August 2009 Convention
New York, NY

Extra Credit: The Tour of the Met’s Flute Collection

I sped over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a 2:30 presentation by Herbert Heyde, a member of the curatorial staff for musical instruments and an eminent scholar and recipient of the Curt Sachs award from the American Musical Instrument Society. Heyde displayed and explained the significance of a wide variety of the museum’s flute holdings from the early 18th century through the innovations of Theobald Böhm. Distinctive among the ancient instruments was a flute/oboe walking stick fashioned from the tusk of a narwhal. The instrument is believed to have belonged to Frederick the Great. This walking-stick flute functions as a flute when playing on one end and as an oboe when a reed is attached to the opposite end. The one silver key can be removed and turned in the opposite direction to serve one instrument or the other. Heyde described the simple system era and criticisms of the modern Böhm flute by flutist Maximilian Schwedler, who believed that variety and personal expression had been compromised with its development. Several examples of flutes manufactured by Böhm were shown.

—Wendell Dobbs

(Editor’s note: This museum tour was not an NFA convention event.)