Clare BeesleyHistorical flautistmenu


Rudall Rose

I was very fortunate to acquire this Rudall Rose, Nr 864 (c.1820) from Dr Sylvia Kewish who, in turn, had triumphantly intercepted its path to the refuse collection. It showed the signs of wear and tear with a long crack (still visible) along the head-joint, and evidently some of the key mounts had been knocked off and hastily glued back again. Yet, it was such an intriguing instrument, and after it was lovingly restored by Arthur Haswell it now begins to sing again. It has a very gentle voice and intonation remains a voyage of discovery. Searching for a simple piece to help get to know the instrument, I came across Hoffmeister’s setting of an unknown theme and variations which seemed to suit the flute’s character rather well (Listen here).

Having recently acquired a copy of Charles Nicholson's "Beauties for the Flute" (and given the circumstances of 2020), I thought his variations on "Life Let Us Cherish" provided another fitting sound sample for this 200 year old instrument. You can listen here.

Boosey & Co.

A relative found this Boosey and Co instrument when clearing out the attic! Who played it or in which musical setting it was used is unknown, but it's a beautiful flute. It's an R. S. Pratten's Perfected model, serial number 8819 9754, crafted in the Boosey workshop at 24 Holles Street, London. According to Langwill, this address was in use from 1864-1874.

It was first inspected, cleaned and pads were removed by Karl Pfretzschner and some years later repadded by Stephen Wessel. Arthur Haswell has also helped with adjustments to the key work.

It plays on the high-side of Old Philharmonic Pitch, at A = c.456. You can listen to some short sound samples here from Langey's Practical Tutor (1889), Drouet's Study no. 51 from 72 Studies on Taste and Style and Andersen's Study no. 6 from 26 Little Caprices, Op.37.

Rudall Carte

My search for a characterful wooden Boehm instrument at (almost!) modern pitch led me to the Penrith workshop of Arthur Haswell and to his lovingly restored flutes. This 1925 cocus wood Rudall Carte with silver keys, (number 6729), boasts a delightful Brosser F sharp, whilst the headjoint has an ebonite lip-plate thought to enhance articulation clarity. Robert Bigio generously supplied further information about the flute's origins from the Rudall Carte company ledgers. Catalogued on 7th March 1925 and recorded as "low pitch" (i.e New Philharmonic Pitch  A=439Hz, as opposed to Old Philharmonic Pitch of A=452Hz), it took over a year to sell, purchased on 18th August 1926 for £36 by J. Davies of Liverpool.