 
deratum. This was a subject with which Schafhautl 
and Boehm were already conversant, they having 
previously attempted, but unsuccessfully, to solve the 
problem. They now so impressed an ironmaster that 
he took them under his auspices. A chemical labora- 
tory in which the two friends were installed was set up 
in Mr. Hounsfield's villa, in the suburbs of Sheffield, 
where they made the discovery that by introducing into 
the metal, when in a state of fusion, black oxide of man- 
ganese, salt, and potter's clay, the elimination of the 
impurities was greatly facilitated. Whether the sug- 
gestion was first made by Schafhautl or by Boehm is 

5 Supra, p. 46. ti Infra, p. 427. 


left open, for the Doctor, in his account of the matter, 7 
does not claim the discovery for himself, nor does he 
assign it to his fellow worker. 

On the 13th May, 1835, the ironmaster took out a 
patent for the process in Schafhautl's name. In the 
specification he is described as Charles Schafhautl, 
gentleman, of JJ Cannon Street, in the City of London, 
but the document appears to have been executed at 
Sheffield. In June, Boehm left England to make the 
patent powder and its use known in Germany, whilst 
Schafhautl, who had resigned his post in the library at 
Munich, remained behind in order to introduce it into 
various foundries at Sheffield and Birmingham. 

But the Patent Office shows that another project con- 
nected with the iron industry had engaged Schafhautl's 
attention. The conversion of pig into bar iron, as the 
purification of the cast iron which runs from the blast 
furnace is called, is effected by an operation termed 
puddling. The cast or pig iron, having gone through 
the preliminary process of refining, is fused in a rever- 
beratory furnace, the materials to aid in the purification 
(the salt, the potter's clay, and the manganese dioxide 
of Schafhautl's patent, or some one of the other sub- 
stances which have since been recommended) being 
added. When first fused the metal is comparatively 
liquid, but as it boils giving off bubbles of carbonic 
oxide, it thickens by degrees until it is converted into a 
semi-solid mass of a pasty or porridge-like consistence. 
Throughout the operation a half-naked workman or 
puddler, furnished with a rabble and a paddle, as his 
tools are termed, watches the contents of the furnace, 
keeps them constantly stirred, and, when he considers 
that the process is complete, or to use his own phrase, 
when the metal has come to nature, collects it and 
forms it into puddler 's balls. 

7 Infra, p. 431. 

2 A 


The object which Schafhautl had in view was to work 
the puddling or stirring tool by machinery instead of 
by hand, so that " a larger puddling furnace might be 
used, and more work done in a given time:' There is 
a drawing of the apparatus in the specification of the 
patent. It shows an elaborate machine with wheels, 
rods, bars, cranks, and levers, by means of which, motions 
both transverse and longitudinal, similar to those given 
by the hand of the puddler, are imparted to the stirring- 
tool. Whether or not Boehm, to whose "marvellous 
gift for combination " the Doctor bears testimony, had 
or had not a hand in the invention, can now be only a 
matter of conjecture. But when one considers that the 
puddler's work is so exhausting that it has been pro- 
nounced to be probably the most severe labour in the 
world, it can occasion no surprise that since Schaf hautl's 
time many mechanical rabbles, as such contrivances are 
called, should have been brought forward with a view of 
lightening his task ; indeed it has been proposed to 
cause the furnace itself to rotate. In fact, so revolution- 
ised has been the manufacture of iron of late years that 
the operation of puddling has been to a great extent 
superseded, and threatens ere long to entirely disappear. 

The patent was taken out on the 13th of June, 1836, 
by which time Schafhautl seems to have left Sheffield, 
and to have gone to reside at Dudley in Worcestershire. 
Notwithstanding the heavy-claims which iron must have 
had on his time, we have evidence that he did not 
allow music to be overlooked. From 1834 to 1836 the 
'Allgemeine Musicalische Zeitung' of Leipsic published 
contributions from his pen on Catholic Church Music, on 
the York Musical Festival, and English Music in general, 
and on The English System of Organ Construction, 
and the large Organs of Birmingham and York. 

During the next year, 1837, Schafhautl paid a visit to 
France, where he taught the improved puddling process 
in the large French ironworks such as those of Terre 


Noire, Creuzot, and Alais. He then made geological 
excursions to Aries, Avignon, and Marseilles. After- 
wards he proceeded to the deep valleys of the Pyrenees. 
To this remote region the art of puddling had not found 
its way, although it had been known for half a century, 
it having been patented by Cort, its inventor, in 1784. 
Schafhautl attempted to introduce it, but he was not 
successful ; indeed it is said that to this day the 
production of iron is here effected by the old Catalan 
forge ; a method not unlike that which is practised 
in such countries as Borneo and Madagascar, and 
believed to be substantially the same as the Roman 
way of smelting. 

On his return to England, Schafhautl undertook an 
elaborate and exhaustive examination of the chemical 
composition of iron and steel. He embodied the results 
of his researches in a paper which he read at the meeting 
of the British Association in 1839. So important was 
this investigation considered to be that Sir David 
Brewster, the editor of the ' London and Edinburgh 
Philosophical Magazine,' published it at full length in 
that periodical, although it was necessary to give up to 
it nearly sixty pages 8 of the magazine. The next year 
Schafhautl again attended the meeting of the British 
Association and read papers in the Chemical section. 
As the meeting was held at Glasgow, he took the oppor- 
tunity of making a tour in the Scotch Highlands. 

By the year following, 1 840, the ubiquitous Schafhautl 
had removed to Swansea, whither he had been taken by 
Charles Manby, the engineer. He was engaged in inves- 
tigating by means of chemical analysis the metallurgy 
of copper, and was studying the geology of the district, 
and making experiments with the Welsh anthracite or 
smokeless coal. The outcome of this visit to Swansea 

8 ' On the Combinations of Carbon with Silicon and Iron and 
other Metals, forming the different species of Cast Iron, Steel, and 
Malleable Iron. 1 By Dr. Schafhautl, of Munich. 1839-40. 

2 A 2 


was a patent which was taken out in January 1841, by 
the Doctor in conjunction with Charles Manby's brothers 
Edward Oliver Manby and John Manby for " the con- 
struction of puddling, balling, and other reverberatory 
furnaces for enabling anthracite, stone coal, or culm to 
be used as fuel." 

Schafhautl had now been resident in England for 
seven years. In November 1835, he had received the 
degree of Doctor of Philosophy, and in March 1838, that 
of Doctor of Medicine. 9 He had been elected an Asso- 
ciate of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 10 and for his 
communications to that Society, on a new universal 
photometer, 11 and on the circumstances under which 
explosions frequently occur in steam boilers and the 

9 These degrees are said to have been conferred on Schafhautl 
by the University of Dublin, but the statement involves a seeming 
impossibility, inasmuch as the degree of Doctor of Philosophy is 
one which that university has never granted. Nor can Schaf hautl's 
name be found in the list of Dublin Doctors of Medicine. But 
although there is little likelihood that either of the degrees was of 
British origin, there can be no doubt that Schafhautl began to be 
styled Doctor during his residence in England. That he was 
officially recognised in Germany as a Doctor both of Philosophy 
and Medicine is evident from the words italicised in the follow- 
ing, which is taken from his diploma of " Doctor Scientiarum 
Politico Oeconomicarum " — an honorary degree which he received 
from the University of Munich in i860: — "viro excelsi ingenii, 
tarn in literis quam in artibus versato, collegas carissimo, domino 
Carolo Francisco Aemiliano Schaf haeutl, Ingolstadensi Bojo, 
philosophic et medici?ice Doctori, geologise et rei metallicae pro- 
fessori publ. ord., bibliothecario supremo in Universitate, Academias 
scientiarum Regiae in ordine sodali, Musei geologici in Academia 
Conservatori, Ordinis meritorum civilium St. Michaelis, Honoris 
Legionis Franco- Gallicae Equiti rel. rel. ob vastam ac exquisitam 
scientiam doctrinamque praesertim in re montana et metallica 
honoris causa — " 

10 His election took place on the 9th of February, 1841. He 
was described as Charles Schafhaeutl, of Augsburg, Doctor of 
Philosophy and Medicine. 

11 Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, vol. i. 
p. 101. 


causes to which such explosions maybe assigned,! 2 he 
had received the Telford Medal. Not to mention 
private friends, he had made the acquaintance of many 
distinguished men, such as Thompson, Tennant, Mur- 
chison, Lyell, Brunei, and Stephenson. It seemed then 
as if he had made a new home for himself in this 
country ; but the love of the Fatherland proved too 
strong; in June 184 1 he returned to Munich and 
rejoined his old friend Boehm. The Boehm family 
occupied a flat in a building which had once formed 
part of one of the religious houses in which before the 
suppression of such institutions in Bavaria, Munich 
abounded. 13 It had been the residence of Boehm's 
father, and it is still in the possession ■ of the family, it 
being inhabited by Borhm's daughter and one of his 
sons." To this abode Schaufhautl was welcomed by 
Boehm, and here he passed the forty-nine remaining 
years of his life. 

,. From this time forward the biography of Schafhautl 
becomes one long record of his unceasing activity. He 
at once resumed his chemical researches in the labora- 
tory of the Royal Academy. In defence of the opinions 
put forward by his old friend and instructor in chemistry, 

12 Transactions of the Institution of Civil Engineers, vol iii. 
p. 435 ; also Proceedings, vol. i. p. 103. 

13 Munich, the Villa Munichen, or Forum ad Monachos, received 
its name from the circumstance that the ground on which it stood 
was owned by monks. — C. W. 

14 On the 9th of April, 1894, it was the scene of an interesting 
celebration. A festive gathering of the now very numerous Boehm 
family was held in it to commemorate the centenary of Boehm's 
birth. After the family coffee, one of Boehm's youthful descendants 
recited some verses which he had composed in his great grand- 
father's honour, and the head of the family, Herr Ludwig Boehm, 
in an eloquent speech recalled the chief incidents of his father's 
career, and held up his life as a pattern for the imitation of his 
younger listeners. A glass of champagne was then drunk in 
silence by each present in memory of the departed. Music and 
dancing followed. 


J oh. Nep. Fucks, he plunged into a controversy which had 
broken out in the scientific world on the nature and origin 
of volcanoes. Immediately after his return from England 
he was placed on the Committee of the Munich Poly- 
technic Association, as a member of which he continued 
for thirty years, as the journal of the Association testifies, 
to contribute reports and to read papers oh subject 
after subject at the evening meetings. In 1843 he was 
appointed to the Professorship of Geology and Metal- 
lurgy in the University of Munich, a chair which, in 
addition to the professorial work, involved the duties of 
Keeper of the Geological Collections of the State. In 
the previous year he had been received as a member of 
the Royal Bavarian Academy of Sciences. 

But post after post of a more practical kind began to 
fall to the lot of this useful man. He acted as Bavarian 
Government Commissioner at the Industrial Exhibition 
held at Mayence in 1842, at Leipzig in 1850, in London 
in 185 1, at Munich in 1854, and at Paris in 1855, assist- 
ing at the adjudications and drawing up detailed reports. 
Ke was also placed on a commission which King 
Ludwig I. sent to Pompeii, when in 1842 he erected the 
Pompeianum, a copy of a Roman villa, in the park at 
Aschaffenburg. In examining the remains of ancient 
architecture which the excavations had brought to light, 
Schafhautl ascertained that the brilliancy of the walls 
in the baths of Herculaneum and Pompeii is produced 
by the way in which they are plastered, not by means 
of wax. 16 On the establishment of the Bavarian State 
Railways in 1844, he was nominated commissioner for 

16 The matter is discussed by the Doctor in some remarks ' On 
the Theory of the Setting and Hardening of Mortars, and the 
Polished Stucco of the Ancients,' appended to a paper entitled 
' Portland and Roman Cement. A Contribution to the History of 
Cements and Hydraulic Mortars.' There is a copy of the paper 
in the original German, with a manuscript English translation, in 
the library of the Institution of Civil Engineers. 


testing locomotive boilers ; the work thus thrown upon 
him was afterwards increased by the addition of the 
official control of the boilers of Upper Bavaria, so that 
before the end of his life he had tested more than two 
thousand steam boilers. In 1849, he undertook another 
Inspectorship for the Government of Upper Bavaria, 
that of the construction and erection of church organs, 
in the discharge of his duties giving judicial opinions 
which amounted from first to last to over four hundred 
in number. In the midst of all these avocations he 
found time to act from 1845 as examiner of the technical 
schools of Munich and Augsburg, in the capacity of 
Governmeut Commissioner for these institutions. 

Amongst the appointments which were showered upon 
Schafhautl there was one which it gave him especial 
pleasure to accept, that of chief librarian to the Uni- 
versity of Munich. During the seven years he had 
spent in the library, in the subordinate office of 
secretary, he had become intimately acquainted with 
its contents, and had learnt to appreciate its value. 
To provide suitable catalogues for its three hundred 
thousand volumes, and to arrange and display its 
manuscripts and incunabula — a work which extended 
over ten years — was to him a labour of love. 

There still remains to be mentioned an undertaking 
which probably entailed on the indefatigable Schafhautl 
more trouble than any one of his many other occu- 
pations. He was nominated President of the Geological 
Section of a Royal Commission, which was appointed 
in 1849 for the scientific examination of Bavaria, in 
which capacity he devoted himself for nearly forty years 
to the formation of a more complete National Geological 
and Mineralogical Collection by visits to the Bavarian 
mountains, by purchases from exhibitions, and by 
obtaining contributions from Bavarian foundries. In 
connection with this subject, not to mention communi- 
cations to periodical publications, he produced in 1851 


a work entitled ' Geological Researches in the South 
Bavarian Alps,' and in 1 863 a ' Lethaea Geognostica ' of 
South Bavaria, with an atlas containing 100 plates. 

Amidst all these diverse and distracting pursuits 
Schafhautl never lost sight of music. Up to within a 
few years of his death he was a constant attendant of 
concerts and operas, although, like Boehm, he could never 
reconcile himself to the innovations of Richard Wagner. 
He gave lectures on Ancient Music ; on Mozart in 
relation to his predecessors and successors; on the 
Nature of Music and the so-called Music-Painting. 
He wrote papers on Casper Ett ; Joseph Haydn and 
Gluck ; Tannhauser and the Music of the Future ; 
Vogler's celebrated Organ of St. Peter's ; the Abbe 
Vogler : a biography ; Meyerbeer's ' Africaine ' ; Church 
Music at Munich ; Major and Minor in Nature ; and 
even on the abstruse subject of Chinese Music. Indeed, 
so incessantly did he ply his pen, that there were 
enumerated in the Almanac of the Bavarian Academy 
of Sciences of 1884, more than two hundred of his 
literary works, and in that of 1890 there appeared a 
supplementary list. Meantime, his labours did not 
pass unrecognised. In addition to the University 
degrees which were conferred on him, and the hono- 
rary membership to which he was invited by learned 
societies, he received from Bavaria two decorations, 
the Order of Merit of St. Michael, and the Cross of 
Knighthood of the Order of Merit of the Bavarian 
Crown ; from Prussia the insignia of the Order of the 
Red Eagle ; and from France the Cross of the Legion 
of Honour. 

At length, signs that the great Leveller with his 
scythe was slowly but surely drawing near to the abode 
of Boehm and Schafhautl began to appear; but the 
hand of Time, irresistible though it be, was powerless to 
quench the fire of the old men's energy. Weak and 
stiff grew Boehm's lips, so that he was forced to resign 


an older friend than Schafhautl, his flute, 16 but he 
sought still to impart the secrets of his art by the aid of 
the tremulous notes of his now feeble voice. Dim and 
more dim waxed Schafhautl's eyes, yet hour after hour 
he sat, pen in hand, at his desk, though he could no 
longer decipher the words the pen had traced. The 
parting of the two friends was long delayed. It was 
not till 1 88 1 that Boehm was called to his last rest; 
Schafhautl followed him in 1890, in the same year of 
his age, the eighty-eighth. 

Notwithstanding the strain Schafhautl must have 
put on his mental and physical powers, he enjoyed 
excellent health till within a few days of his death. 
Moreover, he was a living refutation of the popular 
belief that much work engenders dulness. Gifted with 
a happy vein of humour, and possessed of an inex- 
haustible fund of anecdote, which his extraordinarily 
good memoiy placed always at his command, he was 
a great favourite in society. His presence was highly 
appreciated at the jovial gatherings of " Old England," 
a festive club, which numbered amongst its " Lords," as 
the members were termed at their banquets, many of 
the nobility and of the most distinguished men of 
Munich. For the last twenty years of his life he gave 
up his mountain excursions, and spent his summer 
holiday at the Benedictine abbeys of Saltzburg, and 
Einsiedeln in Switzerland, where he was received with 
open arms ; the genial disposition, the good stories, 
the strict attention to religious observances, and the 
fraternal sympathy of the old bachelor rendering him 
an ever-welcome guest. He was very popular with the 
choir of St. Michael's Church. For fifty years he was 
present with them on the occasion of Church festivals, 
his advice being always sought as to the music to be 
performed. On his eightieth birthday (a day on which 

16 Infra, p. 477. 


the magistrates of Munich offered him an address of 
congratulation) they presented him with a souvenir of 
their regard, and at his funeral performed a requiem in 
his honour. 

For so busy a man as Schafhautl to find time to 
verify every statement he made was a physical im- 
possibility. And, in addition to the want of accuracy 
inseparable from too many undertakings (a habit which, 
once established, has a tendency to drift into culpable 
carelessness) he laboured under a twofold disadvantage, 
his writing was difficult to read, and his eyesight was 
exceedingly imperfect. To these causes may be as- 
cribed many of the errors which are to be found in his 
works. A bad hand is an especial misfortune for one 
who, like Schafhautl, contributes to periodicals, for in 
such publications, the author seldom has an opportunity 
of revising the proofs. In quotations from the Doctor's 
articles given in this volume, the reader may notice 
many misprints, due to the difficulty experienced in 
deciphering his manuscript, such as Rapelle for Kapeller, 17 
Daru for Dorus, 18 Cloche for Coche, 19 remu6 for reunis, 
attaquaient for atteignaient. 20 Amongst the mistakes 
attributable to his defective vision there is a ludicrous 
blunder in his account of a concert in which Boehm took 
part ; he so misread the programme as to credit Boehm 
with playing an air which was sung by a lady vocalist. 21 

We are indebted to Schafhautl, as I have already 
mentioned, for an extract from a lecture published in 
Schweigger's 'Jahrbuch fiir Chemie und Physik' (1833- 
1834), on the theory of covered cylindrical and conical 
pipes and German flutes. When Lord Rayleigh or 
some other competent physicist shall turn his attention 
to the subject, the theory put forward by the Doctor 
will, no doubt, be examined, and an opinion expressed 
as to how far he may be considered to have been 

17 Supra, p. 161. 18 Infra, p. 434. 19 Infra, p. 440. 

20 Infra, p. 424. 21 Infra, p. 399. 


successful in his attempt to grapple with the complex 
phenomena with which it deals. One of his papers, 
however, is of interest to flute-players generally, inas- 
much as it bears on a subject which is with them a 
matter of almost daily discussion, viz. whether the tone 
of a flute is or is not affected by the material of which 
the instrument is made. The paper, which was published 
in the ' Allgemeine Musicalische Zeitung' (Leipzig) of 
1879, is far too long to be reproduced in these pages, 
but I will give an account, as brief as may be, of two or 
three of the experiments described. 

Dr. Schafhautl commences his essay with a quotation 
of some length in which the writer considers it extra- 
ordinary that such a " myth " or " superstition " as the 
belief that the material of a wind instrument exercises 
an influence on its sound should still exist The choice 
of the material to be selected was a question, he said, 
not of the quality of the sound it gives, but of such con- 
siderations as its strength, beauty, handiness, or price. 
He admits, it is true, that Gladni (Chladni), at the 
beginning of this century, still believed somewhat in a 
weak resonance of the zinc or wooden wall of a pipe, but 
he adds, "as a matter of fact, however, the wooden or 
brass sides of a clarinet or of a trumpet do not vibrate, 
but only the column of air which is enclosed within 
them ; and three flutes, one of which is made of silver, 
another of glass, and another of wood, give out exactly 
the same sound. That is a fact which rests on incontro- 
vertible acoustic laws which can be proved by any trials, 
and with regard to which there ought to be no more 

The Doctor proposes to refer this oracular dogma 
from Science to Nature. "In order," he writes, "to 
allow Nature herself to speak on this interesting ques- 
tion, I selected a wooden organ pipe, which nearly gave 
the G (or more nearly the G sharp of our old high pitch). 
The body of the pipe was 72 • 2 centimetres long from the 


plug to the open end ; in the inside diameter at the lip 
47*0 mm. wide, and 58*5 mm. broad ; we have therefore 
a parallelogram of 2749*5 square millimetres in super- 
ficial area. The wood of the body of the pipe was one 
decimetre (?) thick, which thickness likewise, of course, 
formed the width of the natural beard." 

After a further minute description of the pipe the 
Doctor continues as follows : — 

"Then I had a rectangular prism made, which exactly- 
filled up the body of the pipe, i.e. the interior space of 
the pipe, and over this prism I had three metal pipes 
constructed, three pipes which, of course, perfectly re- 
sembled each other, one of which consisted of tin, one of 
lead, and the third of zinc. The tin pipe was of the 
usual thickness in metal of the principal pipes of this 
size, namely 1 mm. The thickness of the lead pipe had 
to be somewhat greater, as it could not otherwise- have 
been kept in shape, because ©f the softness of lead ; it 
amounted to 1 * 3 mm. The zinc pipe consisted of rolled 
sheet zinc, 0*5 mm. thick." 

The three metal pipes, which were so constructed as 
to resemble the wooden pipe " exactly in every detail/' 
were placed side by side with it on a wind-chest. The 
four pipes thus placed were then blown at a given pres- 
sure of wind with the following result : — 

"The wooden pipe did not quite come up to the height 
of the G of our old orchestras, whose A made 896 
vibrations. The wooden pipe made 404*98 oscillations 
at io° Reaumur. 

"According to Science we must, of course, conclude 
that all pipes which are made alike down to the 
minutest detail, will also make 404*98 oscillations ; but 
Nature gave a totally different reply to our question. 

" The tin pipe made at the same time 398, the leaden 
pipe 390, and the zinc pipe 382 oscillations ; i.e. the zinc 
pipe was quite half a tone lower than the wooden pipe. 
The tin pipe almost came up to the height of the G of 


our earlier orchestra pitch, the A of which reached 896 
vibrations. It was about one-third of half a tone, and 
the leaden pipe about two-thirds of half a tone too 

" As here all the circumstances under which the four 
pipes gave their tone resembled each other, and only the 
material of whiah the pipes were made, varied, the 
natural conclusion is that the various materials of which 
the pipes were made were the cause of the various tone- 
quantities of the pipes with regard to their height and 

" In order, therefore, to bring the three metal pipes — the 
tin pipe, the lead pipe, and the zinc pipe — to the same 
height of tone as the normal wooden pipe, it was neces- 
sary to cut off 1 * 5 cm. from the tin pipe, 3 • 5 cm. from 
the leaden pipe, and 5 '75 cm. from the zinc pipe. 

" It is very easily proved that the vibration of the walls 
of the pipes as a whole is the cause of the lowering of the 
tone in the pipes. For instance, I wrapped up the zinc 
pipe as tightly as possible with list, and it rose in tone 
higher than the G of the French pitch by six vibrations, 
therefore, by a quarter of half a tone, whilst before that 
it had stood below the G of the French pitch. At the 
same time the vibration of the pipe could be felt as 
strongly through the wrappers as when the bare pipe 
was held in the hand. 

" Here one sees the powerful influence of the material 
on the quantity of the vibrations or on the height of the 
tone, of which one had no suspicion previously. In order 
to demonstrate this influence still more clearly, I took a 
zinc pipe of the above-named dimensions, only it was 
about 5 mm. longer, and enclosed it in a second zinc pipe 
similar to the first in its dimensions, but about 2 cm. (?) 
wider, which, therefore, stood off from the actual pipe by 
about 2 mm. (?) ; the two substances were connected to- 
gether underneath by a watertight foundation of zinc. 
The space 2 cm. wide between the two pipes could be 


filled up with any substance one chose, in order, as it 
were, to thicken the wall of the pipe to 2 cm. The outer 
body of the pipe could, of course, not be brought quite 
down to the level of the plug on account of the mouth, 
together with the lip ; it was therefore connected exactly 
above the upper edge of the lip, consequently 70^ mm. 
above the* plug, by means of a horizontal watertight zinc 
bottom, with the inner or principal pipe. This double 
rectangular pipe had now a deeper tone than the single 
pipe of the same length. 

" The free, single zinc pipe was now o ' 77 of half a tone 
higher than the F sharp of the normal scale ; the double 
one, on the other hand, was only 0*45 of half a 
tone over F sharp. In sounding, the outer pipe vibrated 
strongly and visibly. 

"The space between the two pipes was now slowly 
filled with water. The tone was at first powerful, but 
as the water rose higher the octave of the fundamental 
note began to mingle with it at the same time and at 
last to appear quickly changing, and when the water 
stood 9 '4 cm. high in the intervening space the first 
octave, namely G, was produced instead of the funda- 
mental note, for which exactly a litre of water was 
required. When the water got to nearly that height 
and the octave was produced alternately with the funda- 
mental note, it sufficed to place the finger on the upper 
edge of the strongly vibrating outer pipe in order to 
produce the octave without its fundamental note. As 
soon as the water in the intervening space rose higher 
the fundamental note again sounded pure, but in such 
abundance as was never produced by the mere pipe 
itself. I now poured in water until it had reached over 
30 cm., reckoning from the bottom of the outer prism, 
or the outer pipe ; and now the double octave began to 
appear alternately with the fundamental note, as in the 
first octave, until its double octave appeared pure and 
full at a height of 36 • 3 cm. of the water. When more 


water was poured in, the double octave soon made way 
for the fundamental note, which again appeared very 
powerful ; but the fundamental note had now become 
nearly a half tone, 0*917 of a half tone higher. 

"The intervening space which the water filled was now 
filled up with gypsum. As gypsum grows hot in con- 
gealing and solidifying the water, the height of the tone 
could not be measured during the period of congelation ; 
but meanwhile, before the pipe had grown quite cold, 
the tone had not yet reached the height of the tone of 
a similar cylindrical pipe, which will be mentioned 

" The double pipe sounded a vibration higher than the 
G sharp of our pitch after it had grown cold, taking the 
A at 870 vibrations. The double pipe which was filled 
with gypsum had thus become 0*850 of a half tone 
higher than the double pipe filled with water, and 1 "]J 
of a half tone higher than the free double zinc pipe. 
On the other hand, the tone of the double pipe with the 
water wall was full and had a clear sound, the tone of 
the gypsum wall had become thin and earthy ; it had 
totally lost the full, strong, round sound of the water 

" We see here what a powerful influence the material 
of which the pipes are made exercises not only on the 
quantity, i.e. the height of the tone, but also on the 

" The material of the body of the pipe, therefore, does 
not only alter the tone in its height and depth, but it 
also considerably alters the tone in its quality. The 
tone of the pipe the wall of which consists of water, 
the molecules of which are so mobile, produces an 
extremely round, full sound ; the gypsum wall, on the 
other hand, gives forth a dull, poor, dry tone without 
any music." 

I pass over the next experiment. Suffice it to say, 
that three cylindrical pipes were taken, one of tin, 


another of lead, and a third of zinc. They were so con- 
structed as to be exactly alike in their dimensions. On 
sounding the three pipes it was found that instead of 
yielding notes differing from each other in pitch as did 
the rectangular pipes, they produced notes of the same 
pitch. Dr. Schafhautl adduces at considerable length 
theoretical reasons with a view of accounting for this 
difference in the behaviour of the rectangular and the 
cylindrical pipes, and then resumes as follows : — 

" If the relation ( Verhdltnis) of the oscillations of the 
walls of the body of the pipe with the oscillations of the 
air column is close {grosses), the vibration of the walls 
has only a disturbing and retarding influence on the 
oscillations of the air column, as we have chiefly noticed 
in our rectangular zinc pipes. But if the relation 
between the oscillations of the walls of the body of the 
pipes and the vibrating air column is less, the oscillating 
walls have such a disturbing influence on the oscillations 
of the air column that the formation of a clear musical 
sound is not un frequently prevented. We unfortunately 
see this only too often corroborated in the deepest pipes, 
the so-called 32-foot pipes of our largest organs. There 
are few pipes 32-feet long in existence which emit this 
32-foot note clearly and certainly. Vogler says that he 
scarcely ever heard a decidedly correct note from a pipe 
which was more than 16 Rhenish feet high, but instead 
of it only a certain humming ; and this is the reason 
why organists declare that the 32-foot note only takes 
effect when one draws its octaves, 16 and 8 feet, to it. I 
myself formerly never heard a really clear decided 32-foot 
note from the 32-foot pipe of an organ. Walker of 
Ludwigsburg was the first who exhibited a 32-foot C at 
the Munich Industrial Exhibition, the sound of which, 
with its aliquot parts, could be heard at a distance of a 
thousand yards from the glass palace. Walker had 
discovered the cause of his former failures and his 
present success quite correctly. The cause, as we have 


shown just now, lies in the fact that the greater portion 
of the 32-foot pipes in our organs have walls which are 
much too weak and thin, and that they are, therefore, 
as Walker expressed it, only ciphering. Walker made 
his pipes cylindrical, of strong wood, and covered them 
with thick zinc. The 32-foot pipes of zinc, such as are 
e.g. in the corner doors of the celebrated organ at Wein- 
garten in Suabia, which stand out from the front, have 
above all an upper lip which is far too weak for it to be 
possible for a decided note to be produced, even if the 
pipes possessed the requisite thickness of metal. The 
large, magnificent 32-foot zinc pipe of nearly 50 cm. in 
diameter in the cathedral organ at Lucerne is also much 
too thin ; the celebrated Swiss organ-builder, Haas, had 
the greatest difficulty in making it speak when the old 
organ was altered into the present grand new one." 22 

"Any one who has ever touched an organ pipe when 
it was sounding, whether it were a wooden or a metal 
pipe, will be sure to have remembered how powerfully 
the sounding pipes vibrate and tremble. It is not, how- 
ever, so much the height of the tone as the quality 
of the tone, the tone colour, which depends on this 

22 In the earlier part of his paper Schafhautl mentions that 
when he was acting as Bavarian Ministerial Commissioner in 
London at the Great Exhibition of 185 1 he met Schulze, the organ- 
builder of Paulinzelle. In a conversation which took place, ''I 
remarked," says Schafhautl, "that the German and English 
measurements, especially for the lowest basses of the organ, were 
very different to each other; that the 32-foot pipes in Germany 
were generally made much narrower and with thinner walls than 
the English. Schulze replied, " Topfer, who wrote the well-known 
work on organs, was opposed to the wide-measured basses." I 
said, " Just come with me," and I took him to Williams's (Willis's ?) 
large organ, and let him hear the sub-bass. " Did you ever hear 
such a bass note ? " I asked him. '' No." " Then just look at the 
dimensions of this sub-bass." Schulze remained silent for some 
time, looking at the pipes, and then said quickly, " For the future 
I also shall make such broad basses." 

2 B 


trembling in cylindrical pipes. The Abbe" Vogler 
employs a very characteristic phrase here when he says, 
" The pipes must be grasped by the wind." One need not 
even touch the pipes. If the principal pipes in an organ, 
e.g. are moved to the front on account of the deeper 
tone, and have come too near together, immediately 
there ensues a very disturbing rattle of the sounding 
pipe, which touches the next pipe in its vibrations. One 
can even convince oneself with one's hand of the quality 
of any tone that a pipe emits. The wooden pipe vibrates 
the least, its tone is therefore dull ; the 2inc pipe 
vibrates most vehemently, and therefore its sound is the 
strongest and finest. The pipe made of inelastic lead 
also vibrates very considerably when it sounds. We 
have then the irrefutable proof that the material of which 
the pipe is made has a considerable influence even on 
the quantity of the sound, which was not even surmised 
hitherto. But the quality of the sound is also so varied 
according to the material that it strikes even an un- 
musical ear. 

" The tone of the wooden pipe is strong but dull ; the 
tone of the zinc pipe, on the other hand, the clearest and 
fullest ; the tone of the leaden pipe is stronger than that 
of the wooden pipe, but not so clear as the tin pipe. 
The tone of the zinc pipe is fresher and more vigorous 
than that of the wooden pipe, but not so melodious as 
that of the tin pipe. 

" I will adduce further proofs, from facts, of the influence 
of the material on the tone of the pipes. 

" In the organ of St. Michael's Court Church at Munich, 
which was built about a hundred and fifty years ago by 
the celebrated organ-builder Fuchs in Donauwbrth, and 
was afterwards altogether altered in the year 1 8 14 by 
Vogler himself according to his system of simplification, 
7$ / there w as a bourdon, a lip pipe, in the lower manual, 
which possesses the character of the most charming 
bassoon tones. 


" When the well-known Professor Dr. Joseph Frohlich, 
of the University of Wurzburg, who was the founder and 
director of the School of Music in Wurzburg, was pre- 
sent at an ornate High Mass in St. Michael's Court Church 
in Munich, he remarked, after service, to the well-known 
Caspar Ett, who was at that time organist of that church, 
" I say, your bassoonist elicits most charming sounds 
from his instrument." Ett smiled, and convinced him, 
incredulous though he was. at last by ocular demonstra- 
tion, that the bassoon-player who had produced those 
charming sounds had been he, the organist himself, and 
besides him, the bourdon which he had played. It was 
well known that Frohlich was a very finely educated 
musician who was very frequently hypercritical in his 
demands on musicians and their musical execution, and 
difficult to satisfy. It lay in the nature of that philo- 
sophical man that his judgment was rather too severe, 
than too lenient. 

" The bourdon, which really imitates to perfection a 
beautiful bassoon tone, is a narrowly mensurated flute 
work : the proportion of its width to its depth is as 
1 : 1 • 5 ; the front side which has the languette and the 
mouth is of pine wood. The height of the mouth to the 
width is as 2 :2*33. The side walls are rather thinner 
than the walls at the back. The wood of the pipe is so 
dry and brittle than one can guess the tone of the pipe 
by merely tapping it smartly. But a new pipe, made 
exactly after the same dimensions, emits the usual flute- 
tone of the bourdon ; and a wooden lip stop has never 
been constructed whose tone could remind any one of 
that of the bassoon. It is the brittle wood, or rather it 
is the molecules of the wood, which cause the character- 
istic bassoon-like tone of the pipe." 

