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Collection of Musical Instruments

The Harvard University Collection of Musical Instruments is available to students to help promote the appreciation of musical instruments from all cultures and time periods. As a resource for the music department, the Collection serves as a laboratory for courses in period performance, world music, and organology. The Collection comprises objects including instruments, both Western and non-Western, the Isham Collection, and a small group of musical miscellany. They represent the cultures and traditions of many parts of the world including Europe, North America, the British Isles, and the mid- and far-east, especially China.

The Collection began with the donation of the Isham viols in 1949. It now comprises objects including both Western and non-Western instruments, the Isham Collection, and a small group of musical miscellany. They represent the cultures and traditions of many parts of the world including Europe, North America, the British Isles, and a few from the mid- and far-east, especially China. The objects range from rare 17th-century lutes to Japanese kotos. Here you'll find a piano made by Streicher & Sons of Vienna in 1869; the piano Brahms would have played. The collection also features a William Dowd harpsichord and a Dolmetsch clavichord once played by virtuoso Gustav Leonhardt. Other highlights include Baroque viols, French 19th-century clarinets, and a Pardessus de Viole created in the French city of Metz in 1730.

Many of the instruments were originally intended to promote the performance of early music at Harvard. However, the increasing rarity and value of the old instruments in the collection has required that a large portion of the collection be cared for as historic pieces and not often performed upon, and the Collection is currently divided into two parts: a museum collection and a circulating collection. In recent years, the lending collection of modern copies of baroque instruments has substantially increased, and early music performance is now flourishing at Harvard. The Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra uses a complete set of baroque orchestral instruments, and the Department recently purchased a number of viols for coursework.

The Collection is currently divided into two parts: a museum collection and a circulating collection. In recent years, the lending collection of modern copies of baroque instruments has substantially increased, and early music performance is now flourishing at Harvard. The Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra uses a complete set of baroque orchestral instruments, and the Department recently purchased a number of viols for coursework and use by the Harvard Baroque Chamber Ensemble.


Mission
Gifts and Donations to the Instrument Collection
The Collection

String
Wind
Keyboard
Non-Western
Musical Miscellany

Isham Collection

Access
Contact us

 

Mission

The Harvard University Collection of Musical Instruments is available to students, musical colleagues and scholars to help promote the appreciation of musical instruments from all cultures and time periods. As a resource for the music department, the Collection serves as a laboratory for courses in period performance, world music, and organology.

 

Gifts & Donations

Inquiries concerning donations of musical instruments and related objects will be considered according to the University's accession policies and current program of acquisition. Write musicdpt@fas.harvard.edu or call 617-495-2791.

 

 

Access

Access to the room is open to students in performance practice seminars, coachings of the Blodgett program during residencies, individual students with the consent of a faculty member, and upon application to the Department Administrator, subject to availability.

Instruments that may be borrowed by eligible students are:

Bowed String Instruments

56, HUCP3294. Viola da gamba (tenor) by Eugen Sprenger, German, 1952. Printed label: Eugen Sprenger /Lauten- und Geigenmacher in Frankfurt M./ Made In Germany 1952. Department Purchase from the maker, 1952.

57, HUCP3295. Viola da gamba (tenor) by Eugen Sprenger, German, 1952. Printed label: Eugen Sprenger /Lauten- und Geigenmacher in Frankfurt M./ Made In Germany 1952. Department Purchase from the maker, 1952.

60, HUCP3298. Violin, anonymous French, c.1880-1900. Facsimile label: Joannes Franciscus Pressenda q. Raphael/ fecit Taurini anno Domini 18--.

61, HUCP3299. Viola, Marknenkirchen-made instrument, German, mid-20th cent. Printed label: Copy Of Antonius Stradivarius/ Made in Germany. Gift of Prof. Elliott Forbes, 1989.

100, HUCP3457. Viola da gamba (bass) by Eugen Sprenger, German, 1952. Printed label: Eugen Sprenger /Lauten- und Geigenmacher in Frankfurt M./ Made In Germany 1952. Department Purchase from the maker, 1952.

62, HUCP3300. Violoncello, anonymous Czech, c.1780. Printed label: Andreas Guarnerius /Cremonensis sub titulo St Theresi Fecit 1702. Bequeathed to the Music Department by Walter Naumberg, 1961.

