Boehm

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Boehm

Theobald Böhm or Boehm ( German pronunciation: [bøːm]; Munich, April 9, 1794 – Munich, November 25, 1881) was a musician, virtuoso flutist, composer, inventor, instrument maker and acoustic specialist of Bavarian origin.

He is especially known for his work in perfecting the transverse flute and the clarinet, whose manufacturing method and key mechanism continue to be used today. The Böhm flute is the model of all contemporary flutes.

Boehm’s Biography

Learn the trade of his father, goldsmith, in which he was already an expert at the age of 14.

Contemporary transverse flute of open plates mounted for use. His system of keys and holes was the main contribution of Böhm.


Transverse flute, disassembled. Böhm reduced the conicity of the body (in the photo, below) and moved it to the head (in the photo, in the center).

Passionate about music, he started with the recorder, quickly moving to the transverse flute, constructing himself his own instrument, which he copied from a copy made in Dresden. For two years he took lessons from a neighbor, flutist from an orchestra in Munich, classes he paid for by making improved flutes. At 18 he was already playing in an orchestra, and at 21 he was a flute player first in the Bavarian Royal Orchestra. I spent the evenings playing in the orchestra and mornings to make flutes and to experiment with different materials, using different types of wood and metal (gold, silver, nickel, copper) and modifying the positions and dimensions of the holes. / p>

A tour of Europe between 1816 and 1818 takes you to Switzerland and Strasbourg. His first composition is of 1822. Numerous concerts in Germany, France and Switzerland will give him fame, but his income was not enough to support his growing family. In England, where flutists were sought after, he became friends with the famous flutist Charles Nicholson, whose strong and robust sonority pushed him to new experiments and studies of acoustics, which will continue at the University of Munich.

Returning to his country in 1832, he projected an instrument that associated the traditional conical body with a new system of keys, and that he took on his European tours of the following years, promoting it in France and England, where his ideas were good. welcome.

His friend and professor of physics Karl Emil von Schafhaeutl provided him with a new method of extracting iron from raw ore.

On his return to France in 1834, he was able to confirm the great success of his instrument in that country. Back in Germany, he introduced new improvements: he abandons the conical body in favor of the cylindrical, new conception. The new instrument was patented in 1847, and soon Theobald granted manufacturing license to the largest European producers (among others Rudall, Carte and Rose in England, Godefroy Ainé and Louis Lot in France), thus initiating the irresistible extension of its system. His flute was shown at the Universal Exhibition in London in 1851.

In his 1871 treatise “Die Flöte und das Flötenspiel” (The flute and the art of playing it) he describes the acoustic, technical and artistic principles of his system, which was subsequently applied to the clarinet and other instruments. For example, the saxophone and other instruments of the wind-wood family were equipped with an equivalent system. The modern flutes are manufactured, even today and with hardly any variations, with their modifications.

Eclectic personality, Böhm bequeathed us other inventions in the most diverse fields: from the manufacture of pianos and cellos to a type of chimney for steam locomotives and a telescope to detect fires.

In the last stage of his life he devoted himself to the invention and perfection of a new instrument belonging to the family of flutes and equipped with its similar key system: the contralto transverse flute.

Theobald Böhm died in Munich on November 25, 1881, at the age of 87.

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