In another part of his paper the Doctor relates how 
he had seven trumpets made, each of which gave the C 
of the third orchestral octave, and describes the ex- 
pedients to which he had recourse in their construction 

2 B 2 


in order that the cavity of the interior should be of the 
same shape and dimensions in all of them. The first 
was of brass 0*52 mm. thick; the second was also of 
brass but was somewhat thicker, it being 0*85 mm. 
thick. The third was of lead 11 mm. in thickness. 
The fourth consisted of a pyramidal mass of gypsum. 
The remaining three were made of pasteboard of 
different degress of thickness. On the trumpets being 
blown by a skilful trumpeter "we seven times heard," 
writes Schaf hautl, " the same C of the third octave, with 
always the same overtones, but what a difference be- 
tween the sound-colour of the notes ! The trumpet 
made of brass 0*85 mm. thick gave the clearest tone ; 
the trumpet of brass 0*52 mm. thick gave a noticeably 
thinner tone. The tone of the leaden trumpet was strong 
but dull ; the tone of the paper trumpet sounded papery, 
and excited universal laughter ; but it was the trumpet 
note C with all its overtones." 




^^^L V 


To face p. 373. 




The following memoir appeared in the 'Allgemeine 
Musikalische Zeitung,' of Leipsic, during 1882, the year 
after Boehm died. A copy of it was handed to me by 
Mr. W. P. Mills, who received it from Mr. Walter 
Broadwood, to whom it had been presented by the 
author, Dr. Schafhautl. It has been translated into 
English by Dr. Emil Reich, and I have added a few 

Flute-players will value this biographical sketch for 
the personal incidents in Boehm's career with which it 
abounds. Such incidents cannot be without interest to 
those who are brought into daily and hourly association 
with Boehm's ideas, as is every one who plays on an open- 
keyed flute. Unless I have mistaken the disposition of 
my brother flautists, they will not be extreme to mark 
anything that Boehm's aged biographer may appear to 
have done amiss, either in his composition, his history, 
his chronology, or his science. They will only see in 
the stanch old man the loyal and devoted friend, eager, 
as long as his trembling hand can hold the pen, to 
defend Boehm from the attacks made upon him, and 
incapable of even thinking that any one " can seriously 
believe " what has been said against him by his. jealous 
rivals. They will be to his virtues very kind, and to his 
faults, should there seem to be any, a little blind. They 


will leave the scalpel and the dissecting-room to Mr. 
Rockstro, and, choosing the better part, will content 
themselves with strewing flowers on the grave. — C. W. 




Translated from the German 

Amidst the infinite variety of individuals there may be 
observed single minds that distinguish themselves from 
the rest by a stamp of their own, pursuing, as they do, 
particular directions to which their original bent leads 
them. Amongst them may sometimes be found men 
who reach their goal by more than one path, excelling 
equally in various pursuits. 

In the latter class of rare genius we must place him 
whose career and work we are about to consider, who, 
after a life of unremitting toil, has left this world in his 
eighty-ninth year. 

His birth takes us back to the end of the eighteenth 
century, when Bavaria was ruled by Karl Theodor. At 
that time the sultriness of the emotional atmosphere of 
our days was unknown. The political tempest of the 
west of Europe, and the horrors of the French Con- 
vention had begun to affect seriously the nerves of 
potentates ; the countries on the eastern confines of 
France had already commenced to reap some of the 
fruits of the struggle for liberty and equality. Karl 
Theodor was not only Elector of the Palatinate, but 
also Duke of Jiilich, Cleve, Berg, &c, and between 
1792 and 1799 he ceded to the French his lands on the 


other side of the Rhine, namely, the Rheinpfalz, Jiilich, 
and Zweibriicken. 

About that time there lived at Munich a celebrated 
goldsmith and jeweller called Karl Frederik Bohm, to 
whom a son was born on April 9th, 1794, 1 who received 
the name of Theobald, and was, of course, intended to 
carry on his father's business. Our Theobald was just 
four years old when the old Elector, Karl Theodor, died, 
the ruling Duke of Zweibriicken, Maximilian Joseph, 
succeeding to the throne of Bavaria. 

Poor Bavaria, without money or friends, was com- 
pelled to ally herself with the victorious Napoleon. Out 
of gratitude Napoleon, by the Proclamation of January 
1st, 1806, erected Bavaria into a kingdom, establishing 
at the same time the so-called Rhine-league, whose 
protector, or rather governor, he became, and by a 
stroke of the pen on August 1st, 1806, he put an end to 
the German Empire, which had existed for more than a 
thousand years. 

Young Bohm was by that time the boldest and most 
expert amongst his comrades at climbing and jumping, 
and very clever all round, spending his leisure hours 
amongst the soldiers, or in his father's workshop, where 
he obtained a little work-table of his own. He soon 
became perfectly familiar with the sparkling jewels, and 
neither his eye nor his judgment could easily be deceived. 
He also attended the famous drawing-school of Prof. 
Mitterer, and quickly reached the first place among the 
pupils ; this accounts for the* fact that his designs of 
jewelry, bracelets, and such like were always noted for 
good taste and elegance. Young Bohm left the beaten 
track in all he did. When his father would interfere 
with him, saying, " That will not do that way," he only 

1 Dr. Schafhautl is here at variance with himself. If Boehm 
died in his eighty-ninth year, as he has just stated, and as he again 
states at p. 475, he was born in 1783, not 1784. The subject of 
Boehm's age has already been discussed in Note 1, p. 3. 


replied, " Father, just let me do it in my own way." 
His father gave in, and the result was that the work 
came out more rapidly and better finished than from the 
hands of the best of his workmen. 

In his fourteenth year, in 1808, Theobald Bohm was, 
as a goldsmith and jeweller, of consummate skill. It 
was on his account that his father was intrusted with the 
repair of articles from the Royal Treasury, and was 
appointed jeweller and purveyor of fancy articles to the 
Court ; nay, even the celebrated anatomist and physio- 
logist Sommering, who, in 1808, was a member of the 
Bavarian Academy of Sciences, availed himself fre- 
quently of young Bohm's talents, in preparing skeletons, 
the articulations of which were to be movable as well as 

Bohm as Pupil of the Flute-player 

When yet a child, Bohm was exceedingly fond of 
music, and his first instrument was a flageolet, which, 
however, he soon abandoned, commencing to play on 
the flute. In 18 10, the young artist constructed his own 
flute after the model of an instrument with four keys from 
the workshop of the celebrated Karl August Grenser, of 
Dresden. All his neighbours bore unwilling testimony 
to his enthusiastic ardour. Amongst them there was an 
excellent flute-player, a member of the Court orchestra, 
one Johann Nepomuk Kapeller. One day he met our 
incipient virtuoso on the staircase, and laughingly said 
to him, " You young flute-player, I can no longer stand 
your noise ; come to me, I will show you how to set 
about it." Young Bohm thought he heard the voice of 
an angel. He gratefully accepted the proposal and 
became for two years the most painstaking of Kapeller's 
pupils. He also constructed new flutes for himself and 
his teacher — both working at the improvement of the 
faulty old flute. "They attempted to equalise the purity 


of the scale in the higher and lower registers, and to 
make the embouchure movable. Karl Maria von Weber, 
who made a trip from Darmstadt, where he studied 
under Vogler, by way of Wurzburg, &c, to Munich, 
reports on that in the ' Leipziger Musikalische Zeitung ' 
of April 30th, 181 1, according to the written declaration 
of Kapeller (p. 377). The invention was attacked in 
the same periodical of the same year by the celebrated 
Grenser, of Dresden (p. 778) ; to which Kapeller replied 
in the 'Miinchener Gesellschaftsblatt,' 1812, No. 1, prov- 
ing that Grenser did not know Kapeller's flute. The very 
ingenious mechanism of that flute had been invented by 
young Bohm. In course of time, however, it was found 
that the new contrivance scarcely repaid the amount of 
labour spent on it, and it thus soon fell into oblivion. 2 

Young Bohm made astonishing progress under the 
tuition of his delighted teacher. After less than two 
years' practice his playing was admired at public recitals. 
One day he played a solo at a solemn morning mass in 
the Church of the Holy Spirit in Munich, while his 
master stood near the high altar. In the afternoon, 
when Bohm came to take his usual lesson, Kapeller 
asked him, "Was it you who played the flute solo 
this morning ? " The pupil answered in the affirmative. 
Then said the old professor, " I congratulate you, I 
have nothing more to teach you." Kapeller gave up 
teaching young Bohm, but remained his warmest friend 
to the last 

2 A translation of Weber's account of Kapeller's flute is given in 
Mr. Rockstro's Treatise on the Flute, section 521, p. 279. It was 
on this flute that the youthful goldsmith's idea, a sliding embou- 
chure of gold, appeared, Boehm's statement regarding which gave 
rise to Mr. Rockstro's sarcastic remark, " He (Boehm) does not 
tell us that the sliding gold plate of the mouth-hole was invented 
by his old teacher Capeller." 

The D shake key, too, which led Coche into his solitary error, 
" excessive generosity towards Boehm" (see p. 272), formed part of 
the mechanism of this flute. — C. W. 


First Appointment in an Orchestra, 1812. 

Young Bohm's command of the flute had become the 
topic of the day in Munich, and accordingly he was 
appointed first flautist in the orchestra of the new theatre 
at the Isargate, this being his first appointment. The 
new theatre was opened in 18 12, when Bohm was 
eighteen years old. 

At that time Munich possessed only one theatre, the 
Theater an der Residenz, the Court theatre. Originally 
it was intended for the Court and invited guests only. 
At the time of Bohm's appointment, however, it was open 
to the general public as well, and Italian and German 
operas, together with high-class dramatic performances, 
were given. A second theatre became a necessity 
for the rapidly growing population. A new theatre, in 
the east end of Munich, in front of the gate leading to 
the Isar bridge, was therefore built in the year 181 1, 
where drama and comedy were to be performed. The 
director of the new theatre was Karl, an actor well 
known for his burlesque pieces ; the conductor of the 
orchestra was Peter Joseph Lindpaintner, 3 a worthy and 

3 Lindpaintner wrote extensively for the flute. The greater part 
of the following works are in ray own collection of flute music : — 

Op. 28, Concerto, Breitkopf and Hartel. 

Op. 28, Solo de Concert, Fl. and P.F., Aulagnier (an abridg- 
ment of the first movement of the Concerto). 

Op. 29, Andante and Rondo, Fl. and P.F., Aulagnier (the 
Andante and finale, Allegro giocoso, from the Concerto). 

Op. 46, Concerto, dedicated to Kriiger, Fl. and Orch. or P.F., 
Probst also Kistner. 

Op. 46, Concertino, Fl. and P.F., Aulagnier (the Concerto 
reduced to little more than half its original length). 

Op. 47, Grand Polonaise, Fl. and Orch., Breitkopf and Hartel. 

Op. 47, Grand Polonaise, Fl. and P.F., Aulagnier (abridged 

Op. 61, Potpourri in G, Fl. and Orch. or P.F., Breitkopf and 

Op. 61, Fantaisie brillante, Ballet de Joko, Aulagnier. 


very able composer, who died on August 2 1st, 1856, as 
conductor of the Royal Wurttemberg orchestra. Lind- 
paintner was then only twenty-one years old, full of en- 
thusiasm and ardour, and he picked out for his orchestra 
the best men that could be found in Munich and Bavaria. 
He could not fail to notice young Bohm, who thus 
became his friend and the glory of his orchestra. 

During the day Bohm worked as a jeweller and gold- 
smith in his shop ; in the evening he sat as first flautist 
in the Royal theatre at the Isargate. Bohm counted 
those days amongst the most pleasant of his life. There 
was complete harmony between the conductor and the 
members of the orchestra, and everything went to form 
a real artist's life ; there was no trace of jealousy, envy, 
or intrigue. The theatre at the Isargate soon acquired, 
through its director Karl, a character for gaiety and fun, 
that attracted every one who liked mirth. Amongst 
these was King Max I. He was an old soldier, very 

Op. 62, Fantaisie with a Bolero, Fl. and Orch., Haslinger. 

Op. 62, Fantaisie brillante, Themes originaux, Fl. and P.F., 
Aulagnier (an abridged edition of the preceding). 

Op. 67, Three Divertissements, Fl. and Orch. or P.F., Peters. 

Op. 67, Three Themes vane's, Fl. and P.F., Aulagnier (an 
abridgment of the Divertissements). 

Op. 105, Grand Concert pathe'tique, dedicated to Count Eme"ric 
Wass, Fl. and Orch. or P.F., Haslinger. The flute part alone of 
this elaborate work covers thirteen pages. 

Op. 105, Solo pathe'tique, Fl. and P.F., Aulagnier (an abridg- 
ment of the first movement of the Concerto). 

Op. 106, Andante and Rondo, Fl. and P.F., Aulagnier (the 
Larghetto affectuoso and the Rondo of the Concerto abridged.) 

Op. 120, Souvenir d'Appenzell, Fantasia, dedicated to Dorus, 
Fl. and Orch. or P.F., Schott. 

Op. 121, Le Tremolo, Air vane", Fl. and Orch. or P.F., Schott. 

Op. 122, La Straniera, Fantaisie brillante, Fl. and Orch. or P.F., 

Op. 125, The Standard-bearer as a Fantasia, Fl. and Orch. (?) 
or P.F., Wessel. 

Op. 126, Fifty Grand Studies in four books, Wessel. — C. W. 


affable, of a benevolent disposition, and fond of laughing ; 
quite a contrast to his wife, the queen, a very highly cul- 
tured woman, who founded and resuscitated the Italian 
opera in Munich. King Max came very frequently to 
the theatre at the Isargate, even at a later period when 
the grand Court and National Theatre had been built in 
1818. On receiving the newly appointed manager of 
the new Court and National Theatre, the king said to 
him, " If you will only take care that I may get an 
opportunity every week of having my laugh, and my 
wife her cry — as to the rest you may proceed as you 

King Max held Bohm's flute-playing in the orchestra of 
the Isargate theatre in especial favour, and commanded 
the director to so arrange matters that whenever he 
should be in his box, Bohm should play a flute solo. It 
was therefore the king's particular wish that Bohm should 
be appointed member of the royal Court orchestra, even 
before the new Court and National Theatre was finished. 

Bohm's Tour as Goldsmith and Musician, 18 16. 
Musical Boxes. 

The ill-starred Russian war broke the power of 
Napoleon ; the battle of Waterloo, June 18th, 181 5, anni- 
hilated the man himself. Louis XVIII. again sat on the 
throne of his fathers, and the Allies signed the second 
treaty of peace in Paris. At that time Bohm started, on 
August 1st, 1 8 16, on his first tour as jeweller, goldsmith, 
and flute virtuoso, or as " goldsmith and musician " as 
his passport had it, to Switzerland. His goal was 
Geneva. He travelled by way of Winterthur, Zurich, 
&c, and arrived at Geneva on August 20th. 

At that time the musical boxes and similar produc- 
tions on a larger scale in which sounds were produced 
by vibrating sound-quills (" Tonfedern "), were making 
their way through the world. Bohm took more interest 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 381 

in this new invention than in his jewels, and his first 
care was to make himself thoroughly acquainted with 
the" mechanism of those toys, the precise nature of 
which was as yet fairly enigmatic. He therefore took 
job-work as simple mechanic in one of the first factories 
of Geneva. These musical boxes were constructed on 
the principle of our hand-organs, only in lieu of organ- 
pipes the tone was produced by the so-called sound- 
quills. The principle of hand-organs consists, as is well 
known, in a cylinder turning on its axis, on which the 
notes of the piece of music are represented by pins more 
or less'wide apart driven into the cylinder ; these pins 
touch and lift up the sound-quills at proper intervals, and 
thus produce the requisite notes. In musical boxes 
these cylinders are, of course, very tiny, sometimes to 
such an extent that they can be prepared only under a 

Driving the pins into the cylinder was a very toilsome 
and tedious process. Bohm invented and constructed 
in a short time a small machine, by means of which he 
was able to drive the pins into four cylinders during 
the time required by the ordinary hand-work for one 
cylinder. This circumstance drew the attention of the 
proprietor of the factory to Bohm. When he was show- 
ing the proprietor his new machine and the cylinders 
he had made, the wife of the latter, sitting at her piano, 
was just complaining that her flute-player, who was to 
take part with her in a concerted piece for the piano 
and flute, kept her waiting. Boehm said modestly, 
" With your kind permission I am willing to accompany 

4 Musical boxes owe their small size to the circumstance that 
they were at first made to resemble the article from which they 
took their name — an article at one time as frequently carried by a 
gentleman as is the cigar-case at the present day — the snuff-box. 
The notes are produced by a sort of steel comb, the teeth of which, 
here termed sound-quills, are brought to a point bearing a certain 
resemblance to the nib of a pen. These nibs are twitched by the 
pins as the barrel moves round. — C. W. 


you." The owner of the manufactory looked at Bohm 
somewhat doubtingly and said, " Do you play the flute ? " 
" Yes." " Well then, here is the flute part, will you try 
it ? " Bohm came with his flute, elegantly dressed, 
presented himself to the lady of the house with much 
propriety, and being invited to do so, took a seat at the 
music-desk near the piano. The lady played with no 
particular care, but she soon discovered that unless she 
mustered all her strength, she would be unable to 
follow her accompanist. The brilliancy of Bohm's tone, 
the surety of his delivery, were astounding. The lady 
and the gentleman of the house looked at each other 
with astonishment " How have you attained such 
command of the instrument ? " Bohm replied with a 
smile, " I am first flute at the Royal lsargate Theatre 
of Munich." From that day Bohm's relation to his 
employer became quite changed. During the day 
Bohm worked as a mechanic in the workshop ; in the 
evening he appeared as a gentleman in his employer's 
drawing-room. He was introduced to the most promi- 
nent families of Geneva, and his art was as much praised 
as it was sought after. This peculiar position of his 
gave rise to many a comic scene. It so happened that 
a celebrated violinist wanted to give a concert in Geneva, 
whither he had come with a warm letter of introduction 
to Bohm's employer. The latter received the violinist 
with great kindness, gave him advice regarding the mode 
of arranging the concert, and of inviting the musicians 
of Geneva, winding up with, " I will introduce to you 
an artist who will certainly prove a great attraction 
to your concert." He had Bohm called ; the footman 
went forthwith to fetch Bohm, who left the workshop 
in his usual working suit, the chief ornaments of 
which were an apron and a pair of slippers, and without 
washing his hands — 'hands that did not seem fit to be 
enveloped in kid gloves. " Bohm, do you mind playing 
the day after to-morrow at this celebrated gentleman's 


concert ? " " Certainly not, if you wish me to do so." 
The violinist regarded Bohm with rather doubtful looks, 
and the latter had no sooner left the room than he 
turned to his Maecenas and said, " Do you really mean 
it?" "Don't be alarmed," interrupted the manufac- 
turer, " you will enjoy his acquaintance very much." 

At last Bohm left his employer, who, together with 
his family, had become his friend ; gave concerts in 
various parts of Switzerland, went from Geneva to 
Strassburg, and returned after numerous adventures, in 
which his prowess and bodily strength had saved his 
life, back to Munich, laden with glory and gold. 

Flautist in the Court Orchestra, 1818. 
Peter Winter. 

On the death of the old Court flautist Becke, Bohm 
was appointed in the room of the deceased, on June 1st, 
1 818, with a yearly salary of 350 florins (600 marks). 
In that capacity he was placed under the composer and 
conductor of world-wide celebrity, Peter Winter, who 
admired not only Bohm's flute-playing, but more 
especially his reading and phrasing, the real musical 
interpretation which Winter rightly declared to be the 
very crown of all musical virtuosity. At the same 
time Winter understood how to avail himself of the 
mechanical genius of Bohm. Winter, when not at 
work at his writing-desk, was like a thoroughly naughty 
child. He used to amuse himself, for instance, for a 
large portion of his leisure time, with a representation 
in figures of the life of Christ, commencing with His 
birth. Winter spent a good deal of his fortune on that 
toy. Bohm was obliged to make swords for Winter's 
"three holy kings," and also carriages and harness; 
in return for which Winter promised Bohm to teach 
him composition, and to compose a concerto for the 
flute for Bohm's use. However, what Winter could 


teach Bohm the latter had already learnt from practice ; 
and after having spent whole nights on Winter's toys 
he never got the promised concerto, which Winter soon 
forgot. Bohm who had already tried his hand at com- 
posing, now began to study composition seriously under 
the celebrated teacher of counterpoint Joseph Graz, 
who enjoyed in Bavaria the same reputation that 
Albrechtsberger did in Vienna. He who wanted to 
pass for a solid and genuine composer had to go through 
the schooling of Graz. For economy's sake Bohm took 
his lessons of Graz at the same time as three other 
pupils ; but Bohm was so far in advance of the others 
that the good-natured Graz resolved to teach him for 
nothing, and during an hour specially reserved for him. 
In the art of scoring for orchestra he was instructed by 
his friend, the future Court-orchestra conductor Stunz,. 
who had just returned from Italy, and was appointed 
conductor in the place of Winter. 

Soon after that, Bohm's first composition, a concerto 
in G major, was published, 1822, by the music pub- 
lisher Aibl, who was also Bohm's pupil. 

During his vacations Bohm frequently visited Switzer- 
land, where he was always received with open arms. 
An English lord who took a fancy to Bohm and his art, 
proposed to him to accompany him and his family on 
a trip through Italy. Bohm could charge anything he 
liked, the only condition being that he would now and 
then play on the flute with the nobleman. The pro- 
posal was, of course, very tempting, and Bohm was 
anxious to accept it. However, the news of his father's 
illness called him back to Munich. His father died and 
he was compelled to carry on the jewellery business on 
behalf of his mother and sister. Before this, in the 
year 18 19, Bohm had received various invitations to 
take the post of flautist abroad, and finally he told 
the director of the Court theatre, Baron von Rumling, 
that he could not live on his small salary, and unless 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 385 

it were increased, he would be obliged to accept a 
foreign appointment. The director was in a great pre- 
dicament and brought the matter before King Max, 
and the King, who would not part with Bohm under 
any circumstances, added 250 florins out of his own 
private income, thus raising Bohm's salary to 600 florins 
(November 20th, 1820). 

By that time Bohm ranked amongst the favourite 
virtuosi of Munich. In the fourth of a series of sub- 
scription concerts at Munich, on December 2nd, 1820, he 
played his G major concerto for the first time, with 
boundless applause. On a tour through Augsburg, 
Nuremberg, Leipsic, Dresden, Prague, &c, to Vienna, 
he was, November 14th, 1821, received with great ap- 
proval in the last named city. (The 'Allg. Mus. Zeitung,' 
24th year, 1822, p. 59, says : "We had also opportunity 
of appreciating the Royal Bavarian Court musician 
Bohm, as an excellent virtuoso on the flute.") 

Such success caused, in 1822, a further increase of 
100 florins in Bohm's salary, and now he considered 
himself rich enough to give up working as a goldsmith, 
and to devote himself entirely to music. 

Bohm and Molique. Concert-Tours. 

Bohm became associated with a genius of a similar 
nature to his own, the violinist Bernhard Molique. 
King Max took this highly gifted boy when thirteen 
years of age under his protection, and had him taught 
by Pietro Rovelli, a great violinist, and member of the 
Royal orchestra. Two years later Rovelli sent the boy 
to Vienna, where he was received with joy. Rovelli 
never found himself quite at his ease in the ungenial 
climate of Munich, and in 1820 left for his native city 
Bergamo. Young Molique was appointed first violinist 
in the room of Rovelli ; he soon attached himself to 
Bohm with great fervour, although the two were quite 

2 C 


different in their mode of life, and only in unison in their 
aspirations for a common noble aim. 

About the middle of the year 1822 Molique and 
Bohm went on a concert tour to the north of Germany. 
In. December 1823 they were at Nuremberg. On the 
5th of December, 1823, they gave a concert in the 
" Goldener Adler " Hall, and the good people of Nurem- 
berg were treated by them to a second concert, on 
the 8th of the same month, at the Museum Hall. 
Everybody was enchanted with the two artists. Of 
Molique they wrote : " Mr. Molique appears as a perfect 
violinist, conversant with every description of phrasing ; 
it is particularly his exquisite Cantabile, that surpasses 
everything that we have ever heard from great artists, 
save, perhaps, Spohr, Rovelli, and Mayseder. The 
difficulties he conquers are incredible, and the force of 
his playing carries his hearers away with a feeling of 
confidence in his safety and correctness. Bohm, on the 
other hand, appears differently as a flautist. The 
characteristic of his playing is a soft development of a 
mild elegiac sentiment, a beautiful romantic longing ; 
his singing on his instrument springs from a profoundly 
sensitive breast. He is distinguished by the way he 
expresses all the shadings and nuances, and the sweet 
melancholy of his charming style (taking the latter 
adjective in the sense of the art-term used by Kant and 
Scheming), which give him a place among the foremost 
flautists of Europe. One fears to breathe, lest the beauti- 
ful blending of the tone, the spell of his music, should 
be interrupted. It was a feast, to listen alternatively to 
these two artists, each of whom excelled in a particular 
way ; for anything excellent will not be obscured or 
dimmed by another excellence ; one elevating the other. 
May the two artists be pleased to accept our thanks 
which we consider ourselves happy in expressing thus 
publicly." (' Correspondent von und fur Deutschland,' 
No. 249, December 15th, 1823.) 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 387 

From a report in Berlin: "On the 31st of January, 
1824, two Bavarian Court musicians gave an evening 
concert. Herr Bernhard Molique played the violin part 
of a quartett of Spohr, and a Potpourri of the same 
composer ; and Herr Theobald Bohm played a Diverti- 
mento for flute, of his own composition, and also 
variations by Drouet. Both were much applauded." 

A report from the same capital, dated February, says : 
"Herr Molique and Herr Bohm, the Royal Bavarian 
court musicians, of whom we have already spoken with 
much pleasure, gave a concert on the 20th, at which the 
first-named artist played a violin concerto in E minor by 
Spohrs the latter a concertino for flute by Drouet ; on 
the 29th Herr Molique played a fantasia of his own 
composition, Herr Bohm a concertino. Molique dis- 
played pure intonation, a grand tone, great technique, a 
fine bow, and much precision in legato and staccato 
passages; Bohm excelled in a full tone, in tender 
delivery and technique, especially in doubles." (' Allg. 
Mus. Zeitung,' 26th year, 1824, pp. 109 and 170). The 
Leipsic criticisms, dated January 13th, are still more 
elaborate. (Ibid., p. 206.) Molique is especially praised 
for his soft and fine, * frequently surprisingly beautiful 
delivery. "The concerto for flute by M. Bohm, played 
by the composer, although not of the highest order, and 
here and there too much of an imitation of Spohr's com- 
position, yet takes an honourable place among the works 
of that kind. Herr Bohm's playing, too, is solid, that is 
to say pure and clever, with a beautiful, soft, yet full 
tone, and in the very difficult task of Drouet's variations 
he acquitted himself so creditably and with so much 
good taste, that we owed the artists a highly enjoyable 

In the year 1824 we meet with the two virtuosi again 
in Munich, when they gave together six evening concerts. 
In a report it is said: "We again heard Herr Bohm, 
after the lapse of some time, in a concerto for the flute 

2 C 2 


of his own composition. The Ritornello of the first 
Allegro movement is somewhat trivial; the Allegro 
movement itself, however, is exceedingly brilliant, and 
the playing was excellent. An Adagio in B flat major, 
in which a modulation in D flat occurs, which, for an 
instrument like the flute, may be called venturesome, is 
conceived in a very fine style for this instrument, and 
the orchestration reminds one of Mozart's works. The 
artist played it with full fine tone, gracefully and 
feelingly, and with faultless purity of execution. The 
Rondo alia Polacca, immediately after the Adagio, is 
undoubtedly the best work of the master. Brilliant 
passages succeed each other without fatiguing the 
listener, and the cantabile parts interwoven in the former 
produce an agreeable change of colour. Herr Bohm 
proved to us that evening that a talent like his is in no 
need of borrowing from others, in order to stand out in 
its own greatness, and that there is, for the tone artist, 
something more solid and better than the mere cham- 
pagne-intoxication brought about by Drouet. His 
playing was received with enthusiastic applause, and the 
modest artist had several recalls." 5 Molique concluded 
the evening with a concerto of : his own composition. 
The reviewer says : " We have before had an oppor- 
tunity of appreciating the excellent gift for composition 
in this very young man (he w r as then nineteen years old) ; 
to-day we were quite surprised at his concerto, which is 
proof of his ability to become a truly ingenious 6 

How strangely do critics differ ! To the Munich writer Boehm 
appears to be a " tone artist," whilst Mr. Rockstro records his 
impressions of his playing as follows : — " He (Boehm) was good 
enough to play me a solo on it (his silver flute), but I must confess 
that I was grievously disappointed both with the instrument and 
the performance, the tone that he produced being extremely ' loose ' 
and impure, especially in the lowest octave." — Treatise on the Flute, 
p. 617.— c'w. 

6 Molique's Concerto for the flute, Op. 69 (Ashdown), is dedi- 
cated to " his friend, Theobald Boehm." Molique has arranged the 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 389 

composer." ('Die Grazien. Blatter aus Bayern, zum 
Nutzen und Vergniigen/ Thursday, December 23rd, 
1824, p. 305.) 

Bohm's Playing. Bohm with Catalan i. 

These criticisms have so fully grasped the essence of 
Bohm as a virtuoso and composer, that we can accept 
them with full conviction now, 58 years later, Bohm 
having left the scene for ever. The peculiarity of Bohm, 
one in which he stands unsurpassed, was the charm, the 
soul of his phrasing. Bohm studied singing with an 
excellent Italian singer. He would sometimes practise 
for days the interpretation of a musical phrase, until his 
maestro would say, "Well, that is singing." Before 
commencing the study of a composition, for instance by 
Drouet, or before putting his own ideas into musical form, 
he studied or organised carefully the arrangement of the 
several musical phrases, in order to seize completely the 
sense of the composer, or to give his own composition 
the best shape. The very fact that he thoroughly 
assimilated the compositions he played gave him an 
enormous advantage over all. virtuosi of the flute ; and 
thus it is easily explicable, that an English lady once 
exclaimed : " I do not know how it is, but when Bohm 
plays a well-known composition, it sounds quite different 
from what any one else can make of it." Of all melodies 
Bohm preferred those with words, and in analysing 

orchestral parts for the P.F. d quatre mains. The Andante of the 
Concerto, in the key of F, can be had separately with a pianoforte 
accompaniment for two or four hands. There is also published 
an Andante in G, which was originally written for this Concerto. 
In addition to this Concerto. Molique has composed a quintett 
for flute and strings, Op. 35 (Rudall, Carte & Co.), as well as an 
Introduction, Andante and Polonaise, Op. 43, for flute and P.F. 
(Rudall, Carte & Co.) ; also a duett, Op. 2, for flute and violin 


musical phrases, he tried to think of words for them. 
This reminds us of the words of Paganini to Professor 
Schlett at Munich. Being asked how he had arrived at 
such original interpretation, he answered : " I try to make 
my violin speak, leaving the rest to myself." ('Allg. 
Mus. Zeitung,' 32nd year, 1830, p. 70.) 

An interesting triumph was scored by Bohm on 
November nth, 1826. The celebrated Angelica Cata- 
lani visited Munich for the second time, with a view of 
giving two concerts. Between her first visit and the 
second there was an interval of ten years. In the year 
1826 she was a woman of 43 or 47 years of age, and her 
heyday was of course over. On November 26th she 
gave her first concert. The intervals requisite for the 
repose of the great singer were filled up by the violon- 
cellist Sigl, our Bohm, and the singer Krieninger. Sigl 
played in the first part of the concert, and Bohm com- 
menced in the second with his variations, calling forth 
an enthusiasm so intense, that it threw into shade the 
applause given to the great Catalani. At the end of the 
concert Catalani was called for, but the storm of applause 
was allotted to Bohm. The correspondent of the ' Allg. 
Mus. Zeitung,' M. Schlett, instead of giving a true 
report of the concert, hushes up the facts, mentioning 
only that the second part of the concert was commenced 
by. M. Bohm with " fancy variations." 

For the second concert that Madame Catalani wanted 
to give, Bohm was likewise to play ; but the judicious 
singer could not, after Bohm's success, be prevailed upon 
to let him have a share in the concert, and inferior 
musicians were picked out by her. The concert was 
given for the benefit of the poor of Munich ; the house 
was crammed ; the applause, however, was meant rather 
for the great name of the singer than for her actual 
performance. Madame Catalani, at that time, had 
already begun to sing out of tune. However, the 
correspondent calls her nevertheless "a very instructive 


pattern of high, noble singing. Years," he says, " cannot 
quite do away what has been created in the serious 
Italian school ; a school which at present has nearly 

In that year Bohm received a Royal intimation, that 
of the annual 250 florins only 50 would be considered as 
emolument, the remaining 200 being counted as part of 
his regular salary. His salary thus amounted to 700 

After that concert Bohm repaired to his beloved 
Switzerland, and gave a concert in Zurich, November 
22nd, being much applauded by his hearers. (Allg. Mus. 
Zeitung,' 1826, p. 397.) He played his own compositions, 
and also variations by Drouet. From Zurich he made 
various trips to other Swiss towns, was everywhere 
received with the greatest applause, making dear friends, 
who never forgot him to the end of his life. Amongst 
other places he went to the small town of Morges ('Allg. 
Mus. Zeitung,' 1827, p. 362), or Morsee in German, a 
town in the Canton Waadt, west of Lausanne, on the 
Lake of Geneva. It is a commercial place, the people 
of which care very little for art. However, A. Spath, 
formerly member of the orchestra of Coburg, succeeded 
in uniting a number of music-loving people into a 
society, which, commencing with playing quartetts, 
grew to a complete orchestra, consisting of fifty-eight 
members. Bohm accepted the friendly invitation ex- 
tended to him by Spath, and gave three "winter 
concerts." At Vevey he saved his life when attacked 
by some drunken Savoyards, by a bold leap over a pile 
of beams five feet high. 

At Geneva the " Soctete de Musique" elected him a 
member on February 20th, 1827, " jaloux de posseder au 
nombre de ses membres un Professeur aussi distingue" 
(anxious to have amongst their members so distinguished 
a professor). 


Bohm Establishes a Factory for the Manu- 
facture of Flutes. Paganini. 

