Theobald Böhm as a flutist

Theobald Böhm 1854, photo by Franz Hanfstaengl

by Ludwig Böhm, great-great-grandson

***We continue the publication of a series of articles by Ludwig Böhm from“Commemorative Writing on the occasion of Theobald Böhm’s 200th Birthday, Munich 1994”, gradually approaching the celebration of Theobald Böhm’s 230th birthday in 2024.

Professional Career as a Flautist

The flute-playing career of Theobald Böhm began in 1810, when he received flute lessons from his neighbour, the Munich court flautist Johann Nepomuk Kapeller (1776–1825), who declared after two years that he could not teach him anything more. From 1812 to 1818, Theobald Böhm was first flautist of the Isartortheatre, where he performed on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.

During the day he worked in his father’s jeweller’s shop. In 1818, he was offered a position as flautist in the renowned Munich court orchestra by King Max I. From 1830 until his retirement in 1848, he held the position of first flautist. This orchestra was considered one of the best in the world. Its reputation was established particularly in 1562 by the appointment of Orlando di Lasso, further enhanced in 1778 by unification with the orchestra of Mannheim and in 1836 by the appointment of Franz Lachner.

Theobald Böhm’s outstanding position in the orchestra is shown first in his annual salary, which amounted from 1818 to 350 florins, from 1821 to 600 florins, from 1822 to 700 florins, from 1826 to 900 florins, from 1832 to 1200 florins and from 1848 to 1080 florins (see Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv, Munich, Staatstheater 13388 and the personnel file of Theobald Böhm, Staatstheater 1223).

Theobald Böhm held the first position with a total of 43 months of holidays granted for concert tours. No other court musicians participated so frequently in concerts of the Musikalische Akademie. This institution was founded in 1811 by court musicians for the organization of concerts and it still exists today.

Theobald Böhm was a member from 1821 to 1843, and from 1838 to 1839 served as a member of the board of directors.

Appreciation as a Flautist

Theobald Böhm with Antonio Sacchetti around 1859, photo probably by Franz Hanfstaengl

Analysis of about 120 concert reviews proves that the flute playing of Theobald Böhm was praised to the skies.

Technique: “great technique, easily overcoming difficulties”, “well-known artistic skill”, “much technical skill, particularly in the double tonguing”, “overcomes with ease the extraordinary difficulties without losing the charm”, “renowned skill”, “high degree of skill”

Performance: “charming tone, unfailing performance”, “delicate display of a mild elegiac feeling, a beau-tiful romantic desire, his singing on the instrument emerges from a deeply-feeling heart […] mastery in capturing all the nuances, the melancholy of his charming playing […] soulful melting of the tones […] magic”, “beautifully delicate but also full tone”, “pure melting delicate tones”, “power and delicacy, soul and heart, bravura and persistence”, “masterly performance”, “great purity of the tone, perfect performance”, “excellent tone”, “performance in a really charming way”, “high notes have a real silver sound”, “excellent beautiful performance”, “equality of his powerful tone”, “brilliant performance”

Applause: “thundering”, “excellent”, “frantic”, “frantic clamour”, “enthusiastic”, “rounds and rounds of loud cheers”, “lively”, “like an explosion”, “most animatedly”, “most thundering”, “tremendous”, “greatest”, “real jubilation”

Other remarks: “modesty”, “great talent, untiring diligence, striving after ever better education”, “respect-able modesty”, “cordial affection of all”, “modest artist”, “has won all our hearts”, “tone and harmony re-sounded in every heart”, “brilliant talent”

Comparison with other flautists

Some statements also give a comparison with the other famous flute virtuosi of his time:

Louis Drouet (1792–1873), Amsterdam (visited Munich in October 1822)

Louis Drouet

Anton Bernhard Fürstenau (1792–1852), Dresden, court chapel

Anton Bernhard Fürstenau

Charles Nicholson (1755–1837), London, Royal Academy of Music

Charles Nicholson

Jean Louis Tulou (1786–1865), Paris, Conservatory.

