The Sound and Feel of Great Design
The Sound and Feel of Great Design
“We have grown, yet we continue to be a small company with a focus on stability, quality and performance of our instruments. The Burkart name is trusted worldwide for these traits. Here music making, instrument building, and service to players are closely integrated.”
– Lillian Burkart
Early Years & Education
Lillian Burkart was born in Louisiana, moving shortly after to live in Beaumont, Texas. Her father’s career as a trumpet player and professor eventually moved their family to Madison, WI and later Ohio. As a member of a musical family, Lillian fell in love with the flute at the age of 10. Her studies with Bob Cole led her to complete her schooling at the Philadelphia Music Academy as a student of John Krell, colleague of William Kincaid and long-time piccolo player of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Upon completion of her schooling, Lillian stayed in the Philadelphia area to teach at Settlement Music School.
A New Chapter
Lillian fully intended to be a performing and teaching flutist; however, during her time in Philadelphia, she noticed that the local flute repair technician had an abundance of work, leaving him with no time to teach a protégé. As a result, she decided to pursue training at a premier Boston flute maker, starting first as a body maker and later mastering all elements of flute making. Eventually, overwhelming demand for a highly researched and newly developed piccolo caused Lillian to start her own company.
As her new workshop began to grow and Burkart-Phelan, Inc. blossomed, Lillian pursued further education in accounting and material science. Under Lillian’s careful direction, Burkart Flutes and Piccolos continued to add new instruments to its offerings while focusing on its core traits of stability, quality, and performance. Often called the “first lady of flute making,” Lillian’s contributions to the technical advancement of the instrument, as well as the education of future generations of craftspeople and technicians, furthered her vision to craft instruments of the highest quality.
The Early Years
Equipped with years of experience in band instrument repair, key making, and padding, Jim Phelan held the position of general manager of Powell Flutes in 1984. Recognizing the need to bring 20th-century technology to the flute making process, Jim began engineering courses in 1986. Jim later completed his mechanical engineering degree at Northeastern University.
Upon completion of his degree, Jim entered the world of mechanical engineering designing electron-beam guns, automobile components and surgical instruments. After a few years, however, in response to increasing requests for a Lillian Burkart flute, Jim joined Lillian in building beautiful instruments, uniting his engineering skill and 18 years of flute making expertise.
Jim has authored the Complete Guide to the Flute and produced the “Flute Fitness” video on repair. He continues to give lectures on repair, building, and acoustics of musical instruments.
The Burkart name is trusted worldwide for extraordinary quality, compelling sound, and unsurpassed design.
Skilled artisans and capable flutists make up our diverse team of highly specialized craftspeople. Together, our mission is to produce instruments that propel flutists towards their musical best, allowing them to push the boundaries of performance and craft a soulful and distinctive sound.
Under the watchful eye of Lillian Burkart, our team of artisans carefully constructs and tests each instrument with pride before sending it to its final owner. When you purchase a Burkart flute or piccolo, you enter into a relationship that will be profoundly rewarding for a lifetime of music-making.
In April of 2006, Burkart-Phelan, Inc. relocated to the historic mill building, Phoenix Park, in Shirley, Massachusetts. A fully equipped machine shop, larger flute making area, and acoustically designed testing room allows Burkart’s craftspeople to continue providing world-class instruments for today’s discerning musicians.