Bohm's financial position as Court musician was, as 
we have already seen, not very splendid, especially 
considering the. rapid growth of his family. The neces- 
sary means were found by giving concerts and lessons, 
and by the sale of his flutes, which he had made by the 
instrument-makers of Munich under his superintendence. 
The work of these handicraftsmen, however, who were 
not used to consummate mechanical precision, did not 
satisfy Bohm, and he made up his mind, in 1828, to 
found a factory of his own. There he found ample 
opportunity for the full development of his genius. 

At the beginning of 1828 Bohm went again to Vienna, 
to procure suitable wood, &c, for his new factory, and 
to acquaint himself with the state of music in Vienna. 
Bohm played there his Opus 3, Andante and Polonaise in 
A major, which the publisher Diabelli forthwith accepted 
for publication. Bohm found Vienna what he had seen 
it seven years before, the old, easy-going, merry-making 
town. The celebrated firm, Haslinger, publishers of 
musical composition, were then building a splendid 
house, and Bohm remarked jokingly, " There you have 
the fruits of classical music ! " The publisher answered, 
" Far from it — look here, there are the compositions 
that enable me to build my house ! " — pointing to piles 
of dance-music by Strauss and Lanner. 

About that time Nicolo Paganini, the greatest violinist 
of all time, was exciting to ecstacy the music-loving 
Viennese (he had just given his twelfth concert) ; and 
the enthusiasm for his art had reached such a pitch, that 
Mayseder, one of the pets of Vienna, took great offence 
at it, swearing never to play there again. Mayseder, as 
well as the majority of his colleagues, were quite sure 
that Paganini was only a charJatan — just because he was 

schafhAutl's life of boehm. 393 

so immeasurably above them. Bohm was so transported 
with Paganini's playing that he tried to get him over to 
Munich. Haslinger presented Bohm to the great violinist. 
Paganini was lying on a sofa, wrapped up in rugs, like a 
corpse. On Haslinger's explaining to him the object of 
Bohm's call, Paganini said in a feeble voice, " Munich is 
only a poor city, it is not worth while to go there." 
Bohm, who was an intimate friend of the then director 
of the theatre in Munich, Baron von Poissl, replied, " I 
guarantee you three concerts at our Court theatre, and 
you will see that the house will be crammed at the 
fourth." A year later, in November 1829, Paganini 
came to Munich, and Bohm's promise was redeemed 
twofold (' Allg. Mus. Zeitung,' 1830, p. 71). 

On August 1 6th, Bohm left Vienna, travelling byway 
of Triest, Padua, and Verona to Venice, where he arrived 
on the 1 8th. At Venice he played his Concerto op. 3, 
an Andante and Polonaise, with interminable applause. 
Towards the end of August he returned to his factory 
at Munich. 

Defective Mechanism of the then 
Existing Flutes. 

Bohm's chief object was henceforth the production of 
a musically perfect flute. In his capacity as an artist he 
had had plenty of opportunities of, finding out the 
imperfections of an instrument otherwise so charming, 
and he resolved to remedy its defects one by one. On 
the flute, for every note of the chromatic scale a side 
hole ought to be bored, since the air-column of the flute 
must be shortened for every higher note, in order that a 
pure scale may be obtained. For the production of the 

chromatic scale on the flute, beginning from c up to b, 
fourteen holes of that kind would be necessary. The 
player/however, has only nine fingers at his disposal, the 
thumb of the right hand that supports the flute, not being 


available, although it has been attempted, for any rapid 
movement. There is therefore no other means than the 
discovery of a mechanism that would enable the nine 
available fingers to have a command over the other five 
holes of the flute. As a means of shutting the holes, 
so-called keys, that is, round metal cones covered with 
chamois leather, fixed at the end of . a double-armed 
lever, and pressed down on the holes by means of a 
spring, are used. 

From the first French D sharp key onwards, key after 
key was applied to the flute, in order to answer the 
requirements of players, and finally the flute had seven- 
teen sound-holes, and eleven keys, together with four 
special levers. The keys kept certain holes shut, as 
long as they were not lifted up by the pressure of the 
fingers. The key consisted of a double-armed lever, 
widening out to a plate at the end, covered with soft 
leather, shutting the hcle as long as the player did not 
bear on the other end of the lever, thereby raising the 
key. The double-armed lever had of course to turn in 
the middle on an axis. The frame for the D sharp key, 
which carried the fulcrum of the key, was at first like 
two cheeks, made of the wood of the flute itself, a brass 
wire being put as a fulcrum through the centre of the lever 
and the two wooden cheeks. A brass spring underneath 
that end of the arm of the lever which was pressed down 
by the finger, forced the end of the lever upwards, shutting 
thereby the key-hole. In lieu of the frames made of 
the wood of the flute itself, frames made of rectangularly 
bent brass plates were also used as axle-frames. 

Bohm's Improvements : His First Flute. 

For this crude and rudimentary device Bohm sub- 
stituted a key mechanism, which could only have been 
the work of a first-class mechanician. His skill as a 
goldsmith stood him in cood stead. In lieu of the wood 


cheeks or brass plates Bohm turned short columns 7 of 
silver with small balls at the upper end to serve as axle- 
frames, the balls being perforated for the axles or so- 
called "corns," at the tips of which the axles turned. 
These columns were screwed into the wood of the flute 
at their bases by means of sharp screws, or soldered with 
their bases on the metal flute. A separate and very- 
ingenious machine, invented by Bohm, secured that 
these columns were placed exactly in due relation to 
the axis of the flute, or precisely as the elongation of the 
radii of the cross-section of the flute. The " corns " and 
pivots of the axis are of steel. This alone makes the 
movements of the keys smooth and uniform, needing 
very little effort on the part of the player. The manu- 
facturer is thus enabled to make the keys much less 
clumsy, thereby ensuring a perfect action in the most 
rapid movements. 

This was the first flute manufactured in the workshop 
of Bohm, towards the end of 1828, and on which he 
played at his first performance in Paris. This flute was 
received with so much approval, that Bohm's factory 
could hardly furnish the number of flutes ordered. 

The levers of the keys which controlled the low notes 
had to be made very long to come within reach of the 
fingers, and it thus became necessary to connect two 
two-armed levers ; this occasioned the shutting of the 

7 The contrivance here described is that with which we are so 
familiar as the French pillars. The Doctor, having first seen these 
pillars on Boehm's flute of 1828, came to the conclusion that they 
were the invention of Boehm, just as we have seen Coche attributing 
to Gordon the invention of the excavation to receive the lower 
lip, and Clinton the idea of open keys and equalised holes, they 
being under the belief that these inventions first appeared on 
Gordon's flute. Boehm does not claim to have invented the 
French pillars. What he says is that in 1828 he began to construct 
" various machines " (the words in the manuscript are " mechanical 
means ") for making them. See his Essay on the Construction of 
Flutes, p. 12. In the French translation the words are " des outils 
speciaux et des machines auxiliaires." 


sound-hole by pressure on the key, just as pressure 
on the end of the ordinary and simple keys caused the 
sound-hole to be opened. On an old flute thus rendered 
more perfect there were some keys placed lengthwise 
and others crosswise. The flutes looked as if young 
leeches had taken hold of them. One key would move 
easily, another with much difficulty, in short, the 
mechanism of the old flute previous to Bohm was the 
result of the necessity of boring more and more holes 
into the flute in addition to the six holes of the diatonic 
scale, the greater development of instrumental music 
requiring more and more chromatic notes. These side- 
holes had, moreover, to come within reach of the six 
fingers by means of keys and levers. The way in which 
Bohm replaced this crude mechanism by a rationally 
arranged system of key-mechanism will be seen in 
treating of his second flute, based on acoustic principles. 

Bohm's Connection with Professor von 
schafhautl. acoustic ideas of the latter. 

At the end of 1827 an appointment in the library of 
the University brought me to Munich. In my younger 
days it was customary to teach children music, and in 
the Catholic institutions the pupils formed an orchestra 
of their own which played in church on solemn occasions. 
I was therefore well acquainted with music, and had 
paid much attention to the construction of musical 
instruments, especially of the organ. It was the love 
of music that attracted me to Munich ; music, although 
I could consider it only as a side-issue, filling my whole 
heart. Bohm's new flute and his flute-factory greatly 
interested me. I therefore made his acquaintance at 
once, and was his friend for fifty-four years from that 
time. We exchanged our ideas more especially on the 
subject of the scientific construction of pianofortes on 
which I had been meditating for some time, sketching 


out my plans and views. The nature of musical tone 
had also occupied me from my youth upwards. The 
general and rapid development of the mathematical laws 
of motion had matured the view that musical tone ; too, 
consists only of transverse and longitudinal oscillations 
of acoustical bodies. Thus the string, which, if stretched 
over a non-elastic support, is hardly audible, was con- 
sidered the sounding body ; and the elastic support, for 
instance the body of an Amati or Stradivari violin, is 
considered to the present moment as serving merely to 
swell the tone of the string. 

Deaf persons can be made to hear the playing of a 
pianoforte by connecting their frontal bones with the 
sounding-board of the piano by means of a firwood-rod ; 
they will thus hear not only the notes, but the whole of 
the harmonies of the person who plays. This fact, how- 
ever, cannot be accounted for by the assumption of an 
impact of waves which, starting from the sounding- 
board, proceeds from molecule to molecule into the 
frontal bone of the deaf person. 8 

8 The peculiar affection of the organ of hearing here alluded to, 
in which sounds, which cannot be heard through the passage 
leading from the outer ear, are rendered audible in the way de- 
scribed, is known as middle ear deafness. It is comparatively 
uncommon, the proportion of cases amongst the deaf being only 
five per cent. For its alleviation an ingenious instrument, called 
the audiphone, has been devised. It consists of a thin plate of 
ebonite, which, when in use, is slightly bent, so as to be put into a 
state of tension. The deaf man holds one end of the plate between 
his teeth ; the* voice of the person who is addressing him throws the 
plate into vibration, and the vibrations thus generated are com- 
municated through the teeth to the bones of the skull. 

Strange to say, those who suffer from this form of deafness can 
hear better when they are in an atmosphere of sound, such as the 
rattling of a railway carriage, or the roar of the traffic of a great 
thoroughfare. Readers of Dr. Burney's History of Music will 
recollect that it is related, amongst the marvellous effects ascribed 
by the ancients to music in the treatment of disease, that Ascle- 
piades cured deafness by the sound of the trumpet. This is too 
much for Burney. "Wonderful, indeed," he exclaims, " that the 


Exactly at the time of Bohm's departure from hence 
for London, fifty-one years ago, I published, in Poggen- 
dorffs 'Annalen der Physik' (1831), my ideas on the 
^Eolian harp, stating, that the sounding body in the 
case of the violin is the sounding board, the vibrating 
string being the energy of a tone determined by the ten- 
sion of the string. In a subsequent essay, " Correction of 
a Fundamental Theorem in Acoustics" ('Neues Jahrbuch 
fur Chemie und Physik,' vol. vii., 1833) I enlarged my 
views, instancing the strings of a pianoforte, stretched on 
one side of a wall and, by means of firwood-rods, con- 
ducting the tone through the wall to a sounding board 
in another room, &c. To-day my views, uttered half a 
century ago, have been confirmed by the telephone and 
microphone. Since November 1881, the palace of the 
Crown Prince is connected with the Royal Opera House 
by microphone wires. Every note sung by the singers 
can be heard with the greatest distinctness- in the apart- 
ments of the Crown Prince, nay, one can distinguish 
the persons singing. 

Bohm's Journey to London. 

In January 183 1, Bohm repaired to Paris, where he 
caused the greatest sensation with his playing, and his 

same noise which would occasion deafness in some, should be a 
specific for it in others ! It is making the viper cure her own bite." 
He endeavours to explain the statement by supposing that Ascle- 
piades was the inventor of the ear-trumpet, or perhaps of the 
speaking-trumpet, "which," he adds, "is a cure for distant deaf- 
ness." However, he goes on to give a modern instance, that of a 
lady who could only hear when a drum was beating, insomuch 
that her husband hired a drummer as her servant, in order to enjoy 
the pleasure of her conversation. But even the authority of the 
distinguished physician, Dr. Willis, who gives an account of the 
case, is not sufficient to convince the incredulous Burney. He 
thinks that such stories are only told to prove " that Greek noise 
could do nothing which the modern would not operate on as 
effectually."— C. W. 


flute. From there he left for London, at the end of 
March. He was much admired at private concerts, and 
asked to play in public. Thus he was requested to play 
at the annual concert of the Choral Fund Society, which 
was given for the benefit of indigent musicians, or for the 
widows and children of musicians. Amongst the patrons 
of that concert, besides the Queen, 9 and numerous Dukes 
and Duchesses, was Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg. 
The concert was of a mixed character, consisting of 
vocal music interspersed with instrumental compositions. 
The instrumental artists were Moscheles, the pianist ; 
Bohm, who was mentioned on the programme as His 
Majesty the King of Bavaria's first flautist, and as 
appearing now for the first time in this country. The 
concert took place on April 15th, 1831, at Hanover 
Square. 10 Bohm played his fantasia on a recitative and 

9 The concert was given under the patronage of " Their most 
Gracious Majesties." Dr. Schaf hautl was nearly eighty years of 
age when he wrote the memoir of Boehm, and his sight was in a 
deplorable state, so that for "their Majesties" he appears to have 
read " her Majesty." To his mistake respecting the solo which 
Boehm was announced to play, a mistake which seems to be 
attributable to the same cause, I have already drawn attention 
(p. 362). 

10 The Hanover Square Rooms, where the concert took place, 
were then styled "The King's Antient Concert Rooms," the 
Directors of 'the Concerts of Ancient Music having taken a lease of 
the premises. For a copy of the programmes here given of this 
and some of the other concerts at which Boehm played, I am 
indebted to Herr Ludwig Boehm. — C. W. 

part 1. 

Overture (Esther) Handd 

Solo, Miss Bruce, and Chorus, "O the pleasures of the 

plains ! " (Acis and Galatea) . . . .'..'.. . . Handel 
Song, Mr. Parry, jun., " Honour and arms" (Samson) . Handel 
Recitativo ed Aria, Miss Bruce, "Delia Tromba" . . Pucitta 
Fantasia, Flute, Mr. Boehm (Principal Flute to the King 

of Bavaria— his first public performance in this country) 
Duet, Madame Stockhausen and Mr. Braham, "Che 

intesi " .... \ . Mayer 

Scena, Miss Hughes, "Softly sighs the voice of evening " 

(Der Freyschutz) Weber 


aria of Pucitta amidst colossal applause ; his brilliant 
delivery and feeling adagio were especially admired. 
A storm of applause followed the grand scene and air 
from ' Freischutz ' : ' Wie nahte mir der Schlummer,' 
sung by Miss Hughes, celebrated for her magnificent 
voice. The drinking song by Marschner : ' Im Herbst, 
da muss man trinken,' which was announced as a 'Bac- 
chanalian song," and sung in German by Mr. Phillips, ex- 
cited also great enthusiasm. In the second part of the 
concert Moscheles played the grand fantasia with orches- 
tral accompaniment, called ' The Strains of the Scottish 
Bards,' a work of his own composition. On Friday, April 

Scena, Mr. Sinclair, " Fra un istante " Rossini 

Glee, Miss Bruce, Mr. Terrail, Mr. Vaughan and Mr. 

Bellamy, "The red, red rose " Knyvett 

Song, Miss Cramer, "Gratias agimus tibi," accompanied 

on the Clarinet by Mr. William Guglielmi 

Song, Mr. Braham, " The Rover's Bride," accompanied 

by himself on the Pianoforte A.Lee 

Bacchanalian Song, Mr. PHiLLirs, " Im Herbst, da muss 

Man trinken " Marschner 

Recitative and Air, Madame STOCKHAUSEN, "With ver- 
dure clad " (Creation) Haydn 

Grand Chorus, " Hallelujah" (Messiah) Handel 

part II. 

Grand Sinfonia. 

Chorus, " He gave them hailstones" (Israel in Egypt). . Handel 

Aria, Miss Fanny Ayton, " La Biondina " j with varia- 
tions by . . .' Paer 

Recitative and Air, Mr. Bennett, " O Liberty," accom- 
panied on the Violoncello by Mr. Lindley (Judas 
Maccabeus) Handel 

Duet, Miss Hughes and Mr. Phillips, "Crudel, perche 

finora" (Figaro) Mozart 

Swiss Air (by desire), Madame Stockhausen, "The 
Harvest Home," accompanied on the Harp by Mr. 
Stockhausen Stockhausen 

Song, Mr. Sinclair, "The spring time" Sinclair 

Grand Fantasia, Mr. Moscheles, " The Strains of the 

Scottish Bards," with Orchestral Accompaniments. . Moscheles 

Glee, Miss Hughes, Mr. Terrail, Mr. Vaughan, and 

Mr. Bellamy, "The rose of the valley" .... Knyvett 

Song, Miss Bruce, "The Soldier's Tear" A.Lee 

Terzettino (by particular desire), Miss Hughes, Mr. Sin- 
clair and Mr. Phillips, "Vadasi via di qua" . . Martini 

Grand Chorus, "God save the King" . . . . . . Handel 


15th, 1831, Bohm played at a morning concert, 11 "for 
the benefit of an author," his divertissement for the flute. 
Among the other artists in that concert were Santini, 
de Begnis, Madame Marie Lalande, the blind violinist 
A. Tolbeque, a pupil of R. Creuzer, and Madame 

On the 31st of May, Madame Dulken gave her grand 
matinie, under the patronags of the Duchess of Kent. 
The concert was rendered quite extraordinary by the 
co-operation of Madame Pasta, the greatest singer of her 
time, and perhaps of all times ; of Rubini, the greatest 
tenor of this century ; and of Lablache, the greatest and 
most marvellous basso of the age, who sang twice, once 

11 King's Theatre, Concert Rooms. 
Au Bhitfice ePun Homme de Lettres. 
Friday, April 15, 183 1. 

part 1. 

Fantaisie en trio, sur un Air Espagnol, Piano, Oboe, and 

Bassoon, Mr. . . . , MM. Barret and Baumann Brod 

Cavatina, Melle. Du Puy, Quando o Core Pacini 

Duetto, Con pazienza, Mme. Meric Lalande and Signor 

De Begnis Mayr 

Divertissement sur la Flute, Mr. Theobald Bohm . . Bohm 

Duo, Signori Santini and De Begnis 

Duo, Signori Curioni and Della Torre, Ail' Idea . . Rossini 

Cavatina, Miss Fanny Ayton, The Deep, Deep Sea . Horn 

Air, Signor De Begnis, Le Fifre (words by Mr. Mars) . Donnadieu 

Fantasia, Piano Forte, Mme. Dulcken Moseheles 

" On one of Erard's patent action Grand Piano-fortes.'' 


Variations sur l'air de Celine, Bassoon, Mr. Bauman . , Berr 
Comic Trio, Mme. Meric Lalande, Signori Curioni 

and De Begnis, Vadasi via di qua Martini 

Duetto, Miss Fanny Ayton and Signor Santini, Dun- 

que io son Rossini 

Air varie, Violon, Mr. A. TOLBECQUE A. Tolbecque 

Aria, Signor Della Torre, Udite Cimarosa 

Fantaisie, Violoncello, Mr. Rousselot Rousselot 

Romance, Melle. Du Puy, le Bonbeur de se revoir Amldie de Beauplan 

2 D 


in a trio of Mozart, and the other time in a duo of 
Cimarosa. 12 

Bohm opened the second part with a fantasia. His 
brilliant delivery, his double tonguing, his feeling adagio, 

12 Great Room, King's Theatre. 

Under the immediate patronage of Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent, 

Madame Dulcken 

Respectfully announces to the Nobility, Gentry, her Friends, and the Public 
in general, that her 


will take place at the above rooms on Monday, May the 23rd, 1831. 

part I. 

Overture (Oberon) Weber 

Trio, Miss Masson, Monsieur Begrez, and Signor La- 

blache Mozart 

Aria, " Risplendi o suol beato," Signor Rubini . . . Raimondo 
Duo, " Se fiato in corpo avete," Signor Lablache and 

Signor De Begnis Cimarosa 

Duo, "Mille sospiri e lagrime," Miss Masson and Madame 

Pasta Rossini 

Concerto in A flat, Pianoforte, Madame Dulcken . . Hummel 
Aria, " I tuoi frequenti palpiti," Madame Pasta .... Pacini 

Fantasia, Horn, Signor Puzzi Puzzi 

part II. 

Fantasia, Flute, Mr. Boehm Boehm 

Duo, "D'un bel uso," Signor Santini and Signor De 

Begnis Rossini 

Fantasia, Harp, Monsieur Labarre ....... Labarre 

Duo, Signor Rubini and Madame Pasta (Medea) . . Mayer 
Brilliant Variations on Weber's Hunting Chorus (Eury- 

anthe), Pianoforte, Madame Dulcken .... Czerny 
Trio, "Vadasi via di qua," Miss Masson, Monsieur 

Begrez, and Signor De Begnis Martini 

The Band will be numerous, and consist of the most eminent Performers. 

Leader, Mr. Mori. 
Conductor, Signor Costa. 

Tickets, Half-a-Guinea Each, 

To be had of the principal Music Sellers ; and of Madame Dulcken, 
17, Howland Street, Fitzroy Square, to whom Applications for Boxes are 
requested to be made. 

The Concert will commence at Two o'Clock precisely. 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 403 

called forth enormous applause ; however, an English 
critic said : "As to volume of tone our Nicholson stands 

In another matintfe™ on Saturday, May 28th, Bohm 
played a solo for the flute. Besides Santini and de 
Begnis, the violinist A. Tolbeque also took part. 

On May 3rd Moscheles gave his great concert at the 
King's Theatre. The bill announcing it was 6$\ centi- 
metres wide, and 1 metre high. Bohm played in the 
second part a fantasia on the Bavarian national air : 

13 Argyll Rooms, Regent Street. 
Saturday, May 28, 1831. 

PART t. 
Duetto, Signor Torri and Signor Santini, "Che bella 

vita" Generali 

Solo, Flute, Mr. Boehm Boe/tm 

Aria, Mademoiselle Du PUY Mercadante 

Duetto, Miss Dunn and Miss M. Dunn, "I know a 

bank" . Horn 

Duetto, Madame Stockhausen and Signor De Begnis, 

"Nella casa" Generali 

Solo, Harp, Mr. Davies . . Boehsa 

Ballad, Miss Dunn, " Rest, warrior, rest " .... 
Duetto, Signor De Begnis and Signor Santini, "No 

donne mie non v'e* " Morandi 

Terzetto, Madame Stockhausen, Signor Torri, and 

Signor De Begnis, " Vadasi via di qua." Altered 

from Martini by Signor De Begnis. 

Between the Parts, 

The Musical Imitations of 

Der Bayrische Tonkunstler. 


Fantasia, Pianoforte, by an Amateur ...... Moscheles 

New Rondo, Signor De Begnis, "Je suis le petit 

tambour." Arranged by Signor De Begnis. 

Solo, Violoncello, Monsieur Rousselot Rousselot 

Duetto, Mademoiselle Du PUY and Signor Vercellini, 

" Ah se de mali mici " Rossini 

Swiss Song, Madame Stockhausen ; accompanied on 

the Harp by Mr. Stockhausen Stockhausen 

Solo, Violin, Monsieur Tolbecque Toibecque 

Aria, Miss M. Dunn, "II bracciomio conquise". . . Nicohni 
Finale, Overture Mozart 

2 D 2 


" Du, du Hegst mir im Herzen." Nearly all the cele- 
brated artists then in London appeared at that concert, 
amongst others the tenor Rubini. First he sang an 
aria by Costa, then a duet with de Begnis, named, 
" Fin che el mar." Moscheles played as his second 
piece a grand fantasia, "Recollections of Denmark," 
with orchestra, and also a trio, both of which he had 
composed specially for that concert. The celebrated 
violinist, F. Cramer, played too, and also Lindley, the 
greatest violoncellist of his time, whose tone has never 
been surpassed in fulness and beauty. " At the request 
of the public," Moscheles played his " Fantasia concer- 
tante," for voice, harp, horn, and pianoforte, on a Romanza 
of Blangini. The concert was brought to a close by 
Moscheles, who played an improvisation on a theme 
given him by one of the audience. 14 

14 King's Concert Room, King's Theatre. 

Mr. Moscheles 

Respectfully informs the Nobility, Gentry, and his Friends in general, 

that his 


will take place at the above Rooms on Tuesday, May 3rd, 1831. 

part I. 

Overture (Oberon) Weber 

Duetto, Signor Santini and Signor De Begnis, "No 

donne mie non v'e " Morandi 

The Recollections of Denmark, 
A Grand Fantasia, with Orchestral Accompaniments 

(second time of performance), Pianoforte, Mr. 

Moscheles Moscheles 

Duetto, Madame Puzzi and Miss Masson, " Serbami 

ognor" (Semiramide) Rossini 

Scena ed Aria, Signor Rubini Costa 

Fantaisie a la Tirolienne, French Horn, Mr. Puzzi, 

A new Grand Trio Concertante, 
Composed expressly for this occasion. Pianoforte, Violin 
and Violoncello, Messrs. Moscheles, F. Cramer 

and Lindley Moscheles 

Grand Scena (MS.), Miss Inverarity (composed ex- 
pressly for this occasion) Murray 


The English Flautist Nicholson and his 

Every one was struck with the purity of Bohm's flute 
in all the scales, and particular interest was taken in 
him and his flute by Messrs. Rudall and Rose, the 
largest and oldest firm for manufacturing wind instru- 
ments in London ; George Rudall himself being an 
excellent flute-player. Amongst other flutes, those of 
Nicholson were also made by the said firm. 15 Through 
Rudall, Bohm made the acquaintance of the amiable 


(By particular desire) the Fantasia Concertante on a 
favourite Romance by Blangini, for Voice, Harp, 
Horn, and Pianoforte, Madame Puzzr, Miss E. 
B-sset, Messrs. Puzzi and Moscheles .... Moscheles 

Duetto, Signor Rubini and Signor De Begnis, "Fin 

che al mar " De Begnis 

Ballad, Miss Cramer, "The Soldier's Tear" . . . . A. Lee 

Fantasia on a Bavarian Air, Flute, Mr. Bohm (Principal 

Flute to the King of Bavaria) Bohm 

Aria, Miss Masson, "Sem' abbandoni " (Nitocri) . . Mercadante 

Napoleon's Midnight Review, 
A new MS. Cantata, Mr. Parry, jun. (first time of per- 
formance) Neukomm 

Extemporaneous Performance 
On the Pianoforte by Mr. Moscheles, on which occasion 
he requests any of the Company to give him a written 
Theme to perform on. 

Leader of the Band, Mr. F. Cramer. 

Conductor, Sir George Smart. 

The Concert to begin at Two o'clock precisely. 

Tickets, ioj. 6d. each, to be had of Mr. Moscheles, No. 3 Chester 
Place, Regent's Park ; at the Box Office of the King's Theatre ; and at 
the principal Music Shops. 

An early upplication for Boxes is requested to be made to Mr. 

15 The Doctor is mistaken. Nicholson's flutes were made by 
Clementi & Co. 


Charles Nicholson 16 and his flute. The Nicholson flute 
was the ordinary one ; "but the tall and vigorous Eng- 
lishman, led by a true instinct, had the holes so in- 
creased in size as to suit his large and powerful fingers. 
Nicholson was the greatest English flute-player — his 
tone surpassed in fulness and force that of all other 
flautists of his time, and that is a quality which responds 
well to the character of the English people. The English 
love in all musical instruments a full, powerful tone ; 
in contrast to the French, as may be seen in the pianos 
of the two nations. Moreover, his adagio was character- 
ised by a peculiar vibrato in sustained notes, some- 
thing like the fine tremolo in singing. 

The extraordinary, the previously unheard of force of 
Nicholson's tone riveted Bohm's entire attention, and 
set him a-thinking on the nature of the musical tone, 
inducing him to make countless experiments and trials, 
out of which sprang his flutes up to the last — the silver 
flute, the most perfect of all wind instruments with keys. 

Gordon's Experiments for the Improvement 
of the Flute. 

In London, Bohm made the acquaintance of a Swiss 
of Lausanne, a dilettant on the flute (late pupil of 
Drouet), who had devoted all his energy and his fortune 
to the improvement of the ordinary flute and to the 
invention of a perfect instrument. His name was 
W. Gordon ; he had been one of King Charles Xth's 
Lifeguards, and after the abdication of Charles X., he 
was, of course, pensioned. Gordon, too, had learned in 
England that the enlargement of the hole enlarges 

16 In 1836 important musical engagements held by Nicholson 

were placed at Boehm's disposal, but at that time he was still 

occupied with the iron industry. In after life he expressed the 

opinion that he ought not to have declined the offer. Nicholson 

. lived until the close of the winter of 1836-7. — C. W. 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 407 

the volume of the tone ; however, the notes produced 
by the enlarged holes were not in harmony with one 
another. Having no idea of the acoustical principle, 
according to which the holes are to be placed, he tried 
to find out the right places in an empirical way, that 
is, in the very way in which the place of all holes had 
been discovered up to this hour. The experiments 
were very expensive, nearly every experiment requiring 
a new model. When the finger-holes were too high 
the remedy was simple enough ; Gordon enlarged them 
until the note was correctly tuned. Thus, for instance, 
the finger-hole for e was the largest of his finger-holes. 
When he wanted to make the finger-holes smaller he 
was obliged to fill them up, and this proved very 
difficult work and could only be done unsatisfactorily. 
However, all flutes were tuned in that manner. Every 
flute, even the very best, possesses holes of varying 
sizes. See, for instance, the holes and their respective 
places on the best English flute with eight keys, on 
the plate, Fig. 4. 17 

The models of Gordon were executed in London by 
the flute-maker, Cornelius Ward. The change in the 
place of the finger-holes made a change in the system 
of fingering necessary. Gordon communicated his ideas 
to his teacher Drouet and the flautist Tulou, who ap- 
proved of his undertaking, but would not listen to 
changing the fingering. Gordon now had the unfortu- 
nate idea of making his new flute with the new 
arrangement of finger-holes playable by means of the 
old fingering. He also consulted Bohm about his 

Bohm tried to explain to him that his method of 

17 In a supplementary chapter to his Life of Boehm, Dr. Schaf- 
hautl published the fingering of the Boehm flute, and some drawings 
and illustrations of Boehm's different instruments. It is one of 
these which is here referred to. A similar figure will be found in 
this work, p. 205. — C. W. 


vague empirical experimenting would never lead to a 
real improvement 18 of the flute ; at the same time he 
told him that Nicholson had set him a-thinking, and 
that he meditated giving the flute a new form on a more 
rational basis. He took leave of Gordon, repeatedly 
assuring him that without a change of the present 
fingering the flute would never be equalised in tune. 
He also promised to apprise Gordon of his own experi- 

Bohm returned to Bavaria through Paris, and arrived 
at Munich in September 1832, 19 covered with glory. In 
Munich his doings in Paris and London had been 
watched attentively, and thus it came to pass that the 
King increased his annual salary by 300 florins, so that 
his pay now amounted to 1200 florins, 680 of which 
were meant as pensionable salary, and 520 as payment for 
his services. This increase in his salary Bohm owed to 
his friend, the then director of the Court . music, Baron 
de Poissl, who was also well known as a musician and 
composer of operas. 

An English Amateur Flute-player. 
Experiences in England. 

Bohm's public appearance in England forms the bright 
spot of his activity in this country. Through his flute- 
playing and his behaviour, as a gentleman, on which 
latter the career of a foreigner in London chiefly de- 
pends, he got acquainted with a great number of the 
nobility and gentry, whose guest — and sometimes not 

18 If we can rely on the evidence we have that the flute Gordon 
was endeavouring to get constructed in London was on the open- 
keyed system, this account of what passed between Boehm and 
Gordon can rest on no better foundation than does Mr. Rockstro's 
vision of Boehm engaged in leading Gordon " off the scent." — 
C. W. 

19 1831, not 1832, is, of course, meant. — C. W. 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 409 

quite voluntarily — he used to be at their country seats. 
Among these were chiefly amateurs who played the 
flute, and others who had bought Bohm's patented flute 
in London. 

One of the richest landowners of the South of 
England played a silver flute of Rudall's make, and 
was transported on' Bohm's appearance at the Industrial 
Exhibition in London. 20 Bohm was obliged to go with 
him to the country. The artist was surrounded with 
princely splendour ; he had a footman to himself. The 
adopted son of the Baronet was a real Nimrod, and thus 
the most beautiful horses and carriages of all sorts were 
at Bohm's disposal. The only thing Bohm was ex- 
pected to do was to play duets with the Baronet in the 
evening, teaching him now and then how to set to work 
with the new flute. One afternoon the Baronet was 
practising a duet which they were to play the same 
evening. A certain passage, although the Baronet did 
his best to overcome it, proved too hard for him, and 
as is the case with passages that one wants to play 
particularly well, the more he practised the less he could 
play it. Finally the Baronet grew so fiercely angry 
that he flung the silver flute behind the door. There 
it was — a wreck. At this sight the wrath of the Baronet 
was soon toned down. Bohm was just entering the 
drawing room : " Bohm, let me have your flute — ask 
what you like for it. See what a fool I have been ! " 
Bohm smiled, telling the footman to sweep together 
carefully all the pieces of the flute, and then to put 
them into a box and carry them to his room. Then 
Bohm asked : " Is there no watchmaker in the neigh- 
bourhood ? " " Yes, in the little town of Horsham there 
is my watchmaker." "Well," said Bohm consolingly, 

20 The reader will observe that the Doctor has here jumped over 
a period of twenty years, from 1831 to 185 1. In the interval, not 
only Boehm's first flute, that of 1832, but the cylinder of 1847 had 
been invented. — C. W. 


" to-morrow evening we will play the duet" The Baronet 
looked at him doubtingly. The next morning Bohm 
drove in a splendid carriage drawn by two horses to the 
watchmaker at Horsham. " I have here the fragments 
of your Baronet's flute, will you allow ' me to put them 
together in your workshop ? " The watchmaker readily 
consented, and was Bohm's attentive spectator during 
the time he went on filing, soldering, polishing, placing 
the key supports in the right line, &c. After six hours' 
work the .flute was ready, and like new. Bohm thanked 
the watchmaker doubly ; for, in working in his shop he 
discovered an excellent solder, with which he had not 
been previously acquainted, namely, the chloride of zinc, 
or as it is technically called, chlorzinc. The Baronet 
was enchanted with the new flute, which was again as 
beautiful as if it had just left the hands of Rudall. It 
responded even more easily than before. The Baronet 
tried everything to keep Bohm at his country seat ; 
however, Bohm was obliged to go to London to the 
jury. The Baronet let him go after a promise to come 
back again soon. Bohm's path, however, was different — 
he never saw the Baronet again, as was the case with 
so many of his English friends. During his stay in 
England Bohm had paid attention not only to flute- 
playing, but to the indescribably grand technical and 
commercial life of that insular nation, a life of which he 
had scarcely found a trace in other countries. The 
gigantic ironworks, the English cast-steel factories inter- 
ested him all the more, because in his workshop he 
constantly needed English cast-steel for his screws, 
corns, and axles. 