Jean Louis Tulou

In a letter from the Bavarian Court Music Administration dated 26th December 1830, we read that Theo-bald Böhm “is recognized as the best flautist in Germany besides Fürstenau in Dresden”.

In one of the lea-ding music encyclopedias of the 19th century, he is called “one of the first flute virtuosi in Germany” (Men-del, H. / Reißmann, A.: Musikalisches Conversations-Lexicon. Berlin 1880, vol. 1, p. 68).

In a letter to Wilhelm Popp from August 1865, Theobald Böhm called Tulou, Nicholson and Anton Bernhard Fürstenau the early masters. On 28th April 1866 he wrote to Broadwood that as regards great style playing, he had never again heard anything like Nicholson and Tulou. Characteristic of Tulou and Fürstenau was the delicacy of their tone. But in comparison with the powerful tone of Nicholson, produced by enlarged tone holes and huge fingers, this tone was considered too thin.

Theobald Böhm received better reviews in London, only the Spectator thought “that he was an excellent player but inferior to Nicholson in every respect”.

Other comparative statements in concert reviews read as follows:

“In technical skill, he may be inferior to Drouet and Fürstenau, but in respect of his beautiful tone – in my opinion – he outshines both” (Berliner Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, Berlin 23th June 1824, p. 219).

“Mr. Böhm, first flautist of the chapel of Munich, and, in respect of tone and performance, certainly also of Germany […]” (Die Grazien, Munich 25th November 1824, p. 239).

“But as to the performance, we can only utter a high commendation. The reporter, who is fortunate enough to have heard all the great flautists of Germany, France and England living today, cannot admire in any other flautist a greater technique, combined with the warmest delicacy in performance and power of the tone – purity and equality of the latter in all octaves and finally a noble rejection of all common tricks of the virtuoso” (Münchner Allgemeine Musik-Zeitung, Munich 19th April 1828, p. 458–459).

“It is impossible to hear a purer tone, to demonstrate a more delicate performance in a more elegant way than that produced by this artist” (Courrier du Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg 27th January 1831, p. 2).

“His style differs from that of Nicholson and Drouet, inasmuch as he rather strives to touch the heart than to astonish” (The Harmonicon, London 1831, p. 259).

T. Boehm, Grand Polonaise – Paolo Taballione

List of the Concerts by and with Theobald Böhm

Concerts with the conical wooden flute of old construction (Flute with several keys)

