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Flute Lovers Lunch Toff

by Barbra Fairman

The speaker for this year’s Flute Lovers Luncheon was Nancy Toff, flute historian and archivist with the National Flute Association, and was titled “Nancy Drew and the Case of the New York Flutists.” Toff introduced the presentation with an explanation of the title—and of the pin she was wearing, which depicted the famous teen detective’s silhouette logo. Toff noted that Samuel Baron had given her the nickname of Nancy Drew after she had tracked down many students who had studied with Georges Barrère at the Juilliard School of Music but whose names were missing from the school’s alumni records.

Toff discussed some of her recent discoveries of unknown backgrounds of several people, among them Lucy Gates, who shared the same manager as Barrère and was a granddaughter of Brigham Young, and David Ehrlich, who not only wrote a book about the flute but was a flute dealer in New York City. “Mrs. Eliot Henderson” was the first vice president of the New York Flute Club and the only woman to be included in a set of 600 portrait cards of flutists and composers published in 1906. Mrs. Henderson also wrote that playing the flute was a great aerobic exercise for women.

At the end of the talk, Toff encouraged people not only to do their own searches, but—like Nancy Drew—to always involve friends in those searches. As she noted, you never know what “clues” they might be able to help with.


Flute Lovers Lunch Toff photo by Barbra Fairman IMG_2331



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