Call Us: 020 8662 8400
Planning on visiting us? Please book an appointment prior to travelling.
** Royal Mail strike action will cause delays from 24th November. If you require your order urgently please select an alternative shipping carrier **

Readings in the History of the Flute

Edited by Robert Bigio
You currently have cookies turned off in your browser. You won't be able to place an order until you turn them back on.
  • Staff Pick

Staff Pick

“Don't judge a book by it's cover!”

Chris Hankin Just Flutes staff member - [email protected]

The very splendid cover photo of Charles Nicholson would seem to indicate that this is a book full of heavy-weight articles about the flute from nineteenth century London. And indeed it is. It also contains enough gossip, satire and genuinely funny material to fill a copy of 'Hello' magazine. 'One man in ten' seemed to have played the flute at that time so the interest in it appears insatiable. This is the age of the development of the Boehm flute and the stand-off between its advocates and the opposition verges at times on the vitriolic. Famous names grace the pages: Nicholson, Richard Carte, John Clinton, and W.N James are all represented and the amount print generated by them and others is extraordinary. The miscellaneous articles are even more entertaining. Turn to page 53 for hillarious advice from 'Mr C Sharp' to 'Mr Phunniwistl' on how to play a flute solo. The second part of the book contains the long articles about flute construction including onr by Boehm himself complete with diagrams. All of this was overwhelming to some at the time. Here is Mr Anti Monotonous writing in the Musical World in 1843:

'I am rather suprised that you should allow so much space in your valuable work to be occupied with a discussion on the 'Boehm Flute' which seems interminable and can lead to no good.'

You will learn a lot from this book but you will laugh a lot too.

From the Publisher

Monographs, essays, reviews, letters and advertisements from nineteenth-century London. Selected and edited with an introduction by Robert Bigio.

It was estimated in 1829 that one man in ten in London played the flute. Players, teachers, composers and makers competed for their share of the vast market for anything to do with the flute. Much of the published history of the flute in the nineteenth century is based on the works in this collection, which includes descriptions of newly-invented flutes, arguments about their relative merits and some extraordinary battles between rival makers and players.

This collection contains the full texts of these most important nineteenth-century works on the flute.

With a Miscellany of essays, letters, reviews and advertisements from the daily press and from musical journals plus personal letters from George Rudall and John Clinton to Theobald Böhm: George Hogarth on the flute;  Philo-Flauto; Letter from an amateur flute player; Charles Nicholson appointed Flutist to the King; The death of Nicholson; Bucher and Boehm; Richardson and Card; ‘My Dear Phunniwistl’; The Paris Conservatoire and the Boehm flute; Prowse and the Nicholson flute; On the Tone of the Flute; Monzani and Wylde; Flute-mania; Hodgkinson; Review of Clinton’s Boehm flute tutor; Carte’s advertisement; Card’s advertisement; crostic on Richardson’s name; The Boehm flute controversy; Advertisements by Prowse, Ward and Clinton; More Boehm flute controversy; Review of Carte’s Boehm flute tutor; ‘To Make a Flute Solo’; Clinton’s letter to Boehm; Siccama’s advertisement; Carte’s advertisement; Rudall’s letter to Boehm; Carte and the metal Boehm flute in Newcastle; Madame Dulcken and Mr. Carte; Richardson and Pratten; The flute controversy continues; Card’s Melodion; The Great Exhibition; Review of Clinton’s Practical Hints;  Clinton and Carte caution flute players in advertisements in The Times.


  • Charles Nicholson “A Word or Two” to Mr. W. N. James (1829)
  • W. N. James Mr. James’s Answer to Mr. Nicholson (1829)
  • William Annand A Few Words on the Flute (1843)
  • Cornelius Ward The Flute Explained (1844)
  • John Clinton A Treatise Upon the Mechanism and General Principles of the Flute (1851)
  • Richard Carte Sketch of the Successive Improvements made in the Flute (1851)
  • John Clinton A Few Practical Hints to Flute Players (1855)
  • T. C. Skeffington “The Flute” in its Transition State (1862)
  • Theobald Böhm Essay on the Construction of Flutes (1847, first published in 1882 with notes by W. S. Broadwood)


Item Details

Category: Flute Reference Books
Publisher: Tony Bingham Edition
Publisher's reference: 1957
Our Stock Code: 927734
Media Type: Paperback (368 pages [score])