Mechanism and Imperfection of the Flutes 
of that Time. 

Bohm had no sooner arrived at Munich, 21 than he 
proceeded with an energy characteristic of him to carry 

- l We now return to the year 1831. — C. W 


into execution his plan, which was the total recon- 
struction of the flute and its key system. From the 
outset Bohm did not heed the position of the fingers, his 
chief aim being to so place the finger-holes that the 
whole chromatic scale might be played in the purity of 
tone required by theory. For all flutes made previous to 
the Bohm flute were founded on purely empirical experi- 
ments. The rational scale on the flute was to be arrived 
at on the same principle as that by which the organ- 
builders were enabled to produce the chromatic scale by 
means of pipes. It is, of course, well known, that each 
pipe sounds higher the shorter it is made. Thus the 
organ builders sharpen their organ-pipes by cutting them 
off at their upper rim until they are reduced to their 
proper height. If the organ is too sharp, the organ-builder 
is forced to glue or solder a piece to the pipe, until the 
pipe reaches the requisite length. The violinist likewise 
shortens his strings, if he wants to get higher notes, and 

the e string, for instance, gives the octave, or e by putting 
the finger about the middle of the string, and pressing 
on it, thereby shortening the string by one-half. It is 
almost the same thing with the pipes of the organ ; the 
organ-builder needing eight for a diatonic octave, and 
thirteen for a chromatic. Should the flute-maker thus 
reduce the length of his flute by degrees, he would, after 
thirteen reductions, obtain the octave of the flute-pipe. 
In order, however, that he may obtain all the notes, of 
one octave for instance, by means of one and the same 
flute, without reducing it by successive shortenings, nature 
herself led the primitive performers on tubular instru- 
ments to the contrivance of cutting or boring a side-hole 
into the tube. This has the same effect as if the tube had 
been cut off. A further advantage of this side-hole is 
this, that one need but put one's finger on the hole, 
thereby closing it, in order to have the fundamental note 
of the flute. If we were to cut a side-hole for every note 
of the diatonic scale, eight holes would be necessary. 


However, only six fingers were at the disposal of the 
player, and thus the seventh note, and, counting the 
octave, the eighth too, of the diatonic scale was not pro- 
vided 22 for, the thumb being occupied with holding the 
flute, and the little finger was useless for the German 
flute on account of its shortness. For this reason three 
holes for the right hand were bored at the bottom, and 
three holes for the left hand at the top, at equal dis- 
tances, each of which would be easily reached and 
covered by the fingers. If the fundamental note of the 
flute was d, the second hole - gave e, the third f sharp, 
and f natural next alone was wanting. The holes being 
placed in that way / could be obtained only in an in- 
direct and artificial manner ; and this was the case with 
most of the notes of the chromatic scale. This pecu- 
liarity formed one of the chief defects of the old flute. 

We have seen above that the side-hole acts as if the 
flute had been cut off ; this, however, it does only par- 
tially, for the side-hole is too small to cause the en- 
trance of a regular negative wave corresponding to the 
diameter of the flute. The tube of the flute could not 
therefore be considered as being entirely reduced by 

cutting it off, as was the side-pipe which gave /#, the 
air column beneath the/ ft hole interfering even when the 
e hole was open. If now the hole lying below/jf and 
giving e be shut with the finger, the hole for f§ being 
left open, the co-vibrating air column below the /J .hole 

22 The reader, if a flute-player, will not need to be reminded that 
the Doctor has for the moment overlooked the circumstance that 
the hole at the open end of the flute produces a note, so that we do 
not require seven finger holes, as he states, to make the seven notes 
of the diatonic scale, but only six. The seventh note, instead of 
being unprovided for, is produced by ihe hole covered by the first 
finger of the left hand. So, too, it would not be the second finger 
hole that would produce E and the third F# on a keyless flute 
in D, as he says farther on, but the first and second respectively. — 
C. W. 


will depress the tone, and instead of / #, the desired f 
will be obtained. It will, however, be a muffled tone of 
quite a different character. Those fingerings were called 
fork-fingerings, one hole being left open between two 
fingers closing two holes ; and by means of these fork- 
fingerings one was able to produce the whole diatonic 
scale and its octave. The French added a hole for d§ 
between d and e, which, however, had to be closed by a 
key, there being no finger to press upon it. Thus even 
the chromatic notes could be produced ; thev were, 
however, so different from the other notes of the scale, 
and some of them so false, that at best only two scales 
could be obtained that sounded quite in tune. 

Attempts at Improvement. 

The flautists, therefore, essayed, in keeping with the 
improved instrumental music of the time, to make the 
notes obtained by fork-fingerings as pure as were the 
others. They accordingly bored new holes alongside 
the holes of the diatonic scale, closing them, in default 
of fingers, with key-valves or keys, which were pressed 
down on the holes by springs. The end of the key had 
of course to be brought within reach of one of the six 

The first key of that kind was applied by the French 
to a hole, bored between the first d hole and the e hole 
next above, and which gave the semitone d$ between 
d and e. 

This d$ key was for a long time the only key on the 
flute. Its invention has been ascribed to the celebrated 
German flautist Quantz. 23 It was placed within reach of 

23 It is, of course, needless to repeat that the key which Quantz 
introduced was not that here ascribed to him (see supra, p. 229). 
Quantz endeavoured, but without success, to discover the origin of 


the little finger. At last a step onwards was ventured 
on. The flute-makers added another key, the g§ key, 
to the old d$ key. The g§ key was so placed as to be 
within reach of the little finger of the left hand ; finally 
came the b \y key, which was governed by the thumb of 
the left hand. Bdhm commenced his studies on such a 
flute, 24 turned after the system of Grenser by Bohm him- 
self. Thus it was that more and more keys were added 
to the old flute. The / key was added, but for it there 
was no finger left. It was only by letting another finger 
slide from its hole on to the key that F was to be ob- 

The old D-flute with its six key-holes has always been 
kept as the basis, notes that could not be obtained from 
these holes being produced by means of side-holes, which 
had to be closed by keys, and thus the old D-flute had 
as many as fourteen keys. Finally, the lower part of the 
flute, its so-called foot, was lengthened, and thus c was 
obtained in the room of d. No attention was paid as to 
where to cut off the flute in order that e, for instance, 
might be obtained, but the e hole was put high enough 
to be covered by the finger. 

Thus of the C-flute of Bohm, that gives c, and is 
618*5 millimetres long, 37*61 millimetres had to be cut 
off to obtain C|. The small holes of Bohm's flute of the 
year 1829 necessitated carrying up the hole 50 milli- 
metres, the key-hole thus being 11*7 millimetres too 
high ; on the new flute of 1832, the finger-hole is very 

this key. His researches, however, led him to believe that it made 
its first appearance in France within a century of his own time. See 
his Essay, ch. i., sections 4, 5, 6 ; also Rockstro on the Flute, 
section 413, p. 221. 

24 The Doctor has forgotten that he has just told us that it was 
on a four, not a three-keyed flute, that Boehm played at first. 
However, he soon repairs the omission, and in the next sentence 
gives us the missing key. — C. W. 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 415 

near the true place of c j. The small finger-hole of the 
old flute being too high on account of the fingers, the 
tone is not so free as if the flute had been cut off at the 
place for the finger-hole, the oscillations of the upper air 
column being interfered with by the partial co-vibrations 
of the air column below the hole. Hence the charac- 
teristic tone of the old flute, its colourless and feeble 
lower notes. For that reason the poets of the senti- 
mental period always placed the flute in the hands of 
their desponding lovers. Only when the air column in 
the high notes was divided into four or eight aliquot 
parts did the notes become loud enough, provided they 
were not produced, as on the old flute, by fork-fingerings. 
Hence the old flute was used in the orchestra principally 
as an instrument for solos, and the old question " What 
is worse than one flute ? " was answered by " two flutes." 
Mozart, too, disliked the flute. 

This failing of the flute, which rendered it the favourite 
instrument of sentimentality, a la Werther or Sigwart, 
had to be remedied, and was actually remedied by Bohm 
from 1831 to 1832. 

Bohm's new Flutes. The Ring-key System. 

The first nearly remedied instrument was Bohm's so- 
called ring- keyed flute. (See Table I, figure 3). 25 

This first sound instrument was 606 millimetres long 
from the stopper to the end, and 19 millimetres in 
diameter. Bohm, who as an artist had learned but too 
well how to discriminate the imperfections of the old 
flute, came to the conviction that those imperfections 
were mainly caused by the false position of the finger- 
holes. He found the right positions by means of 
rational experiments (Bohm, ' Ueber den Flotenbau,' 
&c, Mainz, 1847, p. 24). He cut off the tube giving 
the note c until the tube gave c % marking this point on 
25 Fig. 11 of this work, p. 104. 


another full-length tube of the same dimensions, and so 

on to the left hand from c to c. The second tube was 
thus covered with points giving the notes of the c scale, 
determined by the sections of the first tube. He then 
bored at each one of those points a hole as large as 
could be covered by the finger. The notes, however, 
were, on account of the smallness of the holes, too low 
in pitch ; Bohm therefore corrected these holes on a 
third tube, moving them up towards the embouchure, 
until the notes reached the requisite pitch. Thus Bohm 
obtained fourteen note-holes on his tube, all of the same 
size and in their rational position to one another. 
Compare the holes and the hole-position of the best 
English eight-keyed flute ; it has holes of three different 
sizes, the largest in the middle ! By these fourteen tone- 
holes the chromatic scale from c to c could be obtained 
at an equally tempered pitch and with a full tone. This 
was the first advance in the construction of flutes. 

The nine fingers of the two hands were, of course, 
insufficient to cover these fourteen key-holes ; this 
circumstance, however, was no obstacle to our ingenious 
Bohm. He severed the key end, the rod of the key, 
from the key itself, thus bringing the key end under 
the proper finger, and the key itself over its hole, no 
matter how far the hole was from the finger. This was 
effected by simply applying a thin steel axis (Stahlaxe), 
which he could make as long as was necessary, parallel 
to the axis of the flute, consequently on the length-side 
(Langseite) of the instrument, fixing the key-leaf or 
touch at a right angle on one end of the axis, and the 
key which was to close the key -hole on the other end. 

The spring which was to press the key on the hole, 
had formerly been constructed in the crudest way 
possible, after the fashion of locksmiths, for instance, 
who fasten their springs to door-locks. The spring had, 
in addition to its own rebounding movement, to perform 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 417 

a sliding, and hehee a vibratory movement, which was as 
irrational as possible. Bohm therefore first applied gold 
springs ; and subsequently, instead of gold springs, fine 
English sewing-needles, which he heated on a tin plate, 
holding it over a spirit lamp until the white needle 
appeared blue, thus turning to a most excellent spring. 26 
He fastened this spring under the key axis at one end 
into a short pillar, the other end bore on a short pivot 
(Zaepfchen), the so-called nose, whereby of course the 
axle was turned with the key. The spring acted here 
by its elasticity only, and the surface it had to run over 
with its end was reduced to a minimum. 

Since a finger, oh account of the insufficient number 
of fingers, had to do the work of a wanting finger, in 
other words, since it had to press down a key above or 
below in addition to its proper work, Bohm turned the 
key end (Griff blatt), which had come to be placed at the 
upper end "of the axis over the hole, into a ring encircling 
the hole and leaving the opening free, in such a manner, 
that the finger while closing the hole pressed down at 
the same time the key on its hole at the lower end of 
the axis. A narrow groove cut in the wood round the 
hole received the ring, and thus did not prevent the 
finger from covering at the same time the hole. Thus 
Bohm gained a finger, the finger that closed the hole 
above closing also by means of the ring the key on the 
low part of the flute. In this ingenious way it became 
possible to cover all the note holes that could not be 
reached by the finger, with the finger working on other 

note holes ; and the whole chromatic scale from d to^ 
flat, that is, twenty-one notes, could be played without 
changing the position of the fingers. 

This is the history of the origin of Bohm's ring-key 
system, which together with the rational position of holes 
on the flute, arose in 1832. 

28 The needle springs were patented by Buffet, see p. 49.— C. W. 

2 E 


The flute-players took great pleasure in the new flute ; 
not so the flute-makers ; for Bohm's key-mechanism was 
the work of a watch-maker, and could not be produced 
by a maker of musical instruments, so as to answer the 
purpose. Bohm played publicly on his new flute at 
Munich as well as elsewhere, and always to great ad- 
vantage ; thus he also played in a " Concert spirituel " 27 
at Munich, November ist, 1832. The reviewer of the 
'Allg. Mus. Zeitung,' who writes without any technical 
knowledge in the matter, says, " Herr Bohm gave us 
much pleasure with his new flute, made by his own hand, 
and improved by new keys and apertures, so as to serve 
higher effects " (' Allg. Mus. Zeitung,' 1833, p. 44). 

Gordon's Experiments in Flute-making and 
His sad End. 

In 1833 Bohm again went to Paris, where he arrived 
on the 9th of May, causing as much enthusiasm through 
his playing as through his flute. Thence he repaired to 
London, playing in concerts and entr'actes, thereby 
gaining ever increasing acceptance of his flute. There 
his old friend Colonel Gordon soon hunted him up. 28 
Gordon had studied Bohm's new flute ; the position of 
holes in Bohm's flutes found favour with him ; his key- 
system, however, he wanted to adapt to the old key- 

27 A concert spirituel is a concert given on a holy day on which 
the performance of an opera is forbidden. — C. W. 

28 Boehm appears to have invented some mysterious method of 
travelling, in comparison with which the wonders of Aladdin's 
lamp and Prince Husayn's carpet sink into insignificance. 

He arrived at Paris in May, and went thence to London, and 
vet Gordon was able to look him up in London in the January 
previous. Either the interview between Boehm and Gordon reported 
by the Doctor to have taken place in London at this time, or 
Gordon's letter to Boehm, is apocryphal, the two being irreconcile- 
able. We are evidently getting into the region of romance. The 
Doctor appears to be gifted with an imagination almost as lively as 
that of Mr. Rockstro.— C. W. 


system, although both Drouet and Tulou had pro- 
nounced against it. At his very fiist acquaintance 
Bohm had proved to Gordon the impossibility of 
covering fourteen holes with seven fingers. A short 
time after Bohm's departure from London for Munich, 
Gordon, too, quitted London and went to Paris, continuing 
his attempt at improving the flute ; but there he was 
just as unfortunate as in London. 

On February 15th, 1833, after Bohm's public appear- 
ance with his flute in Munich and Paris in 1832, 
Gordon at last wrote a letter to Bohm at Munich, the 
original of which, in French, 29 lies before us, and runs 
thus : 

Lausanne, Feb. i$th, 1833. 
"My dear Sir, 

" For the last fortnight I have been back at home at 
Lausanne, after a pretty long stay in Paris, whither I 
went from London soon after seeing you there when you 
left for Munich. 

" I have lost no time, working hard and perseveringly 
at a new flute which I have made myself, as best I could, 
and which I have just finished. 

" I have in no wise forgotten you, and have been 
always expecting you to send me an improved flute 
that you proposed to try and make on your return to 
Germany. According to your offer in London, I want 
to send you my flute, asking you to make me a nice one 
after this pattern, considering that I have the complete 
fingering for playing it. I will send you at the same 
time the tablature of the fingering. 

" I did not wish to send you my flute before hearing 
fr6m you. Pray, then, write to me at the following 
address : — A Monsieur Gordon, a Lausanne en Suisse, and 
tell me how you think I should send it so that it may 
reach you without being damaged ; and if you can make 

29 The original will be found at p. 150. The postscript, however, 
was not published by Boehm. It here appears for the first time. 

2 E 2 


a similar one, do go to work with it as soon as possibles 
Hoping that my letter will find you at Munich, I send it 
to the address you have given me. 

" Believe me, &c, 

" Gordon. 

"P.S. — Have you still your good workman about 
whom you talked to me in London ? 

" I have seen Drouet in Paris. He approves of my " 
flute, but he recoils from a change of fingering. Tulou 
is of the same way of thinking." 

Bohm answered him to the effect that he thought it 
best for Gordon to come to Munich. He placed his 
factory and his best workman (Greve) at Gordon's dis- 
posal, declaring that Gordon could make as many' 
experiments as he liked. Gordon took Bohm's advice, 
and arrived, a short time after Bohm's reply, at Munich, 
and made himself at home in Bohm's workshop. He 
was so convinced of the excellence of his system, that 
he sent on July 15th, 1833, a large number of pro- 
spectuses to the instrument maker Mercier, in Paris, 
setting forth his ideas on his new flute, and asking him 
to hand them to the musicians and flute-artists in 
Paris named therein. He wrote that he had an ex- 
cellent workman (Bohm's) who was working at an 
improved flute after his pattern, and that he (Gordon) 
would shortly start for London. The letter runs thus 30 
in the original (French). 

However, the first flute made after his model did not 
answer, and his journey to London was given up. More 
models were made and discarded. One flute was 
changed and experimented upon, until it became quite 
useless ; another shared the same fate. At last a third 
one was made which answered his ideas. After having 
worked at Munich for a whole year, Gordon went to 

80 The letter is quoted at p. 147, and an English translation is 
given at p. 132. 


Paris, where he published a half sheet, on which his flute 
with the key-system was lithographed. This sheet he 
sent to Bohm, and the original of it is in my hands. In 
the precis of his key-system on the first page he says : — 
" The suppression of the two F keys and the substitution 
for them of a key for F | is an idea, the application of 
which offers great advantages. The idea of this key for 
F Jf communicated by Mr. T. Bohm of Munich, has been, 
with his consent, adopted for the present flute, of which 
it completes the means of execution." This avowal 
dates from 1834, after Gordon had already left Bohm's 

In this new flute the E hole, for instance, is not, as 
in Gordon's old English flute, placed too low, too far 
from the other holes, and, moreover, covered with a key. 
The e hole occupies exactly the place it has in Bohm's 
flute. Gordon called his flute " flute diatonique." One 
can see the resemblance in the position of the finger 
holes to the flute of Bohm, in whose workshop it origi- 
nated. On the other hand, we notice a tangle of keys 
and levers, that, although ingenious, rendered the execu- 
tion of passages far too awkward. However, Gordon 
did not lose heart, and was not dismayed. He went on 
working at his flute. In another instrument, made in 
Paris, a drawing of which is given by Coche, the tangle 
of keys in the higher part is still greater ; nay, one 
of the levers is connected with a key by a steel wire. 
In 1837 Gordon, already mentally affected, wrote to 
Bohm's workman, Grev6, who had made his first flute 
at Munich, to ask him to join him in establishing a flute 
factory for Paris, London, Vienna, &c, although Gordon 
seemed to have lost all confidence in his flute, as a year 
before, on meeting Bohm in London in 1836, he asked 
Bohm for one of his flutes on the Bohm system. Gordon 
had undermined his fortune by his mania, and was 
crestfallen in general. Bohm, on his return to Munich, 
wrote to Gordon at Lausanne, asking whether Gordon 


would like a flute after Bohm's model ; Gordon's wife 
however, replied to Bohm, that her husband was very- 
ill, and there was no need for sending the flute. Bohm 
never heard any more from Gordon. A countryman of 
Gordon's spread the news that Gordon had thrown his 
flute into the Lake of Geneva, and died in an asylum. 31 

Spread, Recognition of, and Attacks on 
Bohm's Flute. 

Ever since the last years of the third decade of the 
present century I have lived on friendly terms with 
Bohm, and, alas ! was destined to be his biographer. I 
was perfectly familiar with the daily events at Bohm's 
workshop, and a witness of all the operations of Gordon 
at Munich. 

The first report on Bohm's new flute was, namely, the 
one in the ' Allg. Mus. Zeitung,' which we have already 
seen. The first elaborate report on Bohm's new flute 
was given by me in the same ' Allg. Mus. Zeitung,' in 
1834, previous to my trip to England; more than this 
had not at that time been published in Germany on 
Bohm's flute (' Allg. Mus. Zeitung,' 1 834, pp. 71-73). By 
that time Bohm had played on his new flute at a Court 
concert, and two other concerts of the Academy of 
Music with extraordinary applause. However all in- 
ventions have to struggle against envy, the manoeuvring 

81 The report that Gordon died by his own hand appears to have 
originated in an expression used inadvertently by Mr. Walter 
Broadwood in his preface to Boehm's Essay oji the Construction of 
Flutes, where he speaks of having defended Boehm from the 
charge of driving Gordon to " despair, insanity, and suicide." It is 
unhappily too true that Gordon "disappeared from view" in an 
asylum at Lausanne, but, as far as I have been able to ascertain, not 
the faintest whisper of a suspicion that he took his own life was 
heard before the book brought out by Mr. Broadwood appeared. 
No particulars of Gordon's death have come down to us. All we 
know is that Fe"tis states that he was still alive in 1839, but that 
Boehm, writing in 1847, speaks of him as dead. — C. W. 

schafhautl's life of boehm. . 423 

of the detractors being always the same : they assert 
that they have long had the same idea, or they try to 
prove that the invention is not a new one. 

On May 25th, 1838, the celebrated flute-player, Jean 
Baptiste Cocke, in Paris, writes to Bohm : " It is said 
amongst artists that the flute bearing your name was 
invented and discovered with all its present improve- 
ments (perjectionnements actuels) by one Gordon, &c." 
Coche was the first to exchange Bohm's new flute for 
the old, publishing also a brilliant comparison of the old 
and new flute, and being instrumental in introducing 
Bohm's flute in the Paris Conservatory. He has likewise 
published a good school for the new Bohm flute 
('Examen 32 critique de la flute ordinaire comparee a 
la flute de Boehm, presente a MM. les Membres de 
Tlnstitut Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts, Section de 
la Musique, par V. Coche, Professeur en Conservatoire,' 

What Fdtis writes in his well-known Dictionary on 
Bohm's flute, is nothing but an accumulation of errors 
and inaccuracies of all sorts, ludicrous in such a small 
article — a worthy pendant of superficiality to so many 
other articles in that Dictionary. Fetis places Bohm's 
invention in the year 1849 (Gordon being then dead for 
about twelve years), although Bohm's French letter, 
setting forth clearly his relation to Gordon's flute, dates 
from July 12th, 1838, and although Coche's excellent 
work, ' Examen critique, &c.,' appeared in the same year. 
Fetis is thus eleven years too late respecting the year 
1849. In his work 'On Flute-making' (in German), 
of the year 1847, and translated into French in 1848,' 
Bohm had explained his relation to Gordon and his 

32 This is not the School for the Flute, but the pamphlet in which 
Coche compares the old with the new flute. His School for the 
Flute bears, as already mentioned, the very different title of a 
School for the New Flute invented by Gordon, modified by Boehm, 
and perfected by Coche. — C. W. 


flute, adducing Gordon's own correspondence. In that 
" famous " article of his, Fetis says : "At the same time 
(1849) an Englishman named Gordon (Gordon was no 
Englishman, and by that time he was already dead) 
busied himself with the improvement of the flute, and 
solved the problem ! " The rest of the article is un- 
intelligible ; I give it, therefore, in the original French. 
The solution of the problem was made "par un systeme 
d'anneaux remue par un tige mobile, dont les combina- 
tions attaquaient a peu pres le but." 33 These few words 
make it evident that the reporter possessed no idea what- 
ever of the construction of a flute and of Bohm's ring- 
key system. 

Fetis writes of the improvement of the flute by 
Gordon in the year 1849 (in which year Gordon had 
been dead already twelve years), of whom, as Fetis 
alleges, Bohm had in a stealthy way learned the secret ; 
whilst a Munich reporter writing on a divertimento of 
Bohm's composition, which the latter played at a 
"concert spirituel," November 1st, 1832, at Munich, ex- 
pressly mentions that Bohm played his composition on 
his new flute " which he had re-shaped with his own 
hands by the addition of several keys." ('Allg. Mus. 
Zeitung,' 1833, p. 44). A year later I wrote a report in 
the same musical periodical (36th year, 1834, on Bohm's 
new flute, No. 5, pp. 71-80), and the good F^tis makes 
Gordon appear to be busy with the improvement of the 
.flute in the year 1849, that is at a time when Gordon 
had long been dead, while Bohm had already played on 
his new flute in Paris in 1832, that is, seventeen years 
previously. 34 

83 The words used by Fetis axe : " par un systeme d'anneaux 
re"unis par une tige mobile, dont les combinaisons atteignaient k peu 
pres le but."— C. W. 

84 I have had occasion to call attention to a singular instance of 
word-blindness on the part of Mr. Rockstro, whose eyes obstinately 
refused to reveal to him the presence of the words Tablature Gordon 
in a certain sentence. We now have to notice a not less remark- 


On the Gordon flute there were no rings, and no 
combination of ring-keys either. Gordon published a 
lithographic drawing of his fitite diatonique in 1834. 
Another drawing of the last Gordon flute is to be 
found in Coche's ' Examen critique ' ; there the key- 
mechanism is still more complicated than in his flute 
of 1834, but there are no ring-keys— nay, a few keys 
are connected with steel wires, as may be seen in the 

: At the Industrial Exhibition of all Nations in London, 
1 85 1, I dwelt elaborately, in my capacity as one of the 
jury for musical instruments," on Bohm's new flute that 
had carried off the first great medal. (' Official Report 
on .the Industrial Exhibition of all Nations in London 

able affection of the visual organs of the worthy Doctor. His retina 
became, so congested when he read the articles on Boehm and 
Gordon in Fe'tis's Dictionary as to transmit to his sensorium the 
word Gordon instead of Boehm. It is not Gordon whom Fetis 
represents as engaged in flute-making in 1849 bu t Boehm. He 
mentions that he saw him at Munich at that time, and found him 
thus occupied, and he states (incorrectly, as the Doctor very properly 
says) that it was in that year that he introduced his cylindro-conical 
flute. It is true that Fe"tis uses the words " at the same time," but 
they refer not to the year 1849, but to the time when Boehm was 
endeavouring to improve the old flute. 

That Fe^is wrote too much, and so sacrificed his reputation for 
accuracy, is universally admitted. Of this there are proofs enough 
in these two articles. His description of Gordon's mechanism 
quoted by the Doctor (a system of rings united by a movable rod) 
applies not to Gordon's but to Boehm's flute. It was Boehm, 
not Gordon, who made use of rings and movable rods. Gordon 
endeavoured to solve the problem, as Fdtis himself says in another 
place (art. Gordon), by means of crescents, whose movements were 
transmitted not by rods but by wires and cranks. There were no 
rings on Gordon's flute as figured by Coche, and the one movable 
rod visible in the drawing of it (p. 107) is in the mechanism for 
F sharp which was taken from Boehm. 

In neither of the two articles does Fe'tis accuse Boehm of acting 
in a stealthy manner as Dr. Schafhautl states. He represents 
Boehm as becoming connected with Gordon, recognising the value 
of his invention, and proceeding to perfect it. — C. W. 


in 185 1, by the Report Committee of the Governments 
of the German Zollverein,' i. p. 882). At the General 
German Industrial Exhibition at Munich in 1854, I 
likewise analysed Bohm's invention which was again 
crowned unanimously with the great memorial medal. 
(' Report of the Jury of the General German Industrial 
Exhibition at Munich,' 1854, p. 144.) 

At the Industrial Exhibition in Paris, in 1855, Bohm 
again got the first great gold medal, together with the 
declaration of Prince Napoleon : " Ce nom est une autorite 
et une puissance " (this name is an authority and a power). 
(See ' Visites de S.A. le Prince Napoleon aux Produits 
collectifs des Nations qui ont pris part a l'Exposition de 
1855 '). In the ' Allg. Mus. Zeitung ' of 1879 I have written 
the history of Bohm's flute up to the most recent time : 
'Allg. Mus. Zeitung,' 1879, p. 643. 

After Bohm's death the old fable was revived even in 
England, so that a flute-artist applied to Munich for 
more definite information as to Bohm's title to the flute 
bearing his name. I have written up the whole history 
of Bohm's invention, giving the evidence for Bohm's 
right to his flute. My statement has been published in 
the 'Musical World' of February 18th, and reprinted in 
the 'Musical Opinion,' March 1882, pp. 226-227. 

Bohm's Trip to England. Schafhautl's Im- 
provement in the Construction of the 

In 1833 Bohm went with his new flute from Paris to 
London, causing general sensation by the volume of its 
tone, as we shall see later on. He made himself ac- 
ouainted with the manufacturing of musical instruments 
on the grandest scale, the grandeur of which filled him 
with astonishment and admiration, and made so deep 
an impression on his mechanical genius, that we shall 
see him henceforth devoting himself for some time to 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 427 

industrial occupations lying far away from music and 
musical life. 

Already after his first return from London he had 
much impressed me with England's grand activity in 
politics, industry, and art — a country where all new 
departures in applied science met with a ready recogni- 
tion, where liberty, wealth, and splendour had elevated 
London to a centre for everything that was beautiful 
and grand, especially in the department of music. Bohm 
described this country in glowing colours, and awakened 
in me a longing to see this, the promised land of 
mechanical art. 

For a long time I had occupied myself with the idea 
of giving such a form to our grand pianos as would unite 
the whole compass of their notes in one harmonious and 
uniform whole. I have not yet seen a grand piano 
where all the notes have been in full harmony with one 
another. Something was wanting, either in the upper, 
in the middle, or in the low section. Bohm deemed my 
idea very interesting, and took it up with his usual 
ardour. The idea had to be realised. He sketched out 
rapidly the requisite plans, and secured for their realisa- 
tion a commercial firm which commenced at once to 
execute our ideas with the help of three workmen. Two 
of the latter, however, wilfully changed the model given 
them in its most essential principle, and went to London, 
backed by the not over scrupulous head of the firm, taking 
with them the model, for which they secured a patent. 

The piano-maker who had been Bohm's partner was 
involved in a gigantic law-suit. 35 I also 36 went to 

35 There were two patents involved in this litigation, the one 
taken out by Frederick Ludwig Hahn Danchell, and stated to be 
partly a communication from Frederick George Grenier, the other 
by Boehm's friend, whom the Doctor here calls his partner, Robert 
Wolf. Both patents were ultimately sealed. 

From Wolfs specification we get an idea of the Doctor's improve- 
ment. It is described as " consisting in the new construction, on 
the principle of acoustics, of a sounding body applicable to every 


London in 1834 ; the law-suit was won. The fruit, how- 
ever, of the successful law-suit was, as is always the case, 
the same in London as everywhere else. The law-suit 
had eaten up the means for the realisation of the project. 
The construction of a piano according to my idea would 
have made the instrument more expensive, and therefore 
the further execution of the plan was discarded. How- 
ever, a gigantic law -suit carried out by two foreigners in 
London is a strange and fascinating episode in one's life. 
In 1833 Bohm went, as already observed, with his flute 
to England, and there he caused as much sensation 
amongst musicians as amongst amateurs, especially 
amongst amateurs of the upper and highest classes of 
English society. His playing was admired everywhere, 
the majority of amateurs on the flute amongst the 
nobility and gentry took lessons of him, and Bohm the 
gentleman was very soon introduced as a friend into 
the families of his noble pupils. 

The English Iron Foundries and Smelting 

His flute and his gentlemanly behaviour opened for 
him the way to the largest of the metallurgical works, 
which was as a rule absolutely closed to outsiders. I 

description of pianoforte." The invention is stated to consist 
'* in substituting a hollow receptacle or shell of a curvilinear shape 
in lieu of the usual sounding board of pianofortes. The precise 
shape of the sounding body is not material, provided the sides be 
curvilinear, or limited by curved lines." There was, of course, to be 
a hole in the sounding body ; indeed, three holes are recommended. 

It appears that there have been attempts both before and since 
this time to substitute a hollow for a solid sounding board, but 
they have never proved successful. — C. W. 

36 It would seem, then, that the pianoforte which Fe*tis states 
gave occasion to Boehm's visit to London in 1834 (see supra, 
p. 277) was not his own overstrung instrument, but that invented 
by his friend Dr. Schafhautl.— C. W. 


made frequent use of this favourable relation of Bohm's ; 
being equally interested in the vast and celebrated cast 
steel foundries of Sheffield. For what may be found 
in our technical books on English foundries gives but a 
very poor idea of the grandeur of those industrial centres, 
besides being frequently erroneous. 

We were equally interested in the fact, that the iron 
so plentifully produced in England was not adapted for 
the manufacture of the finest English cast steel, for which 
only the purest Swedish merchant-iron (Stabeisen) from 
the magnetic iron-ore at Dannemora, or, for iron of 
second rate quality, from the Russian ironworks of Prince 
DemidofF, could be used. The production of pig iron 
and bar iron was likewise as interesting as it was novel, 
and also the gigantic operations. 

Schiller in his poem ' Der Gang nach dem Eisen- 
hammer ' tells us of the works of the Count, where in a 
high "furnace-fire melted the lump of iron ore:" our 
furnaces then were 2 metres, in the best 6 metres high. 
The high furnaces of England are 15 to 18 metres high, 
real towers built on slopes, the upper part of which one 
reaches by means of bridges, and where there are no 
mountains, people are forced to get up the coal or ore 
by means of an incline or a crane. The most remarkable 
thing was the English method of producing in a short 
time such quantities of wrought iron and pig iron as 
had hitherto been considered impossible. It is this 
marvellous process that has changed not only our whole 
technical existence, but also led to quite novel phases of 
our social and political life. Without that English 
process the manufacture of our rails, and consequently 
our system of railways connecting nations with nations 
of whom they knew nothing before or only by hearsay 
and fable — our powerful vessels of 400 horse-power 
which plough all parts of the ocean — the very thought 
of such things would have been folly, but for an invention 
made by Cort, a simple iron-worker in Gloucestershire. 


