Rob Turner Plays James Madison's Glass Flute
11, 2000 -- Dolly 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,
Madison's home near Charlottesville. An evening with the Madisons
often would have included music, usually provided by the guests
Turner, instructor in baroque flute and recorder at the University
of Virginia's McIntire
Department of Music, has recreated what could have been such
an evening's entertainment on his new CD, "Mr. Madison's Crystal
Flute." The CD was recorded in the Madison's 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."
"Mr. Madison's Crystal Flute," Turner plays a lead crystal
flute owned by Madison and made in 1813 by Claude Laurent in Paris.
A clockmaker who turned to making flutes, 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 almost all woodwinds today.
for their superior musical qualities as well as objects of art,
it was common for European heads of state to own a Laurent glass
flute. The list of European nobility and royalty who owned Laurent
glass flutes includes: Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland; Joseph
Bonaparte, King of Spain; Franz I, Emperor of Austria; Louis XVIII
Bourbon; and Napoleon I. 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originally made for Napoleon.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. 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
the head and middle joint is inscribed "A S E Président Madison
des Etats Unis (to his Eminence President Madison of the United
however, was no stranger to the Madison flute. It is one of 17 crystal
flutes by Laurent 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
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 an 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
duos 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. Turner and Wallace's first performance together was
as part of "Flute Fest" in 1998 at the Library of Congress.
is the second CD of historical music for Turner. 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 a place for musical performances.
feels that the support of preservation is important. His 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 of
Virginia, through Historic Preservation at the Office of University
more information or interviews, contact Rob Turner at (804) 977-5547.
Jane Ford, (804) 924-4298