101, HUCP3575. Violoncello by Paul Bailly, English, 1896. Printed label: Paul Bailly, Leeds 1896. Gift of James W. Warwick, class of 1945, given to the Music Department in honor of his 50th reunion, December 23, 1994.

102, HUCP3576. Violoncello (baroque setup), anonymous English, c.1800. Department purchase, 2001.

103, HUCP3848. Viola (baroque setup) by Wong Zhi Ming (Lu Mi Chinese violin manufacturer), Chinese, 2003. Printed label: Wong Zhi Ming / Lu Mi 2003. Department purchase, 2005.

104, HUCP3849. Violin (baroque setup) by Viseltear and Young, American, 2003. Printed label: Viseltear and Young, New York 2003. Department purchase from the makers, 2004.

105, HUCP3850. Viola (baroque setup) by Larry Bowers, American, 1980. Printed label: Larry Bowers, Williamsburg VA 1980. Department purchase, 2003.

106, HUCP3851. Violin (baroque setup) by Karl Denis, American, 1990. Printed label: Karl Denis, 1990. Department purchase, 2001.

107, HUCP3425. Viola da gamba (bass) by Dominik Zuchowicz, Canadian, 1985. Printed label: Dominik Zuchowicz, Ottawa 1985. Gift of Emil Lehmann from the estate of his wife Jennifer W. Lehmann, 1993.

108, HUCP3322. Viola da gamba (treble) perhaps by Max Wunderlich, German, 1933. Department purchase, 2002.

109, HUCP3323. Violin (baroque setup) by Timothy Johnson, American, 2001. Printed label: Timothy Johnson, 2001. Department purchase from maker, 2003.

110, HUCP3326. Violin (baroque setup) by Viseltear and Young, American, 2003.  Printed label: Viseltear and Young, New York 2003. Department purchase from the makers, 2004.

111, HUCP4195. Violin (baroque setup) by Clifford Roberts, American, 1980. Printed label: Clifford Roberts, 1980. Department purchase, 2001.

112, HUCP4196. Violin (modern setup) by D. Nicolaus, German, 20th cent. Stamped inside: D. Nicolaus. Department purchase at unknown date.

113, HUCP4198. Violin (baroque setup) by Domenico Quercentani, Italian, 1999. Printed label: Domenico Quercentani, Parma 1999. Department purchase, 2005.

114, HUCP4200. Violin (modern setup), German, early 20th cent. Facsimile label: Carlo Bergonzi Fece in Cremona Anno 179-. Gift to the Music Department of Mrs. Frederick P. Murphy of Norwalk, CT, 1990.

Plucked String Instruments

119, HUCP4199. Lute (7 course) by James Bump, American, 1977, Labeled: James Bump, Hampden MA XV April 1977. Department purchase from the maker.

Keyboard Instruments

126, HUCP3507. Portative organ (late Medieval style) by A & H Westover, American, 1979. Gift of Emil Lehmann from the estate of his wife Jennifer W. Lehmann, 1993

Wind Instruments

127, HUCP3324. Recorder (tenor) by Moeck, German, 20th cent., 3 piece construction. Gift of Emil Lehmann from the estate of his wife Jennifer W. Lehmann, 1993.

128, HUCP3325. Recorder (bassett) by Moeck, German,20th cent., 3 piece construction. Gift of Emil Lehmann from the estate of his wife Jennifer W. Lehmann, 1993.

129, HUCP3301. Shawms (matched pair--alto and tenor) by Moeck, German, 20th cent. Gift of Emil Lehmann from the estate of his wife Jennifer W. Lehmann, 1993.

130, HUCP4197. Dulcian (bass) by Richard Wood, American, 20th cent. Stamped with two trefoils. Gift of Emil Lehmann from the estate of his wife Jennifer W. Lehmann, 1993.

131, HUCP4206. Recorder (soprano) by Moeck, German, 20th cent., 2 piece construction. Gift of Emil Lehmann from the estate of his wife Jennifer W. Lehmann, 1993.

132, HUCP4207. Recorder (alto) by Moeck, German, 20th cent., 2 piece construction. Gift of Emil Lehmann from the estate of his wife Jennifer W. Lehmann, 1993.

