From the Archives of Krone Museum – Famed Recorder Artist Pays Visit

January 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm Leave a comment

From: Sydney Cosselman, Krone Museum Director

An interesting excerpt from a story printed in the Town Crier on August 31, 1962 – another piece of ISOMATA (Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts) history:


The millions of recorders heard throughout the world had their beginning on Platform 7 of Waterloo Station, London, in November 1918.

It happened when Arnold Dolmetsch handed a bag, containing his priceless 1750 recorder, to his son Carl. Father and son were home before they realized the bag had been left on the platform.
This week in Idyllwild, the world’s leading recorder artist and general manager of Arnold Dolmetsch Ltd., Carl Dolmetsch, told the story of an instrument that has undergone a renaissance.
The recorder, or English flute, dates back some 900 years to a period when it was believed to have been used to teach caged birds how to sing. Later it became the favorite of royalty.
Henry VIII was a recorder player and collector, leaving 76 at his death. Shakespeare was familiar with the instrument and refers to it in both Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet.
Handel, Bach and Purcell were among the great composers who wrote for the recorder.

During the 19th century the recorder suffered a temporary eclipse, so that few instruments were available. With the loss of his 1750 instrument, Carl’s father was faced with the necessity of creating one. He was then famed for his construction of harpsichords and clavichords. “Searching for the lost recorder was doomed to failure, but the loss was a blessing in disguise. Father was faced with a challenge – and he always took up any challenge,” declared his son. Although skilled in the construction of other musical instruments, the senior Dolmetsch faced a real task in perfecting a recorder. The instrument must be delicately constructed to provide the proper pitch and tone. “He worked on it for days; then one morning he came down to announce that he had solved it.

In March, 1919, he produced the first modern recorder,” said Carl. Soon afterwards, the lost recorder showed up in a junk shop near Waterloo station. However, the modern recorder effort was already launched. The chief difference between the recorder and the shepherd flute is one of refinement and range. The recorder is designed for concert music, whereas the shepherd flute is a folksong instrument.

In 1928 the Dolmetsch Foundation was established to provide Carl’s father with adequate workshop facilities to carry out the manufacture of early types of musical instruments under the highest standards of craftsmanship, research and the study of early compositions. “Father had decided he was getting too old to tour the world. He felt the time had come to have people come to him, so the foundation was established and the annual Haslemere Festival was launched,” his son reported. It was this annual festival that was the blueprint for Idyllwild’s Baroque and Early English Music Festival during the past two weeks.

Not only has the recorder a colorful and prominent past, but it has a great future, the British artist and manufacturer said. Modern composers are writing parts for recorders, and the instrument is popular among teachers. A new record features the Idyllwild visitor and his four children. “It’s a great deal easier to carry about than a harpsichord. You can stick in your pocket,” Dr. Carl Dolmetsch said.

Entry filed under: Arts, museum, Music Stuff, Summer. Tags: , , , , , .

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January 2012


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