Wood had become very scarce in England, and large 
forests like those of the Continent had long disappeared. 
Coal was used as fuel, England possessing an abundance 
of coal ; coals, however, on account of the sulphur con- 
tained in them, could not be used in the production of 
wrought iron, and consequently the best quality wrought 
iron had to be procured from the Continent, and its 
price was soon doubled. Cort conceived the idea of 
exposing the pig iron to the flames only of the burn- 
ing coal, thinking, as he rightly did, that the pig iron 
must not come into contact with the coal on account 
of the latter's sulphur. The experiment succeeded 

The pig iron was melted to a paste on a flat hearth 
by means of the flames of pit-coal, and then stirred 
incessantly until the liquid iron turned into a tough 
wrought iron. The stirring and turning in a mass of 
that kind, or in clay, was called originally puddling in 
English, and therefore this new method of producing 
wrought iron in the furnace is called puddling, and the 
furnace with its flat hearth a puddle-furnace. Cort 
took a patent for his invention, but like most inventors, 
he reaped no benefit from it and got ruined, and not 
before the process of puddling had been made free and 
generally accessible, was it brought to its present state 
of perfection. The new process, in addition to its being 
advantageous to England, had this advantage for the 
whole world, that a much larger quantity of ready 
wrought iron could be produced than was possible by 
the process in use on the Continent, and it was this 
peculiarity of the puddling process that gave a new turn 
to our social and technical life. While our puddling 
hearth on the Continent could produce 50 to 60, or at 
most 70 to 80 cwt. of wrought iron, a simple puddling 
furnace yields at least 300 cwt. 

schafhautls life of boehm. 43 1 

bohm establishes english smelting furnaces 
in Germany; becomes a Puddle-master. 

Bohm immediately saw the importance of this kind 
of bar iron production for his country,' Bavaria. I 
initiated Bohm into the theory of this process and the 
marvellous system of iron-works generally, and Bohm 
the flutist soon became as well acquainted with the 
puddling furnace as with his flute. 

England was henceforth more than independent of 
the supply of iron from foreign countries, but for the 
production of the so-called English cast steel, the best 
in the world, it could not be used. In smelting the 
English ironstone, the so-called clay-ironstone, other 
substances besides iron, such as flint and clay, were re- 
duced to silicium and aluminium, uniting with the iron ; 
the pit-coal flame in the puddle furnace always yielding 
a small portion of sulphur that united with the iron. I 
made several chemical analyses and soon succeeded in 
removing the superfluous parts from the iron during the 
puddling process ; the means of doing that were, 
however, too expensive, and not available in large 
quantities. Finally, means that could easily be made 
available were found out, which answered the purpose 
almost as well as the expensive ones. The foundry 
owner under whose auspices our experiments were 
made, took a patent for the new process, and Bohm 
hastened back to Munich to introduce the English 
puddling process in Bavaria, where the old method was 
still in use. The introduction proved a perfect success, 
and the puddling process was introduced in all iron- 
works in Bavaria. This secured for Bohm, on January 
2nd, 1839, tne Cross of the Knights of the Order of 
Merit of StrMich'ael. 

Bohm then visited the iron-works on the Rhine and 
its neighbourhood, where he introduced the new patent 
in the vast iron-works of M. de Kramer, and also in 


those of Stumm. Meanwhile the new process was 
published by the Journal of the Patent Office. In Ger- 
many, therefore, a patent could no longer be obtained ; 
nevertheless, Bohm visited the owners of Austrian and 
Bohemian iron-works, superintending during the day 
the puddling process as puddling-master, and appear- 
ing in the evening as a flute-artist. The miners would 
congregate in front of his house, listening with delight 
to his playing. Once, at a Bohemian iron-foundry, he 
thought he heard a noise outside the door. He opened 
it and found the whole staircase crammed with miners. 
After the first surprise one of the miners who stood 
nearest to him, addressed him in the following simple 
way : "You do allow us to listen to your playing, don't 
you ? We shall all keep quiet." Bohm bade them 
enter, and delighted them every evening with his art. 

He now travelled in a double capacity, as a flutist 
and as a mining engineer — according to circumstances 
— and his flute introduced him to many a house in 
Germany, wherein the foot of a simple miner would 
have never chanced to tread. 

Sojourn in Paris, 1834. The Acoustician 

Bohm returned for a short time to Munich to see to his 
foundries, and soon left for Paris at the end of June 
1834, while Gordon was still working at his flute. In 
Paris he again played on his ring-keyed flute. The 
celebrated flutist Vincent Dorus, who was in the 
orchestra of the Grand Opera, gave up his old flute as 
soon as he heard Bohm's instrument, which he forth- 
with began to study. The young artist was then 
twenty-two years old, and he soon got versed in the 
fingering of the new flute. 

We have seen already that Bohm's new flute had 
made a great sensation in Paris, in spite of the fact that 


the old flutists, like those in Germany, would -not 
accept it. However, Farreau, Camus, and Laurent, the 
celebrated instrument-makers at the Palais Royal in 
Paris, knew already in 1833 Bohm's flute, as well as 
Gordon's model, and there was no doubt as to which 
of the two flutes was the superior. That Bohm's flute 
was not known more rapidly beyond Paris was Bohm's 
own fault, he devoting, as he did, several years to the 
manufacture of iron and steel. But after Bohm's re- 
appearance as an artist, at the beginning of May 1837, 
his flute made its way very quickly through Paris and 

Before everything Bohm was anxious to hear the 
opinion of real experts, of learned acousticians, and 
therefore applied to Savart, then the most celebrated 
acoustician. At first Savart took little notice of Bohm's 
statement that on his flute one could play with purity 
in all scales, declaring that it is "an impossibility to 
produce a perfectly pure scale on a flute." Bohm, how- 
ever, convinced Savart by facts of the contrary. Savart 
was exceedingly surprised and spoke in a very flattering 
way to Bohm, and it was through him that Bohm read 
a sketch of his invention, illustrating it by his playing, 
to the Academic des Sciences, May 4th, 1837. The 
flute was then minutely examined by a committee con- 
sisting of celebrated academicians and professors of the 
Conservatory, de Prony, Duiong, Savart, Paer, and 
Auber, and after gaining a brilliant report, produced a 
general interest 

Coche in Paris makes changes in Bohm's 

Amongst the first persons who devoted an enthusi- 
astic study to Bohm's flute was the excellent flutist 
Victor Jean Baptiste Coche, of whom I have spoken 
above, a pupil of Tulou's of the Paris Conservatory, who 

2 F 


in 1831 had received the' first prize when a young man 
of • twenty-one, and was forthwith appointed teacher by 
the side of Tulou. ' Exactly a year afterwards Bohm 
appeared in Paris with his new flute, and most; of the 
young flutists were quite enthusiastic about the new 
instrument. ; '.' , n . 

On November 7th Coche wrote to Bohm : "I cannot 
express to you all the admiration I feel every day in 
studying your magnificent and rich instrument which 
will certainly make a very remarkable revolution in 
wind instruments., Hence I cultivate it with much 
ardour. May I one day be worthy to share by my 
execution the suffrages that rightly belong to this 
beautiful invention." ' , 

Coche developed in a separate essay the advantages 
of Bohm's instrument (see above), and wrote in 1839 
an elaborate school for the Bohm flute. 

It is to be regretted that there arose some differences 
and misapprehension between the modest Bohm and his 
former admirer Coche. Coche introduced in 1838 a 
so-called improvement in Bohm's flute. It consisted in 
that the g§ key, which according to Bohm's principles 
was left open, was changed into a closed key, this closed 
key being handier for the artists who were used to the 
flute than Bohm's open g% key. This key was announced 
to the whole world as being an improvement ; Bohm 
replied in vain, that the improvement was quite un- 
systematic, since all the notes of the chromatic scale 
could be played with purity on his flute with his key. 
This did not avail him in Paris. His flute with the 
improvements of Coche and Daru (Dorus) began to 
become the fashion there, and up to the present time 
all Bohm flutes are being made in Paris with a closed 

Bohm says with regard to that : " All discussions 
concerning my flute refer, properly speaking, to the key- 
mechanism, which, as a rule, everybody judges according 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 435 

•to his individual opinion, every player considering that 
the best arrangement which corresponds best to his 
fingers. I have always laid stress on my key-system 
only in so far as I thought to have reached my goal in 
the simplest way by being consistent ; the one principal 
point was the improvement of the flute in all its acoustic 
relations, the greater or lesser perfection of all musical 
instruments resting chiefly on that, while the mechanism 
is of subordinate importance. It is also much easier to 
construct keys than to improve notes." 

Our Bohm was, as we saw, virtuoso and mining 
engineer alternatively. Thus, after playing in Paris he 
appeared in London at the fifteenth evening concert 
of the new Music Fund for the Relief of Decayed 
Musicians, their Widows and Orphans, on Friday the 
17th of June, 1836, playing on his new flute. 

All that London and the whole world could muster 
in great singers of both sexes could be heard at that 
concert. Madame Grisi, Mdlle. Assandri, Signor Rubini, 
Signor Lablache, and Signor Tamburini represented 
vocal music. As instrumental virtuosi there were : 
M. Ole Bull, M. Lindley, and Dragonetti, the former one 
of the most powerful violoncellists, the latter the Paganini 
of the double-bass. M. Casimir Backer played a 
fantasia on the harp. After Ole Bull the bill announced 
M. Theobald Bohm, who was to play a fantasia on his 
newly invented flute, adding, this " being his first per- 
formance in London this season." 37 

37 New Musical Fund. 
This Evening, Friday, "June 17, 1836. 


Grand Sinfonia, No. 7 Haydn 

Duetto, Signor Ivanoff and Signor Tamburini, "Ove 

vai " (Guillaume Tell) Rossini 

Aria, Mile. Assandri, " Se Romeo" (I Capuletti ed I 

Montecchi) Bellini 

*2 F 2 


The instrument-makers of London now took an ever- 
increasing interest in Bohm's flute. In conjunction with 
several manufacturers, Bohm constructed several musical 

By the end of July Bohm repaired to his own country 

Sonata, Violoncello and Contra Basso, Mr. Lindley and 

Signor Dragonetti Corelli 

Duetto, Mrs. H. R. Bishop and Miss Masson, " Deh ! 

conte" (Norma) Bellini 

Polacca, e Quartetto, Madame G. Grisi, Signor Rubini, 
Signor Tamburini, and Signor Lablache, " Son 
virgin vezzosa" (I Puritani) . Bellini 

Duetto, Signor Rubini and Signor Lablache, "Se 

inclinassi" (L' Italiana in Algieri) Rossini 

Mr. Ole B. Bull 

Will perform, on the Violin, an Adagio Sentimentale and 

Rondo Pastorale Ole B. Bull 


Un Morceau de Poe'sie Musicale Romantique, intitule, 
"Marche au suplice et delivrance d'un innocent," 
poui la Harpe, M. Casimir Baecker, from Paris . C. BaScker 

Air, Mrs. W. Knyvett, " Let the bright Seraphim," 

Trumpet Obligato, Mr. Harper (Samson) . . . Handel 

Irish Melody, Mr, Hobbs, "There is not in this wide 
world a valley so sweet." 

Fantasia in A b, Mr. Theobald Boehm, on his newly 
constructed Flute (being his first performance in 
London this season) . Boehm 

Air, Mr. Bellamy, " Honor and Arms" (Samson) . . Handel 

Ballad, Miss Wagstaff, " Go, forget me" . . .P. Mortimer, Esq. 

Recit. and Air, Mr. Leoni Lee, "The fulness of thy 

presence " (The Omnipresence of the Deity) . . . T. Barnett 

Capriccio-Fantastico for the Violin, Mr. Ole B. Bull 

(without accompaniments) . . Ole B. Bull 

The Subscribers and the Public are respectfully acquainted that 
Madame Caradori Allan is not sufficiently recovered to fulfil her kind 
promise of singing in this Concert. 

The Instrumental Band 

Will consist of many of the most celebrated Performers from the 
Orchestras of the Philharmonic Society, the Italian Opera House, some of 
the Pupils of the Royal Academy of Music (by permission of the Noble- 
men and Gentlemen forming the Committee of that Institution) and the 
Members of the New Musical Fund. 

All the Performers have most kindly promised their gratuitous aid 
upon this charitable occasion. 

Books of the Performance, with a List of the Subscribers, can be had 
Price one shilling only) at the Opera House. 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 437 

in order to visit the Austrian foundries. On his arrival 
at the frontier of Austria he was taken ill with a violent 
attack of cholera ; his iron constitution, however, saved 
him in this case too. In his illness he suffered very 
much from thirst. At last his physician permitted him 
to drink water, but he soon got fearful cramps, and 
the physician was at a loss what to do. Bohm quickly 
recovered, but the thirst again set in. He asked his 
> nurse for water. The woman refused it at first, knowing, 
as she did, what terrible consequences it would have ; 
finally, she yielded. Bohm, however, cautiously kept 
the water in his mouth, not swallowing it before it had 
become warm, and repeating this proceeding as long as 
lie felt thirsty, he soon recovered. From that time 
onwards he became a most ardent adherent of water as 
his only and favourite beverage to his end. 

His flute factory had meanwhile been conducted by 
his excellent workman Greve\ Bohm thus being enabled 
to devote his time to foundries. In 1838 he travelled 
through Austria, or rather Bohemia, visiting its 

Meanwhile Coche had extensively introduced Bohm's 
flute in Paris ; at the same time, however, there arose, 
as we have seen, a rumour amongst musicians, that 
Bohm's new flute was, properly speaking, the invention 
of the above-named Colonel Gordon. Coche wrote on 
that to Bohm, dated May 25th, 1835. Bohm replied on 
June 2nd of the same year. Coche published Bohm's 
letter, and also that of Madame Gordon ; Gordon him- 
self was ill and demented, as we have seen above. 
Coche had laid Bohm's flute, of course in his own 
improved form, before the Paris Academie Royale des 
Beaux-Arts. The committee consisted of Cherubini, 
Paer, Auber, Halevy, Carafa, and Berton as reporter, 
all world-famed names. The academicians adopted the 
report of Berton, as was testified by Quatremere Quincy, 
the secretary of the Academie. Berton sent Coche his 


minutes fully acknowledging the value and ingenuity of 
Bohm's invention. 

The reason why Paris flutists came to consider Gordon 
as the inventor of Bohm's flute may be found in the 
circumstance that Gordon, a former pupil of Drouet, had 
communicated both to Drouet and Tulou, the celebrated, 
flutist, his ideas about an improved flute ; the system 
seemed to them acceptable enough, but they energeti- 
cally objected to an innovation in the old fingering. It 
is hardly to be expected that two such celebrated virtuosi 
would ever make themselves familiar with the essence 
of Gordon's and Bohm's system. 

Bohm has left us the history of his invention in 
a separate brochure, entitled 'On Flute. Construction' 
(Mayence, 1847), where he says very convincingly, "I 
think the most conclusive evidence of the authenticity of 
my invention I can furnish is by showing the motives 
that have prompted me to invent the new construction," 
and by the explanation of the acoustical and mechanical 
principles I have made use of. For he alone is able to 
make a thoroughly rational work, who from the very 
outset can give a clear account of the Why and the How 
in the execution of every single part." Bohm translated 
this pamphlet into French, dedicating it to his friend 
Dorus, the celebrated flutist, who, as we have already 
heard, had discarded his flute as soon as he heard Bohm 
on the new flute. Dorus likewise contributed very much 
to the spread of Bohm's flute in France ; Bohm grate- 
fully recognised that in his dedication : " Your exquisite 
talent has rendered popular my flute of 1832 in France." 

Bohm's Improvement of the Transmission 

Bohm was still busily engaged in fitting up the 
Bavarian iron foundries, for which the King, as we have 
already seen, made him, on June 2nd, 1839, a Knight of 

schafhAutl's life of boehm. 439 

the Order of Merit of St. Michael, of the first class. In 
spite of that we find him at short intervals in Paris and 
London, closely studying technical works of the age. 

Thus the so-called transmission apparatus — that is, 
the mechanical means employed for transmitting the 
motive power to various parts of a manufactory — had 
rendered necessary all sorts of complicated contrivances, 
such as shafts and wheels, which wasted by friction, 
torsion, and their very weight, more or less of the force. 

With his marvellous gift for combination Bohm in : 
vented, incidentally as it were, during his stay in London 
a new and very simple kind of transmission, without 
shafts and straps, of which he made a small model, which 
was so ingenious that he was prevailed upon to put it 
before the Society of Arts in London. The Society was 
so much pleased with the new mechanical idea, that they 
voted Bohm the big silver medal, which he received 
from the President, the Duke of Sussex, at the public 
meeting of the Society at Exeter Hall, June 8th, 1835. 

Bohm's Last Improvement in the Flute. 
The Cylinder Flute, 1847. 

We have now reached the last and most brilliant 
remodelling of the flute, the cylindrical flute of metal 
and wood. 

It dates from 1846-47. While Bohm was still busy 
in Bavaria with the introduction of a new invention by 
Faber du Four, consisting in a method of utilising the 
combustible gases escaping uselessly from the upper 
aperture of the furnace, he availed himself of every spare 
minute for the purpose of striking out a last improve- 
ment of his ring-key flute, making numerous experiments 
in his workshop. At last, in 1 847, he gave his .flute the 
final touch. 

By constant exposure to the glowing heat of the 
puddling furnaces his eyes were much weakened, and 


had become very sensitive ; no treatment proved of any 
use, and finally he was obliged to ask the King to 
pension him as a member of the Royal Court Band. At 
the end of September 1848 his request was complied 
with, his pension being fixed at 1080 florins. 

Bohm could henceforth devote all his powerful energies 
to the spread of his new invention, no other work or 
obligation keeping him away from it. 

We have already seen that Cloche (Coche), the cele- 
brated flute-player in Paris, had explained to his coun- 
trymen the nature of Bohm's flute, thereby doing very 
much, both theoretically and practically, for the spread 
of the same. The flute was manufactured and turned 
out in great perfection by the Paris manufacturers, 
Godefroy ain£ et Lot 

Carte the Flute-player's Writings for Bohm 
in London. 

Bohm's flute was made in England, and most perfectly 
too, by the celebrated and oldest London flute manufac- 
turers, Messrs. Rudall and Rose ; and the celebrated flute- 
player R. Carte quickly exchanged the old flute for the 
ring-keyed flute of Bohm, giving, however, lessons on 
both. He wrote a complete School for Bohm's Flute, 
both with the closed and with the open g§ key. That 
School reached several editions. Its title is : " R. Carte. 
A Complete Course of Instruction for the Boehm Flute 
(both the open and the ,^-keyed flute) for Beginners, as 
well as for those acquainted with the old Flute. 1845." 
He also wrote another interesting work : " The Boehm 
Flute explained. Analysis extracted from the Complete 
Course of Instruction for the Boehm Flute, by R. Carte. 
London, 1846." 

This analysis is very clear. It may not only serve 
as an introduction to an understanding of Bohm's 
flute, but it also furnishes a complete instruction for the 


production of notes in the first, second, and third octaves. 
In a separate section the so-called French improvements 
are discussed, namely, the closed g% key, in relation to 
the originally open key of the Bohm flute ; and it is 
declared that the application of the open g% key on the 
Bohm flute, instead of the closed key of the old flute, 
forms one of its chief excellences compared with the old 
flute. Carte proves that by musical examples on a page 
and a half. This alone was a demonstratio ad oculos 
against the French prejudice, and a practical evidence 
of the perfection of Bohm's system that can be found 
in no other work. Carte also expressly declared that 
beginners get much more rapidly familiar with the 
fingering of Bohm's new flute than with that of the old 
flute. (Of Carte's writings and zeal for Bohm I shall 
treat in a subsequent section.) 

In Paris, the excellent flute manufacturer, M. Clair 
Godefroy, bought of Bohm the right of making his new 
flute for 6000 francs. The instrument maker Lot did 
the same. He got a privilege on Bohm's flute, both 
old and new style. They spread their excellent instru- 
ments throughout France. Thus it came to pass that 
Bohm's flute was spread over England, France, and the 
whole world by Rudall and Rose, and Godefroy and Lot. 

On its first wanderings many a curious bit of adventure 
happened to Bohm's ring-keyed flute. Flutists were, as 
a rule, at first startled at the sight of the new flute, and 
soon got into a dilemma on account of the marvellously 
beautiful tone of the new instrument on the one hand, 
and its new fingering on the other. In 1850 such a new 
flute had reached Naples, there causing general sensa- 
tion among flute-players. Scaramelli, professor of the 
flute in the Conservatory, felt particularly attracted to 
the new instrument. Dr. Isenschmied, at present in" 
Munich, who was at that time physician to the King of 
Naples, and also one of Scaramelli's pupils, relates as 
follows : — Scaramelli had to overcome a fierce struggle 


between the old-fashioned flute and that of Bohm. The 
tone of the new flute greatly attracted him, but the new 
fingering was like a cold damper on his enthusiasm. He 
nevertheless unceasingly resorted to the new flute, trying 
it again and again, and finding at last that it worked 
more and more satisfactorily. He found that the diffi- 
culty of handling it, which seemed terrible at the outset, 
could be mastered in short time, and .finally he was hold 
enough to wager with the flute-players of Naples that 
within four months his execution would be just as great 
on the new flute as it was on the old one. The wager 
was taken, and four weeks afterwards Scaramelli played 
on the new flute, amidst colossal applause, a flute con- 
certo with orchestra, during an entr'acte at the S. Carlo 
Theatre. He also defended Bohm's flute against the 
attacks of a Florentine musician, proving that the latter 
had never grasped the principle that formed the basis of 
that instrument. 

Bohm's Account of the Origin of his New 
Cylindrical Flute. 

This ring-key flute, however, did not quite satisfy 
Bohm as regarded the tone and intonation of the high 
and low notes. This, the last drawback, could not be 
removed without a total change in the bore of the tube. 

The endeavour to remove this drawback led Bohm to 
the invention of his last flute — the cylindrical one, with 
large sound-holes closed by covered keys, and with a 
conoidal head-piece. 

" I always failed to understand," says Bohm, " why 
the flute alone, amongst all tubular instruments with 
sound-holes and a conical bore, should be blown at its 
thick end, it being much more natural that the air-column 
sections, that become shorter by increasing tone-height, 
should also become thinner in proportion. I therefore 
tried to reverse the proportions, and soon found that my 
view was correct. It was not till 1847 that I succeeded 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 443 

in manufacturing flutes according to a scientific system, 
for which I received the highest prize at the Exhibition 
in London in 1851, and in Paris in 1855." 

" I had," he continues, " made a great number of conical 
and cylindrical tubes, of the most varied dimensions, and 
from all kinds of wood and metal, in 1846, in order that 
I might investigate their adaptibility for pitch, timbre, 
and tone-production. These experiments led to the 
following results : — 

" 1. That the volume and purity of the sound of those 
fundamental notes was in proportion to the volume of 
the vibrating air-column. 

" 2. That a more or less important narrowing of the 
upper part of the flute tube, as well as the reduction or 
increase in length of that narrowed portion, have a great 
influence on the production of notes and the pitch of the 

" 3. That this narrowing has to be made in a certain 
geometrical progression, which yields a curve very near 
in form to a parabola. 

"4. That the formation of vibratory nodes and sound- 
waves is produced easiest and most perfectly in a cylin- 
drical flute-tube, the sectional width of which is equal 
to the -^th part of the length of the tube, and the nar- 
rowing of which, commencing at the upper quarter, is 
equal to -j^th of the section where the cork closes it." 

This is the origin of the present cylindrical flute. Fur- 
ther experiments taught Bohm that as regards the pro- 
portion of the width of cylindrical tubes to their length, 
the most beautiful tone is produced with a length of 
606 millimetres and a diameter of 20 millimetres. 

"The high tones, however, were not easily produced, 
and I was forced," he adds, " to make the tube 606 milli- 
metres long by 19 millimetres in diameter." 

Bohm made numerous experiments concerning the 
best size of the embouchure. 

An embouchure of 12 millimetres in length and 10 


millimetres in width will best respond to the wants of 
most flute-players. After these experiments Bohm made 
a thin and long tube of brass, which yielded the funda- 
mental note c on being merely breathed into, and the note 
could be increased to a very considerable force without 
losing its pitch. The wheezing sound of the air-current, 
which is so painful in ordinary flutes, was not audible. 

Thus having determined the best dimensions of the 
tube, Bohm proceeded to the difficult investigation of 
the proper places of the finger-holes. 

Bohm's second endeavour was to enlarge the note- 
holes to such an extent, that the flute might be consi- 
dered as cut off over the middle of the note-hole. A note- 
hole that is not equal in size to the diameter of the flute 
has the effect that the air-column below the note-holes 
is retarding and slackening the tone, which therefore 
appears to be lower, despite the note-holes, than in flutes 
that are cut off over the middle of the note-hole. Hence 
if we cut off the flute below the note-hole, the note 
becomes higher than the note of the entire flute with the 
large note-hole in the middle. If, however, we cut off 
the flute over the note-hole of the diameter (or cut it off 
from the diameter over the note-hole) the note becomes 
lower than the flute with the larger note-hole in the 
middle ; if we cut off the flute through the middle of the 
sound-hole, the note becomes somewhat higher than that 
of the entire flute with the big side-hole in the middle. 

This retarding effect of the air-column below the 
sound-hole can be rendered imperceptible, according to 
Bohm's experiments, by making the diameter of the 
sound-hole at least three-quarters of the diameter of 
the flute. Sound-holes of that size cannot, however, be 
made in wooden flutes, the thickness of the wood in- 
fluencing the depth of the tone. 

The practical size of the sound-hole, and the possi- 
bility of closing and covering it, proved to be 13*5 
millimetres in the silver flute, and 13 millimetres in the 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 445 

wooden one, on account of the thickness of the vvooid ; 
the silver flute in g, the so-called alto flute, was 21 milli- 
metres in diameter. These large sound-holes can no 
longer be covered by the fingers. Bohm therefore made 
over every sound-hole a key closing the hole, and the 
fingers of the player thus bore not on the sound- 
hole itself but on the key closing the hole. This 
rational and ingenious key mechanism renders the 
playing much more agreeable and more sure than on 
the old flute, on which the finger had to close tightly 
the sound-hole ; now it bears only on the key. Yet 
this improvement, apparently so easy, proved to be 
very difficult to bring about. Experiments were carried 
on for months to find a material fit for the pad of the 
key, in order that the lightest touch on the key should 
close the sound-hole air-tight. The material now used 
is of very good wool cloth, in a double layer of films 
taken from the amnion of certain mammalia. 38 

88 The most desirable size for the finger-holes is still a qucestio 
vexata amongst English flute-players. When the cylindrical flute 
was first introduced in this country, the holes were so small that 
they were closed with the fingers, the instrument being constructed 
with rings like the cone flute. Before the end of 1847 Boehm had 
increased the size of the holes so much, that it became necessary 
to substitute valves for the rings, the holes being too large for the 
unaided finger to cover. In 1862, when the patent for the cylinder 
had expired, Mr. Clinton began to make cylindrical flutes. He 
had previously declared that if the cylinder was right, Nature 
herself must be wrong ; but he now came to the opinion that the 
cylinder could be brought into harmony with Nature by causing 
the holes to diminish in size from below upwards. Accordingly, 
he brought forward a flute with the holes graduated from the 
lowest, C J, which was nearly as large as the bore, to that for 
C fa 2 , which was about half the size. Mr. Clinton, however, 
was not successful as a manufacturer of cylindrical flutes. In the 
year 1864 Messrs. Rudall & Co. began to make Mr. Rockstro's 
model, on which the holes were very much larger than those 
previously in use, but instead of being graduated, as on Mr. Clinton's 
flute, were of uniform diameter. Exception, however, was taken 
by some players to these holes. It was urged against them, 
amongst other objections, that they necessitated a larger expendi- 


"The new key mechanism is a marvellous master- 
piece of mechanics. The ten sound-holes, with ten keys, 

ture of breath, and that the intonation had a tendency to become 
"wild," or unmanageable, so that greater strength of lip was 
required to control it. In deference to such allegations, holes of 
a size intermediate between these large holes and the comparatively 
small-sized holes previously in use were introduced. They were 
called the medium holes. For many years Messrs. RudalFs flutes 
were made either with the large or medium holes, the small-sized 
holes having fallen into disuse. Of late, however, some of the 
leading English players, professional as well as amateur, considering 
even the medium holes to be too large, are playing. on instruments 
with holes but little larger than those which had dropped out 
of use, so that at the present time (1896) Messrs. Rudall & Co. are 
manufacturing flutes with holes of three different sizes : the large 
holes with a diameter of 1 5 ' 3 millimetres, the medium holes of 14 * 3, 
and the small holes of 13*5. Each size has its admirers, but 
which of the three is destined to become the favourite, time alone 
can show. The determining influence will probably be the fashion 
set by the leading players of the day. 

An excellent flute can be made with holes of so small a diameter 
as 1 2 millimetres. The harmonics and certain fingerings of high 
notes are not so free, it is true, as on flutes with holes of larger 
size, but, on the other hand, in its tone there is an unmistakable 
approach to the mellow, tender, plaintive, sympathetic quality for 
which the old flute was so remarkable, a quality the advocates of 
that instrument maintain was destroyed by Boehm. Tastes differ. 
For one, the more flute-like effect of the small-holed flute, its 
greater certainty in striking distant intervals from above down- 
wards, and the thrilling power of the high notes will seem to 
have a priceless charm ; another will set a higher value on the 
pure, pale, chaste timbre of the large holes ; whilst an unprejudiced 
player will not withhold his admiration from flutes made with 
holes of either size. 

Boehm made experiments with holes of different sizes, but never, 
even at the end of his life, satisfied himself as to the exact diameter 
which combined the greatest number of advantages. In his 
pamphlet of 1847 he expresses the opinion that the holes should be 
as large as possible ; but in 1866, in reply to a correspondent who 
had asked why the holes should not be as large as the bore, he 
wrote that to attempt to make the holes as large as the bore would 
be to betray " a want of taste' and feeling for real musical tone." 
He objected to holes of an extreme size, on account of- the large 
space taken up by the chamber in the tube caused by the hole, or 


would require ten fingers ; the flute-player, however, can 
dispose only of .eight fingers for the ten keys. In 
the natural position of the eight fingers on the flute- 
tubes, the sounds g and b remain free. These two free 
keys are connected by means of a highly ingenious 
mechanism with the other keys, in such a manner as 
to be brought into motion by some other key of the 
flute. The g key was so coupled with the^,/, and/Jf 
keys that it could be pressed down by any one of 
these keys. The Bjj was connected directly with the 
free B key and FjjJ key. 

' This marvellous coupling Bohm had effected by 
changing the horizontal axis of his ring-keyed flute into 
a real joint (charniere) ; he pushed another tube or 
several small tubes over the axis, soldering to them the 
key-lever, so that on the same axis several keys closed 
or opened according to the wants of the player. The 
coupling on the^-key is effected by a stirrup (clutch) con- 
sisting of two parts. The coupling of the e,f,f§ and Dr% 
keys is effected by little movable screws with the point 
of the screw bearing on the knob (nose) of the underlying 
axis ; nay, it is quite a task to comprehend the inter- 
lacing of the keys on the flute itself. 39 

the " hollow room " as he termed it. " It is a defect in the bore," 
he remarked, " which is repeated twelve times, as there are twelve 
holes." Referring to holes of 17 millimetres in diameter, two 
millimetres only less than the bore, he said that the tone was 
certainly louder, but that its quality was impaired. He mentioned 
that he had constructed for himself a flute with holes 15 milli- 
metres in diameter, one millimetre larger than the holes he usually 
made. He describes the tone as louder, but not so sonorous. — 
C. W. 

• 39 The Doctor is as firmly convinced that Boehm was incapable 
of taking ideas from others as is Mr. Rockstro that he was incapable 
of constructing the flute called after him without having Gordon's 
instrument before his eyes. He has already (p. 417) attributed one 
of Buffet's inventions, the needle springs, to his friend, and he here 
credits him with two others, the clutches and the sleeves. 


The second improvement, that of the cover-keyed 
flute, dates, as we have seen, from 185 1. Bohm sent the 
first silver flute of that kind, together with an alto flute 
of silver and an oboe, to the first great Industrial Exhibi- 
tion in London. 

Spread, Recognition and Use of the Same. 

The ring-key flute had already been received, in 
England, for instance, with great enthusiasm. The 
English newspapers, such as the 'Musical World,' the 
'.Morning Post,' the ' Connoisseur,' the ' Manchester Guar- 
dian,' expressed great admiration for Bohm's flute ; and 
the enthusiasm for the last cylindrical flute was still 
greater. Giulio Briccialdi, probably the greatest flute- 
player of his time, soon discarded his old flute, and after 
four weeks' practice on Bohm's flute, was received with 
enormous applause by an audience. He added an im- 
provement to Bohm's flute, namely a closed 40 d$ key, 
although Bohm had made a &j lever, in addition to the 
c key, which satisfied all that the player could desire. 

Messrs. Rudall & Rose in their list of prices charge 
26/. 8s. for a Bohm silver flute ; for the &$ key of Bricci- 
aldi they charge an additional 1/. is. 

Already in the year 1850, August 20th, an order for a 
silver cylindrical flute had come from Cannanore, East 
India ; the receipt for it went by Madras, and arrived in 
Augsburg on October 26th, 185 1, the flute itself having 
been on the route for one year and four days. It was 
ordered by Frohnert, orchestral conductor, who wrote 
Bohm, that having made the acquaintance of an officer 
of the East India Company, Prescott, who had frequently 
played duets with Bohm while in London, he saw one 
of Bohm's ring-key flutes, made by Rudall and Rose. 
Amongst many letters from all countries of Europe, 

40 The Briccialdi key is not a closed key, but a lever for closing 
the B{? key with the left thumb.-— C. W. 


there is one from Shanghai (China) O.S.O., dated 
December 22nd, 1866 ; it lies before me. It contains an 
order from Remusat, the celebrated flute-player to the 
Queen of England ; he had seen one of Bohm's cylin- 
drical alto flutes at Broad wood's in London, and desired to 
have one made of German silver. He was determined 
to give up his old flute, on which he had been playing 
for thirty years, for Bohm's flute. Hermann Miller, in 
Leipsic, wrote a poem of three stanzas on Theobald Bohm's 
exquisite silver flute, May 30th, 1850. W. Scherrer, 
the celebrated flute-player in Konigsberg, wrote Bohm, 
October 12th, 1849, an enthusiastic letter, in which he 
says, " Bravo, bravissimo ! my dear Bohm, and let me 
assure you that this exquisite flute surpasses all the 
expectations I ever entertained concerning the improve- 
ment of this incomparable instrument Long ago I tried 
to arrange the classical sonatas of Beethoven for the 
flute ; many amongst them, however, presented enormous 
difficulties, but now the last of the difficulties has 
vanished, and a perfect world of Beethoven music is my 
own, from the time I possess the flute, the purity and 
uniformity of tone of which are so great that not a shadow 
of a note need be sacrificed. In order to enjoy all the 
excellence of your unsurpassable master-invention, in an 
adagio with piano accompaniment, pray play with a 
clever pianist Beethoven's sonata op. 96 and its two 
adagios. I also recommend you the sonatas op. 23, 24, 
30 (No. 1, 2, 3) on account of their exquisite adagios. 
I could also procure you my arrangement of three of 
Bach's sonatas, composed for piano and violin. Not only 
the dolces and andantes of these sonatas sound beautiful 
on your new flute, but also the allegros and prestos, all 
veiy learnedly built up in fugue form which could not 
have been executed on the old flute, somewhat better 
on your improved flute of 1832, on your latest metal 
flute, however, everything can be brought out with 
brilliancy," &c. 

