Finding even more stuff

August 22, 2009

I spent a total of three days this week going through old musical instruments in three different rooms at school. We were dumbfounded to find the most amazing instruments: viols, sackbuts, shawms, recorders, and many other well-known early music instruments, but the most amazing discovery was a Cecilium. The most lovable, if not slightly homely instrument I’ve ever seen. It’s a cross between an harmonium, a proto-accordian, and a cello (sic). I found an image of one, but ours is actually a bit older. There were only 310 of them made, and ours was likely one of the earliest. Here is a French video of one. (You have to wait through a minute of reporting.)

Le cecilium – La
La Normandie est une terre de musique. C’est pour cela que le musée des tradition des arts normands propose une exposition permanente. L’occasion de découvrir un instrument typique normand : le cecilium.

In another room, I went through our extensive violin, viola and cello collection and found quite a large number of 17th and 18th century instruments whose value has likely appreciated. Although we have an inventory of most of the instruments, there were some beautiful instruments, new and old, tucked away in corners, behind boxes, hidden in locked cabinets, that were unidentified and not in the inventory. I am no expert or conservator, but one of our staff members who has expertise, and I have carefully locked them away in a humidity-controlled room. We will be hiring a museum scientist to go over all these beauties and advise us on their condition and worth. You can imagine what a joy it has been spending time with these beautiful old instruments. And who knew that being a Chair could occasionally be like a Hardy Boys episode?

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October 3, 2009 at 12:57 pm


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