William S. Haynes
Serial # 18530; Boston; 1947; soldered silver thinwall body & mechanism; sl 596mm; A=442-444; 371g; .010"h .011"b

Georges Laurent (b.1886), principal flutist in the Boston Symphony from 1918 through 1952 and on faculty at the New England Conservatory of Music, was a great proponent of the French style of flute playing he learned from Taffanel, Hennebains, and Gaubert while at the Paris Conservatoire—the concepts of tonal homogeneity, of "sensitive" timbral control, and of the "new" French ideal of constant vibrato.

In an effort to reproduce the coveted "early French" sound of the Louis Lot flutes, Laurent had Haynes make a series of flutes to his specification in direct imitation of the 19th century French masters, with C foot and open holes. (As Rampal said, "Real flutes have C foots.")  But by far the most difficult specification was for a very thin silver body wall thickness.

Haynes 23950 box engraving
'Normal' thinwall .014" -vs- Laurent .012"
The Haynes artisans were able to extrude toneholes from thinwall tubing down to .014" thickness, but the process was very tricky and the resulting toneholes were easily damaged.  Some of these, with pointed keywork, were made for Laurent and his students in the 1920's.  But to meet his desired thickness of .012" or less, drawn toneholes were out of the question.  Lewis Deveau used soldered tone holes on this series of instruments. The tubing is so flexible that the flutes are quite fragile.  The solder joins are prone to damage not just by traumatic misadventure, but also by a repairman unfamiliar with the delicacy of the instrument.
But when the flute is well made and maintained, it seems to float in the hands even though it is only about 30g lighter than a typical Haynes handmade.  It articulates almost effortlessly, and you feel the instrument vibrate almost as if you were holding the music naked, delicate and vibrant between your fingertips.  The flute seems to flex within your grasp, so you instinctively lighten your touch -- not to preserve the flute so much as to let the sound slip through unimpeded.

This flute was delivered to Laurent in 1947, and he passed it on to his student (a faculty member at State University of New York-Buffalo).  The body thickness is close to .011" and the head joint measures just .010" at the tenon.

Thanks to Jim Calabrese, Alan Weiss, Phillip Kaplan, John Levine and Marjorie Bollinger for helping me learn more about the historical development of this flute!

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