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The Flute in Scotland from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century

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Elizabeth C. Ford

It is a generally accepted truth that the flute was unknown in Scotland prior to 1725, and that it was played exclusively by wealthy men. Upon examination, these beliefs are demonstrably false. This book explores the role of the flute in Scottish musical life, primarily in the long eighteenth century, including players, repertoire, manuscripts, and instruments. Evidence for ladies having played the flute is also examined, as are possible connections between flute playing and bagpipe playing. Reasons for the flute’s disappearance from the pantheon of Scottish instruments are considered, and interviews with contemporary flute players in Scotland depict flute playing in contemporary Scotland. This work fills a major gap in knowledge of Scottish musical life and flute history.

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Chapter 4 Composers

Extract

Chapter 4

Composers

Introduction

This chapter will summarize what is known of the musical preferences of flute players in Scotland by examining the flute music found in eighteenth-century library collections together with the output of composers in Scotland who wrote for flute. The known continental repertoire played in Scotland will be surveyed, followed by music written by Scottish composers or by composers in Scotland. The picture of repertoire popular in Scotland is far from complete, but a general overview of the tastes and preferences is very possible from the information detailed below.

Repertoire in private music collections and musical society libraries

Manuscript evidence shows that the music of Antonio Vivaldi and Robert Valentine was known in Scotland and by Scottish flute players.1 Sir Gilbert Elliott of Minto owned music by Johann Joachim Quantz. Given the popularity of Handel and Corelli at the Edinburgh Musical Society, it is reasonable to assume that Handel’s flute sonatas and arrangements of Corelli’s sonatas were played by Scottish flute players, although there is no evidence of this in surviving collections. Travel and commerce between Scotland, London,←101 | 102→ and Italy are the most likely explanation for this trend in flute repertoire, as well as the cultural links with Germany established by the royal family. Music from France was not typically reissued by John Walsh, as much of the Italian repertoire was, although it would be surprising if some of the better-travelled amateur flute players had...

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