2 G 


Letters to the same' effect are before me, front 
England, America, East India, Russia, Odessa, Mann- 
heim, Wiesbaden, Zurich. 

Even in St. Petersburg, Antoine Sauvlet, first flute of 
the Imperial theatres, dedicated to Bohm, "the celebrated 
inventor of the new system of flutes," a " Souvenir du 
Volga," a " fantaisie caracteristique " (morceau de salon) 
for. the flute with piano accompaniment 

The composer of that piece understood very well how 
to turn to account the peculiarity of Bohm's flute. His 
fantasia commences in F minor, a key in which no one 
had previously dared to play on the flute. It is a simple 
melody, advancing from meno mosso to animato ; and 
moving through a \y major in the middle register of the 
flute, in a cantilene full of melancholy, it descends to d 
in a more cheerful mood, modulating afterwards through 
C major and F major. The musical idea is carried on 
by brisk triplets, and in diminuendos and rallentandos 
through D minor, B major, E minor, C % major, F Jf major, 
G ti major, returning through E minor to the first move- 
ment in F minor, changing after the seventh bar into F, 
through D minor and A major. The subject changes 
into a rollicking allegro, the piano responding in chat- 
tering triplets until the flute, in tempo primo, coquetting 
with the piano, reaches the original F minor. After a 
temporary descent of the melody into F major, in the 
old three-beat rhythm of the introduction, a jubilant 
allegro vivo leads the song on to its conclusion. 

The power of the Bohm flute was most conclusively 
proved in the few bars of that musical composition. 

Bohm's Refutation of the Error introduced 
by chladni, that the material of the 
Instrument is without any Influence on 
the Tone. 

Bohm, as we have seen, made during that period a 
very interesting step towards the refutation of an error 


rife amongst acousticians, an error that had been brought 
into the world by Chladni, and being credulously 
accepted, was spreading everywhere, and finally figured 
as a scientific dogma in the text-books. Chladni 
asserted that the material of which an instrument was 
made had no, or very little influence on its tone-colour. 
Nowadays it is taught, as an advanced result of acousti- 
cal investigations, that^he material of a wind instrument 
has no influence on the tone. " A flute made of glass, 
&c, sounds like one made of wood." Even if this state- 
ment is only a theoretical development, we are bound to 
say that the person who actually compared a glass flute 
with a wooden one must have lacked the least aptitude 
for music. Already in his ' On the Construction of Flutes ' 
(1847), p. 16, Bohm had said, "Flutes were also made 
of ivory, Laurent in Paris made flutes of crystal glass, in 
Nuremberg a flute was made of papier-mach£, in Berlin 
one for Frederick the Great, of porcelain, and Dingier 
at Munich made flutes even of wax." The poorest tone 
was of course that of flutes of the last kind. 

Bohm had used drawn brass tubes, these being readily 
procurable and easily manageable. The exceedingly easy 
production of tone in these brass tubes surprised him, 
and thus, after having made the ring-keys, he constructed 
first a tube of brass, then of silver, German silver, &c. 
Regarding this he says in his last work, ' The Flute, its 
Construction and Handling,' p. 9 : " On the colour of the 
tone the greater or lesser hardness and brittleness of 
the material exerts the greatest influence. There are 
numerous experiences with regard to that, for there are 
flutes of ivory, crystal glass, china, india-rubber, papier- 
mache, nay even of wax. All these experiments caused 
the manufacturers to go back to the use of very hard 
wood, until I succeeded in making flutes of silver, and 
German silver, which have competed with the wooden 
flute these twenty years (this he said in 1 871), without 
anybody being able to decide which of the two is the 

2 G 2 


better. The silver flutes are, on account of their great 
aptitude for modulation and their bright and sonorous 
tones, especially fitted for large halls. Since, however, 
the tone-production is, in a measure, too easy, thus 
leading the player too frequently to over blow, thus pro- 
ducing hard and screaming notes, the advantages of the 
silver flute can be availed of only by him who has studied 
it most carefully. For this reason wooden flutes are 
being made according to my system, these answering 
the purposes of most flute-players somewhat better, and 
they also are preferred in Germany on account of their 
full and agreeable sound. In England, however, the 
silver flute is carrying the day almost exclusively." 

Thus Rudall and Rose write, September 2nd, " There 
is not the slightest doubt about your metal flute being 
greatly superior to every other. Indeed, it is believed 
that there is no other wind instrument that combines 
so many advantages." And the flute-virtuoso George 
Rudall writes at the same time, " I have played at 
numerous reunions, and your metal flute has caused 
universal admiration and enthusiasm. All exclaimed, 
' It surpasses our ideas how the flute could be brought to 
such perfection." There are dozens of letters from all 
countries expressing admiration for the metal flute. 

Then came the great Industrial Exhibition of All 
Nations in London ; it was the first and the grandest in 
its way in London, and also with regard to the partici- 
pation of all nations of the globe. Of the musical instru- 
ments exhibited the flutes alone interest us. Among 
the most interesting instruments of the exhibition we 
class a new silver flute by Bohm, with covered keys ; 
furthermore a piccolo and an oboe on the same system. 

Rudall and Rose, the oldest and most celebrated flute 
manufacturers of England, also exhibited flutes on 
Bohm's system, and received the prize medal for these 
flutes. There was also the improved patent flute of the 
celebrated flute-player Carte, then the patent flute of the 

SCHAFHAUTLS life of boehm. 


celebrated flute-player Clinton. He, too, availed himself 
of the Bohm arrangement of the finger-holes ; however, 
he attempted to retain the old 
fingering by means of a pecu- 
liar mechanism. 

There were of course flutes 
from various countries. From 
France there was Godefroy 
with the Bohm flute ; Berton 
from Paris had also brought 
a flute on Bohm's system. Clefs (TctIj. 
There was also Tulou with 
his so-called improved Bohm 
flute. 41 From North America 

Cadence de ns 

Clef d'oT*.. 

Clef de sx i> 

41 Tulou's improved flute was a 
flute on the old system, with closed 
keys and very small holes, as shown 
in the engraving, which is taken 
from his Method. In addition to 
the two shake keys at the top, there 
was a second middle C key with a 
hole of its own, and a key for Fjf, to 
sharpen this note when it was shaken 
with G. The fingering is given in 
his Method 'second edition, p. 6i). 

Tulou was violently opposed to 
the Boehm system on the twofold 
ground that the simplicity of the old 
fingering was abolished, whilst the 
enlargement of the holes destroyed 
the charm of the instrument by con- 
verting its liquid sweetness into a dry 
and reedy tone like that of the haut- 
boy. When I showed him the Sic- 
cama flute on which I played, as a 
young man, during my residence in 
Paris, he at once objected to the 
large size of the holes, and exclaimed, 
repeating the words with vehemence, 
" Je n'aime pas le systeme ! " So 
conservative was he that he preferred 

Clef desoltf. 

Clef dfi ta ft. 

Clefs de paIj.-J^ 

Clef de mi b. 

Clef d'nrfl... 
Clef'd'uTlj ,.. 

Fig. 46. — Tulou's Improved Flute. 


there was Pfaff of Philadelphia. There were flutes from 
the Zollverein, from Essen, Neukirchen, Klingenthal, 
Mainz, and from Switzerland and Denmark. 

The jury of the Exhibition were : — Sir H. Dr. 
Bishop, professor of music in the University of Oxford, 
president ; Sterndale Bennet, professor of the Royal 
Academy of Music in London ; Hector Berlioz, from 
France ; Dr. Robert Black, from the United States of 
America ; Ritter Sigismund Neukomm, from Germany ; 
Cyprian Potter, President of the Royal Academy of 
Music ; then myself, Bohm's biographer, and also as 
juror of the Vereinsland ; then Sir George Smart, or- 
ganist and composer for the Chapel Royal ; Sigismund 
Thalberg ; Dr. Henry Wilde, Professor of the Royal 
Academy of Music. 

Bohm's flute caused the greatest sensation, exciting 
the greatest interest amongst all musicians, and receiving 
finally, after the most careful examination of every single 
detail, unanimously, the first prize, the great prize medal. 
(See ' Official Report on the Industrial Exhibition of All 
Nations in London in 185 1, by the Report-committee 
of the Governments of the German Zollverein,' vol. i. 
p. 882, and pp. 934-935)- 

Bohm's flute was manufactured in most countries, but 
chiefly in North America ; however, the flutes made in 
Bohm and Mendler's factory in Munich have never 
been equalled. The best Bohm flutes in London were 
made by Rudall and Rose, in Paris b)' Godefroy and 
Lot, whence they spread all over the world. 

A grand imitation of the London Industrial Exhibition 
was arranged in Paris in 1855. In addition to his silver 
flute Bohm sent to that exhibition a wooden flute and 

flutes without the long keys in the foot, indeed his favourite 
instrument was the four-keyed flute. He once took me to the 
Conservatoire, where we found his pupils playing trios on flutes 
with only one key in the foot. — C. W. 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 455 

-models, calculations, and designs, and a method of 
determining the measures and proportions of flutes of all 
pitches, in a mechanical or graphical way. In Paris, and 
therefore in France, Bohm's flute had become musically 
common property. The jury accorded him unanimously 
the first prize, namely the gold medal of honour, and the 
president of the Paris Exhibition committee, Prince 
Napoleon Bonaparte, expressed his particular admiration 
of Bohm's invention. A reporter says, " His Royal 
Highness terminated his eighteenth visit at the twenty- 
seventh class, Instruments of Music, and declared, 'If 
France, occupying as she incontestably does the first rank 
in the manufacture of musical instruments, were to dread 
a competitor, it would be Bavaria with its wood wind 
instruments. In that class foreign countries had one 
name only to oppose to France, but that name is an 
authority and a power ; we refer to M. Bohm, of Munich. 
As an artiste, as an inventor, and as a manufacturer, 
M. Bohm has carried every branch of his art to the high- 
est perfectioni He has given his name to a new system 
applied to the flute. He has sent two models to the 
Exhibition, one of metal, the other of wood, which have 
secured for him the great medal of honour.'" (See ' Visite 
de S.A.I, le Prince Napoleon aux produits collectifs 
des nations qui ont pris part a i'Exposition de 1855.') 
The prince then declared, with fullest admiration, " His 
name is an authority and a power." 

The report of the president of the French jury, 
director Joseph Helmesberger of the Vienna Conser- 
vatory of Music, is to the same effect, Helmesberger 
expressing himself also as a German, " The author of 
these lines cannot refrain from saying, in concluding his 
report on the XXVIIth Class, that German ingenuity, 
as displayed at the Paris Exhibition, is to be congratu- 
lated chiefly for the manufacture of wood wind instru- 
ments. We most heartily recognise here a German as 
the reformer of the flute, our celebrated master Bohm 


of Munich, who has been unanimously accorded the 
great medal of honour. The excellent, nay inestimable 
system of the ingenious artiste, which will no doubt be 
applied to other wind instruments besides the flute, 
must be regarded as a real advance in the construction 
of musical instruments, and will no doubt meet with 
general acceptance. May the esteemed master find full 
recompense for the slowness with which his invention 
has been spreading, in the well-merited recognition 
accorded him in the Exhibitions of London, Munich, and 
now also in Paris, as well as in the conviction that he 
has acquired a lasting and excellent name in the history 
of the development of musical instruments ! " 

All this remained on paper, and not one musician out 
of a thousand read it. That which produced so great an 
effect on the musicians of France and North America, 
nay even on the Paris Academy, had no existence for 
musical Germany. Even at the Industrial Exhibition 
at Vienna in 1873, the conviction was general that the 
future belonged to Bohm's flute. " The present has 
long been Bohm's, all over France, England, Belgium, 
and to a great extent Germany, Italy, and America. 
With us people cling faithfully to Ziegler's flute ; it is 
to his and to his father's credit that in Vienna the old 
Vienna flute is still reigning supreme." 42 (See ' Inter- 
nationale Ausstellungs-Zeitung. Beilage der Wiener 
Neuen Presse. Wien, Donnerstag den 21. August 
1873, No. 3231, Feuilleton.') However, a great number 
of Bohm flutes from Bohm's factory have been sent to 
Vienna and all parts of Austria, especially for the use 
of amateurs. 

42 The partiality for Ziegler's flutes is not confined to Vienna. 
Whilst preparing this work for the press (May 1892) I heard a 
young lady, a professional flautist brought up in England, play 
Briccialdi's capriccio on a flute by Ziegler (the father) at a private 
concert in London. She informed me that she had one of RudalPs 
latest cylinders, but that she greatly preferred the Ziegler on account 
of the superiority of its tone. — C. W. 

schafhAutls life of boehm. 457 

From this time forward there was no factory of 
musical instruments in France, in which Bohm's flute 
had not its allotted place among the instruments manu- 
factured. Besides the old celebrated factory price of 
Godefroy and Lot, we find in Paris, for instance, 
Desnoyers, Thulart, & Co., offering Bohm flutes at 140 
francs, German silver 90 francs, " petite flute de Boehm 
grendille 90 francs, German silver 60 francs," Bohm clari- 
nets, "new system," 245 francs, and up to the present 
time at 140, 135, and 130 francs. Even in Cuture and 
Jury-la-Bataille, both being villages in the Department 
d'Eure, north-west of Paris, the instrument-makers Thi- 
bouville and Herouard have on their price list a Bohm 
flute with eleven keys, and Messrs. Noblet and Thi- 
bouville in Jury-la-Bataille on the Eure have clarinets on 
the Bohm system, ranging from 160 to 200 francs, and 
Bohm flutes at 1 50, and of German silver at 95 marks, 

The most celebrated and excellent factory for Bohm's 
flutes in England was that of the old firm of Rudall 
and Rose in London. The factory acquired a patent, 
and sold Bohm flutes, in cases with all requisite appurte- 
nances, of cocus wood with silver keys at 18/. iSs. ; 
cylindrical flutes of silver at 26/. $s. ; of German silver 
silver-plated at 18/. iSs. For a closed g§ key, or for a 
Bricerol d$ minor (Briccialdi &$) key, an additional 
1/. is. was charged. 

The most extensive manufacture of Bohm flutes, how- 
ever, is to be found in North America. Thousands of 
musicians (amongst them the very best) play on the newly 
improved Bohm flute. Through them the flute has be- 
come a highly esteemed instrument ; in England, France, 
and Belgium, the Bohm flute is being used exclusively. 

Bohm's Improvements in the Oboe. His Alto 

' Bohm finally applied his system to all wood wind- 
instruments with finger-holes. Thus he made an oboe 


for Lavigne, the first oboist of the Italian Opera in 
London ; a bassoon for the first bassonist of the Italian 
Opera in Paris, both according to his system. These 
instruments, too, were also received with great approval, 
despite their high price and new fingering. The cele- 
brated manufacturers Triebert & Co. made oboes on 
Bohm's system. According to a price list dated March 
7th, 1857, such an oboe, descending to "a" with silver 
keys, in a case, costs 600 francs. 

One of Bohm's new creations is his alto flute (in the 
London Exhibition it was still called " flute d'amour "). 
He had added the so-called B-foot to his flute ; lower 
down he would not go, the flower tone losing all 

In time he overcame this obstacle also. As early as 
1 847 he made tubes which produced the low f with the 
same ease and richness as the higher tones; the finger- 
ing, however, the key-holes being wider apart on the 
longer G flute, became more difficult, and the fingers 
were soon tired out by the great tension. Bohm there- 
fore stopped at the low g. Such a flute is, despite its 
length, still easily manageable. The G flute has a length 
of 820 millimetres, and its bore is 26 mm. wide, while 
the C flute, Paris pitch, is 620 mm. long, and the bore 
19 mm. wide. The lower finger-holes are 21 mm. in 
diameter. Bohm called his flute rightly an alto flute. 
The fingering is the same as that on Bohm's c flute. 
The seven notes next to the fundamental note G are 
easily produced, just as on the Bohm flute in c, without 
offering any difficulty to the player. Moreover these 
low sounds are of marvellous beauty, and can be swelled 
to a surprising volume, thus rendering the alto fit to 
be' used in the largest halls as well as in drawing- 

From that time onward Bohm gave up travelling and 
occupied himself chiefly with giving instruction. In his 
leisure moments he composed for his instrument, and 


his compositions were received with great favour all over 
the world, especially in North America. 

The improvement of the flute, however, he never lost 
sight of. By substituting a headpiece of cocus-wood in 
lieu of the old metal one, the old man of seventy-eight 
considered the task of his life completed. Through this 
headpiece the metal flute obtained even in the highest 
notes the characteristic mellowness of the flute tone, with- 
out losing the ease of the tone production and the brilliant 
vigour of the metal flute. 

Carte in London. Bohm's Opinion of the. 
Improvements made on ' his Flute. 

As already mentioned, the new flute was improved 
here and there ; the essential nature of Bohm's inven- 
tion, however, namely, the dimensions of the tube, the 
position of the key-holes at their acoustical places, were 
never altered in the least. It was invariably a secondary 
portion of Bohm's flute, such as the position of a key, 
occasionally the addition of a new key, or the addition 
of a closed one instead of an open one, that were made, 
partly as a hobby, or for some special fingering, often 
from an itching for adding something novel as an im- 
provement to the celebrated instrument. This was done 
by the great flute-players Coche and Dorus ; also by 
Giulio Briccialdi, Who was undoubtedly the greatest of 
all flute virtuosi. 

The whole innovation turned, properly speaking, on 
the improvement of the so-called g§ key. Bohm kept 
all keys open, and consequently all the fingers were 
performing the same movement, viz. that of pressing 
down the keys. Bohm's flute is always manufactured 
with this so-called improvement in France. It was 
R. Carte, England's greatest flute-player, who had a 
patent for an improved flute himself, who adopted 
Bohm's flute with ardour, and also assimilated Bohm's 


system more thoroughly than any one of his colleagues 
He wrote a work which reached several editions, en- 
titled, 'A complete Course of Instructions for the Bohm 
Flute' (both the open and the closed G-keyed flute), 
designed as well for beginners, as for those acquainted 
with the old flute ; and preceded by an analysis of the 
Bohm -flute and the old eight-keyed flute. With a 
comparison between them to enable the flute-players to 
judge of their relative merits. By R. Carte. London, 
Addison and Hodson, 210, Regent Street, and 47, King 
William Street. Price 10 shillings 6 pence. 1846.' (Of 
the first edition of 1845 I have spoken above.) 

This analysis went into the details of the Bohm flute 
and the old eight-keyed flute, comparing them with one 
another so as to enable the flute-player to judge of 
their relative merits. It is probably the best work ever 
written on the Bohm flute ; the analysis of the Bohm 
flute is also unique. In that analysis he defends Bohm's 
key mechanism as the only uniform key- and fingering- 
system. He says very pertinently, " With the closed g% 
key the fingers have to perform a double movement. 
How irrational is a system arising from the uncouth 
fingering of the old flute, where some fingers must be 
lifted over, others again pressed down on the keys. In 
the second octave this fingering becomes still more com- 
plicated, and can be only excused in him who can in no 
wise wean himself from the old habit." 

Bohm says, " If it were possible to make a key for 
this gfy, without throwing confusion into the whole 
system of fingering, I should not say a word against it ; 
this, however, not being feasible, and since the beginner 
can without the slightest difficulty accustom himself to 
the open g\ key, and since the player of the old flute 
can easily get familiar with my system, I will never 
approve of the closed g% key. I would advise every- 
body to study my system without any alterations, and I 
am convinced that players will be glad to have adopted 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 461 

my advice. French flute-players who used the closed 
g§ key will never reach the perfection of German players 
that have followed my system any length of time, for 
instance, Stettmair at Hechingen." 

Compare the design of the key system of Bohm's 
flute with that of the two old flutes on the same table. 
The impression is at the first blush a favourable one. 
In his key system there is a harmony that strikes every- 
body at the first glance, furnishing the proof of that 
key system's having arisen not from mere accident or 
individual want, but from one single rational principle. 
But let us hear Bohm himself : — 

" I have altered nothing in my key-system, for it has 
been proved, first, that the most eminent artists were able 
to execute to perfection all musical combinations, without 
regard to the key in which they were written, on my 
instruments as I had made them ; and secondly, because, 
despite all efforts on the part of others, nothing superior 
to my own invention has as yet been produced. For, 
even granting that some of the difficulties of my flute 
have been removed by the so-called ' improvements ' in 
my key-system, the advantages obtained thereby are 
only apparent, consisting as they do in a shifting of the 
difficulty from one finger to another, 43 or from one place 
to another, real facilities having been obtained only at 
the expense of the equality and purity of tone. 

" I do not deny that a greater facility in the handling 
of the instrument, and more than anything else, a less 
complicated key-mechanism are highly desirable ; but 
as long as only nine fingers will be at the disposal of the 

43 This statement is not strictly correct. The improvements 
referred to do more than shift difficulties from one place to 
another. They enable a player to evade, avoid, or circumvent 
difficulties by giving him a choice of fingerings, thus adding to 
the resources of the instrument. It is perfectly true, however, that 
these advantages are purchased at the expense of increased com- 
plexity of mechanism. — C. W. 


player for the opening and closing of the thirteen sound- 
holes, all of which are unavoidably necessary for the 
production of a pure and equal chromatic scale, difficul- 
ties will be inevitable. For, either one finger will have 
to serve for several holes at various places, whereby the 
playing is rendered more difficult ; or the keys of several 
holes must be, for greater facility's sake, reduced to one 
by means of combinations, whereby the mechanism gets 
more complicated. 

" Clever workmen, however, will make even a very 
complicated key-mechanism in a solid and satisfactory 
manner, and technical difficulties for the player can be 
overcome by diligent practice, considering that all other 
orchestral wind instruments are technically much more 
difficult than the flute. Tone and purity of scale are the 
most important features of a musical instrument, since 
without them the player will never reach perfection of 

" My flutes possess a compass of three octaves or 
thirty-six tones, by means of which one can execute with 
purity and certainty all chromatic scales, all interval- 
combinations, trills, &c, from c l to c\" 

Structure and Significance of the Bohm Flute. 
Relation of the Theory of Acoustics to 
• ' its Practice as illustrated by the Bohm 

The Bohm flute is in reality a perfect and consummate 
musical instrument, and it is all . the more noteworthy in 
the history of musical instruments, because we can trace 
its rational completion, based on acoustical rules, to all 
its details, from beginning to end. 

This flute has arisen out of the constant study of the 
theory of sound. The theory of musical instruments with 
finger-holes is classed amongst the most difficult of 
acoustical problems. The scale of the flute is produced 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 463 

under such peculiar circumstances and in the teeth of so 
many disturbing elements, that hardly any other instru- 
ment can be compared to it. The flute has a great 
resemblance to an organ-pipe ; however, an organ-pipe 
gives only one note, whereas the flute has to give the 
whole scale. The laws according to which the scale is 
produced on a monochord, are generally, but wrongly 
applied to instruments with side-holes. 

If we divide the sounding string of a monochord, by 
means of a bridge, into two equal parts, without altering 
the tension of the string, each half gives the octave of the 
note of the entire string. With organ-pipes this is the 
case under peculiar circumstances only. By cutting off 
one-half of an organ-pipe, one would think that we should 
get the octave of the entire pipe. The two halves, how- 
ever, are not equal ; the upper part is a tube open at 
both ends, or a prism of the same nature ; the lower part 
being closed at the lower end, with the exception of the 
opening at the side. It is therefore not to be expected 
that the lower part will give the octave of the entire 
pipe ; and practice corroborates the assumption that the 
lower half of the pipe will give a lower tone than the 
upper half. 

However, the flute is not an organ-pipe. Calculation 
and theory have here to deal with a dozen influences and 
modifications, of which there is no trace in the analysis 
of the organ-pipe. We blow the flute, which is closed 
by a cork, sideways, through the embouchure, which is 
at a distance of 17 millimetres from the cork. There 
are, moreover, side-holes, or the so-called finger-holes. 

If a finger-hole could be made equal to the diameter 
of the flute, the note of the instrument would respond to 
that of a flute that is cut off a little below the middle of 
the hole ; however, the finger-holes cannot be made so 
large as that, therefore the vibrations of the entire air- 
columns are disturbed by intruding negative air-columns, 
the effect of which depends on the size, the number, and 


the distances of the holes from the lower cylindrical part 
of the flute. 

The function of these side-holes as affecting the 
number of vibrations, forms a very complicated me- 
chanical problem. There are differential equations 
that cannot be integrated, and integration between 
limited integrals leads to results that come very near to 
reality, but have not reached it as yet ; for all hinges on 
a few vibrations which the ear can well judge of. I 
frequently brought Bohm the results of long calcula- 
tions ; but whenever he constructed a flute according to 
my formulae, there always were a few vibrations in excess 
or defect. Empirical formula alone can help here. For, 
as we have already remarked, the flute is no organ-pipe. 
The organ-pipe, when it stands with its mouthpiece on 
the pipe-board, is always being blown into through the 
same mouthpiece. In the flute there are many other 
concurrent influences to be considered. The charac- 
teristic tone-production is made by the lips. The flute 
when in contact with the lips, sounds a little deeper than 
the free flute blown into through a mouthpiece, the lips 
overlapping the embouchure. The position of the lips 
is always varying, and it is this constant variation that 
produces the peculiar character of the tone. If the 
player turns the flute a little inwards, then the upper 
[lower ?] lip covers more of the embouchure, and thus 
the tone becomes deeper; if he turns the flute out- 
wards, the tone will be somewhat higher, or will bound 
up to the octave. It is precisely in the flute that the 
play of the lips makes the soul of the tone ; and this 
influence of the lips baffles all calculation. 

Theory alone, therefore, could not have produced the new 

It was, moreover, necessary that a musical mechanic, 
as gifted, persevering, and ingenious as Bohm, should 
set the practical limits to which theory can approach 
without ever reaching. 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 465 

The third reason why Bohm's flute became such a 
thoroughly musical instrument that it found favour with 
the whole musical world, was the fact that Bohm himself 
was a virtuoso, nay, one of the most excellent virtuosi 
who have composed for or played on the flute. In his 
capacity as a virtuoso he was able to see by what con- 
trivances the exigencies of art could be met. Such a 
man alone was able to combine the results of theory 
and practice in such a manner as to answer the highest 
purposes of Art. And, finally, had Bohm not been the 
excellent virtuoso he was, he could not have proved the 
superiority of his flute as conclusively as he did, and 
could not have prevailed upon flute virtuosi to lay aside 
their old flute and to recommence their studies in order 
that they might master the new instrument. If Bohm 
had not been able to convince the musical world per- 
sonally of the excellence of his flute, his invention would 
never have been approved of, for the ordinary artists of 
the old flute — for instance, in Germany — not only ignored 
the new flute, but actually opposed its introduction. 
Bohm's flute has now been played in all civilised coun- 
tries for thirty years ; in Germany, however, a Bohm 
flute can be found only in the hands of a few amateurs 
and in the Court orchestra at Munich. 

While theory may penetrate, by measurement and 
calculation, into the inner essence of the phenomena of 
motion, evolving for instance, the laws of sound-vibra- 
tions, it will be only by one who is at once an ingenious 
mechanic and a virtuoso that the results of theory will 
be effectually turned to account in the construction of a 
real practical instrument, to the completion of which, 
without these qualities of the virtuoso, centuries might 
have been required. 

The same holds good regarding the Violin. 

All our acoustical experiments, all our theories are 
good for the lecture-room, for people who are no 
musicians. The artist, the virtuoso alone can pronounce 

2 H 


on the value of a musical instrument. One might object, 
that the violin has arisen without the aid of theory. It 
is true that the violin did not originate in the theories of 
the learned, but was made by the experience of simple 
and ingenious virtuosi, gifted with mechanical talents, 
who, although their names did not shine in periodicals, 
worked unremittingly with head and hand until their 
instrument answered all the wants of the artist. The 
celebrated makers of violins, up to Steiner, were all 
violin virtuosi ; Steiner, after having spent the week in 
carving out his violins, played on his instrument, every 
Sunday, in the Orchestral Society at Innsbruck. The 
violin would have most assuredly been spoilt had Science 
taken up its manufacture, and here we are reminded of 
Schiller's Philosophers, of whom he says : — 

" From the union of Genius with Heart 
Spring inventions ne'er dreamt of by Locke or Descartes." 

The old violin-maker, who was at the same time a 
violin virtuoso, prompted by a correct insight, of which 
our modern acousticians do not possess an idea, changed 
centuries ago the flat sounding-board of all keyed and 
stringed instruments, played by the fingers or by a plec- 
trum, such as the theorbo, lute, mandoline, zither, into 
the arched back and belly of the violin ; whereas one of 
the greatest acousticians of modern times has actually 
denied the efficacy of this arching, whilst it is the sole 
cause of the peculiar character of the violin. Our violins 
were not made in the laboratories of our theoretical 
physicists ; nay, centuries were necessary before these 
theoretical savants could understand the efficacy of the 
violin construction. 

Ward in London as Bohm's Opponent. 

There was, speaking generally, only one opponent of 
Bohm's flute who appeared in public, and even he did so 
from ignorance of the effects of that instrument. This 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 467 

was, as already said, Cornelius Ward, instrument maker 
in London, who offered the public a flute of his own 
invention. (See ' The Flute Explained, being an Exami- 
nation of the Principles of its Structure and Action. By- 
Cornelius Ward. London, published by the Author, 
1844.') Ward was pretty familiar with the history of 
the flute and with the acoustical principles underlying 
its structure ; he had gathered his information from 
Carte's pamphlet and procedure. He knew the faults 
of the old flute, and it was he, as we have seen, who in 
1 83 1 carried out the ideas of Gordon regarding the 
improvement of the flute. He holds that Bohm placed 
the holes pretty fairly ; he falls foul, however, of Bohm's 
fingering, and his very censure is a most cogent 
proof that he did not understand that fingering, and 
that he was no virtuoso. He calls Bohm's fingering 
untheoretical in the highest degree, and awkward ; he 
says that it is hard to learn, and just as hard to put into 
practice. The tone of Bohm's flute, he adds, is unequal 
in force, varying in character, and bad in quality. 44 

44 The following is the passage in Ward's pamphlet to which the 
Doctor is referring : — " The Boehm flute is free from the first 
named objection to the old flute (its excessive deviation from the 
true position of the apertures). It is perforated with tolerable 
accuracy, but here its merits end. It cannot be used in accordance 
with its apparent design. 

" It requires numerous closed holes, cross-fingerings, alternating 
action, cramped and unnatural application of the manual powers, 
and frequent employment of harmonics, &c. &c, with the necessary 
results of unequal power, varying character, and general inferiority 
in quality of tone. Its fingering, also, is in the highest degree 
immethodical, awkward, difficult both to learn and to apply, and 
deficient in many of the important requisites for skilful and refined 
performance." Ward then proceeds, as might be expected, to 
contrast the Boehm fingering with that of his own flute, the 
fingering of which, he informs his readers, " is systematic, regular, 

easy, and easily acquired There are no cross-fingerings, 

no alternating action, no contravention of the mechanics or 

anatomy of the human hand Any possible objections to 

the universal introduction of this instrument, can only be of very 

2 H 2 


One is astonished to hear such reproaches in the year 
1844; for, of all that, the very reverse is true. Thus, 
Berton, a French composer, who was a member of the 
committee of French musicians who examined the Bohm 
flute, to Coche, the flute-player: — "You have deserved 
well of your colleagues by devoting yourself to the study 
and construction of the new instrument Now it will be 
possible to employ the flute fearlessly in every scale 
without distinction, because it is equal in tone, perfect in 
intonation in all keys, and so improved in mechanism as 
to be free from all noise except such as may be heard 
in any other wind instrument, and capable of executing 
the compositions of your illustrious master Tulou, and 
all the trills of every register of your instrument. These 
advantages were more than sufficient to induce the 
Academie to sanction the report, of which you may feel 
proud." (See ' Examen critique de la flute ordinaire com- 
paree a la flute de Boehm,' par F. Coche, Paris, 1838, 
pp. 19, 20.) 

The meeting of the Academie took place on Saturday, 
March 24th, 1838, and six years after that Ward writes, 
that the tone of Bohm's flute is unequal in force, variable 

temporary prevalence Our language may be considered 

strong and confident. But our strength lies in facts ; our confi- 
dence in our conviction of the truth ; and our justification in the 
concurrent testimony of all who have become acquainted with the 
instrument." After a panegyric in this style extending over a 
couple of closely printed pages, in bringing his pamphlet to a close, 
he writes : "Do not let us be deemed speaking in the language of 
hyperbole. We can point to several flutists who, with four weeks' 
practice on our instrument, have acquired a skill and proficiency, 
previously denied to the untiring industry of forty years. It has 
been our wish," he continues, " throughout this work to speak the 
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." 

We are told by Mr. Rockstro that Ward was Boehm's superior in 
every way, excepting in the matter of musical attainments ; but 
this statement clearly requires to be qualified. There was an 
instrument, as a performer on which Boehm was immeasurably 
Ward's inferior— his own trumpet. — C. W. 


in character, and poor in quality ! Ward was no artist, but 
a manufacturer, and such misunderstandings are intel- 
ligible only from the standpoint of a jealous tradesman. 

Ward talks of the difficulty of B ohm's fingering, and 
Carte, the celebrated flute-player, had written six years 
previously that beginners accustom themselves much 
more quickly to the fingering of Bohm's flute than to 
that of the old instrument. 

At the Industrial Exhibition in London Ward ex- 
hibited his flute, which was partly constructed after 
Bohm's system ; but it passed quite unnoticed, while 
the jury unanimously accorded Bohm the first great 
prize medal. 

