New exhibit explores local 19th-century woodwind makers

Portrait of Philo Ruggles (1765-1829) by Ralph Earl (1751-1801). Courtesy of the Litchfield Historical Society.

A new exhibit called Whirring Lathes, Dulcet Tones: Woodwind Making in Early 19th-Century Connecticut and New York will open on Wednesday, January 25, 2012, at Yale’s Collection of Musical Instruments.

Twenty-six woodwind instruments are on display, including flageolets, fifes, a piccolo, flutes, clarinets, and a bassoon.

The most unusual instrument featured in the exhibit is a bass clarion (a bass clarinet in the shape of a bassoon) made by Uzal Miner after a design that his mentor George Catlin patented in the early 1800s.

The instruments come from the workshops of Edward Riley (New York City), George Catlin (Hartford), Uzal Miner (Hartford), John Meacham, Jr. (Hartford and Albany), Asa Hopkins (Litchfield), Benjamin & Munger (New Haven), and Firth, Hall, and Pond (New York City and Litchfield).

Enhancing the displays of instruments are period portraiture, genre scenes, newspaper advertisements, instrument tutors, and instruction books. Facsimiles of engravings enable viewers to see what kind of lathes were used in the turning of woodwinds at this time. Actual wood samples acquaint viewers with the different species of woods that were favored by makers: boxwood, satinwood, rosewood, cocuswood, ebony, and maple. MORE

Published January 23, 2012
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Music Library opens Liszt exhibit

This fall the Gilmore Music Library marks Liszt’s 200th birthday with an exhibit entitled Franz Liszt: Transcending the Virtuosic. The most dazzling pianist of the nineteenth century, a strikingly innovative composer; an important conductor, teacher, and author; and a charismatic personality, Liszt was as one of the most talented, colorful, and influential figures in the history of music.

The exhibit features five musical manuscripts wholly or partly in Liszt’s hand, four of his letters (including ones to his daughter Cosima and his friend Robert Schumann), three early printed editions of his music, two books about Liszt (a biography published during his lifetime and a novel by an alumna of Yale’s PhD program in musicology), three images (depicting Liszt in boyhood, middle age, and old age), and a medallion that was owned at various times by Liszt, Toscanini, and Horowitz. There is also a rose that he is said to have kissed.

View the exhibit online HERE.

Published December 16, 2011
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Online Schumann exhibit launches

On June 8, the Gilmore Music Library celebrated Robert Schumann’s 200th birthday with the installation of an exhibit designed by Richard Boursy and entitled Robert Schumann: Composer, Critic, and Correspondent.

A central figure in the romantic movement in Germany, Schumann (1810–1856) concentrated on piano music in the early phase of his career, and eventually came to excel in genres ranging from the song to the symphony.

Perhaps the most important music journalist of his era, Schumann edited the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik and wrote reviews heralding the genius of the 21-year-old Chopin and the 20-year-old Johannes Brahms. Clara Wieck Schumann (1819–1896), Robert’s wife, was one of the greatest pianists of the century, and a notable composer as well.

This week the exhibit’s online version makes its debut. Click HERE to view. MORE

Published July 12, 2010
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Exhibit of New Yorker covers will explore the ‘Lighter Side of Music’

John O’Brien’s illustration “Symphony of Strings: Rich in Fundamental” is among the New Yorker covers on display.

An exhibit of humorous New Yorker covers on musical subjects will open at the Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments on Wednesday, May 12.

Titled “The Lighter Side of Music: New Yorker Covers (1931-2010),” the show features the works of 23 New Yorker artists, including Rose Silver, Abe Birnbaum, Perry Barlow, Mary Petty, Robert Tallon, William Steig, and Peter De Seve.

Among the covers on view are Rea Irvin’s depiction of a musician practicing his large double bass within the confines of a small hotel room (Sept. 17, 1949) and Paul Degen’s rendering of a soaring skyscraper inspired by the shape of a grand piano (Nov. 12, 1990).

Scenes of symphony orchestras on-stage, off-stage, or in the pit have been a frequent subject of the magazine’s cover illustrators for eight decades, as seen in differing interpretations by Abner Dean, Julian De Miskey, Roger Duvoisin, Peter Arno, Arthur Getz, Charles Elmer Martin, John O’Brien, and J.J. Sempé.

All of the covers on display are from the collection of Susan E. Thompson, curator of the museum. The exhibit will remain on view through Nov. 18. MORE

Published May 11, 2010
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