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Galpin Society Journal LIX 2006, p. 278-280

JAN BOUTERSE tr. Ruth Koenig. Dutch Woodwind Instruments and their Makers 1660-1760, (Utrecht: Koninklijke Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis, 2005). 79pp. Illus.
ISBN 90-6375-198-2 (hardback). CD-ROM with full text. 615pp, appendices. Over 2000 illustrations. Price: 55 I

The bulk of this work is provided on a CD-ROM disk. The slim, well produced printed book includes instructions on handling the material on the disk, the Introduction, describing how the whole project arose, the complete List of Instruments Covered by the Text, with a number of excellent photographs, the Summary and Conclusion, and the Table of Contents, which is very detailed with many subdivisions of each chapter. Everything else is on the disk, including a large number of photographs and seven technical drawings. These last are computer-generated and very clear when printed out, though there are the usual jagged lines that plague computer drawings, where pixels are failing to produce curves, when they appear on screen. This mode of production is clearly highly practical - it would be quite impossible to provide so many illustrations in a printed version, and it has the great benefit that one can zoom on any detail to enlarge it, and even without considering the illustrations, a book of well over 600 pages on so specialist a subject would be very costly to print. However, it has to be said that reading so much text on screen can be a strain on the eyes. It took me a long time to find the way (Edit - Preferences- Accessibility) to use my normal grey background instead of the glaring white which comes as default and I strongly recommend doing this - it helps very considerably.

Once this sort of detail is established, navigation through the book is very easy. Links to other parts of the book appear in blue, and a click takes you there. The `File' icon on the top left of your screen provides the equivalent of the finger between the pages when you want to refer to two chapters at once. Links to the endnotes to each chapter appear in red. Again a click takes you there and a click on the green arrow in the toolbar takes you back to where you were. You can reach any page you like by clicking on `View' and scrolling down to `Go to', but you can't (so far as I've discovered) jump to any of the many numbered sections (e.g. 6.2.10) into which each chapter is divided unless you know on which page it begins.

Reading the first chapter, on sources, methods, and history of the research is vital for it describes all the techniques for measuring etc. used in the rest of the work (`work' seems a better term to describe this than `book'), and also has sections, well illustrated with line drawings (linked in red characters), explaining the terminology of all the details of turnery and of the parts of the instruments. The second and third chapters are devoted to biographical details of the makers. Chapter 2 is alphabetically arranged, taking the makers one by one, with much new detail about their lives and work. Chapter 3 is horizontally arranged, as one might say, covering who came whence and when, who was related to whom, who taught whom, and so on, and it includes comparative lists and tables of contemporary makers elsewhere in Europe and of the makers of other instruments in the Netherlands. It is interesting that we have so many Dutch woodwind instruments surviving, but no brass instruments at all so far as Dr Bouterse can discover, and also that there seem to have been far more woodwind makers than there were makers of the violin family. A number of Dutch organs are mentioned here, presumably because the organ is essentially a giant woodwind instrument.

Chapter 4 is the instrument list, arranged alphabetically by maker but preceded by a list of onepiece recorders and of unmarked instruments by unknown makers (but unmarked oboes in the very characteristic style of Hendrik and Frederik Richters follow the list of those makers' work). Each maker's instruments are listed in the order of recorders, traversos (sic-why can't we use the proper plural? Or for that matter the correct gender? Traverso is an adjective defining and agreeing with flauto-the noun is feminine, traversa, plural traverse), double reeds, and single reeds, and they are numbered consecutively, for example Haka I is a one-piece sopranino recorder and Haka 38 is a bassoon. Where such numbers differ from Phillip T. Young's 4900 Historic Woodwind Instruments, there is a cross reference to the Y-number in the Commentary following each list, and all known details of provenance are also given there. Museum catalogue numbers are given throughout, though using the old numbering for the Hague Municipal Museum (Haags Gemeentemuseum) - there is an explanation of how these relate to the new numbers. This list, very usefully, is printed in the book, because there are constant references below to these instruments by number, and having the printed list to hand saves jumping to and fro through the disk.

I mentioned Haka particularly because Bouterse has discovered in the military archives in Stockholm the invoice for 40 instruments which Haka supplied to the Swedish navy in 1685. The text of the invoice is printed in Chapter 2 and the list of instruments in Chapter 4. Both, and further details from elsewhere in this work, are brought together in Appendix D. Such repetition, which could not so easily be done in a printed book, is valuable because it means that parts of this information can be placed where they are relevant, but can also be brought together as a whole.

