U.Va.'s Rob Turner
plays James Madison's glass flute
Madison loved social occasions and was known for her hospitality.
She and President James Madison entertained a constant stream
of guests and dignitaries, both at the President's House and later
at Montpelier, the Madisons' home near Charlottesville. An evening
with the couple often would include music, usually provided by
the guests themselves.
Turner, instructor in baroque flute and recorder in U.Va.'s music
department, has recreated what could have been such an evening
of entertainment on his new CD, "Mr. Madison's Crystal Flute."
It was recorded in the Madisons' dining room at Montpelier --
"A perfect place to record," said Turner. "I wanted
to create a sense of the time and place with the recording."
the CD, Turner plays a lead crystal flute owned by Madison and
made in 1813 by Claude Laurent in Paris. A clock maker turned
flute maker, the innovative Laurent patented his flute-making
techniques, including the use of glass for the body of the flute
and a mounting system for keys that pioneered the way keys are
still mounted on most woodwinds today.
for its superior musical qualities as well as its artistic value,
it was common for European heads of state to own a Laurent glass
flute. The list of European nobility and royalty who owned them
includes Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland; Joseph Bonaparte, King
of Spain; Franz I, Emperor of Austria; Louis XVIII Bourbon; and
Madison's flute may be one of a pair originally made for Napoleon.
recently it was thought that Lafayette presented the flute to
Madison, possibly on a visit to Montpelier in 1824. But a letter
from Laurent to Madison, found in the Madison Papers at the Library
of Congress, documents that Laurent himself sent the flute to
Madison. A silver ring between the head and middle joint is inscribed
"A S E Président Madison des Etats Unis" (to his Eminence
President Madison of the United States).
is no stranger to the Madison flute. It is one of 17 Laurent crystal
flutes in the Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection in the Library
of Congress, the largest collection of flutes in the world. A
flute maker himself, Turner has been studying and restoring flutes
in the collection for 25 years. In 1998, he played the Madison
flute at the opening of the "Discovering Madison" exhibit
celebrating Montpelier's reopening.
much is known about James and Dolly Madison's musical preferences,
although the Library of Congress has a collection of bound sheet
music for piano and vocal music with piano accompaniment that
belonged to Dolly. Lacking such a historical reference for flute
music associated with the Madisons, Turner chose typical early
19th-century salon music for flute and guitar. The program features
solos and duets for flute and guitar composed by French flutist
Louis Drouet and two guitarists, Ferdinando Carulli of Italy and
Francesco Molino of Spain. The composers were respected virtuosi
in Paris during the two decades following the creation of the
Madison glass flute.
Frank Wallace accompanies Turner, playing an 1854 guitar made
by Manuel Gutierrez of Seville. Wallace, a composer and full-time
performer, is a distinguished player of early guitars, vihuela
da mano and lute, who performs medieval and renaissance music
with his ensemble, LiveOak.
This is Turner's second CD of historical music. His 1997 CD, "Music
in the Age of Jefferson," a collection of pieces by composers
represented in Thomas Jefferson's music collection, was recorded
in the Dome Room of the Rotunda at U.Va. Designed by the University's
founder, Thomas Jefferson, one of the original uses of the Dome
Room was as a place for musical performances.
recording company, PDI Recordings, Inc., returns over 10 percent
of gross revenue from the sales of these CDs to preservation:
at Montpelier, through the Friends of Montpelier Fund, and at
the University, through Historic Preservation at the Office of