The life and work of John Clinton

By Adrian C. Duncan and Terry McGee


The eminent mid-Victorian era flautist John Clinton (1810-1864) remains one of the more enigmatic figures in the history of the transverse flute, and he has not fared well at the hands of previous writers. Our study will attempt to enhance our understanding of Clinton’s true place in the hierarchy of innovators of the flute.  We will begin by examining what is recorded about Clinton’s life and activities, including what is known about his musical sensibilities as well as his relationship with Boehm and other innovators of his time.  We will then present an objective assessment of a hitherto un-catalogued 1851 Clinton-designed flute made by Henry Potter, placing this instrument in its historical context as far as possible. Finally, based on this assessment as well as the historical record, we will offer our own evaluation of the path down which Clinton was heading with this flute, as well as some fresh speculation regarding Clinton’s character, motivations and abilities.


Clinton's Flutes

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