Emerson DeFord


Oral History Information

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Emerson Flute Company

Emerson DeFord was a master craftsman who as a builder designed a number of flutes ranging from student models to professional instruments. As a businessman, he formed a number of well-branded companies including E. L. DeFord Flutes, the Picolo Company, Custom Woodwinds and Emerson Musical Instruments. As a passionate music maker, he supported school music programs, donated countless instruments and designed flutes for those with special needs. As a teacher, he mentored younger generations on the art form of flute design and building. He began making flutes in 1952 and was still hard at work into his 90s. Emerson never lost the drive to improve, often sighting the need to make student models as playable as possible. Throughout his career Em, as he was known, sat at his workbench hammering and cutting each and every part of the instrument, some 380 parts in all. His brands gained international fame when he was requested to create instruments for symphonic orchestras and for such popular programs as the Lawrence Welk television show.