"Pre-Boehm" or Early Flute

Middle Ages and the Renaissance
c. 1320 - One-piece wooden flute, 2' long, key of "D"
1511 - Zwerchpfeiff, narrower, 6 finger-holes
1529 - Descant, alto, tenor and bass versions appear
Turn of the century - "fifes" very popular!
1619 - 20 - Praetorius' SYNTAGMA MUSICUM portrays three Querflotten, with 2-octave ranges
1636 - Flutes Allemands appear, keys of "D" and "G", with new cylindrical bore, made of wood

17th and 18th Centuries

1670 - Three-piece, 1-keyed flute in "D" appears in Jean Baptiste Lully's famous orchestra in France. More changes: conical bore (tapers down to middle, placing the holes closer together) and smaller finger-holes
1720 - Middle joint is divided in half, called corps de recharge, and 2 keys added
1722 - Famous flutist (and writer) Quantz adds tuning cork in headjoint and C# key on footjoint
1726 - E-flat key added on footjoint
1760 - G#, B-flat, and F keys added by London makers Florio, Gedney, and Potter
1774 - Florio, Gedney, and Potter remove C# from footjoint
c. 1780 - 4 and 6-keyed flutes appearing in the symphonic music of Mozart and Haydn, Meyer-system flute with 8 keys appears
1782 - Maker J.H. Ribock adds closed C key

19th Century

1800 - B-flat lever and left-hand lever added
1806-44 - Claude Laurent makes 3, 4, and 7-keyed GLASS flutes
1808 - Rev. Frederick Nolan invents open holes (rim only, finger-pad covers holes) and links the keys to one another
1810 - George Miller in London, starts making metal bores
1812 - Tebaldo Monzani puts knobs on the mouth-hole
1814 - James Wood in London makes three tuning slides
1822 - The Nicholsons (father and son) make a thinner flute and adjust keys
1824 - Maker Pottgiessen invents the ring and crescent key
1827 - Rudall & Rose start making 8-keyed flutes, which become very popular
c. 1830 - The flute starts appearing in the symphonies of Beethoven

The Boehm Era

Theobald Boehm (1794-1881) was born in Munich, was a talented goldsmith and skilled at the mechanical arts. He also served as a Royal Bavarian Court Musician, an avid flute player. His workshop was in his own home and he worked with a painter, Greve to design and build his flutes. As mentioned before, the Boehm flute is the accepted standard today and Boehm's discoveries were truley revolutionary.

Boehm's Developments

c. 1810 - Boehm builds his first model and tinkers with keys, springs (to control key tension), and pads
c. 1829 - Finger-holes are still too far apart, so Boehm develops completely new fingering system, even building his own machine for boring holes, pillars, posts, and flat gold springs (new system uses rods to connect all the keys, thus the need for posts, springs, etc.)
1830 - Boehm's new model finished
1831 - Boehm presents new model, in performance, in Paris and London
1832 - Boehm is inspired by hearing flute virtuoso Charles Nicholson's clear and brilliant tone; changes from standard covered holes to ring keys (see Rev. Nolan above) or "open holes", producing clearer tone and better intonation. He also aided finger action by adding a thumb crutch for the left hand.

Boehm and Others

"Post-Boehm" - The 20th Century

Some modern developments

1948 - Alexander Murray, well-known flutist and teacher, collaborates with makers Albert Cooper and Elmer Cole, on the "Murray" flute - based on the "Cooper experimental" scale, and with a "corrected" C# key
1961-62 - Murray's next model, the "Mark I" appears
1967 - Murray collaborates with Jack Moore, a well-known maker with the Armstrong Company
1972 - Murray and Moore bring out production model flutes and piccolos
Other helpful changes - duplicate G# lever, "gizmo" key, cork in headjoint to stabalize tuning.