John Radcliff (1842-1917)



Born: Liverpool, 6 December 1842.   Died: London, 3 March 1917.


Born into a family of amateur flautists, John Radcliff started learning as a youngster. It is said that he provided himself with a penny whistle which he converted into a flute by stopping up the end and fashioning a mouth hole. After a year or so of practice his father arranged tuition and a proper instrument. His teacher was Samuel Percival (1824-c.1890), flautist composer and organist in Liverpool.


By the age of 12, Radcliff made his first concert appearance in Birkenhead and three years later headed for London where he was admitted to the Royal Academy of Music being elected an associate the following year. Having adopted the Boehm flute he started as a professional c.1858 and ten years later accepted an engagement as principal flute at the Royal Italian Opera succeeding Pratten. He held the post for 15 years. At the same time he was also principal flute of the Sacred Harmonic Society and from 1881-1917 was Professor of flute at Trinity College of Music and the Royal Academy. One of his best known pupils was H.Warner Hollis.


His  professional career came to a temporary halt after appearing at the Leeds Festival of 1883 when he set off for Australia, where in January the following year, he married the opera singer Pauline Rita.

In 1870 Radcliff designed a flute model of his own which successfully used Boehm’s arrangement of tone holes whilst retaining the old system of fingering.


Radcliff composed a number of pieces for flute most of which were published by Rudall Carte and Chappell.



John Radcliff



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