Its sound has gone largely unheard since the early 20th century, but could the csakan now be set for a revival? Wenner Flöten, a firm of instrument makers and repairers from Singen, Germany, certainly hopes so. The company has just completed its first model of the instrument, which resembles a keyed recorder and is believed to have originated from Hungary.
The csakan’s life on the musical scene lasted around a century. It was first played in concert in 1807, at a concert given by composer and flautist Anton Heberle, who is also believed to be the instrument’s inventor. Heberle himself wrote a number of pieces for the csakan, as did contemporaries such as Diabelli, Stadler, Klingenbrunner and Gebauer – the instrument’s catalogue of works stretches to around 400 pieces.
Wenner Flöten’s csakan is based on an instrument made by the highly regarded Johann Ziegler (1795-1858) and, a company spokesperson tells BBC Music Magazine, ‘has a calm, warm and intimate sound which expresses the Romanticism of the early 19th century. It was not designed to be played in large concert halls. It was played in coffee shops and bars, with a guitar or strings.’
The company says that this will not be its first and last csakan. It has already received interest from professional musicians and plans to make further csakans to order, hopefully leading to a resurgence in interest in the instrument.