Faà di Bruno, Giovanni Matteo [Horatio, Orazio] 83

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Flentrop, Dirk (Andries)

(b Zaandam, 1 May 1910). Dutch organ builder. The firm of organ builders that bears his name was founded at Zaandam in 1903 by his father Hendrik (Wichert) Flentrop (1866–1950); Dirk Flentrop assumed direction in 1940. Dirk Flentrop learnt organ building in his father’s workshop and at the firm of Frobenius in Denmark. Like his father, he had been trained as a church organist, and the two became interested in the restoration of early instruments as well as in the construction of new ones based on traditional principles of the 17th and 18th centuries. Among the first organs they restored (1936) was one built in 1756 by Christian Müller for the Grote Kerk at Beverwijk. Their aim was to return the instrument as far as possible to its original condition, rather than to modernize it.

By the end of World War II, Dirk Flentrop had become convinced that the traditional mechanical-action organ, housed in a shallow case, with scaling, disposition and wind supply based on the principles of early builders, represented the best direction for his own work. His first significant effort in this style was the organ made in 1950 for the Dutch Reform church in Loenen aan de Vecht. Implicit in this approach to organ building was his concern for the instrument’s ability to play the Baroque and Classical repertories, as well as for its technical and artistic design. The disposition of the Loenen instrument was as follows: Hoofdwerk, Prestant 8', Roerfluit 8', Octaaf 4', Spitsquint 22/3', Octaaf 2', Mixtuur VI, Dulciaan 16'; Rugwerk, Gedekt 8', Prestant 4', Roerfluit 4', Gemshoorn 2', Quint 11/3', Scherp IV–V, Regaal 8'; Pedaal, Subbas 16', Octaaf 8', Nachthoorn 4'; manual and pedal couplers.

Flentrop’s influence since 1950 has been strong both in Europe and in the USA, where his first major organ was built for the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard University in 1958. Other notable instruments by him in the USA include the four-manual organ for St Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle (1965), and instruments for Salem College, Winston-Salem, North Carolina (1965); Warner Hall, Oberlin College Conservatory, Oberlin, Ohio (1974); and Duke University Chapel, Durham, North Carolina (1976). In addition to the restoration of many smaller instruments in the Netherlands he has restored major organs there and in several other countries, including the Schnitger organ of 1721 in the Michaelskerk, Zwolle, the Netherlands (1955); the 16th-century instrument in the cathedral at Évora, Portugal (1967); and the two organs from the 17th and 18th centuries in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City (1977).

Flentrop has also been active in the Dutch Organ Builders’ Association and was one of the founders of the International Society of Organ Builders, of which he was president from 1957 to 1965. He received honorary degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory in 1968 and Duke University in 1976.

On Flentrop’s retirement in 1976 direction of the firm was assumed by J.A. Steketee (b 1936). The firm has continued to build and design new organs, including Seitoku College, Tokyo (1983); Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago (1989); Dunblane Cathedral, Scotland (1990); and the State Conservatory, Kazan', Russia (1997). Major restorations include the Walcker organ in Riga Cathedral, Latvia (1983), and the Schnitger organ in St Laurenskerk, Alkmaar, the Netherlands (1987). Steketee was succeeded by C.P.W. van Oostenbrugge (b 1947) in August 1998. Significant works since then include a large new organ for the Muziekcentrum in Enschede, the Netherlands (1999), and the reconstruction of the organ in the Petrus-en-Pauluskerk, Ostend.


F. Douglass, J.G. Ferguson and D.A. Flentrop: The Flentrop Organ Dedicated in Memory of Benjamin N. Duke (Durham, NC, 1976)

J. Jongepier: Flentrop Orgelbouw, 75 jaren (Zaandam, 1978; Eng. trans., 1978)

A.J. Gierveld: Antieke Nederlandse huisorgels uit het bezit van Dirk Andries Flentrop (n.p., c1980; Eng. trans., 1981)

J. Fesperman: Flentrop in America (Raleigh, NC, 1982)

G. Pels: ‘Dirk Andries Flentrop at 85’, ISO News, v/10 (1995), 9–21


Flesch, Carl

(b Moson [now Mosonmagyaróvár], 9 Oct 1873; d Lucerne, 14 Nov 1944). Hungarian violinist and teacher. He received his first violin lessons at the age of five. From 1886 to 1890 he studied at the Vienna Conservatory under J.M. Grün, then at the Paris Conservatoire, which he left in 1894 with a premier prix; his teachers were Sauzay and, particularly, Marsick. He made his début in Vienna in 1895 and in Berlin the following year. From 1897 to 1902 he taught and led the Queen's String Quartet in Bucharest. He then moved to Amsterdam, where he became known as a teacher and chamber music player (1903–8). A milestone in his career was his series of five historical concerts in Berlin in 1905, illustrating the development of violin literature through the works of 50 composers from the 17th century to the 20th – a scheme which was afterwards adopted by other violinists.

