Yesterday I woke up to an email in my flutenet folder posted by Bradley Leighton informing everyone of Felix Skowronek’s death on 4/17/06. To say the least, I was shocked and very saddened to read this as I’ve known Felix for the past few years – he was THE modern wood flute guy on the planet!
I first heard about Felix from Russell Phillips at Flutemakers Guild when I was just getting started as their rep here in the USA about five years ago. I remember Russell saying something along the lines of “he is mad about wood!,” gave me Felix’s address and phone number and told me to call him up. In talking with Felix, I learned that Felix actually had been the Flutemakers Guild rep back in the 70s before Suzanne Walker (one of his students) took the job. I had long talks with Felix about Flutemakers Guild and remember him saying how unfortunate it was that the company that had been at it for so long had had to stop making their legendary wood flutes due to the death of Ewen McDougall and Harry Seeley’s stroke just as the wood flute was catching on.
Felix also sent me numerous articles that he had written over the years on the wood flute of which I learned a great deal from. I scanned a few of them for him so he could see what they looked like on the Web and just last April, Felix sent me an email asking about the scans:
Remember you made up a temporary website or somesuch and copied my article on wood headjoints for remedial purposes? I can’t seem to find a hardcopy here in my files, so I’d like to get one off the internet you set up — but I forget that address too.
I’m finally getting back to the workshop now and then, making up a bunch of headjoints to carve in June. I underwent heart bypass surgery in early February, taking the quarter off here to recuperate. I’m back in business now, none the worse for wear, playing a concert last Sunday night in fact.
I came across a couple “kiawe” blanks tucked away in some old boxes, and I think I’ll make at least another head or two considering the success of the one you have; i.e. the “cyclops” headjoint. How is it holding up??
Something to think about: we have a wooden flute “cell” in Victoria, BC, and I go up a couple times a year on the Clipper and take heads along to try, etc. Might you be interested sometime, bringing the rest of your FG heads to show? You’ve mentioned visiting, and it’s not all that far away. Also, do you have any publicity shots or even videos of you on the job with that “cyclops” headjoint? I’m collecting a “rogues’ gallery” of wood players.
Fortunately, I was able to find the scans he was asking about (his “Pumping Wood” article) and sent them to him. They have been re-posted here:
My heartfelt condolences to Felix’s family and friends.