Burkart-Phelan, Incorporated was founded in 1982 by Lillian Burkart and James Phelan.
They met while in the employ of Verne Powell flute company. Jim, an accomplished band instrument repairman, built keys, padded flutes and became general manager.
Lillian made flute bodies, keys, padded flutes and piccolos and tested instruments.
The new BPI was originally founded to provide outside subcontract services to Powell for the manufacture of piccolos.
Uniquely positioned in the repair department, as well as servicing private repair needs of flutists around the country, Lillian had studied the elusive complexities of the piccolo. Taking a leave of absence from flute making, after six months of design, tooling and testing, Lillian had produced a prototype piccolo, which combined the best acoustical attributes of all piccolos studied. For nine years this instrument was made under the roof of Burkart-Phelan, Inc., and retailed as the Powell piccolo.
Married in 1984, they moved the business to Stoneham, Massachusetts. It was also that year that Jim acquired the Powell company from the previous owners, Dick Jerome and Elmer Waterhouse.
In 1986, Powell called Lillian back as headjoint maker. Again, her efforts resulted in increased sales and allowed Powell to expand into Japan and Korea. Jim began engineering courses in in 1986, recognizing the need to bring 20th century technology to the flute making process. The same year he brought in a new partner who brought an infusion of capital and management expertise. Jim left Powell in 1989 and he finished his mechanical engineering degree at Northeastern University. As Jim completed his studies, BPI grew under Lillian's direction.
In 1990, 10 years of expertise in piccolo making culminated in the introduction of the Lillian Burkart custom piccolo, which today offers a choice of one of Lillian's three distinct headjoint styles.
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 from players using the Lillian Burkart flute headjoint, Jim joined his wife in building beautiful instruments, uniting his engineering skill and 18 years of flutemaking 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.
On demand of Burkart headjoint players and piccolo owners, the Lillian Burkart flute, with numerous innovations was premiered in 1996.
As a world leader in piccolo making, Lillian along with Jim's engineering expertise introduced the all new Burkart & Phelan piccolo in August of 1998. This instrument is a moderately priced, handmade piccolo with grenadilla wood body and solid sterling silver keys.
In March of 1998, the workshop and offices of Burkart-Phelan, Inc. moved into an expanded facility in Acton, Massachusetts, a western suburb of Boston.
Following the success of the Lillian Burkart Flute, BPI launched the competitively priced Burkart & Phelan Flute in late 2002, made with drawn-tone holes and coupled with the Lillian Burkart professional headjoint.
"Flutists who play the piccolo only occasionally really need a good instrument to turn to" said Lillian from the audience of many high school and amateur performances. To that end Jim and Lillian collaborated to build a first purchase piccolo with some of the professional attributes found in the Lillian Burkart piccolo and the Global piccolo was introduced in 2004.
In April of 2006, Burkart-Phelan, Inc. relocated to the historic mill building, Phoenix Park, in Shirley, Massachusetts. A larger machine shop, more effective flute making area, and redesigned testing room allows Burkart's craftsmen to continue providing world-class instruments for today's demanding musicians.
Burkart's pinless mechanism, the micro-Link, and the XXV piccolo were both launched in the year 2007 in the premier instrument line. Continuing to capitalize on efficiencies in building, international collaborations and advancing engineering, the Resona (tm) Flute was introduced in 2008. To clarify the growing choices in the Burkart family on flutes and piccolos several instruments were renamed in 2009.
Today, flutes and piccolos produced by Burkart-Phelan, Inc. are played by students, teachers, amateurs, and professionals in over 35 countries and on every continent except Antarctica - at least we're not aware of any instruments of ours in Antarctica. (Please contact us if you're playing our piccolo or flute there!)
Builds flutes at VQP
Co founded Burkart-Phelan, Inc
Married to Lillian
Sold interest in VQP
Completes Mechanical Engineering degree
Works as engineer outside of musical instrument industry
Builds flutes at VQP
Departs VQP and Co founded Burkart-Phelan, Inc
Makes Burkart flute and piccolo headjoints
Sub contracts piccolos for VQP
Married to Jim
Locates Burkart co. in Stoneham, MA
Premiers the Lillian Burkart piccolo
Jim joins Burkart-Phelan, Inc in Harvard, MA
Premier of Lillian Burkart flute
Premier of Burkart-Phelan piccolo
Locate business in Acton, MA
Premier of Burkart-Phelan flute
Premier of Global piccolo
Locate business in Shirley, MA
Introduction of micro-Link mechanism
Introduction of XXV piccolo
Premier Resona flute
Re-naming of instrument lines *