133, HUCP4208. Recorder (alto) by Silverstein, American, 20th, 1 piece construction. Gift of Emil Lehmann from the estate of his wife Jennifer W. Lehmann, 1993.

 

 

The Collection


The Collection was inventoried, repaired, labeled and organized by Visiting Curator and Consultant Susan Thompson, who supervised the conservation and restoration of objects in the university’s collection and designed permanent installation and exhibit for the Music Department. Thompson was involved with the collection from 1985 through 1993.

Please note: The museum component of the collection is unfortunately not open to the public at this time, but we hope to make this important resource available for viewing and study in the future. We are happy to provide scholarly information, where it exists, to researchers, but cannot make valuations of our collection, or of instruments brought to our attention.

[photos of wind, keyboard and non-western instruments by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard University News Office.]

Download a PDF of the Collection's CHECKLIST

 

 

String Instruments

Bowed string

54, HUCP3292. Pardessus de viole by Simon Gilbert, French, 1730. Printed label: Simon Gilbert/ Musician de la Cathedrale/ & Facteur d'Instruments./ A Metz 1730. Gift of Mary Otis Isham, in memory of Ralph Isham (AB 1889).

55, HUCP3293. Pardessus de viole by Louis Guersan, French, 1761. Printed label: Ludovicus Guersan/ prope Comaediam Gallicam/ Lutetiae Anno 1761. Gift of Mary Otis Isham, in memory of Ralph Isham (AB 1889).

56, HUCP3294. Viola da gamba (tenor) by Eugen Sprenger, German, 1952. Printed label: Eugen Sprenger /Lauten- und Geigenmacher in Frankfurt M./ Made In Germany 1952. Department Purchase from the maker, 1952.

57, HUCP3295. Viola da gamba (tenor) by Eugen Sprenger, German, 1952. Printed label: Eugen Sprenger /Lauten- und Geigenmacher in Frankfurt M./ Made In Germany 1952. Department Purchase from the maker, 1952.

58, HUCP3296. Viola da gamba (division viol) by Barak Norman, English, c.1720. Fake label inscribed: Barrake Norman/St. Pauls London 1617. Gift of Mary Otis Isham, in memory of Ralph Isham (AB 1889).

59, HUCP3297. Viola da gamba (g violone- cut down from larger violone), 17th or 18th cent. Gift of Mary Otis Isham, in memory of Ralph Isham (AB 1889).

60, HUCP3298. Violin, anonymous French, c.1880-1900. Facsimile label: Joannes Franciscus Pressenda q. Raphael/ fecit Taurini anno Domini 18--.

61, HUCP3299. Viola, Marknenkirchen-made instrument, German, mid-20th cent. Printed label: Copy Of Antonius Stradivarius/ Made in Germany. Gift of Prof. Elliott Forbes, 1989.

66, HUCP3305. Viola d'amore by Ignatius Hoffman, Austrian, 1723. Printed label: Ignatius Hoffman/ Geigen und Lautten macher in Wolfelsdorff Ao 1723. Gift of Mary Otis Isham, in memory of Ralph Isham (AB 1889).

100, HUCP3457. Viola da gamba (bass) by Eugen Sprenger, German, 1952. Printed label: Eugen Sprenger /Lauten- und Geigenmacher in Frankfurt M./ Made In Germany 1952. Department Purchase from the maker, 1952.

62, HUCP3300. Violoncello, anonymous Czechoslovakian, c.1780. Printed label: Andreas Guarnerius /Cremonensis sub titulo St Theresi Fecit 1702. Bequeathed to the Music Department by Walter Naumberg, 1961.

101, HUCP3575. Violoncello by Paul Bailly, English, 1896. Printed label: Paul Bailly, Leeds 1896. Gift of James W. Warwick, class of 1945, given to the Music Department in honor of his 50th reunion, December 23, 1994.

102, HUCP3576. Violoncello (baroque setup), anonymous English, c.1800. Department purchase, 2001.

103, HUCP3848. Viola (baroque setup) by Wong Zhi Ming (Lu Mi Chinese violin manufacturer), Chinese, 2003. Printed label: Wong Zhi Ming / Lu Mi 2003. Department purchase, 2005.

