Flute and klezmer
Prior to the existence of the larger klezmer ensemble or kapelye that included brass and clarinets, the flute was part of the smaller klezmer band. Early photos of larger bands show one or more flutes. These flutes were made of wood and generally of the multi-keyed variety.
Adrianne Greenbaum performs on vintage wood instruments, returning the flute to its rightful place in the traditional small klezmer ensemble.
Here is my power point lecture to get a full picture of the flute in klezmer band history:
Boxwood's Artist Huddle
Adrianne Greenbaum on the history of Klezmer
Frand Family Klezmorim
Two Women Team Up to Revitalize Music from a Polish Shtetl.
Sharon Frant Brooks reached out to the klezmer community several years ago with transcriptions she had preserved from her great-grandfather's band. I had the privilege of passing the material on to some musicians. Brooks reached Greenbaum directly. As Adrianne puts it in the liner notes, "seeing that this klezmer band was made up of strings and flute, I answered the call." The rest is beauty.
Playing Klezmer flute
Photos show the use of multi-keyed instruments, probably around 8-11 key. These are what we call simple system flutes.
What we can possibly conjecture is that the full-keyed system, the more advance Boehm system which grew in popularity by around the 1870's was also in use.
There are many modifications that were made by Germans, Englishman, Viennese makers.
Again, judging from what was probably available and what was shown, the probable flute used most often was the so-called Meyer (either H.F.Meyer itself or "Nach Meyer") flute, having 12 keys and sometimes an ivory headjoint. The ivory ones are rarely found today in good playing condition as the ivory heads will usually have a large crack that is more difficult to fix than wood.
The various makers of flutes were aiming to develop a flute that would allow for good tonal flexibility, intonation, volume and ease of fingering.