Dr. Bradley Strauchen-Scherer is an associate curator in the Department of Musical Instruments.
Posted: Monday, July 14, 2014
An extraordinarily early and rare wind instrument in the Museum's collection is a tibia from the ancient Mediterranean world. Music was abundant in the Roman Republic, to which Syria was annexed as a province, and the tibia, a double-reed instrument, accompanied many events in Etruscan and Roman daily life. Its ubiquitous depictions in mosaics, pottery, and sarcophagi portray tibia players in wedding processions, entertaining at formal meals, and providing music for laborers. Ovid wrote that the tibia "sang" in temples, at gaming events, and during funeral rites. Both Ovid and Livy recounted a legendary strike by tibia players, which underscores the instrument's great importance.
Posted: Monday, March 31, 2014
Lovers of chamber music have good reason to raise a cheer on March 31, which marks the 282nd birthday of composer Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809), who is often referred to as the "Father of the String Quartet."
Posted: Monday, February 24, 2014
Arnold Dolmetsch (1858–1940) is widely acknowledged as the father of the modern-day early music or historical performance movement. Playing repertoire of the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods on instruments like those that composers knew during their lifetimes brings the essence of these very different soundscapes to life. This week marks Dolmetsch's birthday, and one can celebrate his legacy by attending a period-performance concert in order to appreciate the artistry, scholarship, and innovation of this performance style. Sparked by Dolmetsch's work, an increasing number of soloists, consorts, chamber groups, and orchestras around the world now focus on historically informed performance practices.
Posted: Monday, January 13, 2014
Unlike violinists, French horn players, and most other members of the orchestra, clarinet players usually have a pair of instruments at hand to tackle the concert repertoire. Look closely at the clarinet section and you will notice them switching between instruments during a performance. This is because music in flat keys is easier to play on the B-flat clarinet, while music in sharp keys lies best under the hands on the A clarinet. Clarinets are better in tune when they can be warmed up before playing—a problem when switching back and forth quickly between instruments.