(Potsdam, 1697-1773) Ebony two-keyed flute of the
type described in the Versuch
(1752), now in the Miller Collection, Washington D.C.
a=392, 398, 404, 410, 415. Two keys, for D# and Eb.
With screw-cork, tuning slide in the head-joint.
is of course most famous as author of the Essay of a Method
of Playing the Flute traverisere (1752), published in
English as On
Playing the Flute, and as flute teacher to Frederick
the Great of Prussia. Many of the instruments he made for
that monarch have survived, to be listed in an article by
Mary Oleskiewicz in the 1998 Journal of the American Musical
Instrument Society (Vol. XXIV, 107-45). The flutes, while
not perfectly identical, are made to the same design: ours
is based primarily on the Miller Collection example but also
on information from several others we have studied. Most of
the Quantz flutes have five middle joints for various pitches
as well as a tuning slide in the head-joint. When pulled out
about 5mm, this slide makes the longest and shortest of the
set play at a=392 and 415. Clearly the lowest pitch was most
favored by Quantz and the Prussian court. The Quantz flute
plays with a magnificent golden tone, particularly strong
and clear in the lower part of the first octave. Its excellent
intonation makes playing pure 3rds and low leading-tones easy,
just as Quantz's rational tuning scheme dictated. Mary Oleskiewicz
recently published another essay highlighting the musical
qualities of the Quantz flute in repertoire composed for it,
"The Trio Sonate in Bach's Musical Offering: A Salute to Frederick's
Tastes and Quantz's Flutes?" in Bach Perspectives, vol.
4: The Music of J.S. Bach, Analysis and Interpretation
(Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999), 79-110.
Quantz disapproved of the foot-register, since
it "serves no other purpose than to make it possible
for somebody with thriftiness in mind to manage upon a single
badly tuned flute what would otherwise require two flutes,
that is, a low one and a high one [Quantz is referring to
instruments at unspecified pitches a whole tone apart.]"
(Essay, I.14). Nevertheless, he provided his own flutes
with 5 middle joints so that they could be played at different
pitches, but without supplying a register to mitigate the
You can of course order separate flutes at
different pitches. But if you wish to play a single Quantz
flute at more than one pitch the course we recommend is to
order it with a register. If you prefer not to, simply uncheck
the "register" box in the form below.
The Quantz flute is a great all-round instrument
for a serious player, though its strength of character is
perhaps not best suited to soft and tender music such as the
French petits airs. It is most convincing in serious,
craftsmanlike music such as that of the Dresden and Berlin
composers, and in much of Bach's flute chamber music, especially
the E major and Musical Offering sonatas.