Cherished by Baroque composers and used in surprising ways in the Romantic Era, the flauto d’amore disappeared at the end of the 19th Century.
We are giving it a new voice.
/ the flauto d’amore journey
The flauto d’amore makes its appearance in the Baroque period, as a counterpart to the widely utilized viola d’amore and oboe d’amore. Tuned in A, this instrument has a mellow, cantabile quality that come the closest to what Johann Joachim Quantz described as the quintessentially most desirable characteristics of the flute sound, “that should resemble the voice of the alto rather than the soprano, and mimic the chest sound of the human voice”.
Most of the musical works utilizing the French clef are meant to be performed on this instrument - for instance, François Couperin’s Concerts Royaux. Composers like Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Philipp Telemann, Christopher Graupner and Johann Adolph Hasse extensively employed the flauto d’amore in chamber settings, religious works and concertos.
In the 19th century, the flauto d’amore knows a revival through the attention of Italian operatic composers who, fascinated by its unique sound, utilize it in unexpected ways. Saverio Mercadante employs it in several of his chamber compositions, and Giuseppe Verdi scores one of the dances of Aida for three flauto d’amore - usually substituted by alto flutes in modern performances.
After the flute system revolution led by Theobald Böhm (and despite Böhm himself building one flauto d’amore), the instrument disappears. Its close relative, the tenor flute in B flat, was utilized in the early 20th century, notably by flutist John Amadio, who toured the world with singers Nellie Melba and Luisa Tetrazzini. However, the flauto d’amore in A fell into oblivion.
the new instrument
Flutist Gian-Luca Petrucci spoke to legendary flute maker Albert Cooper about the possibility of designing a modern-system flauto d’amore in A. Cooper had previously worked at a few tenor B flat models, but the flauto d’amore presented a completely new challenge. A brand new design was made, and soon after the prototype of modern flauto d’amore was born.
Since then, flute makers Altus and Sankyo have put flauto d’amore in production.
We have an instrument - now we need a repertoire.
The Flauto d’Amore Project’s endeavor is aimed to build a repertoire of new music for this instrument, giving composers a brand new sound to work with, and expanding the flute repertoire with completely new possibilities.
The commission project leaves the composers free to pioneer the potentiality of this new sound in complete freedom: the territory is uncharted, and any exploration adds richness and life to the instrument. The first premiere concert features pieces reminiscent of its older tradition (a Suite, a Trio Sonata), as well as works with electronics that completely reimagine its identity.
Stay tuned for more. The flauto d’amore journey is just getting started.