Alto Recorder in F

Maker: Johann Benedikt Gahn (German, Nuremberg 1674–1711 Nuremberg)

Date: ca. 1700

Geography: Nürnberg, Germany

Culture: German

Medium: Ivory

Dimensions: Height: 19 1/8 in. (48.6 cm)

Classification: Aerophone-Whistle Flute-recorder

Credit Line: The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889

Accession Number: 89.4.909


Johann Benedikt Gahn was admitted as master in the Nürnberg wood turners guild in 1698. Specializing in musical instruments he maintained a workshop until his death in 1711. About sixteen recorders and a few oboes of ivory or boxwood have survived. Some of his recorders, like this one, feature a carved decoration with acanthus leaves and a mask, a motive, linked to Nürnberg, and appearing on other instruments by other makers. It occurs on peg boxes of viols and on recorders of the famous Nürnberg woodwind maker, Johann Wilhelm Oberlender the Elder (1681–1763). The alto recorder, one of several members of the recorder family, became the favorite size after 1700 and many chamber pieces were written for it. It was also assigned solo tasks in orchestral works of the period.