Flute Maker Claude Laurent

Claude Laurent's crystal flute
Madison's crystal flute

March 16, 2001 - Melissa Block interviews Rob Turner, who will play James Madison's crystal flute Friday night at the gala Library of Congress dinner celebrating James Madison's 250th Birthday. Turner also is president of PDI Recordings Inc. of Charlottesville, which released Mr. Madison's Crystal Flute recorded at Montpelier, the Madison home.

The lead crystal flute was made in Paris in 1813 by French flute maker Claude Laurent, who began to patent and produce the instruments in the early 1800s. Many of the flutes were intended as luxury showpieces, and featured silver mountings with some gold parts.

The flutes emit an ethereal quality of sound that is distinctly different from wood flutes of the same period. Some evidence suggests Laurent died in 1857 and that approximately 40 of his flutes survive today. The Library of Congress has 18 of them, including the one presented to James Madison.