After settling in Berlin in 1908, Flesch enjoyed growing international acclaim as a soloist, chamber music player (Trio Schnabel-Flesch-Becker) and teacher. In 1921 and 1922 he gave master courses at the Hochschule für Musik and was a professor there from 1928 to 1934. During the intervening years (1924–8) he was head of the violin department at the newly founded Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. His private summer courses at Baden-Baden (1926–34) attracted an international group of young violinists. In 1934 he moved to London. During World War II he was in the Netherlands, where he was detained by the occupying Germans. He was finally permitted to return to his native Hungary. From 1943 to his death he taught at the newly founded Lucerne Conservatoire and continued to perform in public.

Flesch was famous for his classical purity, his impeccable technique, and his intellectual grasp of styles. His interpretations of the Beethoven and Brahms concertos had noble grandeur and inner warmth, but he could also play virtuoso pieces by Paganini and Hubay with surprising élan. A technical speciality was his playing of fingered octaves with amazing speed and accuracy. He was not a ‘born’ violinist but developed through constant analysis and self-criticism. This diagnostic ability made Flesch into one of the greatest teachers of our time: he approached technical and musical problems in a rational way. His method is available in books and treatises which form the basis of modern violin playing. The most comprehensive is Die Kunst des Violin-Spiels and the most concentrated the Urstudien which reduce technique to a few basic motions. He also made many editions. His pupils included Max Rostal, Szymon Goldberg, Henryk Szeryng, Henri Temianka, Ida Haendel, Ginette Neveu and Alma Moodie.

The Flesch Medal, an award in his memory, was established through the initiative of Max Rostal and Edric Cundell, then head of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, which then administered it. The first competition (1945) was won by Raymond Cohen, the second (1946) by Norbert Brainin. In 1968 the competition became part of the Festival of the City of London, and in 1970 it was opened to violists. As the City of London International Competition for Violin and Viola (Carl Flesch Medal), it was held every two years, and was one of the most important testing grounds for aspiring soloists up to the age of 32. The competition was suspended in 1992.


Urstudien für Violine (Berlin, 1911)

Die Kunst des Violin-spiels, i (Berlin, 1923, 2/1929; Eng. trans., 1924); ii (Berlin, 1928; Eng. trans., 1930)

Das Klangproblem im Geigenspiel (Berlin, 1931)

Memoirs, trans. H. Keller (London, 1957/R; Ger. orig., abridged, Freiburg, 1960, 2/1961)

Die hohe Schule des Fingersatzes auf der Geige, MS; It. trans., as Alta scuola di diteggiatura violinistica (Milan, 1960); Eng. trans., ed. and trans. B. Schwarz, as Violin Fingering: its Theory and Practice (London, 1966/R), Ger. orig., ed. K. Rebling (Frankfurt, 1995)




G. Saenger: ‘Carl Flesch: an Appreciation’, Musical Observer, ix (1914), 399

W. Brederode: Carl Flesch (Haarlem, 1938)

A. Schaichet: ‘Carl Flesch (1873–1944)’, SMz, lxxxv (1945), 45

J.W. Hartnack: Grosse Geiger unserer Zeit (Munich, 1967, 4/1993)

J. Creighton: Discopaedia of the Violin, 1889–1971 (Toronto, 1974)

H. Temianka: ‘Flesch Start’, The Strad, xcviii (1986), 188–93

D. Nice: ‘Trials and Triumphs’, ibid., 413–5

J. Duchen: ‘Flesch Remembered’, The Strad, cv (1994), 1214–19

Y. Neaman: ‘Confessions of a Flesch Pupil’, ibid., 1221–5

T. Potter: ‘The Pedagogue as Performer’, ibid., 1228–31


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