More than 150000 items from different historical periods!
The tour of the National Museum of Musical Instruments starts at Palazzina Samoggia the current exhibition venue, the former “Prince of Piedmont” barracks , next to the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, an area rich in important archaeological sites of ancient Rome (the Imperial Palace, the Varian Circus and the Castrense Amphitheatre).
The collection on display in the Musical Instruments Museum is due in large part to the tireless research of the tenor Evangelista Gorga (1865-1957), who, after a brief and brilliant musical career, devoted himself to collecting, gathering together more than 150000 items of different sorts from diverse historical periods, now on display in the Museum. Among these, a rich collection of musical instruments, covering a time span of about two thousand years.
The tour of the National Museum of Musical Instruments, which was inaugurated in 1974, will bring the visitors to see valuable instruments, such as the Barberini harp and the clavicytherium.
The first nine rooms of the Museum which we will visit are arranged primarily according to thematic criteria. The rooms I and II are reserved for instruments from archaeological finds and are very interesting and unique in the museum world . In the seven subsequent rooms are on display, among other things , instruments from all continents , from the Italian folk tradition , ” procession ” and military band instruments, organs and other instruments used in church .
Sadly, the first nine rooms are currently closed to the public for restoration work.
Our itinerary of the tour therefor starts from room X. The room is dedicated to the piano made in 1722 by Bartolomeo Cristofari, universally recognized as the inventor of this instrument; this is one of the most famous attractions of the museum. In the next room XI appear, among other things, instruments from the collection of Marcello Giusti del Giardino, which was acquired by the Italian State in 1966; note the keyboard instruments belonging to Alessandro Marcello, brother of the famous Benedetto, and a harpsichord of Hans Muller (1537), the world’s oldest German harpsichord.
Passing to Room XII, we find a rich collection of psalteries, very ancient instruments, which have now virtually disappeared. Here they are also guitars, lutes, mandolins, cymbals and spinets of the 17th and 18th centuries. In room XII are displayed various types of instruments from the 7th through the 13th centuries. The next room XIV houses one of the masterpieces of the museum, the so-called Barberini Harp. A masterpiece of sculpture made between 1605 and 1620 for the Barberini family, it was given in use for many years to the famous musician and composer Marco Marazzoli, the latter then returned it o the Barberini. It was immortalized in a famous painting by Lanfranco 1639, the “Allegory of Music”, today at Palazzo Barberini. In the hall we find a singular XV harpsichord, the clavicytherium, a vertical instrument instead of horizontal, and the beautiful Neapolitan positive organ of the eighteenth century with a bird register: ten lead pipes taking water into a lead container full of water.
Our visit of the National Museum of Musical Instruments ends on the second floor of the building, where we can visit the reproduction of the salon-studio of composer and musician Giovanni Sgambati (1841-1914), as it appeared in its original location in Piazza di Spagna.