Well-Tempered Woodwinds: Friedrich Von Huene and the Making of Early Music in a New World

Well-Tempered Woodwinds: Friedrich Von Huene and the Making of Early Music in a New World

Well-Tempered Woodwinds: Friedrich Von Huene and the Making of Early Music in a New World

Well-Tempered Woodwinds: Friedrich Von Huene and the Making of Early Music in a New World

Synopsis

Friedrich von Huene (1929-) is arguably the most important manufacturer of historical woodwinds in the 20th century. Since he began making recorders in 1958, vond Early Music America, he has remained at the forefront of research and design of historical copies of recorders, flutes, and oboes. In a compelling narrative that combines biography, cultural history, and technical organological enquiry, Geoffrey Burgess explores von Huene's impact on the craft of historical instrument-making and the role organology has played in the emergence of the Early Music movement in the post-war era.

Excerpt

Over the past decade, Friedrich von Huene has devoted considerable energy to transcribing and recording J. S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier for recorder consort: a fitting culmination to a career dedicated to designing and making woodwind instruments for the performance of Baroque music. in addition to establishing a world-renowned workshop in Brookline, Massachusetts, now in business for over fifty years, Friedrich established a reputation as an eminent scholar in his field, a highly regarded performer and teacher, and a prime catalyst in the establishment of Boston as the early music capital of the United States. Beyond these professional achievements, anyone who has ever encountered von Huene, whether in the workshop, lecture hall, or on the concert platform, cannot fail to have been struck by his generosity of spirit, and well-tempered gentility. It is perhaps these personal qualities above all else that saw him through the changes of fortune that he encountered on his life’s path.

On Friday afternoons, when tempers are frayed and the weekend still seems too far away, workshop talk turns bawdy. the guys laugh about their esoteric jobs and claim jokingly that the only reason they’re in the business is because recorders are such persuasive “chick magnets.” But, if the sex appeal of recorders seems ludicrous, what are they good for? Their simple means of tone production accounts for their presence in cultures around the world. the recorder also had a venerable presence in European music, with a Golden Age stretching from the sixteenth to mid-eighteenth century, coinciding with the rise of the Renaissance and Baroque musical styles. It is now known that recorders did not vanish entirely from European and American musical culture during the nineteenth century, but their presence was still slight until the incredible explosion of interest in the twentieth century that, virtually overnight, resulted in a vigorous new industry of recorder manufacture. Certainly, recorders had, and continue to have, enduring musical and social importance.

It was in the mid-twentieth century that recorders took on a specific cultural significance in the reawakening of interest in early music. After two wars that shook Western society, left Europe in rubble, and shattered the personal confidence of millions, the rediscovery of music from earlier centuries became, in the words of Raymond Leppard, “among the most vivid and potent instruments of hope that all is not and will not be lost, that some values are constant and likely . . .

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