The Commentary following the Richters listings is extremely useful because there is a good deal of contradictory and confusing information available elsewhere (eg in Young's 4900 and in Cecil Adkins's article `Oboes beyond Compare' in AMISJ 16).

Chapter 5 follows on from the instrument list, discussing provenance and distribution of the instruments and some of the major collections in which they are today and their sources.

With Chapter 6 we begin to reach the meat of this work, an enormously detailed investigation into the makers' stamps. These are drawn, photographed, measured, and described with all their variants.

Thereafter we have the five chapters describing first the recorders and flageolets, then the traversos, then the oboes and deutsche schalmeien, then the curtals, bassoons, and rackets, and finally the clarinets (that chapter is entitled chalumeaux and clarinets but there are no surviving one-piece chalumeaux). There are only three clarinets, two of them two keyed (one, presumed to be by Jan Boekhout though marked with his father's stamp, thought to be the earliest non-Denner) and only two parts of what was presumably a five-key instrument.

Each chapter goes into the typology of the relevant instrument in comprehensive detail: its history in Holland, the materials involved and how they were worked, the condition of the instruments (damages, traces of repair and so on), design, details of turnery, patterns of tone holes, windways, embouchures, and so forth as may be relevant to each type of instrument, performance techniques, pitch standards revealed by playing them where this was possible or sometimes assessed from their dimensions, and then very detailed descriptions of each surviving instrument arranged by makers, followed by conclusions. In every chapter and part thereof there are links to relevant photographs (just occasionally to the wrong instrument), as well as to the end-notes and references, and with frequent tables to make easy comparisons of various features.
The detailed descriptions are amplified in Appendix C, with a short description in English and a long one in Dutch, and with full measurements of, as far as I can see (I have not checked all of them), every instrument, including pitches where this was permitted or where they had been established by a reliable previous researcher. There are no measured drawings, but so far as the instruments of the Gemeente Museum are concerned, these were provided, often by the author, in the three wonderful catalogues (recorders, double reeds, and traversos and clarinets) which Robert van Acht and others edited for that Museum. Other museums have also produced drawings of some instruments included here - reference seems always to be given for these.

Having referred to one appendix, I should add that Appendix A is a list of all the relevant museums, B is a list of all known inventories and sale catalogues including Dutch woodwind from 1705 to 1837, with details in the original language and in English of the woodwind instruments listed, and D is, as noted above, Haka's invoice to the Swedish navy.

What is a little more difficult to find, but appears when one clicks on 'Run' in the Start menu, is a folder for the photographs and another for the drawings, so that once these are found one can browse through all the illustrations independently of the links throughout the text. The drawings include graphs of the bores of many of the instruments, makers' stamps (supplementing and clarifying where obscure those for which there are photographs), plus the seven drawings of instruments referred to above. The photographs are legion. There is no list of them, but there are sub-folders for each maker and for some chapters, and within each of the makers' folders there are sub-sub-folders (there must be proper computerese terms for folders within folders but I don't know them, so I trust that this is clear) one for each instrument by that maker - as a result it would take hours to count and to give you the precise number of' photographs. In every case that 1 have checked there are close-up details, as well as more general views, showing every aspect of almost every instrument, including the maker's mark. Once one has opened the folder for the individual instrument one can either open each photograph separately or, having opened any one of' them, click on the redoutlined square in each picture, which will then take one through the whole series of photos for that instrument.

This is a work of such magnitude that it is almost impossible to describe it in detail in a review such as this. Let me just say that I have never encountered, nor even dreamed of, the possibility of so much detailed information of any national school of instruments, nor indeed of any individual instrument, as is provided here. I have to confess that I have not read every word of this work - if I had, this review would have been delayed by weeks. I have found a few errors, such a slip in the identification of the wood of one instrument (but it is correctly identified in Appendix C), a few misprints, a few things that might have been expressed a little better in English, but these details dwindle to nothing when set against the vast bulk of information here.
The work is in total an updated English translation of Dr Bouterse's doctoral thesis (some information acquired after the thesis was completed is incorporated here). I have supervised a number of theses, and examined a number more, but never have I envisaged a thesis of such comprehensiveness as this. Anybody involved in any aspect of Baroque woodwind instruments, of any nationality, should study this work, for there is an enormous amount to be learned here. We can only be grateful to the Royal Society for the Study of Dutch Music for having been willing to publish it in this form, for no other would have been possible.     JEREMY MONTAGU  Galpin Society Journal LIX 2006, p. 278-280.

 

Review/Besprechung (by David Lasocki) in Tibia (Heft 1, 2010):