National Music Museum - Collection


The NMM is the only place in the world where one can find two 18th-century grand pianos with the specific type of action conceived by the piano's inventor, Bartolomeo Cristofori. One of these built in 1767 by Manuel Antunes of Lisbon, is the earliest signed and dated piano by a maker native to Portugal; the other, built by Louis Bas in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon in 1781, is the earliest extant French grand piano.

Other extraordinary keyboards include a Neapolitan virginal (ca. 1520), three 17th-century Flemish harpsichords (two by Andreas Ruckers), 17th- and 18th-century English, German, Portuguese, and French harpsichords, and German and Swedish clavichords.

A group of 500 instruments made in the late-19th-, early-20th centuries by the C.G. Conn Company of Elkhart, Indiana, is a resource unparalleled anywhere for historical research about a major American industry and the American band movement.

The NMM's holdings by 17th- and 18th-century Nürnberg makers of wind instruments, including members of the Denner, Ehe, Haas, Oberlender, and Steinmetz families, as well as Ernst Busch, Paul Hainlein, Johann Benedikt Gahn, Johann Carl Kodisch, Leonhard Maussiel, Michael Nagel, and Paulus Schmidt, are unique outside of Germany.

The NMM's holdings of 17th- and 18th-century Dutch woodwind instruments by such makers as Richard Haka (represented here by a soprano recorder made ca. 1690), Hendrik Richters, Philip Borkens, and Abraham van Aardenberg is unique outside of the Netherlands.

The Witten-Rawlins Collection of early Italian stringed instruments crafted by Andrea Guarneri, Antonio Stradivari, three generations of the Amati family, and others by far surpasses any in Italy. Included are two of only three, 17th-century Cremonese stringed instruments preserved in the world today in unaltered condition. Additionally, the NMM preserves one of only two Stradivari guitars to be seen in a museum setting, and one of only two Stradivari mandolins known to survive.

The sum of these groups of American, Dutch, German, and Italian instruments is to be found nowhere else.

The 1994 addition of the John Powers Saxophone Collection (Aspen, Colorado) and the Cecil Leeson Saxophone Collection and Archives (transferred from Ball State University) make the NMM the preeminent center for studying the history of the saxophone.

The 1996 addition of the Rosario Mazzeo (Carmel, California) and the Bill Maynard (Massapequa, New York) Clarinet Collections make the NMM the preeminent center for studying the clarinet.

The 1999 addition of the Joe & Joella Utley (Spartanburg, South Carolina) Collection and the establishment of the Utley Institute for Brass Studies makes the NMM the preeminent center for studying the history of brass instruments.

The Alan Bates Harmonica Collection and Archives (Wilmington, Delaware), received as a gift in 2000, is second in size and importance only to the Harmonika Museum in Trossingen, Germany.

The 2005 gift of the D'Angelico, D'Aquisto, Gudelsky Workshop was the focus of a major exhibition, "Great American Guitars" (by D'Angelico, D'Aquisto, Fender, Gibson, Martin, and Stromberg-Voisinet).

In April 2007, the Museum outbid New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art at a Christie's auction in acquiring a rare English cittern dating from the late 16th century, "This instrument is extremely rare, probably the only English cittern from the Renaissance known to survive," Museum Director Andre Larson said. "We already have an Italian cittern from the same period, but it's one of two or three that have survived."

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