Bohm's Pupils, Haindl, Furstenau, and 

Bohm had instructed many a pupil both on his old 
and his new flute. The greatest of them, a man who 
would have become a Paganini of the flute, was Hans 
Haindl, who stayed a short time in Vienna. He was 
the son of a tower-guard of Amberg, in the Bavarian 
Palatinate, and he returned from Vienna to Amberg to 
fetch his fiancee. Taking a boat-ride on the Vils he 
came too near the target of a shooting-gallery, and was 
killed by a bullet, and died in the arms of his fiancie. 
The target had only one small opening high up, and it 
is inconceivable how the bullet could hit the unfortunate 
young artist who was boating on the river. 

Haindl had quickly procured a silver cylindrical flute 
in Vienna, and he wrote to Bohm, May 20th, 1848, 
" Hearty thanks for the exquisite flute. I like it im- 
mensely, and shall do it honour by my playing." 

Haindl's wonderful effects were the cause of Fiirst- 
enau's sending his highly gifted son Moritz to Bohm, 
July 1845, in order that the latter might study the new 
•flute. Furstenau (Anton Bernhard) was the celebrated 
flute-player of the Court band of Saxony. 


As early as November ioth, 1845, Fiirstenau played in 
public Bohm's ~E\y major Fantasia on Swiss themes at a 
concert of the Royal Bavarian musicians Faubel, Menter, 
and Mittermaier, scoring an extraordinary success. He 
returned to Dresden, where, in a celebrated concert of 
his, he created quite a sensation. In an account in the 
' Dresdener Tageblatt,' we read, after the report of the 
concert, " The artist played on the so-called Bohm 
flute." The reporter gives a detailed description of that 
flute and its advantages over the flutes formerly in use, 
and concludes, " Herr Moritz Fiirstenau, who proved an 
excellent artist some years ago, sacrificed the old finger- 
ing and devoted himself to the study of the new flute 
under the superintendence of the inventor, and he has 
shown in this concert that his praiseworthy resolution 
has led him to brilliant results. His tone in the lower 
register is exceedingly beautiful and sonorous, and in 
the high notes also it exhibits a remarkable richness." 

In a report of the 'Wiener Musikalische Zeitung,' 
December 1846, we read, "The concert given by Herr 
L. M. Fiirstenau, jun., on October 28th, was highly 
welcome to the musical world." Regarding the flute used 
at that concert, we read : " The worthy artist, a clever 
pupil of his celebrated father, has not shrunk from the 
gigantic task of recommencing the study of flute-playing 
ab ovo, on the newly invented flute, after having acquired 
a remarkable proficiency on the old flute. The inven- 
tion has not yet met with due recognition in Germany. 
Fiirstenau's industry and self-abnegation have been 
crowned with the most brilliant success, &c. The young 
virtuoso shows a consummate and finished technique, 
great bravura and force, and an agreeable tenderness 
in his style." 

Although he was received with much applause abroad, 
his own country cared very little for him. The old 
members and the directors of the then Saxon Court 
band were so much opposed to the new flute, that 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 471 

Moritz Fiirstenau, who had been appointed February 1st, 
1842, was obliged to return to the old flute in 1852, for 
fear of losing his appointment, and that at a time when 
all England, France, and America were revelling in the 
new flute ! 

Kriiger, the Royal Wiirttemberg Court musician, also 
sent his son Charles, in the autumn of 1846, to his friend 
Bohm in Munich, where Charles finished his studies 
during 1847-48. Young Kriiger is at present one of 
the most excellent flute-virtuosi and chamber-virtuosi 
at the Royal Court of Wiirttemberg. 

These are some only of Bohm's best known pupils in 
Germany. His pupils count by the hundred ; the best 
among them live in America, many of them are in 
England, who, whether amateurs or professionals, have 
become Bohm's intimate friends. Up to the last days 
of his life new pupils applied to him for instruction. 

Amongst the amateurs there is a very original German 
physician, who passed the best years of his life in South 
America. He also has had the heroic resolution of 
giving up the old fingering, and acquiring that of Bohm's 
flute ; he now plays Bohm's c and g flutes with almost 
unsurpassable excellence. 

The Last Years of Bohm's Life. His 
Principles of Flute-playing. 

Bohm spent his last years, having given up his travels 
on account of ill-health, in instructing gifted pupils, in 
carrying on a large correspondence regarding his flute, 
with people as far off as Australia, and in composing for 
both his instruments, the c and the g flute, or in arranging 
works he had originally written for the c flute, for his 
alto or g flute. 

The little recreation he indulged in was a trip in 
autumn' to the Tegernsee, the residence of Prince Charles, 
the second son of King Max I. King Max I., who was 


also fond of staying at the chateau at Tegernsee, had 
always looked upon Bohm, as we have seen, as one of 
his favourite musicians, and his son Prince Charles 
extended to him the same favour. The richest of all 
the Bavarian princes had long before chosen Bohm's son 
Charles as his cashier, and was pleased to see the father 
at his chateau at Tegernsee. 

It is hardly describable what a. deep impression Prince 
Charles's death made on Bohm, who was at that time 
eighty-one years old, and to whom the Prince had 
bequeathed a beautiful souvenir. Despite all thaty 
Bohm's physical and mental powers remained unbroken 
up to a very great age ; finally there came signs of 
decay. He lost his two front teeth, which of course 
interfered very much with his flute-playing. However, 
clever mechanic as he was, he made two teeth of his 
own invention, and inserting them into his mouth by 
means of a very ingenious mechanism, he could play as 
well as he did thirty years before. 45 

His wife died six years previously ; his children were 
all amply provided for. He left Munich but rarely. 

As we know, all his care in instructing his pupils was 
directed to render their reading perfect, he being himself 
unparalleled in the charm of his style. Hence, as was 

45 Although he retained his execution, he lost with his teeth his 
good embouchure. Writing to Mr. Mills in January 1874 or 1875 
(the last figure is indistinct) he says, " As to your question about 
false teeth, I had lost two of my front teeth years ago, and since 
two years I had lost two more, but I can play still well enough, 
though I have no more that excellent embouchure I had in former 
times. The main thing is that the false teeth fit well, and do not 
give pain or molestation. In two months I begin my eighty-second 
year, and I play still on my flutes, only my eyes get very bad, as 
you can see by my miserable writing." 

In a letter in German to Mr. Walter Broadwood, dated Septem- 
ber 1st, 1868, he says, " I have made my own teeth, which I only 
use when I am blowing, at other times I carry them in my pocket. 
Playing with false teeth answers well enough, but my excellent 
tone-production of former years is gone for ever." — C. W. 

schafhautl's life of boehm. 473 

said above, the astonishment of Lady Gresham, who once 
exclaimed, " It is marvellous ! When Bohm plays the 
same piece, it sounds quite different from what it does 
in the hands of ordinary flute-players ! " 

In his work ' The Flute and Flute-playing, acoustically, 
technically, and artistically considered ' (Munich, 1871), 
he says, page 20, under the heading " On Style," " He 
who, like myself, has been fortunate enough to have 
heard, all the great singers of the last fifty years, will 
never forget the names of Brizzi, Sessi, Catalani, Velutti, 
Lablache, Tamburini, Rubini, Malibran,* Pasta, &c, 
remembering with delight their wonderful performances. 
They all got their instruction in the Italian school of 
singing, which to the present day is the foundation of a 
good voice-formation, 46 leading, as it does, to a correct 
reading and interpretation, of which the instrumentalist 
is just as much in need as is the singer, In order, for 
instance, to render an Adagio with all the necessary 
coloratura, the player must not only be a perfect master 
of his instrument, but also must acquire the power of 
changing his notes into* words, as it were, by which he 
is able to express his sentiments. He must learn to 
sing on his instrument. One of the most effectual but 
also most difficult vocal ornaments is the shake, which 
is seldom to be heard well executed nowadays." 

Bohm added to his work several songs, explaining 
at the same time how they are to be sung, and played 
on the flute ; e. g. the air from the ' Zauberflote,' " Dies 
Bildniss ist bezaubernd schon " ; an air from one of 
Joseph Mehul's operas, ' Nur meine Kinder lass gliick- 
lich stets sein ' ; Schubert's songs, ' Der Lindenbaum,' 
'Trockene Blumen,' 'Staendchen' ('Leise flehen meine 
Lieder '), ' Das Fischermadchen.' Finally he gives the 
Rondo Larghetto of the last aria of Donna Anna from 

46 Boehm expressed the opinion in conversation with me that the 
introduction of the Wagner style of opera would lead to the 
destruction of this school. — C. W. 


Mozart's 'Don Giovanni' (No. 26). He says, "These 
few bars (53) contain as the most perfect example every- 
thing that has been said about rendering a musical 
composition, the cantabile and larghetto winding up with 
simple ornaments of runs and mordentes, and the allegro 
containing all kinds of shakes, and roulades, and hence 
all colorature." 

Arrangements and Last Compositions. 

This was the reason why, in his last days, he chose 
chiefly original songs and arias from the great masters, 
adapting them to the flute, and arranging them with an 
accompaniment for the piano or orchestra. 

This led Bohm to resolve on recasting eighteen of his 
older works for the alto flute into nine new works. 
Four duetts for two c flutes, and three trios for two c 
flutes and the alto flute corresponded. 

In his eighty-sixth year, in 1880, he made us a present 
of an Andante from Beethoven's Serenade, op. 25. The 
simple theme of sixteen bars appears in two variations ; 
the first reminds one of brilliant triplets, the second gives 
us a charming cantabile, followed by a fiery coda allegretto 
in six bars. It furnishes the virtuoso with sufficient 
material to display his whole power, and his acquaint- 
ance with the art of phrasing. 

Furthermore there is the wonderful Andante for flute 
in c major, by Mozart, accompanied by two violins, viola, 
counterbass, two oboes, and two horns. Bohm arranged 
the accompaniment for piano, adapting the form to the 
modern taste. Jahn does not think much of that compo- 
sition, but he who has heard it played on a Bohm flute, 
and by Bohm himself, will be of quite a different opinion. 
The Andante is marked Mozart op. 86 ; but this number 
is to be found neither in Mozart's own list of his works 
nor in Kochel's. /Musicians and music publishers do not, 
of course, care very much for such pedantic chronological 

-schafhautl's life of boehm. 475 

dates, thus rendering the task of the historian of music a 
real torment. In Kochel's list we find the number 15. 
The autograph has no date ; it dates, however, probably 
from the year 1778, and was, according to Kochel, com- 
posed either at Munich or in Paris. 

A second arrangement of a work for clarinet, for the 
flute, was published by Schott, under the title, ' Adagio 
from the quartett 47 for clarinet by W. A. Mozart.' This 
quartett, in Kochel's list, bears the number 581. The 
Adagio, originally called " Larghetto," was transposed 
by Bohm from d to g, thus gaining exceedingly in love- 

His swan song bears the characteristic name c Elegie ' ; 
it is written in A\j major, and represents sweet melan- 
choly, rising in the fortieth bar to touching complaint, 
but subsiding by degrees into peaceful resignation. It 
is the old man who, already ailing, said in his eighty- 
ninth year, " I should like to reach the ninetieth year ; 
but God's will be done ! " 

The ' Elegie ' is composed for full orchestra, the 
latter rendering the whole composition most magnifi- 
cent, and giving character to what is only indicated in 
the flute part. It was published, as Bohm's 47th and 
last work, by Schott of Mayence, last year. 

Bohm dedicated it to his old friend Dr. Friedrich 
Isenschmied, formerly physician to the King of Naples, 
who had exchanged the old flute for Bohm's instrument, 
and attained to great proficiency on it. It was very 
pleasant for Bohm, who led a lonesome life,* 8 to spend 

47 The Doctor has written quartett instead of quintett. It is the 
celebrated quintett in A, op. 108, of which he is speaking. — C. W. 

48 No doubt Boehm, after the loss of his wife and the death of 
most of his friends and contemporaries, sometimes felt lonely and 
weary, prohibited, as he was, from reading, writing, and flute-play- 
ing. His declining days, however, were solaced by the tender care 
of his daughter, who remained unmarried, devoting herself to her 
father, whilst almost every evening was cheered by the society of 
his friend Dr. Schafhautl. Moreover, scarcely a day passed without 


some time in the home of this Swiss gentleman ; it 
brought to his remembrance his journeys in Switzerland 
when a young artist. 

Always active, and ready to be of use, old Bohm one 
day stepped on a chair in order to regulate a pendulum 
clock. The chair broke, and Bohm fell on the floor ; 
he immediately rose, and seemed to be unhurt. But 
from that time he complained of dizziness, which gave 
him much anxiety when in the street. This was attri- 
buted to nervous irritability of the stomach. But sud- 
denly he was taken with chills, and his powers sank 
so rapidly, that he prepared for the last journey. In 
addition to this he suffered very much from sick head- 
aches, which finally deprived him of consciousness. He 
was given up by everybody, but recovered nevertheless, 
much to the astonishment of his physicians. He then 
continued his usual walks for hours every day, went to 
his cafe in the afternoon, or to the Museum, where his 
friends acquainted him with all that was going on, 
reading being forbidden on account of his weakened 
eyes. Bohm, being an excellent chess-player, was 
always requested to play a game, and, despite his old 
age, he willingly did so, only asking for a little patience 
on account of his feeble sight ; he generally beat his 
antagonist all the same. 

Bohm's Death, Family, and Physical 

His hearing, formerly so acufe, became weaker and 
weaker, and so also did his eyesight, which had been 
much debilitated through his working in the glare of 

a visit from some of the members of his numerous family, and on 
Sundays they assembled round him at a "family coffee." How 
much pleasure he derived from these gatherings and how fully he 
appreciated such tokens of affection I learnt from his own lips. — 
C. W. 


puddling-furnaces, so that finally reading, writing, or 
drawing was quite out of the question. Moreover, the 
lips lost their elasticity ; he could no longer produce the 
lower notes, and had to take leave of his oldest friend, 
the flute. He nevertheless continued teaching his last 
pupil to the very end. This pupil did not want tech- 
nique ; he was, however, lacking in a fine style, and Bohm 
endeavoured to teach him that art. Where his flute 
would not do, he helped himself with singing. Once a 
rude young fellow angered him exceedingly, and his 
broken strength could no longer offer any resistance. 
" I should like to live a few years longer, but the Lord's 
will be done ! " He died on Friday evening, November 
25th, 1 88 1. 

Bohm left eight children, of whom seven were sons ; 
all but one are in prominent positions, most of them 
inherited their father's keen mind and mechanical talent, 
but not one of them his musical genius. There are 
moreover thirty-six grandchildren, and two great-grand- 
children. 49 

49 On October 20th, 1820, Boehm married Anna Rohrleitner, of 
Munich. She was a simple woman, but she proved a faithful, 
loving, and exemplary spouse, and an excellent housewife. During 
her husband's long periods of absence she managed, with very 
restricted financial means, to keep her household, consisting of 
eight children, apprentices, workpeople, &c, in order, and a most 
perfect order it was. It was to her that her children owed their 
careful education, and their father, who lived and died in the house 
' in which he was born, the advantage he enjoyed of always finding 
on his return from abroad a comfortably arranged and orderly 
home, and all the tranquillity he required for his studies and 
inventions. On October 30th, 1870, they celebrated their golden 
wedding, surrounded by seven sons, one daughter, seven daughters- 
in-law, and thirty grandchildren. They were not parted for more 
than four years afterwards. 

The eldest of Boehm's eight children is his daughter Mary. Of 
his seven sons, the first, Ludwig, held the important appointment 
of manager of the Maffei Locomotive Factory at Munich. He 
retired in 1886, when he had been connected with the firm for 
forty years. The second, Carl, was secretary and cashier to the 


We have thus before us a beautiful image of human 
life passed harmoniously in activity and love of art. Art 
took Bohm from one of the noblest handicrafts, and 
carried him with brilliant success through the world. 
The atmosphere of the so-called virtuoso-life produced 
but a superficial effect on young Bohm's fine character. 
He always returned to his family from the brilliant 
world, and Art ennobled his rich domestic life. He was 
an elegant man of the world, but also sincere, kind, self- 
sacrificing, and to all warning against trusting others, he 
always replied, " I prefer being cheated to despairing of 

His funeral was most remarkable. All classes of 
society followed him to the grave ; mingled with pro- 
fessional musicians there were amateurs, government 
officials, artisans, and even billiard-players, Bohm being 
a well-known billiard and chess-player. He played his 
game of chess every day, although, in consequence of his 
weak sight, he could scarcely see the chessmen. 

Bohm was slim, and in his youth rather threatened 
with consumption. When at the commencement of his 
studies he used to play at the receptions given by the 
" Frohsinn " society, every one exclaimed, " What a pity 
that young man with short breath plays the flute ! " It 
was, however, precisely the flute that saved him. Flute- 
playing expanded his chest and destroyed his tendency 
to phthisis. He became a most rapid walker, 50 and 

late Prince Charles of Bavaria. Theobald, the third, who died in 
1889, carried on the family business of goldsmith and jeweller. 
Wilhelm, the fourth, was manager of the gasworks at Stuttgart ; 
he died in 1893. Max, the fifth, is a clerk in a municipal office at 
Munich. August, the sixth, is cashier in the Munich post office ; 
whilst the seventh, Otto, who died in 1893, was manager of the 
Bavarian State Railways. 

50 During a visit to England, Boehm once took lodgings in the 
suburbs of London. One evening, as he was striding homewards 
with his usual quick step, he became aware that he was being 


could not be tired out by excursions lasting a whole day ; 
he was also ideal at running and leaping. This is a pal- 
pable proof of the correctness of the advice given by our 
great surgeon Nussbaum, who advises, in his classical 
essay " Hoch und Wohlgeboren," that people afflicted 
with a tendency to phthisis should work it off by con- 
stant exercise, thus expanding the chest by playing on 
the flute, for instance. Bohm is evidence that this per- 
nicious tendency can be cured without having recourse 
to drugs. 

Bohm's Memory in England and America. 
Sympathy Lacking in Germany. 

The death of this remarkable man has, of course, not 
made any stir whatever in Germany. In North America 
the report of Bohm's death was indeed sad tidings. 
Most of the American newspapers written in English 
published very sympathetic obituaries, and the 'New 
York Herald,' the most important paper of America, if 
not of the whole world, gave one of the lengthiest 

followed by a man. He quickened his pace, so did his unwelcome 
companion. After a time, in order to get rid of him, Boehm turned 
into a road running at right angles to the direction in which he 
was going, but only to find that his footsteps were still dogged. It 
was already dusk, night was falling, whilst the way was becoming 
more and more lonely. It seemed to Boehm that his best plan 
would be to bring matters to an immediate issue, so turning 
suddenly round, he accosted the mysterious stranger. This led to 
an explanation. It turned out that Boehm's pursuer was a gentle- 
man who took an interest in walking. Struck with the rapidity 
with which Boehm was getting over the ground, he was following 
him in order to ascertain how long he would keep it up. 

Boehm never gave up his habit of walking. His last walk was 
one of two hours' duration. On his return home, it being observed 
that he was not well, he was induced to retire to bed. He had 
not long been recumbent when he became unconscious. However, 
consciousness afterwards returned, and his life was prolonged for 
a day or two. 


biographies of Bohm. Even at Louisville, in Kentucky, 
there was, in the supplement to the German paper 
' Omnibus, der Unterhaltung, Belehrung, und dem Humor 
gewidmet,' a ' Nachruf aus America,' a poem to the " cele- 
brated flute-player," written by a lady, Betty Wittgen- 
stein, dated December 25th, 1881. The lady had pro- 
bably often written poems in honour of Bohm, for the 
poem commences : — 

" Once I sang thee on thy cradle-feast 
A poem of mine. ..." 

In a letter from Eugen Weiner, the most celebrated 
flute-player of North America, member of the New York 
Musical Club, to Bohm's daughter, it is stated, "In the 
last few days over a hundred persons, and amongst them 
the most renowned musicians and flute-players of New 
York, have called on me, in order to make inquiries 
about the death of Herr Bohm." Together with the 
name of Prentiss, the banker, he writes of dozens of 
names of musicians and professors who desired him to 
convey their profound condolence 'i with the family of 
Bohm." He also says that there is scarcely anything 
about Bohm in the press of Germany, and concludes, 
" How very annoying for us Germans in a foreign 
country ! " 

However, Bohm was always recognised and admired 
by artists and amateurs, who had become quite familiar 
with his flute. 

One of the reasons why Bohm was less known in 
Germany may be the fact that he made his tours as a 
travelling artist only in his youth, that was at the time 
that long preceded the period of the present writers and 
authors on music. In later years Bohm appeared 
publicly in England only, and even in that country 
rather from motives of friendship in closed circles of the 
aristocracy, who admit only the most distinguished 
artists, or at charity concerts. 

schafhAutl's life of boehm. 481 

The Bohm flute has made its way all over the world. 
Since the year 1847 Bohm's flute-factory at Munich has 
furnished flutes for Germany, Austria, Holland, England, 
Sweden, Norway, Moldavia, Wallachia, Rumania, Switzer- 
land, Italy, Greece, Russia, East Siberia, Blagowestschensk 
(on the Amur), Smyrna, Georgia, Madras, Ceylon, China, 
Japan, Luxemburg, Belgium, France, Spain, North Ame- 
rica, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, &c. To obtain 
this result there was required the labour, the study, 
the perseverance, and the genius of one man during 
half a century. 

If there is for man a higher destiny than (as Lessing 
holds) to spend- his existence in blowing into the mouth- 
piece of a flute, our Bohm, although he vivified the 
dead flute all his days with his breath, has done more 
than even Lessing has set down as the goal of a man's 
life. He was a thinker, a clever, ingenious, indefatigable 
worker, a good man and a good citizen, moreover a 
virtuoso and a creative artist, who has delighted and will 
delight thousands with his compositions. At the con- 
clusion of his long life he could with complacency look 
back on the troubles and the fruits of an activity of sixty 
years ; and I can now lay down my pen with a certain 
satisfaction, having given a faithful image of the life and 
mind of a very remarkable man, whose name will always 
be appreciated in the world of music. 

2 I 



I. — Printed Compositions. 






Concerto for Flute with Or- 
chestra and Piano., G maj. 



La Sentinelle (Theme fav.) 



Andante and Polonaise," 
A maj. 

Diabelli & Co. 

> j 


Nel Cor Pitt. G maj. .. .. 



Pot pourri (Melodies Suisses), 
G maj. 

Aibl & Peters. 


Divertissement (Air de Carafa) 
also with Orch. G maj. 

Falter & Son. 


Concertante for Two Flutes 
(Orch.), D maj. 



Polonaise de Carafa, D maj. 

Falter & Son. 


Variations (Theme de Frey- 
schiitz), D maj. 



Divertissement (Theme de 
Rovelli), C maj. 



Divertissement (Deux Themes 
fav. Suisses), C maj. 



Rondo brillant with Orch., 
C maj. 

Falter & Son. 


Divertissement (Almenlied), 
C maj. 



Boehm and Ogden,* Fantaisie 
Cone, D maj. 



Cannot be found. 


Grand Polonaise, D maj. 


Variations on the March in 

Rossini's Moise, D maj. 


32 Etudes dans toutes les 



Waltz and Pot pourri. The 
Waltz on a Melody by 
Schubert, D maj. 




Variations (Swiss Boy), C maj. 


* Ogden was an English gentleman, the first who made himself 
familiar with the Boehm flute, and appeared as its patron. 







April 1852 

July 1852 

Oct 1852 




June 1858 

Jan. 1859 

March 1859 






















Fantaisie (Sehnsuchts-walzer) 

At? min. 
Vars. brill. Du, Du, E maj. .. 
Fantaisie sur des Themes 

Suisses, F min. 
Fantaisie sur des Airs Ecos., 

F maj. 
Fantaisie sur des Airs Ecos., 

C maj. 
24 Caprices-Etudes 
Andante by Mozart, C maj. 
Souvenirs des Alpes : 

No. 1. Andante Cantabile, 

Eb maj. 
No. 2. Rondo Allegretto, 

F maj. 
No. 3. Andantino Romance, 

D maj. 
No. 4. Rondo Allegretto, 

D maj. 
No. 5. Andante Pastorale, 

G maj. 
No. 6. Rondo Landler, 
E maj. 
Andante Cantabile, B maj. .. 
A la Tarantella, E min. 

Larghetto, A|? maj 

Rondo a la Mazurka, C maj. 
24 Etudes, 2 Suites avec Piano 
ou Flute Solo, B|? min. 

Fantaisie on a Motive by 
Hummel, Flute with Piano. 

Andante from Beethoven's 
Serenade, arranged for 
Flute, with Pianoforte Ac- 
companiment, G maj. 

Eldgie pour la • Flute avec 
Accompagnement de Piano 
ou d'Orchestre. 

Andante con Variazioni, G 







2 12 



II —Compositions of Celebrated Masters, 

Arranged for the Flute and Pianoforte, or, here and there, Har- 
monium. These Works being Arrangements only, Boehm did 
not give them an Opus - number. 









Cujus Animam, Rossini, Flute 

and Piano. 
Adagio, Beethoven, C maj. .. 
Adagio, Mozart. From the 

Pianoforte Sonata, Op. 16, 

B maj. 
Rondo - Andante, Mozart, 

A min. , 
Standchen, Song, Schubert, 

D min. 
The Fishermaiden, Schubert, 

D maj. 
Tre giorni. Air by Pergolesi, 

C min. 
Cantabile, by Vogler, for 

Pianoforte or Harmonium 

and Flute, D maj. 
Aria Cantabile, by J. S. Bach, 

for Pianoforte or Har- 
monium and Flute, D maj. 
Serenade, Beethoven, Op. 8, 

for Flute and Pianoforte, 

F maj. 
Romance, Beethoven, Op. 50, 

F maj. 
Variations, Haydn, "God 

Preserve the Emperor," for 

Pianoforte or Harmonium 

and Flute. 
Fantasia on a Motive in a 

Sonata by F. H. Himmel 
Air from Gluck's Orpheus, 

" Che faro," for Pianoforte 

and Flute. 






boehm's compositions. 485 

III. — Unprinted Compositions by Boehm, 

For the Alto Flute, or as Duetts and' Trios for Two Flutes in C and 
Alto Flute. 

For Alto Flute and Pianoforte. 

1. Beethoven, Sonata, Op. 17. The original for Horn and Piano- 

forte. F maj. 

2. Beethoven, Serenade, Op. 24. The original for Flute (?), Viola, 

and Cello. 

3. Beethoven, Adagio from a Pianoforte Concerto. Ab maj. 

4. Mozart, Sonata. Originally for Pianoforte and Violin. G maj. 

5. Mozart, Adagio. From the Clarinet Quintett. D maj. 

6. Mozart, Adagio. From a Pianoforte Sonata. B maj. 

7. Mozart, Rondo Andante, Op. 71. Originally for Pianoforte 


8. Haydn, Variations on " God Preserve the Emperor." Originally 

for String Quintett. 

9. Schubert, Song (Das Standchen), D min. 

10. Schubert, Song (Das Fischermadchen). A maj. 
n. Schubert, Song (Am Meer). C maj. 

12. Himmel, Rondo. From a Sonata originally for Flute and 

Pianoforte. G maj. 

13. Vogler, Adagio. From an Organ Prelude. D min. 

Duetts for C Flute and Alto Flute with Pianoforte 
A ccompaniment. 

14. Rossini, Duo (Soirees Musicales). A maj. 

15. Rossini, Duo (Soirdes Musicales). D maj. 

16. Weber, Romance. F maj. 

17. Weber, Andantino. C maj. 

18. Weber, Allegretto. C maj. 

Trios for two C Flutes and Alto Flute. 

19. Cantabile, Vogler (Organ Prelude). D maj. 

20. Beethoven Trio. Originally for two Oboes and Cor Anglais. 

F maj. 

For Soprano Voice and Alto Flute. 

21. Graduate, by Schiedermaier, with Latin words for Church use 

and German words with Pianoforte Accompaniment . C maj. 

22. Graduale, by Walter, for Alto Flute (Solo) with Vocal Quartett 

and two Violins, Tenor, Cello, and Double-bass. E maj. 



Abuse of language, an, 244 
Academic des Beaux-Arts, report 

of the, 64, H7, 138, 321, 324, 437 

des Sciences, the Boehm flute 

, brought before the, 51, 433 

Adam, Ad., 5 

Aibl, 384 

Air de Cour for four flutes, 216 

Airy, Sir George, 294-296 

Albert Hall, experiment in the, 14 - 

Allen, Mdme. Caradori, 436 

Alto flute, Boehm's, 3, 166, 311, 458 

compositions for, 485 

American reviewer, an, on Mr. 

Rockstro, 304 
Ananias, an, 287 
Angel of Truth, the, 242 
Angels playing a flute quartett, 

Antimonotonous, letter from, 345 
Apollo not identified with Mr. 

Rockstro, 288 
takes an unfair advantage of 

Marsyas, 204 
Apparition, appearance of an, 226 
Arts, the Society of, give Boehm a 

medal, 178, 439 
Asclepiades, his cure for deafness, 

Assandri, Mdlle., 435 
Attack, Coche's, on Boehm, 124, 141 
Attempts to improve the Boehm 

fingering, 12 
Auber, 5, 51, 61, 324, 433, 437 
Auletes, letter from, 340 

Authority burkes truth, 256 

Axle, Boehm's, for ring-key, 88, 90, 

adopted by Clinton and 

Pratten, 91 
Ayton, Miss Fanny, 400 

Backer, Casimir, 436 
Balaam, 200, 239 

a ride on his ass, 242 

Balfour, Mr. Henry, 261 
Baronet, Boehm's visit to a, 409 
Barret, M:, 401 
Bass flute, Beuker's, 74, 213 

MacGregor's, 75 

in Diderot and D'Alem- 

bert's Encyclopaedia, 75 
English, 207 

Bassoon, a Boehm, 7, 226 
Baumann, M., 401 
Beethoven, his op. 25 arranged by 
Boehm, 474 

his sonatas arranged by 

Scherrer, 449 

Beauty and the Beast, 191 

Bellamy, Mr., 400, 436 

Bennet, Sterndale, 454 

Bennett, Mr., 400 

Berlioz, a flute- player, 181 

a juror at the Exhibition of 

on the expression of the flute, 


his opinion of the serpent, 

4 88 


Berlioz fails to climb the pinnacle 

of absurdity, 181 
learns his bones for a new 

flute, 181 
Berr, 44, 123 

Berton, 117, 437 

his letter to Coche, 118 

extract frqm his letter to 

Coche, 468 

Beuker, bass flute by, 74, 213 

Bie, M., 44 

Billiard player, Boehm a, 478 

Bishop, Sir H., a juror at the Exhi- 
bition of 185 1, 454 

his report, 154-156 

Lady, 436 

Bisset, Miss E., 405 

Bleve, a ring-key on his clarionet, 
44, 268 

Blind beggar, the, his complaining 
flute, 258 

Boehm, Charles, 472, 477 

■ Joseph, 152 

Karl Frederick, 375 

Mary, 475, 477 

Ludwig, 348, 357, 477 

Theobald, jun., 478 

Wilhelm, 478 

Max, 478 

August, 478 

Otto, 478 

^ Theobald, portrait of, 373 

" his birth, 375 

date of his birth, 3 

: his jumping and walking, 


becomes Kapeller's pupil, 

his first appointment in 

an orchestra, 378 
his first Swiss tour, 


his duet with the musical- 

box maker's wife, 382 

Boehm, Theobald, his connection 

with Molique, 385 
-= visits England nine times, 

13- 274 

his visit to London in 

1 83 1, 8, 20, 190, 398 ; in 1833, 46, 
274, 418, 426 ; in 1834 and 1835, 
46, 278 ; in 1836, 130, 421, 435 ; 
in 1837, 48, 278 

his acquaintance with 

Nicholson, 10, 20, 405 
abandons the old finger- 

ing, 20 




his visit to a baronet, 

styled a tone artist, 386 
his playing described, 4, 

his singing on the flute, 

his phrasing, 350, 383 

his salary, 383, 385, 392, 


is pensioned, 440 

invents Kapeller's flute, 

attempts to improve the 

old flute, 20 
establishes a flute fac- 

tory, 19, 392 

his first model, 85, 206 

his flute of 1832, 104, 415, 

418, 240 ; of 1847, 8, 177, 294, 

439, 442 
makes a suggestion for a 

flute to be held straight, 177 
his flute in G, see Alto 



• his first ring-key, 24, 88, 

his ring-key of 1832, 
104, 240, 416 
invents a method of 

making steel, 178 



Boehm, Theobald, invents the over- 
strung pianoforte, 179 

invents a machine for 

driving the pins in musical boxes, 

invents a method of com- 

municating rotatory motion, 178, 


reads a paper before the 

Acaddmie des Sciences, 50 

introduces an improve- 

ment in iron puddling in Ger- 
many, 431 
receives the Order of St 

Michael, 431, 438 

his prize medals, 13, 178, 

181, 426, 439 
his rapidity of concep- 

tion, 194 

gives an inaccurate date, 

his letter to Coche, 129, 

speaks of Gordon to the 
author, 287 

calls Mr. Rockstro's per- 

70, 130 


fection humbug, 183 

as painted by Mr. Rock- 

stro, 183 

u must " have copied 

Gordon's flute, 180, 253 

takes " much " from Gor- 
don, 241 

could not have invented 

his flute, 180, 253 

is libelled, 195 

indictment of his libel- 

lers, 200 

called an impostor, 171 

as a pirate, 182 

why reviled, 185, 241, 


meets the Devil, 290 
sells his soul, 289 

Boehm, Theobald, suffers from 

cholera, 437 

injures his sight, 439 

is hurt by a fall, 476 

loses his front teeth, 472 

his golden wedding, 477 

his last composition, 475 

his death, 476 

his funeral, 478 

his constitution, 478 

his wife, 472, 477 

his family, 477 

his character, 478, 481 

plays chess and billiards, 

476, 478 

his arrangements, 474 

list of his compositions, 

— fingering, the, attributed to 

Gordon, 72, 152, 232 
to Satan, 289 


compared with Gordon's, 

attempts to improve, 12 

flute, the, 104 

invention of, 19 

its date disputed by Mr. 

