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The Recorder: some Historical Landmarks
THE recorder is one of the oldest musical wind instruments in existence and was played in England as far back as the eleventh century. Not much is known about it in these early years but its popularity, along with other instruments, was well established in the sixteenth century, for it is on record that Henry VIII played both the transverse flute and the recorder and he is known to have possessed a large number of instruments of both types.
Shakespeare introduced a group of recorder players on to the stage in Hamlet and used the instrument frequently in several of his plays. Other playwrights made use of the instrument to provide music of a quiet and restful type.
In the following century, the famous English diarist Samuel Pepys visited the theatre known as the King's House on 27th February 1668 to see The Virgn Martyr and wrote that cthat which did please me beyond any thing in the whole world was the wind-music when the angel comes down, which is so sweet that it ravished me, and indeed, in a word, did wrap up my soul so that it made me really sick, just as I have formerly been when in love with my wife; that neither then, nor all the evening going home, I was able to think of any thing, but remained all night transported, so as I could not believe that ever any music hath that real command over the soul of a man as this did