Historical Traversos
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Pfretzschner Kronach Workshop specialising in woodwind instruments

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Quantz Traverso 392 Hz / 415 Hz

around 1740

Johann Joachim Quantz (born in Oberscheden in 1697, died in Potsdam in 1773) probably was one of Germany's most famous and successful flute makers (in terms of money as well).

He refused a training as a blacksmith (although his physique would have been quite adequate – as the report about his exhumation says). He entered upon a musical career instead which led him to higher positions and better renumeration as long as he lived. This state of well-being was not substantially disturbed by anything (despite, perhaps, by a bossy wife….).

From 1739 on he built flutes for the Crown Prince Friedrich of Prussia, who then became King Friedrich II. To me these flutes appear to be the most ingenious and most progressive instruments of their time:
Tuning cork - adjustable by screws, tuning slide running in perfectly fitting brass tubes, separate D-sharp and E-flat keys to point out the Pythagorean comma between both. On a first hearing the original intonation surprises, yet becomes comprehensible, when one grasps Quantz' theory that it is important to emphasise the tonics of the playable keys such that they are "round and complete". Therefore a good F is much more important than a good F-sharp, etc. This radical intonation frightens many modern players. But, you have to consider that the most select flutes of that time were exclusively made to the taste of a single person. And this person was delivered the corresponding pieces of music in hundreds of concerts and solos by Quantz.

In the copies this radical intonation is softened a bit without changing the sonority. The brass tube is not built in to avoid cracking of the very thin headjoint.

The copy in boxwood is something special, because all the other copies known up to now are made of ebony. While visiting the Castle (Stadtschloss) in Bayreuth I discovered a gouache showing Margrave Friedrich of Bayreuth (brother-in-law of King Friedrich II and a student of Quantz himself as well). In the picture he appears as patron of the Fine Arts, posing in front of a perfectly painted Quantz traverso in light boxwood. This is a picture which has been totally overlooked by the Quantz iconography. It proves a "light" Quantz traverso. (In 2004 I mailed this evidence to Ms. Mary A. Oleskiewicz, the great Quantz researcher. I hope she will publish it in her planned Quantz biography.)

The Quantz flute in boxwood sounds astonishingly grand and voluminous, but softer than the ebony models.