After making his own flute, he quickly became proficient enough to play in an orchestra at the age of seventeen, and at twenty-one he was first flautist in the Royal Bavarian Orchestra. After studying acoustics at the University of Munich , he began experimenting on improving the flute in , first patenting his new fingering system in For example, in The Flute and Flute-Playing he recounts having made a flute with moveable tone holes, in order to determine the proper location of each hole for correct intonation -- a remarkable piece of metal-working. Traditional flutes were limited in size because the player had to be able to reach all the tone holes in the span of two hands.
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Theobald Boehm — Romantic Composer. Part 1: The Original Works. His work creating the and model flutes is well documented, not least in his book The Flute and Flute Playing, as well as in numerous texts dealing with the history and development of the flute. Born in Munich in , Boehm was the son of a jeweller, and worked in the family business from the age of Here he demonstrated a talent for his work, and developed skills which would be invaluable in his later work as a flute maker.
He began to learn the flute at the age of Two years later, his teacher, Johann Nepomuk Kapeller, declared he had taught him all he could, and Boehm began his orchestral career, first with the Royal Isartortheaters and, from with the Royal Court Orchestra in Munich, which was one of the leading orchestras of the time.
He was principal flute there from He was regarded as one of the best flute players in Germany and enjoyed a successful career which took him on tours throughout Europe. He opened his first flute-making workshop in at the age of 34, having built his first flute 18 years before. From he held a workshop with Rudolph Greve, and from with Karl Mendler. His model flute had a conical bore and ring keys, while the model returned to a cylindrical bore with a tapered heard joint, and had improved acoustical positions for the tone holes.
His flutes demonstrate the highest quality craftsmanship, and around instruments made by Boehm and his associates still exist today. He also invented a telescope for locating fires in His complete compositional output includes 37 works with opus numbers, and a further 54 unnumbered works, including 26 arrangements for alto flute.
Given this success, it is perhaps surprising that only a handful of his works are well known today. These include the Grande Polonaise, Variations on Nel Cor Piu, Variations on a Waltz by Schubert and some of the arrangements for alto flute, which were thought to have been lost until relatively recently.
However, a surge in interest in virtuoso Romantic repertoire, combined with the release of the complete Boehm edition means that the works are once more available to be explored by the current generation of flute players.
This work has enabled him to relocate manuscripts of scores, letters and other documentation, as well as to locate the remaining flutes made by Boehm and his associates. From the first glance, it becomes clear that Boehm had enormous technical facility, with virtuoso passagework, wide intervallic leaps and detailed articulations featuring in almost every work.
The melodic writing, too, shows that it is highly likely that Boehm had a good tone and an instinct for phrasing. The 37 numbered works with just Opus 15 still lost show a fascinating chronology of flute history.
Opus become all the more spectacular once it becomes known that they were written for the simple system conical wood flute. These pieces include the variations on Nel Cor Pui, a number of fantasies and variations, and the challenging Grande Polonaise. These are demanding works, both in terms of duration many of them are over ten minutes long and technique, and are stylistically aligned with the salon music that was popular at the time.
Boehm Flute, Opus were written for the first Boehm flute, the ring keyed model above. It is perhaps unsurprising that the first pieces he wrote for this flute were the op. These were written in when the new flute was in development, and it is thought that Boehm composed the works for his students to help them adapt to the new fingering system.
There is more evidence of chromaticism, and more challenging key signatures also appear; for example, the introduction of the Variations on a waltz by Schubert op 21, written in begins with a key signature of seven flats, before moving to B major.
There is evidence of confidence in a wide range of challenging keys, and the full range of the instrument is used with a sense of flair and evenness of projection. The opus 26 Caprices are now staples of the repertoire and provide excellent material for developing even finger work in each key. First published in , they have been made available in numerous editions around the world.
The Richault edition, published in Paris in the same year, is dedicated to amateurs of the flute. One more set of etudes is included in the complete works of Boehm. Opus 37, a set of 24 Etudes for flute and piano, is the last of the works to have been given an opus number, and was written in , the year Boehm invented the alto flute. Two of these studies number 2 and 11 also exist in arrangements made for the alto.
Carla plays Kingma System flutes, and has had several hundred works written for her to date. She also works as a professional photographer.
24 Caprices-etudes, Op.26 (Boehm, Theobald)