Rudall, Rose & Carte: The Art of the Flute in Britain
The firm of Rudall & Rose, later Rudall, Rose & Carte, and finally Rudall
Carte, dominated flute making in Britain for a century and a half from
their founding in 1822. For much of their existence almost every
professional flute player and most serious amateurs in Britain played on
one of this firm’s instruments.
The original firm, Rudall & Rose, produced simple-system flutes of the
highest quality before they were persuaded by Richard Carte, a student of
George Rudall, to begin production of Theobald Boehm’s early conical
flute. The firm went on to buy the British rights to manufacture Boehm’s
1847 cylindrical flute, which is the basis of the instrument most flute
players use today. Richard Carte, a brilliant businessman, joined the firm
as a partner in the early 1850s and transformed them from a small
business producing high-quality flutes to a hugely-successful concern that
produced and sold flutes and most other instruments as well as
publishing books, music and, for eight decades, The Musical Directory, an
annual guide to the music business in Britain. Rudall, Rose & Carte, as
they became, bought the business of Thomas Key, military musical
instrument maker, adding brass and percussion instruments to their
catalogue. In addition to their instruments and publications, the firm
promoted concerts, for a time under the management of Richard Carte’s
son, Richard D’Oyly Carte, who later made his fortune promoting the
operas of Gilbert & Sullivan. The firm became Rudall, Carte & Company
This book is a comprehensive history of the firm and contains detailed
descriptions of the many innovative instruments they made. There are
hundreds of colour photographs of flutes, alto flutes, bass flutes and
piccolos, each shown in at least two views, and where necessary in three or four views with
photographs of details. The firm’s output is shown in context with photographs of dozens of
flutes made by their competitors including Willis, Prowse, Monzani, Wood, Wylde, ‘Pratten’s
Perfected’ by Boosey & Co., Fentum, Godfroy, Koch, Boehm, Laurent, Gerock, Badger, Ward,
Card, Siccama, Clinton, Lot, Collard and Boehm & Mendler.
The book includes a lavishly-illustrated Gallery containing hundreds of photographs:
Simple-system flutes by George Rudall and by John Mitchell Rose before they formed their
partnership; by Rudall & Rose; by Rudall, Rose & Carte; and by Rudall Carte
Advanced simple-system flutes, including Carte’s ‘Old System’ and flutes made to Clinton
and Siccama systems
Boehm flutes with ring keys, both conical and cylindrical
Modern-style Boehm flutes
Carte’s 1851 Patent flutes
Carte’s 1867 Patent flutes
Unusual flutes, including those made to special order for the inventors Mathews, Martin
Appendices include addresses, dates and serial numbers; workshop photographs; design features
of Rudall Carte flutes; price lists; and fingering charts.
Published 2011. Hardbound. 336 pages. 264mm by 196mm. Price £75 (75 GBP).
Available from the publisher, Tony Bingham (www.oldmusicalinstruments.co.uk) or from the
author (Robert@bigio.com), and from the usual specialist booksellers and flute shops.
Reviews of Rudall, Rose & Carte: The Art of the Flute in Britain
The Galpin Society Journal LXV (March 2012) pp. 201–202. Please click here for a PDF.
Flutist Quarterly (Fall 2011) pp. 68–69. Please click here for a PDF.
The American Musical Instrument Society (AMIS) has awarded the Nicholas Bessaraboff Prize for
2013 for the most distinguished book-length work in English to Robert Bigio’s Rudall, Rose & Carte:
The Art of the Flute in Britain.