1812    ?    ?   Munich, Heiliggeistkirche

1817  March 24. Munich, Redoutensaal

1817  August 21. Munich, Hoftheater (by Giovanna Carlotta Marinoni)

1817  November 27. Munich, Saal der Gesellschaft Museum (by Elise Dreßler)

1818  February 16. Munich, Redoutensaal

1818  March 17. Munich, Hoftheater (by Albertina and Giannina Campagnoli)

1819  March 22. Munich, Hoftheater

1819  November 22. Munich, Hoftheater

1820  December 11. Munich, Hoftheater

1821  November 19. Munich, Hoftheater

1821  December 15. Vienna, Theater an der Wien

1821  December 19. Vienna, Kärntnertortheater

1822  February  1. Nuremberg, Bayerischer Hof

1822  March 4. Munich, Hoftheater

1822  March 18. Munich, Hoftheater

1822  November 29. Regensburg

1822  December 16. Munich, Hoftheater

1823  January 16. Regensburg

1823  February 24. Munich, Hoftheater

1823  March 17. Munich, Hoftheater

1823  April 14. Munich, Hoftheater

1823  October 10.  Munich, Hoftheater (by Ignaz Moscheles)

1823  November 22. Regensburg (with Bernhard Molique)

1823  November 27. Regensburg (with Bernhard Molique)

1823  December 5. Nuremberg, Goldener Adler (with Bernhard Molique)

1823  December  8. Nuremberg, Saal der Gesellschaft Museum (with Bernhard Molique)

1824  January 13. Leipzig, Gewandhaus (with Bernhard Molique)

1824  January 31. Berlin, Behrendscher Saal (with Bernhard Molique)

1824  February 20. Berlin, Opernhaus unter den Linden (with Bernhard Molique)

1824  February 29. Berlin, Schauspielhaus (with Bernhard Molique)

1824  March 26. Kassel (with Bernhard Molique)

1824  April 27. Munich, Hoftheater

1824  September 17. Munich, Hoftheater (by Anna Kraus-Wranitzky)

1824  November 15. Augsburg, Goldene Traube (with Louise Schweizer)

1824  November 20. Augsburg, Fuggersaal (with Louise Schweizer)

1824  November 22. Augsburg (with Louise Schweizer)

1824  December  2. Regensburg (with Louise Schweizer)

1824  December 9. Regensburg (with Louise Schweizer)

1824  December 20. Munich, Hoftheater

1825  February 28. Munich, Hoftheater

1825  March 3. Regensburg (with Louise Schweizer)

1825 March 10. Regensburg (with Louise Schweizer)

1825  May  4. Munich, Hoftheater (by Leopoldine Blahetka)

1825  November 15. Zurich, Casino

1825  November 22. Zurich, Casino

1825  December 17. Augsburg, Goldene Traube

1826  March 6. Munich, Hoftheater

1826  March 10. Munich, Hoftheater (by Joseph Merk)

1826 March 19. Munich, Hoftheater

1826 October 18. Munich, Hoftheater (for the benefit of the Greek)

1826 November 11. Munich, Hoftheater (by Angelica Catalani)

1827  January  9. Zurich, Casino

1827 January 20. Bern, Casino

1827  February  9. Lausanne, Casino

1827  February ? Morges (near Lausanne)

1827 February 22. Genf, Casino

1827 February 26. Lausanne, Casino (with Mr. Beutler)

1827 March 9. Zurich, Casino

1827 April 23. Munich, Hoftheater (by Marie Mathilde Weiß)

1827 June 21. Munich, Hoftheater (by Heinrich Joseph Wassermann)

1827  July  6. Munich, Saal der Gesellschaft des Frohsinns

1828  March 10. Munich, Odeon (opening concert)

1828 March 28. Munich, Odeon (by Mrs. Passerini)

1828 April 21. Munich, Odeon (by Georg Knop)

1828  June ? Vienna

1828  July 10. Graz, Schauspielhaus

1828  July14. Graz, Schauspielhaus

1828 August 18. Venedig

1829   January 9. Munich, Odeon

1830  February  9. Basel, Casino (with Emilie Gerwer)

1830  March 19. Lausanne, Casino (with Emilie Gerwer)

1830  March 27. Genf, Casino (with Emilie Gerwer)

1830  March 31. Lausanne, Casino (with Emilie Gerwer)

1830  May  4. Zurich, Casino (with Emilie Gerwer)

1830  October 30. Munich, Odeon (by Leopoldine Blahetka)

1830  December  7. Munich, Odeon

1831  January  5. Munich, Odeon (by Caroline Perthaler)

1831  January 26. Strasbourg, Theater

1831  January 29. Strasbourg, Theater

1831  April 15. London, King’s Theatre, Haymarket (morning concert)

1831  April 15. London, Hanover Square Rooms (Choral Fund Concert)

1831  May  3. London, King’s Theatre (by Ignaz Moscheles)

1831  May   9. London, King’s Theatre (Philharmonic Concert)

1831  May 14. London, Hanover Square Rooms (by Peter Moralt)

1831  May 23. London, King’s Theatre (by Louise Dulcken)

1831  May 28. London, Argyll Rooms

1831  June 6. London, House of Miss E. Kendrick (by Mrs. Cellini)

1831  June 25. London, King’s Theatre (by Johann Nepomuk Hummel)

1831  October 31. Munich, Odeon (by Charles Philippe Lafont)

1831  November  ?  11.  Munich, Room of the Gesellschaft Harmonie

TH. BOEHM / A / MUNICH 1828-1839. 9 keys, round flat flaps, post and rod, Cocus, silver keys, ferrules

Concerts with the conical wooden flute with ring-keys (first model of the Böhm flute)

