Join us for a conversation with Middlebury College professor emeritus John Elder as he investigates the history and form of Thoreau’s box flute, which now resides in the Concord Museum’s collection. Thoreau inherited the flute upon the death of his beloved brother, John. The instrument reveals the role of music in the Thoreau family as well as links the evolution of woodwinds to broader currents of thought in the mid-nineteenth century. The talk will be complemented with Elder playing some of Thoreau’s favorite music on a boxwood flute almost identical to his in construction and history. privilege
John Elder studied English at Pomona and Yale, and in 1973 he joined the faculty of Middlebury College, with a joint appointment in English and Environmental Studies. John’s special interests as a teacher included American nature writing, English Romanticism, Japan’s haiku tradition, Robert Frost’s poetry, and the contemporary poetry of earth. John’s most recent book is Picking Up the Flute which sets to music a former professor’s musings on retirement, marriage, literature, and the natural world. The memoir is permeated by music, interweaving his narrative of learning to play the Irish flute with stories related to his time teaching at Middlebury College and texts and memories from his past (including those related to Henry David Thoreau) whose meanings echo now with a whole new sound.
$5 Member | $10 Non-Member.
Image: Flute. 1828-1832. Meacham and Pond, Albany, New York. Boxwood, ivory, brass. Gift of Walton Ricketson and Anna Ricketson. Concord Museum collection.