Skip to main content

Collection Dayton C. Miller Collection

Quantz Flute

Quantz Flute

Frederick the Great, king of Prussia (1712-1786), one of history's most famous amateur musicians, maintained a superior eighteenth-century European court orchestra. It included among its principal players Karl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788), son of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Although a gifted amateur composer, Frederick was chiefly a passionate flute player. In 1741 he secured the services of Johann Joachim Quantz (1697-1773) to reside at the court as the king's personal music teacher, among other duties. Accomplished in all aspects of musicianship, Quantz eventually specialized in the flute. During the second quarter of the century he introduced improvements to the standard one-keyed instrument, including a second key and other innovative features. Although Quantz's well-known writings encouraged the use of his new two-keyed flute, his instrument had little success outside the area in which he lived. The majority of Quantz's flutes were made for his royal student, Frederick. The excellent and nearly complete example in the Miller Collection is one of the few Quantz flutes still extant. It survives in a porcelain plush-lined storage and display box with gilt hardware.

For a survey of extant Quantz instruments, see Mary Oleskiewicz, "A Museum, a World War, and Rediscovery: Flutes by Quantz and Others at the Hohenzollern Museum," Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society 24 (1998): 107-45.

(Drawings reproduced here with permission from Jean-François Beaudin. Please make written requests for permission for other uses to: Jean-François Beaudin.)

 Back to top