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Of Note

The Apostle of Retrogression

Bradley Strauchen-Scherer, Associate Curator, Department of Musical Instruments

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.

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Of Note

Reminiscing on Andrés Segovia

Ken Moore, Frederick P. Rose Curator in Charge, Department of Musical Instruments

Posted: Friday, February 21, 2014

February 21 marks the birthday of classical guitarist Andrés Segovia (1893–1987). The Museum is home to two of his instruments—including the famed 1937 guitar made by Hermann Hauser, an instrument that Segovia called "the greatest guitar of our epoch."

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Of Note

Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown's Collection Celebrates 125 Years at the Met

Sally B. Brown, Visiting Committee Co-chair, Department of Musical Instruments

Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2014

With her letter of February 16, 1889, Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown (1842–1918) became a "surprise collector" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. As a woman of the time, her confident, independent tone was as unexpected as her collection was little known. She was the wife of a respected New York merchant banker, John Crosby Brown of Brown Bros. & Co., and she herself was of impeccable New England ancestry—the grand-daughter of shipbuilders, clergymen, and schoolmen.

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Of Note

The Legacy of Guitar Virtuoso Justin Holland Lives On

Jayson Dobney, Associate Curator and Administrator, Department of Musical Instruments

Posted: Monday, February 10, 2014

One of the earliest American guitar virtuosos was the African-American Justin Holland, who built a steady career as a performer, composer, and arranger, even before the Civil War. One of the most important guitarists of his generation, Holland was also an avid endorser of the guitar-builder Christian Frederick Martin, many of whose guitars are currently exhibited in Early American Guitars: The Instruments of C. F. Martin, on view through December 7.

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Of Note

Happy Birthday, Mr. Mendelssohn

Jayson Dobney, Associate Curator and Administrator, Department of Musical Instruments

Posted: Monday, February 3, 2014

February 3 marks the birthday of nineteenth-century German composer Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809–1847). A prolific composer, Mendelssohn wrote pieces for orchestra, chamber ensembles, and solo piano.

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Of Note

Joseph W. Drexel and the Beginnings of the Met's Musical Instrument Collection

Rebecca Lindsey, Visiting Committee Member, Department of Musical Instruments and Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014

This year the Museum officially celebrates the 125th anniversary of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments. In 1889 Mrs. John Crosby Brown, the largest donor in the Department's history, gave the first 278 of what would ultimately be more than 3,000 instruments. She was not the founder of the Museum's instrument collection, however—that honor belongs to Joseph W. Drexel (1830–1888). This post is dedicated to Drexel, and is the first in an occasional series that will highlight the history of the collection during this anniversary year.

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Of Note

Happy Birthday, Mr. Mozart

Jayson Dobney, Associate Curator and Administrator, Department of Musical Instruments

Posted: Monday, January 27, 2014

On January 27, 1756, the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born. One of the many musical instrument treasures in the collection at the Museum is a pedal piano attributed to the workshop of Johann Schmidt of Salzburg, Mozart's hometown. Schmidt was a friend of Mozart's father, Leopold, and may have helped him secure the job of court organ and instrument maker in Salzburg.

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Of Note

Now On View: Early American Guitars: The Instruments of C. F. Martin

Jayson Dobney, Associate Curator and Administrator, Department of Musical Instruments

Posted: Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Last week the Department of Musical Instruments opened the exhibition Early American Guitars: The Instruments of C. F. Martin, on view through December 7, 2014, in the André Mertens Galleries for Musical Instruments. Christian Frederick Martin is best known as the founder of the C. F. Martin & Co. guitar company, which has been building guitars for 180 years and is still family owned and operated in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.

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Of Note

A Winter Warmer

Bradley Strauchen-Scherer, Associate Curator, Department of Musical Instruments

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.

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Of Note

Recent Acquisition: PRS Guitar

Jayson Dobney, Associate Curator and Administrator, Department of Musical Instruments

Posted: Monday, January 13, 2014

I first met the guitar manufacturer Paul Reed Smith at a NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) convention in Anaheim, California, several years ago. I had the opportunity to visit with him about his guitars and the company he founded. He began building electric guitars in the 1970s, when he was in college, and showed his instruments to many of the top guitarists of the day, who appreciated his work. In 1985, he founded PRS guitars, and has gone on to have a major influence in the music world.

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About this Blog

The Museum's collection of musical instruments includes approximately five thousand examples from six continents and the Pacific Islands, dating from about 300 B.C. to the present. It illustrates the development of musical instruments from all cultures and eras. On this blog, curators and guests will share information about this extraordinary collection, its storied history, the department's public activities, and some of the audio and video recordings from our archives.