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The Wayne Sorensen Collection of Woodwind Instruments

NMM 3081. Flute by Cornelius Ward, London, 1842; 
NMM 3232. Flute by Louis Lot, Paris, 1887; 
NMM 3230. Flute by Boehm & Mendler, Munich, after 1867

Flutes from the Wayne Sorensen Collection, 1982-1983 (top to bottom):

NMM 3081. Flute by Cornelius Ward, London, with the key system patented by Ward in 1842.

NMM 3232. Flute by Louis Lot, Paris, 1887.

NMM 3230. Flute by Boehm & Mendler, Munich, after 1867.

Highlights of the Collection...

Among the 145 instruments in the Sorensen collection is a flute built by Cornelius Ward of London with the special key system that Ward patented in 1842; a one-keyed flute in F made by Edward Hopkins of Troy, New York, sometime after 1839; a piccolo in D-flat by George Cloos of New York, made after 1869; two matched sets of late-19th-century clarinets in A, B-flat, and C by Theo. Berteling of New York; and flutes by Boehm & Mendler, Munich, after 1867; E. Rittershausen, Berlin, after 1893; Louis Lot, Paris, after 1855; and A. G. Badger, New York, before 1887. All are in splendid condition and represent some of the finest craftsmanship of the 19th century.


About the Collector...

A native of Pocatello, Idaho, Willard Wayne Sorensen joined the local High School Band as an oboist in 1932. His family had little money, and the only instrument available to him was an oboe. Later he was to become oboe soloist with the Pocatello Symphony Orchestra, and eventually he received a scholarship to study the instrument at Brigham Young University where he earned his B.S. degree in music education in 1942. In 1951 he received his M.A. in music from San Jose State University.

During World War II, Sorensen joined the U.S. Army and was stationed at Camp Roberts, California, where he played in the 255th Army Ground Forces Band as well as in a special orchestra which played for Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Red Skelton, and other stars. After his release from military service, Sorensen taught for several years in Idaho; then, on September 1, 1948, he began a long career on the music faculty at San Jose State University in San Jose, California. He was also principal oboist in the Santa Clara Philharmonic Orchestra and played English horn with the San Jose Philharmonic.


Collecting:  a Search-and-Rescue Mission...

Sorensen began to collect instruments in 1948. As he notes, "They were rescued from the floors and bins of repair shops in the area. Many were purchased from Good Will, and local music stores saved instruments for me. Many productive hours were spent in the antique stores of the area, and my students, knowing of my interest, brought me many instruments." According to Sorensen, his collecting specialty was "early Boehm-system clarinets and flutes and early key systems."

Excerpted from André P. Larson, The Shrine to Music Museum: A Pictorial Souvenir (Vermillion: The Shrine to Music Museum, 1988).

Many instruments from the Wayne Sorensen Collection are on display in the Cutler Gallery. Others are available for examination by appointment (see access guidelines) in the Museum's study-storage areas.

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Most recent update:   March 3, 2014

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