A few photos from our concert at Varaždin Baroque Evenings Festival (September 27, 2016), courtesy of the festival.
“I see God in the instruments and mechanisms that work reliably.”
Frederick G. Morgan (1940–1999), recorder maker extraordinary, made always interesting choices when selecting original Baroque instruments to base his famous reproductions on. They often reflected his search for —and awareness of— specific characteristics such as those offered by different recorder models by different makers, their voicing qualities and bore profiles. Thus, besides the usual list of instruments and prices, his catalogue contained a brief description of the instruments that included a sometimes intriguing mix of practical information1 and the occasional observation that revealed his insightful understanding of the instrument.2 I believe that these brief observations alone are worth transcribing and sharing his catalogue information here. This article belongs to a series of writings about Fred Morgan that I’m writing out of simple admiration for his work as recorder maker.
“Terry has for a long time been passing his knowledge and wisdom on to others, through his web site and the woodenflute and flutemakers email lists. In the last few months, he’s taken this to a new level with the induction of his first trainee flutemaker, ensuring that his manual, practical and organisational skills are also passed on.”
From Australian flute maker Terry McGee’s résumé.
A wise, healthy philosophy, rarely to be found among musical instrument makers — I wish more of them were aware of the importance of passing their knowledge to others. Really.
“As an artist … I need to make it harder for myself, so I’m working on a few personal projects that I can’t describe. But I can tell you that they’re really hard, and I’m totally failing, and it feels great.”
Joss Whedon, via Ian Coyle
I recently wrote about what could probably be the world’s most important photograph of a recorder and the need to get recorder scholars involved in keeping Wikipedia’s recorder article accurate and up to date. But after doing myself a first, unsuccessful attempt at changing the article’s main photograph, I decided not to limit myself to the Wikipedia article. I thought that high quality, professional photographs of high quality, professional recorders would certainly be a first step towards the spreading of the recorder’s fairer image as a fine, handmade, beautiful instrument. For which, besides contributing to Wikimedia Commons, a dedicated, open access website would be the ideal container.
“An initial search of the internet throws up numerous images of plastic, or mass-produced, cheap instruments, while images of historic or professional models need to be sought out. A concerted effort from the recorder community is needed in order to shift perspectives in the opposite direction, and to change the public’s perception of our beautiful instrument.”
For almost forty years (1968–2007), recorder maker Bob Marvin has been generously sharing an impressive amount of knowledge, personal experiences and detailed technical information on the reconstruction of recorders based on original instruments preserved in European museums—which makes him probably the most prolific writer among recorder makers. He has done so in a very personal, concise and sometimes provoking way, always in the hope of generating debate and an exchange of ideas among makers and readers, and always with great insight and a unique sense of humour.
As many recorder players may have noticed, Ernst Meyer’s short-lived website (online from July 2013, when I had the pleasure to help him setting it up during a visit to his workshop), is gone since 2014. Which is a real pity, as it contained some stunning, full-size photos of Ernst’s work, as well as a catalogue of his recorder models.
Archive.org to the rescue: what many people may have not noticed, however, is that archive.org’s Wayback Machine robots saved it partially for posterity. Just a couple of screenshots, though, but, fortunately, one of them was his model list. Check them out:
- Van der Sluijs, L, Lander, N.S. & Short, C. (1996–2015). Recorder Home Page: Recordings. Last accessed Monday, September 7th, 2015. http://www.recorderhomepage.net/recorded-recorders-database/ ↩
As promised in an earlier article, I’ve been collecting some information about Fred Morgan‘s work with the intention of making it publicly available, both for practical and historical reasons but also for the important and highly interesting data contained in his documents: I’m sure they will be really useful for today’s players and makers as a valuable reference source.