Rockstro, 253 

said to be only playable 

in the key of C, 321, 337 

called Gordon's, 244 

an objection raised 

against, by Pask, 336 

given up by De Folly, 321 

laid aside by Frisch, 335 

— attacked by Jim Crow, 


seduces Mr. Rockstro, 


invented by the Devil, 289 

heard at a concert spi- 

rituel in 1832, 45, 253, 418 
Boehm's pamphlet, extracts from, 




Boehm's letter to Coche, 129, 145 

workman, see Greve" 

improvements, applicable to 

the hautboy, 6 
Boekhart, J., 208 
Boieldieu, 5 
Bond, an *mholy, execution of, 

Bore of the flute, how far scientific, 


Boehm's cylinder, 8, 439 

the old cylinder, 218 

the conical, introduced, 225 

Bore 'em flute, the, 325 
Botocudos, the, nose-flute players, 

Braham, 399 
Briccialdi, 12, 459 

1 his B flat key, 106, 448, 457 

Brizzi, 473 

Broadwood, Mr. Walter Stewart, 

180, 373, 422 
edits Boehm's pamphlet, 8, 

negatives the assertion 

that Boehm was an ignorant im- 
postor, 171 

is ignored by Mr. Rock- 

stro, 173, 256 

is not an expunger, 243 

his letter to the London 

Figaro, 155 
his letter to the Musical 

World, 159 
Broadwood's, 449 
Brod, M., 123 
Bruce, Miss, 399 
Buffet, Aug., jeune, 44, 268, 282 

his closed B flat key, 12 

applies to the flute 

clutches, sleeves, and needle- 
springs, 49, 240 

applies ring-keys to 

the clarionet and oboe, 50 

Buffet, Aug., his connection with 

Gordon, 174 
did work on Gordon's 

flute, 11 
joins Coche in a flute 

factory, 31, 55 
Bull, Ole, 436 
Burney, Dr., 219 

defends the serpent, 223 

on curing deafness by noise, 

Button, Gordon's, 175, 211 

Camus, 133, 321, 330 

brings a Boehm flute to Paris, 


his opinion of the Dorus key, 


vanquished by Coche, 63, in, 

Capeller, see Kapeller 

Carafa, 5, 61, 66, 324, 437 

Card attacked by Ward, 189, 339, 

his flute a part of Gerock and 

Wolfs, 200, 330 
Carte, Richard, 5, 14, 175, 196, 197, 

337, 452, 469 
Carte, Richard, his opinion of 

Boehm's work, 170 
improves the Boehm 

fingering, 12 

his G sharp key, 57 

his School for the Boehm 

Flute, 440, 459 
advocates the open G, 

44i, 4S9 

development of his flute 
of 1867, 246 
his patent flute, 452 

his Boehm clarionet, 7 

— — and Clinton adopt the Boehm 
flute, 48 



Caste in connection with the nose- 
flute, 260 
Catalani, 473 
Boehm plays at her concert, 

Cavaille*-Coll, 279 

his paper on Boehm's 

Schema, 306 

Centenary, Boehm's, celebration of, 

Character, Boehm's, 478, 481 
Charles Xth, King, 33 

Prince, death of, 472 

the celebrated, 65, 121, 302 

Cherubini, 5, 61, 324, 437 
Chess-player, Boehm a, 476, 478 
Chladni on the material of wind 

instruments, 363, 451 
Choral Fund Concert in 1831, 399 

, 1835,330 


Chouquet, M. Gustave, 40, 44, 213 
Clairvoyance, extraordinary, 197 
Clementi & Co., flute-makers for 

Nicholson, 332 " 
Clinton, J., 48, 241 
opposes the cylinder, 8 

denies the possibility of per- 
fection, 18 

adopts Gordon's axle, 91 

his flute at the exhibition of 

Clinton, J., his Equisonant flute, 

ascribes the open - keyed 

system to Gordon, 37 
equalisation of the 

holes to Gordon, 203, 276 

opposes the open-keyed 

system, 233 

his evidence on Boehm's visits 

to London, 277 

was he an accomplice in a 

fraudulent attempt ? 98 

Clinton defends Boehm, 93 

claims perfection, 302 

attacked for adopting the 

Boehm flute, 314, 318 

Ward's attack on, 329 

abused by Jim Crow, 341 

his letters to the Musical 

World, 316, 322 
his Essay on the Boehm Flute, 


his School for ditto, 92, 98 

Close, Mr., experiments of, 265 
Clutches patented by Buffet, 49 
Coche on the imperfections of the 

old flute, 5 

ascribes the origin of ring- 
keys to Gordon, 40 

his opinion of the Boehm 

flute, 52 

■ his pamphlet, 62 

his misleading engraving, 32, 

7 it 273 

modifications suggested by, 


his attack on Boehm, 124, 


writes to Gordon, 67, 125 

to Boehm, 52, 69, 125, 423 

his misleading title-page, 72, 


takes the crown of folly from 

an amateur, 181 

his errors exposed by Mr. 

Rockstro, 201, 203, 234 

was he acquainted with 

Gordon's announcement ? 284 

claims perfection, 301 

his School for the Flute, 71 

makes changes in Boehm's 

flute, 433 
his portrait painted by him- 
self, 109 
Codrington, Dr., 257 
Collard, Mr., 256 



Collins, James, 248 
Column of air, the, 126, 202, 297 
Compositions, List of Boehm's, 482 
Compunction, Mr. Rocksto's, 184 
Concert spirituel, Boehm flute 

played at a, in 1832, 253, 418 
Concerto, Boehm's, in G, 384 
Conjuror, a wonderful, 271 
Controversy, the Boehm-Gordon, 

Consumption, Boehm threatened 

with, 478 
Cook, Captain, set right, 266 
Cork, position of the, 16, 295 
Correr, Count Giovanni, 218 
Cort, his invention of puddling iron, 


Costa, Sir Michael, 5, 402 

Counterpoint, a Professor of, letter 
from, 345 

Cramer, F., 404, 405 

Miss, 400, 405 

Crank and wire system, Gordon's, 
38, 127, 280, 425 

priated by Ward, 187 

Crescent, Gordon's, 38, 126 

Pottgiesser's, 83, 267 

Crescentic E flat key, Ward's, 188 

Crime, Boehm confesses his, 183 

Crow, Jim, letter from, 341 

Crump on Stock Exchange Specu- 
lation, 303 

Culmination of the wretched metal 
flute, 192 

Curioni, Signor, 401 

Cylinder bore, Boehm's, 8, 294, 

is superseding the cone* 


its effect compared with 

the cone, 8, 14 
Cylindrical flute, keyless, 218 


D shake key, Boehm's, 27, 32, 126, 

271, 377 

Danchell, F. L. H., 427 

Davies, Mr., 403 

Dead lion kicking, 199 

Deafness, middle ear, 397 

De Begnis, Signor, 401, 402, 403, 

De Folly, 332, 342 

gives up the Boehm 

flute, 321 

Delia Torre, Signor, 401 

De Vroye, M., 299, 307 

Desnoyers, Thulart, & Co., 457 

Devil, the, meets Boehm, 290 

Diana, 304 

Diderot and D'Alembert's Encyclo- 
paedia, bass flute described in, 


Dipple, 342 

Disgust, Mr. Rockstro's, 193 

Division of the column of air, 126, 
202, 297 

Dog, Gordon's, 102 

Doras, 51, 73, 165, 319, 321, 323, 
324, 330, 432, 434. 459 

key, the, 56, 58 

Downes, 342 

Dragonetti, 436 

Drawing of Gordon's flute accord- 
ing to Coche, 11, 107, 273, 148 

an extraor- 
dinary production, 285 

Dream, Mr. Rockstro's, 255 

Drouet, 20, 30, 36, 129, 332, 338, 
389, 420, 438 

Dulken, Mdme., 401, 402 

Dulon, 201 

Dulong, 51, 61, 165,433 

Dunn, the Misses, 403 

Du Puy, Mdlle., 401, 403 



Earl's Court, Italian Exhibition at, 

Eight-keyed flute, figure of an, 204 
diagram of the holes 

of an, 205 
Elegies Boehm's, 475 
Ellis describes the nose-flute, 263 
Embouchure, Boehm's movable 

gold, 19, 377 

the heart of the flute, 296 

science fails to explain its 

action, 296 

Boehm's ideas on, 443, 297 

Mr. Rockstro's perfect, 297 

letter from, 339 

Endymion, 304 

Engel on whistling, 260 

England, introduction in, of the 

Boehm flute, 46 
Equalisation of the holes, 5, 203 
Equisonant flute, the, 91, 303 
Essay on the Construction of Flutes, 

Evidence suppressed, 275 
Examen critique, Coche's, 62, 71, 

423, 425 

extract from, 124, 284 

Excavation to receive the lower lip, 

126, 201 

used by Ribock, 201 

Exhibition of 185 1, flutes exhibited 

at the, 452 

■ jury at the, 454 

report of Sir H. Bishop, 

154. 156 

of 1855, 454 

report of Helmesberger, 


Fdtis, 154 

1862, report of Pole, 154 

Faber du Four, 439 

Falsehood imputed, 97, 182, 253, 

255, 274 
Falstaff, Sir J., outdone, 177 
Family coffee, Boehm's, 476 
Faraday, 292 
Faustus, Dr., 289 
Fdtis, 30, 133, 277 

his description of Boehm's 

playing, 4 

credits Boehm with invent- 
ing a pianoforte, 13, 179 

accepts Coche's statements, 


Schafhautl's strictures on, 423 

Figaro, obituary article on Boehm 

in the London, 152 
Filling the flute, 122 
Finger-holes, reformation of the, 

their position, how determined, 

16, 297 

defies calculation, 464 

Boehm's, placed closer together 

by Siccama, 211 

by Mr. Rockstro, 192 

most desirable size of the, 

Fingering, the Boehm, 290 
— — attributed to Gordon, 

23, 71, 232 

to Satan, 289 

attempts to improve, 12 

compared with Gordon's, 


of the nose-flute, 264 

Finn, Mr. John, 3 

Flute, the, an humble instrument, 


its peculiar expression, 258 . 

not an organ pipe, 463 

the old, defects of the, 5 



Flute, the old, Tulou's plea for, 28 

alto, 3,311,448,457 

bass, see Bass flute 

Gerock and Wolfs, 85 

— Gordon's, 88, 106 

the Boehm, 104 

principles of, 5 

—— date of its invention, 45, 


land, 47 

its introduction in Eng- 
in France, 49 

early one-keyed, 225 

nose, 257 

blind beggar's yellow, the, 


Quantz's, 229 
Siccama's diatonic, 208 
one-keyed, 210 

The Music 

the Bore 'em, 325 

— - Tulou's, 453 

Ziegler's, 456 

Flute - player from 

Master, 227 
Folz, Signor, 48 
Forster, Reinhold, 261 
France, introduction of the Boehm 

flute in, 49 
Frey, M., 133 
Frisch, 332, 338 
outplays the Boehm players, 


lays aside the Boehm flute, 335 

Frohnert, 448 
Funeral, Boehm's, 478 
Fvirstenau, A. B., 469 

Moritz, 469 

obliged to return to the 

old flute, 471 

G sharp key, Carte's, 56 
Denis's, 58 

G sharp key, Nolan's, 80 
should it be open or 

closed ? Opinion Of Boehm, 434, 


— ■ ■ Camus, 58 

— Carte, 56, 460 

Galileo, 256 

Gall, the Abbey of St., 215 

Gebaur, 123 

Gerock, 180 

and Wolf, 277, 319, 329, 33 2 » 

35 i 

' ■ their opinion of Boehm, 


their pamphlet, 196, 329 
extract from, 85, 

stro, i< 

date of, 199 

their flute, 85, 195, 206 
• attacked by Mr. Rock- 

construct Boehm's piano- 
forte, 180 
Giant, the, and the pigmy, 281 
Giant Killer, Jack the, 255 
Glen, Messrs. J. and R., 226 
Glide, Nicholson's, 321, 336 
Gluck, his air for the flute in Orfeo, 

Goddess, a, enamoured of Mr. 

Rockstro, 304 
Godefroy, 52, 113, 114, 441, 454 
Gordon, Captain, 330, 437 

makes experiments in 

1826, 10 ;.;; 

— — ■■ — — frequents Buffet's work- 
shop, 175 

anticipates Boehm in 

making an open - keyed flute, 
invents his flute in 1830, 


— his visit to London in 

1 831, 26^194 



Gordon, Captain, employs Rudall 

and Rose and Ward, 26 
his call on Boehm, 10, 

27, 130, 418 
writes to Boehm, 29, 70, 

95, 4i9 

— ■ his visit to Munich, 10, 

26, 127, 130, 249, 281 

the light of his intelli- 
gence shines on Boehm, 180, 


takes two keys from 

Boehm, 27, 126, 271 

rejects his system, why ? 

— — writes to Mercier, 30, 

132, 281 

goes from Munich to 

London, 13, 30, 128 

his ring-key, 10, 22, 24 

an adoption, 42 

— : — what it u must 

have been," 268 

his crank and wire 

system, 38, 127, 280 

his crescents, whence 

derived, 267 
his announcement, 30, 

99, 164, 281, 420 
did he leave Munich with 

two flutes ? 287 

his Eureka, 25 

his diatonic flute, 88 

his flute according to 

Coche, 106 

his signature, 103 

his King Charles's 

spaniel, 101 

cracks his flute, 13, 128 

was his flute useless ? 280 

his fingering and Boehm's 

compared, 233 
his insanity, 13, 31, 128, 

153, 421 

Gordon, Captain, throws his flute 
into Lake Leman, 131, 165, 422 

charged with falsehood 

by Mr. Rockstro, 255, 271 

becomes a Mephistophe- 

les, 289 

his death, 422 

his character, 32, 185 

Madame, her letter to Coche, 


her touching account 

of her husband, 34, 128 

Gordonites, the, 235 

creed of, 36 

Graz, Joseph, teaches Boehm com- 
position, 384 

Grenier, Frederick George, 427 

Grenser, 376 

Gresham, Lady, on Boehm's inter- 
pretation, 389, 473 

Greve*, Boehm's workman, 10, 27, 
30, 48, 128, 421, 437 


Haindl, 469 

HaleVy, 61, 66, 124, 324, 437 
Handel and the serpent, 222 
Hangman, the, cannot burn Mr. 

Radcliff's flute, 256 
Harmonicon, The, 20, 250, 274 
Harper, Mr., 436 
Haslinger introduces Boehm to 

Paganini, 393 
Head-joint, the, its influence on the 

3rd octave, 16 

Boehm's parabola, 8, 443 

of wood with metal flute, 459 

Helmesberger's report on Boehm's 

flute, 455 
Helmholtz, 296 
Henry le Jeune, 218 
Hercules, the logical, and his club 

" Must-be," 269 



Herschel, Sir J., 294 

Hipkins, Mr. A. J., 158 

— — his account of Boehm's piano- 
forte, 179 

Hobbs, Mr., 436 

Hodgkinson, Mr., 342, 347 

letter from, 332 

Holes, see Finger-holes 

Holy Ghost, the, scared away by 
whistling, 259 

Horsham, 409 

Hounsfield, Mr., 352 

Howling Stick, Old, 228, 341, 343 

letters from, 327, 

Hughes, Miss, 399 
Humanity of Mr. Rockstro, 204 
Humbug, Boehm's, 183 
Hummel's concert in 1831, 20, 249 


Iconoclast, a singular, 203 
Ignoratio elenchi, an, 270 
Indictment of Boehm's libellers, 

Injustice, Boehm's, 186 
Intonation of the flute, 15 
Invention of Carte's '67 flute, 245 
Inventions, their origin difficult to 

discover, 245 

Boehm's remarks on, 248 

Iron foundries, the English, 428 
Isenschmied, Dr., 441, 475 
Italian school of singing, 391, 473 
Ivory on one-keyed flutes, 225 

Jacobite, Gordon a, 102 

James on Nicholson's tone, 333 

Jeannet and Cotelle, 30 

Judge, the, and the prosecutor, 241 

Jumping, Boehm's, 375, 391 

Jupiter, 245 

Justice to. Gordon, 185 


Kapeller teaches Boehm, 376 

his flute the invention of 

Boehm, 377 

his shake key, 271, 377 

Kelsall, Dr., perpetrates the crown- 
ing folly, 181 

letter from, 339 

Keys, closed, their tale, 213 

open, origin of, 231 

ring, see Ring-keys 

King Charles's spaniel, Gordon's, 

Klosd's clarinet, 7, 50 

Knyvett, Miss, 436 

Kriiger, Charles, 371 


Labarre, Mons., 402 
Lablache, 402, 436, 473 
Lalande, Mdme., 401 
Lambert's Voyage of the Wanderer, 

Laomedon, 205 
Laurent, 131, 133 
Lausanne, 29, 67, 102 
Lavigne, his Boehm oboe, 7, 457 
Lee, Leoni, 436 
Lefevre, 44 
Lemoine, M., 133 
Letters : from 

Coche to Boehm, in English, 
112, 115 ; in French, 133, 
(presumably) Camus to Boehm, 

in English, 114, 135 
Gordon to Boehm, in French, 

95 ; in English, 419 
to Mercier, 132, 147 



Letters : from 

Madame Gordon to Coche, 
127, 143 

Boehm to Coche, 129, 145 

Mr. W. S. Broadwood to the 
London Figaro, 155 

to the Musical 

World, 159 
Letters to the Musical World, 314 : 

J. Clinton, 316 

T, Prowse, 319 

J. Clinton, 32Z 

Flauto, 325 

Old Howling Stick, 326 

Omega, 327 

T. Prowse, 328 

C. Ward, 329 

W. C. Hodgkinson, 332 

John Pask, 334 

Old Howling Stick, 338 

Embouchure, 339 

H. Kelsall, M.D., 339 

Auletes, 340 

Jim Crow, 341 

E. N. F., 343 

Obadiah, 344 

Antimonotonous, 345 

A Professor of Counterpoint, 

Lessing, 481 
Libellers of Boehm, the, 195 

trial of the, 200 

Lindley, 404, 436 
Lindpaintner, 378 
Litigation, Schafhautl's pianoforte 

in, 46, 427 
Logic, dangers of, 242 
Lord, an English, takes a fancy to 

Boehm, 384 
Lot, 440, 441, 454, 457 
Louvre, capture of the, 33 


Mahillon, M. Victor, 213, 293, 307 

ignored by Mr. Rockstro, 


on Boehm's Schema, 299 

his article on Transverse Flute 

in the Encyclopedia Britannica, 
230, 263 
Malibran, 473 
Manby, 355 
Marmont, 33 

Marquesas, nose-flute in the, 263 
Marshall, Edward, and the metal 

flute, 293 
Marsyas, 288 

unfairly treated by Apollo, 204 

Masson, Miss, 402, 404, 405, 436 
Material of flutes as affecting the 

tone, 293, 363, 4$o 
Mauleverers, the, 23$ 
Maximilian Joseph, King of Ba- 
varia, 375, 471 

his partiality to Boehm, 

380, 385 
Mayseder, 386 

his jealousy of Paganini, 392 

Medals, Boehm's, 13, 178, 425 

' — tell against the jurors, 

Melanesia, nose-flute in, 257 
Melville's account of the nose-flute, 

Mendler, 454 
Mercier, M., 30, 28 1, 282 

Gordon's letter to, 132 

Mersenne, 218 

his account of the Sourdeline, 

— ~- his suggestions for bass flutes, 

his proposal to apply closed 

keys to the flute, 223 
his flute organ, 223 

2 K 

49 8 


Metal flutes, 192 

Miller, his patent fifes, 276 

Herman, writes verses on the 

Boehm flute, 449 
Mills, Mr. W. P., 4, 373, 472 
Minasi, 342 
Minerva, 245 
Mitterer, Professor, 375 
Model, Boehm's first, 85, 196 

Mr. Collard's, 256 

Mr. Radcliff s, 256 

the Rockstro, 182, 193 

Models, Boehm makes three, 24, 

Modifications, Coche's, 55 
Molique, Bernhard, 258 

gives concerts with 

Boehm, 385 

Monochord, the, not applicable to 

the flute, 186, 202, 243, 463 
Morah's concert, 20 
Mori, Mr., 402 
Moscheles, 399 

his concert, 20, 404 

Mozart, 415 

his andante for flute, 474 

— his larghetto from the clario- 
net quintett, 475 

"Much" taken by Boehm from 

Gordon, 241 
Muller, Ivan, 126, 142 
Murder by flute-players, 219 
Music Master, The, flute-player 

from, 227 
Musical boxes, 380 
Musical World, letters to the, 159, 

Myth, the Boehm-Gordon incident 
becomes a, 288 


Napoleon, 375, 380 
Prince, 426, 455 

Needle springs, sec Springs 
Newcastle Street, Strand, Gordon's 

address there, 30, 132, 147 
Nicholson, Charles, 231, 327, 328, 

334» 347 
Boehm's description of, 


his tone, 161, 333, 403 

his shake in the Ov. to 

William Tell, 5 
his large holes, 20, 161, 


his glide, 321, 336 
objects to " roaring," 257 
Boehm's introduction to, 


flute, the, 334, 341 

Nicholson's father enlarges the 

holes, 20 
Nicholsonian effect, the, 9 
Noblet and Thibouville, 457 
Nolan, Dr., his ring-key, 79, 236 

why it failed, 239 

extract from the specifi- 
cation of his patent, 81 

a distinguished divine, 

Nose-flute, the, where played, 257 

its origin discussed, 257 

its tone, 258, 262 

its tuning-slide, 262 

its acoustic puzzle, 264 

figure of girl playing, 267 

Nussbaum's advice to the con- 
sumptive, 479 


Obadiah, letter from, 344 
Oboe, the Boehm, 7, 448, 457 
Octopus, a gigantic, 182 
Old England Club, the, 361 
Old Gentleman, Boehm swindled 
by the, 289 



Old Howling Stick, see Howling 

Omega, letter from, 327 
Open-keyed system, the, 5 

by whom originated, 231 

Clinton's opinion of, 233 

Organ pipe, an, differs from a flute, 

Organ pipes, experiments with, 363 
Overstrung pianoforte, the, invented 

by Boehm, 47, 179 


Paer, 51, 61, 113, 124, 301, 324, 433 

Paccini, 133, 147 

Paganini, 392 

Boehm introduced to, 393 

Pall,a, thrown over Mr.Radcliff, 256 

Pamphlet, Coche's, 62 

extract from Boehm's, 20, 149 

from Coche's, 124, 141 

Parry, Mr., jun., 399, 405 

Pask, J., 339 

letter from, 334 

Passports, Boehm's, 278 

Pasta, 402, 473 

Patent Office, early ring-key found 
at the, 45, 235 

PeUisov, 251, 351 

Perforated key, Nolan's, 79 

Perfection, impossibility of attain- 
ing, 16 

remarks on, by Clinton, 18 

the ghost of, frightens the 

flute-makers, 226 

cannot be silenced, 230 

a will-o'-the-wisp, 301 

Coche's, 301 

Siccama's, 17, 302 

Clinton's, 303 

Mr. Rockstro's, 193, 303 

— — called humbug by 

Boehm, 183 

Pfaff, 454 

Philharmonic concert, Boehm plays 
at a, 20 

Phillips, Mr., 400 

Pianoforte, Boehm's improvements 
in the, 179, 277 

Schafhautl's, 427 

Pillaut, M., 213 

Pillory, Mr. Radcliff cannot be put 
into the, 256 

Pitt-Rivers Collection, nose-flutes 
in the, 257 

Pirate, Boehm as a, 182 

Pleyel, M., 133, 147 

Poachers in Mr. Rockstro's pre- 
serves, 176 

Pohlman, Herr, 179 

Poissl, Baron von, 393, 408 

Polynesian Researches, Ellis's, de- 
scription of nose-flute from, 263 

Portrait of Coche, retouched and 
varnished, 109 

(miniature) of an ignorant 

impostor, 209 

of Boehmj by Mr. Rockstro, 


Pottgiesser, Dr., 188 

equalises the holes, 203 

his key, 83, 268 

Potter, Cypriani, 454 

Mr. Henry, 91 

Pratten adopts Siccama's flute, 210 

his perfected flute, 91, 211 

Prescott, 448 

Prize medals, Boehm's, 181, 454 

Programme of choral fund con- 
cert, 399 

concert for an author, 404 

Madame Dulken's con- 

cert, 402 

cert, 435 

a morning concert, 403 
Moscheles' concert, 404 
new musical fund con- 



Prony, 165, 433 

Prowse, T., his letters to the 
Musical World, 319, 328 

Puddling iron, Schafhautl's appa- 
ratus for, 354 

Puddle-master, Boehm becomes a, 

Puzzi, Signor, 402, 404, 405 
Mdme., 404, 405 


Quantz's key for the flute, 229, 413 
Quartett, flute, music of a, from 

Mersenne, 216 
Quincy, Quatremere de, 124, 141, 



Radcliff, Mr., adopts the closed G, 

12,56,59. "9 

his experiment in the 

Albert Hall, 14 

ignored by Mr. Rockstro, 

Rafi, 218 

Ravilius, Jean Baptiste, 221 
Rayleigh, Lord, 294, 296, 362 
Record Office, the, 238 
Reich,. Dr. Emil, 373, 374 
Remusat, 449 
Report of the French Academy of 

Fine Arts, 63, 120 
Revelation, Gordon's, 24 

Mr. Rockstro's, 99 

Ribas, 332 

Ribock attempts a reformation of 

the holes, 203 
■ his excavation for the lower 

lip, 126, 201 
Richardson, 87, 210, 334, 338, 342 
Ring-key, Gordon's, 10, 24 
a borrowed idea, 42 

Ring-key, Gordon's, discarded for 

Boehm's, 25 
— — what it " must have 

been," 268 

Nolan's, 79, 237 

— Pottgiesser's, 83 

— of Boehm's first model, 

Ring-keys, search for early, 44, 235 

— origin of, 39, 235 

Schafhautl's account of, 

Rockstro, Mr. R. S., 176, 197, 204, 

209, 241, 266, 268, 281, 283, 288, 

his evidence on the 

charges brought against Boehm, 

201, 203, 231 

his opinion of the origin 

of the ring-key, 237 

a sample of his method 

of writing history, 98 

his modus operandi, 256 

on the connection be- 

tween science and flute-making, 
294, 297, 298 

ignores Mr. Broadwood 

and the Author, 173 

M. Victor Mahillon, 

Mr. Radcliff, and Mr. Collard, 

his disinterested witness, 


his attack on Gerock and 
Wolfs flute, 197 

his dream, 255, 408 

— - his seduction, 191 

1- his disgust, 193 

his compunction, 184 

his idol, 1 10, 203 

has recourse to logic, 


imputes falsehood, 97, 

182, 253, 255, 274 



Rockstro, Mr. R. S., suppresses 

evidence, 275 
his story falls to the 

ground, 274 

his flattering compliment 

to the Author, 198 

his skill as a conjuror, 27 1 

his F sharp lever, 173, 

174, 176, 212 
his crescentic E flat key, 

188, 192 
Rohrleitner, Frau Anna, Boehm's 

wife, 477 
Rotatory motion, Boehm's method 

of communicating, 178, 438 
Rovelli, 385, 386 
Royal (Creed), 342 
Rubini, 402, 404, 405, 436 
Rudall, George, 405 
his opinion of Boehm's 

metal flute, 192, 452 

Carte, & Co., 12 

their Boehm clario- 

net, 7 

— the position of their 

finger-holes, 297 
Rudall and Rose, 3i5>3 l8 >325,4°5> 

440, 448, 452, 457 
attacked by Ward, 189, 



Sackbut, the, 222 

St. Michael, the Order of, conferred 
on Boehm, 431, 439 

Salary, Boehm's, 383, 385, 392, 408, 

Santini, 401, 402, 4°3 5 4°4 

Satan, his connection with whist- 
ling, 260 

the Boehm fingering attributed 

to, 289 

Sauvlet's Souvenir du Volga, 450 

Savart, 18, 50, 61, 64, 162, 165, 432 

Saynor, 342 

Scaramelli, his wager, 441 
Schafhautl, Dr., 36, 250, 251, 287 
— — makes Boehm's acquaintance, 

35o> 396 
his ideas on the construction 

of the pianoforte, 396, 427 
his invention in litigation, 46, 


his visit to England, 46,35 2, 428 

his patents, 353, 354, 356 

his returns to Munich, 357 

his many appointments, 359 

his death, 361 

his honours, 360 

his inaccuracy, 362 

his lively imagination, 418 

singular affection of his visual 

organs, 425 
his paper in defence of Boehm, 


his Life of Boehm, 374 

Schema, Boehm's, 16 

not used by flute-makers, 297 

Cavailld-Coll's paper on, 306 

conflicting opinions respecting, 

Scherrer, W., his enthusiastic letter 

to Boehm, 449 
Schiller's Philosophers, 466 
Schlesinger, 133, 147 
Schulze, organ-builder, 369 
Science and the art of flute-making, 

292, 462 

and the material of the flute, 

293, 363 

and the bore, 294 

' and the position of the stop- 
per, 295 

and the embouchure, 296 

and the position of the finger- 
holes, 297 

and the construction of the 

violin, 465 



Science, the flute-maker's, yet un- 
born, 301 

Rockstro, genuine, 191 

Secret letter, Coche's, to Boehm, 
52, 112 

Seduction, a case of, 190 

Serpent, the, 222 

Sessi, 473 

Siccama claims perfect intonation, 

17, 302 

takes a key from Boehm's 

first model, 91, 208 

attacked by Mr. Rockstro, 

209, 302, 305 

his diatonic flute, 208 

his one-keyed flute, 21c 

brings the holes nearer to- 
gether, 211 
commits the unpardonable sin, 

2\ I 

Sight, Boehm's, injured, 439 
Silver versus wood, 192, 293, 451 
Sinclair, Mr., 400 
Singing, Boehm's, on the flute, 389, 

Sleeves, the, patented by Buffet, 49 

— attributed to Boehm, 447 

Smart, Sir George, 405, 454 
Smelting furnaces, 429 
Smith, Mr. Hermann, 296 
Smithfield, the fires of, cannot be 

relighted for the author and 

others, 256 
Snoeck, M. C<*sare, 208, 225 
Society of Arts, the, give Boehm a 

medal, 178, 439 
Solitary error, Coche's, 377, no 
Sommering employs Boehm to 

articulate skeletons, 376 
Sons pleins, 9 
Sourdeline, the, 219 
Spencer, Mr. George, 245 
Springs, needle, patented by Buffet, 


Springs, needle, attributed to 

Boehm, 447 
Spohr, 386 

Steed, Mr. Rockstro's logical, 242 
Steel, Boehm invents a method of 

making, 178 
Stettmair, 461 
Steiner, 466 
Stockhausen, Mr., 403 

Mdme., 399, 403 

Stopper, position of the, 16, 295 

Style, Boehm's, 386 

Sussex; the Duke of, 439 

Swiss Boy, Boehm's, 319, 330, 332 

Guards, the, seized with panic, 

Switzerland, Boehm's visits to, 380, 

39i. 476 

Tablature, Gordon's, 101, 273, 281 
Tamburini, Sig., 435, 473 
Teeth, the lower front, 202 

false, 472 

Temptation and fall of Boehm, 289 

of Mr. Rockstro, 191 

Terrail, Mr., 400 
Terschak's prayer, 228 
Thalberg, 454 
Theodor, Karl, 374 
Thibouville and HeYouard, 457 
Thrashing the flute, 9 
Tolbecque, A., 401, 403 
Tone of cylinder flute, 8 

of nose-flute, 262 

Nicholson's, 9, 20, 333, 406 

" horny," 259 

how far influenced by the 

material of the flute, 293, 363, 450 

artist, Boehm a, 388 

Tonga Islands, 260, 266 
Tonkunstler, Der Bayrische, 403 
Tootapah's nose-flute concert, 262 



Torn, Signor, 403 

Transmission apparatus, Boehm's, 

Transverse flute, article on, by 
Mahillon, in the Encyclopadia 
Britannica, 230, 263 

Tree of Knowledge, raid on the, 267 

Treichlinger, Herr, 251 

Triebert and Co., 458 

Triggs, Mr. J. P., 159, 297 

Tromlitz, 203, 231, 235 

Trumpet of wood, 293 

lead, 372 

paste-board, 372 

Trumpeter, a superior, 468 

Tull, 342 

Tulou, 96, 119, 129, 321, 332, 438 

extract from the introduction 

to his method, 40 

objects to a change of finger- 
ing, 97 

to the Siccama flute, 453 

pleads for the old flute, 28 

engraving of his improved 

flute, 453 

Tuning-slide for nose-flute, 262 

Turpin, Dr., 218 

Tylor, Dr., on the origin of the 
nose-flute, 261 

Tyndall, Dr., 292 

Ulysses, 255 



Vaughan, Mr., 400 

Velutti, 473 

Venice, Boehm plays at, 393 

Vercellini, Signor, 403 

Vienna, Boehm visits, 385, 392 

Violin, the, not the production of 

science, 465 
Vision, Mr. Rockstro's, 408 

Visits, Boehm's, to England, see 

Vivo, the, 263 
Vogler, the Abbe", 370 
Vulcan, 245 


Wager, Scaramelli's, 442 

offered on Ward's flute, 340 

Wagstaff, Miss, 436 

Walckiers on the characteristics of 

the flute, 258 . 
Wanderer, Voyage of the, 266 
Ward, Cornelius, 339 
on the faults of the old 

flute, 21, 205 

■makes a flute for Gordon, 

26, 194 

his account of an early 

remodelled flute, 43 

his opinion of Gordon, 34 

adopts Gordon's crank 

and wire mechanism, 38, 195 
Boehm's ring-key, 


appropriates inventions, 

past, present, and future, 188' 

— deserted by Mr. Rockstro, 

— as a disinterested witness, 
185, 315 

— as Boehm's superior, 189, 468 

— Mr. Rockstro's discovery of 
his secret, 200 

— his crescentic E flat key, 188 

— his letter to the Musical 
World, 329 

— his flute dies a natural death, 


his attack on Boehm, 186, 466 
on Rudall and Rose, 

Card and Clinton, 189, 315 
Schafhautl's opinion of, 469 



Waterfall, an upward, 333 
Weber, Gottfried, his C key, 84 
Weber's account of Kapeller's flute, 

Weiner, Eugen, 480 
Wells, Mr. B., 245 
Whistling a wicked practice, 259 
William, Mr., 400 
Williams's Fiji and the Fijians, 

figure from, 267 
Willis, Dr., his case of deafness 

relieved by drumming, 398 
Winter, Peter, assisted by Boehm 

to illustrate his Life of Christ, 


Wittgenstein, Betty, 480 

Wolf, cry of, raised by Coche, 32 

Wolf, Robert, 329, 330, 196 

" his patent sounding-body 

for the pianoforte, 46, 427 
Wolves, Boehm pursued by, 195 
Wood versus silver, see Silver 
Word-blindness, an instance of, 424 
Workman, Boehm's, see Grave* 
Wretched flutes, Boehm's, 192 
Wylde, Dr., 454 


Ziegler's flutes, 456 


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