Tony Hind with his much-loved flute. This is one of just a few photographs he still has of the instrument; his many others were on his laptop, which was also stolen.
Durban - Arriving back from Cape Town last Saturday, Hillcrest resident Tony Hind was shocked to find his house had been broken into and ransacked.

He was heartbroken when he discovered his much-loved flute, which he was given as a boy, had been stolen.

The flute is 130 years old and was in a case with his piccolo. Hind has offered a R5000 reward for its return.

“A window had been forced open and someone had squeezed through the burglar guard. The case was well tucked away in a cupboard, but it had gone,” said Hind.

Both his parents were musical - his father was a conductor of a military band and his mother was a soprano singer - so it was no surprise when he came home one day as a boy to find his father had bought him a flute.

“He paid £25 and it was about 70 years old at that time. In a stroke of luck, I was able to start lessons with Joseph Slater. He was a former flute player for the London Symphony Orchestra who had come to Durban to retire and joined the Durban Symphony Orchestra, so we found this fantastic old master to teach me.”

The solid silver flute was handmade circa 1880 by Emil Ritterhausen, whose name is inscribed on the flute.

Attending Penzance Primary School and Glenwood Boys High, Hind and his flute did well in a number of eisteddfods. His father had formed a boys’ brass band during that time, so Hind also learned the tuba as a second instrument.

When he was only 14 years old, his teacher told him the Durban Symphony Orchestra needed a second flute player.

“I had been the principal flute player in the SA Youth Orchestra and the Durban Symphony started using me as their second flute player which was quite cool. When I was 16, I played the tuba for the City Hall Christmas concert and then in my matric year I was asked to join the orchestra as a tuba player. But then one of the flute players left and I became the principal flute player,” he said.

Although Hind went on to qualify as an accountant, the flute has remained his true love in the world of music.

“I have played that flute throughout my life. When they closed the Durban Symphony Orchestra in the ’70s there was no orchestra, so a group of musicians would get together and we formed our own ad hoc orchestra,” said Hind.

He played occasionally for the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, but moved to the UK for 15 years, before returning in 2015.

Still doing recitals, Hind said: “Music is mathematical in that it is all about patterns, intervals and beats and I play a wide-ranging programme.

“My flute is quite unique and is quite possibly one of the few remaining by that flute-maker.

“When I got back to find our place ransacked, it was very traumatic. That flute is part of my life and we have played a lot of beautiful music together.”

The burglary was reported to Hillcrest SAPS.

Having already visited many second-hand shops searching for his flute this week, Hind said he was offering a R5000 reward for its return. He can be contacted at 0741454417 or email [email protected]

Independent On Saturday