1832  November  1. 1Munich, Odeon

1832   November 5. Munich, Gampenriederscher Saal (by Thomas Täglichsbeck)

1833 April 22. Munich, Odeon (by Joseph Treichlinger)

1833  June 29. London, Willis’s Rooms (by Francilla Pixis)

1833 October 17. Munich, Odeon

1834  April 12. Munich, Odeon (by André Hippolyte Chélard)

1835  June ? London (Choral Fund Concert)

1835 November 2. Munich, Room of the Gesellschaft des Frohsinns (by Peter and Wilhelm Moralt)

1835 December 25. Mannheim, Nationaltheater

1836  June 17. London, King’s Theatre (New Musical Fund Concert)

1836  November 16. Munich, Odeon

1837 March 19. Munich, Odeon

1837   November 6. Munich, Room of the Gesellschaft des Frohsinns

1837 November 29. Munich, Odeon

1838 March 12. Munich, Odeon (by Miss Lacy)

1838 March 24. Munich, Odeon (by Miss Lacy)

1838   May 9. Munich, Odeon (by Clara Novello)

1838 November 26. Munich, Room of the Gesellschaft Museum

1839 February 26. Munich, Odeon (by Félicie and Louis Lacombe)

1839  December  9. Munich, Room of the Gesellschaft Museum

1843 March 24. Munich, Hoftheater (charity concert)

1843   May 6. Munich, Odeon (with reading of Franz Stelzhamer)

1843 June 14. Munich, Odeon (by Heinrich Hoffmann)

1844 April 22. Munich, Room of the Gesellschaft Museum

1845  February  9. Augsburg, Gasthof zur goldenen Traube

1845  March 18. Munich, Odeon (by Anna Grieser)

  1. February 28. Munich, Odeon (by Anna Dirr)

1846  March 14. Augsburg, Börsengebäude

  1. April 27. Munich, Room of the Gesellschaft Museum (by Fanny Fleckenstein)
Boehm’s 1847 system, post and rod, open G#. Right hand trill key for B-flat/C (thumb)Brass, with brass cap, originally gold-plated, boxwood embouchure barrel, nickel silver keys and post.

Concerts with the cylindrical silver flute with covered keys (second model of the Böhm flute)

1849   December 3. Munich, Odeon (by Peter Moralt)

1857 March 28. Munich, Room of the Gesellschaft Museum

Boehm system, open G#, Munich, ca. 1854-1861. Cocus, nickel silver keys, ferrules, wood crutch (may belong to another flute)

In the next edition: Theobald Böhm as a composer

© 1994 by Theobald-Böhm-Archiv, Munich. All rights reserved. Any unauthorized reproduction is prohibited by law.

Ludwig Böhm | |

Address: Asamstrasse 6, 82166 Gräfelfing, Germany, tel. 0049-89-875367

Ludwig Böhm was born in Munich, where he studied English, French and Spanish at the University and was a teacher from 1981 to 1983. Inspired by a great exhibition in the Munich Municipal Museum in 1981 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the death of his great-great-grandfather Theobald Böhm (flautist, composer, flute-maker, inventor of the Böhm flute, Munich 1794–1881), he dedicated his life from that time on to keeping the memory of Theobald alive.

As a result of more than 30 years of research, he published in 2012 all 88 compositions and arrangements of Theobald together with Dr. Raymond Meylan and in 2013 20 books and 4 translations from and about him. He travelled to flute festivals in Japan, Australia, USA, Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Italy, Croatia, Luxembourg, Slovenia, China, Great Britain, Iceland, Thailand, Portugal, Chile, Poland and Armenia and presented a slide lecture about Theobald.

He is the President of the Theobald Böhm Archive, founded in 1980, of the Theobald Böhm Society, founded in 1990 and of the Theobald Böhm Foundation, founded in 2014. In 2006, 2011 and 2016, he organized in Munich the 1st, 2nd and 3rd International Theobald Böhm Competition for Flute and Alto Flute.

List of professional open G# players

Current list of 480 professional open G sharp players can be seen in the homepage under “Open G sharp Key”. If you are a professional open G sharp player, who have not yet contacted Ludwig Böhm, please do so at to be added to the list.