My name is Rebecca Solomowitz and this is my first semester as an intern at Historic Huguenot Street. I am a history major with a minor in Jewish Studies at SUNY New Paltz. The first project we have been working is an inventory of the Deyo House. The inventory is allowing me to get to know the collection with a hands-on approach. This week’s object is an ocarina on display in Gertrude Deyo’s day room. The instrument caught my eye because of its unique shape. It is a flute from the early 1800s, donated to HHS by Marian Powell. This flute has a bulbous shape, round at one end and pointed at the other. The player would blow into the piece that juts out at the bottom and their fingers would cover the holes except one at a time to create music. This ocarina is made with terra-cotta clay and is painted black with gold point for decoration and musical notes. This specific ocarina has a gold stamp that says “made in Austria.”
The ocarina is in the flageolet family and is closely related to the rare triple flageolet. The flageolet family was the easiest of all instruments to play. The flageolet family in the 19th century could be compared to recorder for us today. The ocarina is still played today although it is not very popular.
MacMillan, Douglas. “The English Flageolet, 1800-1900.” Early Music. 2010. Pp. 559-570.