History Highlights and Special Collections
History & Archives
The New York Flute Club was not the first American flute club—it was preceded by several others. But it is the oldest continuously operating flute club in the world. The idea took shape in 1920, when a group of seventeen flutists met at the home of Georges Barrère to play the Kuhlau Grand Quartet. Barrère was then the principal flutist of the New York Symphony Orchestra and flute professor at the Institute of Musical Art (predecessor of the Juilliard School). The club was officially incorporated by the state of New York on December 31, 1920, and held its first meeting five days later. Its first officers included William Kincaid (then the flutist of the New York Chamber Music Society and later the esteemed principal flutist of the Philadelphia Orchestra) and the flutist-composer Lamar Stringfield.
The Club's activities in the first decade were regularly covered by The Flutist magazine, published by Emil Medicus. Although Barrère's past and current students—including Meredith Willson, Arthur Lora, Quinto Maganini, and Lamar Stringfield—were frequently among the early performers, there were prominent guest artists from early on, including Georges Laurent, principal flutist of the Boston Symphony. In the early years there were also annual dinner-dances at fancy hotels.
Many Club programs included flute ensemble music and the work of contemporary composers. The programs in the 1930s and '40s presented John Amans, principal flutist of the New York Philharmonic from 1923 to 1942, and John Wummer, principal flutist of the NBC Symphony and later the Philharmonic. Other frequent performers included. Carmine Coppola, principal flutist of NBC; Arthur Lora, principal flutist of the Metropolitan Opera and NBC; Harry Moskovitz; and Frederick Wilkins.
In the 1960s and '70s, the Club presented a wide array of American flutists, including Philip Kaplan and Lois Schaefer from Boston, as well as Eleanor Lawrence, John Wion, Paige Brook, Samuel Baron, Karl Kraber, and Paul Dunkel. It also inaugurated a competition for young artists, formalizing its support for emerging talents. It made its first commercial recording, The Flute In American Music, to commemorate the American bicentennial, and in 1980 mounted its first museum exhibition, From Hotteterre to Barrère. More about the Club's publications, recordings, and exhibitions may be found here.
The Club has always presented special programs with such notable speakers as flute collector and acoustician Dayton C. Miller and flutemaker Verne Q. Powell, as well as masterclasses with out-of-town performers. In 1994 this concept was expanded into a flute fair, which also incorporated the annual young artist competition.
In the meantime, the Club continued to present leading flutists in formal concerts. Some of the artist performers who have appeared at these concerts are Robert Aitken, Julius Baker, Samuel Baron, Jeanne Baxtresser, William Bennett, Frances Blaisdell, Bonita Boyd, Paige Brook, Leone Buyse, Linda Chesis, Sandra Church, Michel Debost, Bernard Goldberg, James Hosmer, Timothy Hutchins, Harold Jones, Sue Ann Kahn, Toshiko Kohno, Karl Kraber, Eleanor Lawrence, Gerardo Levy, Ervin Monroe, Louis Moyse, Per Oien, Donald Peck, Paula Robison, Joshua Smith, John Solum, Mark Sparks, Robert Willoughby, Ransom Wilson, Carol Wincenc, and John Wion.
From the very beginning, the Club's programs have drawn attention to the works of flutist-composers: Lamar Stringfield, Quinto Maganini, Walter Benedict, Harvey Sollberger, Katherine Hoover, Elizabeth Brown, and Gary Schocker, to name just a few. In recent years its programs have broadened to include jazz and flute music of non-Western traditions, including shakuhachi, bansuri, a wide variety of Chinese flutes, and music from diverse Latin American traditions.
The NYFC has made an increased effort in recent years to involve a broad range of flutists, especially elementary and secondary students. The flute fair has been an especially useful venue for these activities, though the Club also runs a year-round ensemble program for members and a community outreach program, begun in the mid-1990s, that involves young music students around the city.
The Club has always been conscious of its history, and over the years has presented numerous programs to honor the memory of distinguished members of the flute community, including Theobald Boehm, Georges Barrère, Marcel Moyse, Harold Bennett, Samuel Baron, Paige Brook, and Jean-Pierre Rampal.
The Club's archives are permanently conserved in the Special Collections of the Music Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, at Lincoln Center. The call number of the collection is JPB 90-28, and anyone may consult it subject to the normal regulations of the library. The archives include:
- A comprehensive run of concert programs
NOTE: Although this archive is extensive, we have some gaps in the collection, particularly in the 1930s and 1950s. Anyone possessing copies of NYFC programs or knowing of copies in other archives is asked to contact the archivist.
- Club publications
- Newsletters, press releases, clippings, and other publicity materials
- Membership brochures and rosters
- Records of the board of directors
- Rare music played at Club concerts
- Photographs, art, and other memorabilia
- Information on exhibitions sponsored by the Club