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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2018 5:52 am 

Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2003 6:34 am
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Location: Ithaca, NY, USA
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[From the Troy, New York, Daily Whig, March 10, 1862.]
Fred Medex and His Whistle - their History. The subject of this sketch, Fred Medex, was born in a small village on the Garonne river, in France, of parents in moderate circumstances, and in early years evinced a truly marvelous talent for music, which was the wonder and delight of all who heard him play on the instruments in which he excelled. At the early age of six his father bought him a penny whistle - the one he now has - to play with. He learned to play it, and to some purpose. Owing to his family position he was unable to get at such instruments as harps, guitars, or pianos, and consequently all his practice in music was concentrated on that one insignificant toy instrument - his whistle. He practiced and practiced - in his native fields - in the humble cottage of his parents - on his little trundle bed in the hot summer days, would this poor peasant boy lay and seek to attain that power over his instrument which should gladden his musically gifted soul. In a word he sought to attain perfection; he has attained it. At the age of 16 he was drafted in the army of France, and served as a private soldier for three years on foreign duty in Africa. So shattered was his health by the climate of Algiers, that on the return of tle army to France he was discharged, and came then for the first time to this country. But his whistle, be it known, he carried for those three years in his knapsack; and often by the midnight camp fire would cheer his comrades with the bird-like warblings of his "instrument" (!) with their loved "Marseillaise."

The following description of his instrument and his power over it, will give some idea of its novelty: The whistle is 2 1-2 inches in length, original cost two sous, or 1 1-2 cents. It is made of common wood, originally painted yellow, but now almost blackened by age and use; and it has three small holes cut in the top and one below; in fact it is nothing more than what its name pretends - a penny whistle.

He runs with perfect ease a chromatic scale of over two octaves and a half, plays in any key, sharp, flat or natural, plays Operatic gems and selections with exqusite taste and feeling, and with the most brilliant extemporaneous variations. He is now 27 years of age, has been in this country a little over seven years, and speaks English perfectly and fluently without the least taint of foreign accent. He is at present traveling with Williams' Panorama of the War, and will appear at each Entertainment.

[Medex died in 1874]

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2018 11:04 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2009 5:41 am
Posts: 185
Location: High Peak, Derbyshire
That’s brilliant, thanks for posting.

2 1/2 inches would be very high (a garklein recorder is 6 inches-ish in length), and getting two and a half octaves out of a tabor pipe is damn fine work. Oh to hear a recording ...

Steve Mansfield

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