104, HUCP3849. Violin (baroque setup) by Viseltear and Young, American, 2003. Printed label: Viseltear and Young, New York 2003. Department purchase from the makers, 2004.

105, HUCP3850. Viola (baroque setup) by Larry Bowers, American, 1980. Printed label: Larry Bowers, Williamsburg VA 1980. Department purchase, 2003.

106, HUCP3851. Violin (baroque setup) by Karl Denis, American, 1990. Printed label: Karl Denis, 1990. Department purchase, 2001.

107, HUCP3425. Viola da gamba (bass) by Dominik Zuchowicz, Canadian, 1985. Printed label: Dominik Zuchowicz, Ottawa 1985. Gift of Emil Lehmann from the estate of his wife Jennifer W. Lehmann, 1993.

108, HUCP3322. Viola da gamba (treble) perhaps by Max Wunderlich, German, 1933. Department purchase, 2002.

109, HUCP3323. Violin (baroque setup) by Timothy Johnson, American, 2001. Printed label: Timothy Johnson, 2001. Department purchase from maker, 2003.

110, HUCP3326. Violin (baroque setup) by Viseltear and Young, American, 2003.  Printed label: Viseltear and Young, New York 2003. Department purchase from the makers, 2004.

111, HUCP4195. Violin (baroque setup) by Clifford Roberts, American, 1980. Printed label: Clifford Roberts, 1980. Department purchase, 2001.

112, HUCP4196. Violin (modern setup) by D. Nicolaus, German, 20th cent. Stamped inside: D. Nicolaus. Department purchase at unknown date.

113, HUCP4198. Violin (baroque setup) by Domenico Quercentani, Italian, 1999. Printed label: Domenico Quercentani, Parma 1999. Department purchase, 2005.

114, HUCP4200. Violin (modern setup), German, early 20th cent. Facsimile label: Carlo Bergonzi Fece in Cremona Anno 179-. Gift to the Music Department of Mrs. Frederick P. Murphy of Norwalk, CT, 1990.

Viols and violin bows

83, HUCP3459. Viol bow, German, mid-20th cent. Not stamped.

84, HUCP3460. Viol bow, German, mid-20th cent. Not stamped.

85, HUCP3461. Viol bow, German, mid-20th cent. Not stamped.

86, HUCP3462. Viol bow, German, mid-20th cent. Not stamped. Gift of Mary Otis Isham, in memory of Ralph Isham (AB 1889).

87, HUCP3463. Viol bow, German, mid-20th cent. Not stamped. Gift of Mary Otis Isham, In Memory of Ralph Isham (AB 1889).

88, HUCP3464. Violin bow, possibly German, late 18th cent., original ivory mounts, no stamp.

89, HUCP3465. Violin bow by R. Weichold, German, late 19th or early 20th cent. Stamped: Imitation De Tourte/R Weichold A Dresde[n].

90, HUCP3466. Violin bow, late 19th or early 20th cent. No stamp.

115, HUCP3847. Violin bow by Albert Nurnberger, German, 20th cent. Stamped: Albert Nurnberger. Gift to the Music Department of Mrs. Frederick P. Murphy of Norwalk, CT, 1990.

116, HUCP3321. Violin bow by W. H. Hammig, German. Stamped: W. H. Hammig, Leipzig.

117, HUCP4204. Violin Bow, 20th cent. Inscribed on ferrule: Sarasate.

118, HUCP4205. Violin bow, 20th cent. No stamp.

Plucked String Instruments

38, HUCP3276. Balalaika (alto) by J. H. Zimmerman, German, 20th cent. Stamped on the pegbox: Jul. Heinr. Zimmerman/ Leipzig. Gift of Frederic L Stagg, 1959.

39, HUCP3277. Balalaika (tenor) by J. H. Zimmerman, German, 20th cent. Labelled: No. 1558/ 120429/ Jul. Heinr./ Zimmerman/ Leipzig*Berlin*Markenukirchen/ 1929. Gift of Frederic L Stagg, 1959.

119, HUCP4199. Lute (7 course) by James Bump, American, 1977, Labeled: James Bump, Hampden MA XV April 1977. Department purchase from the maker.

72, HUCP3311. Monochord, American, 20th cent.


 

Keyboard Instruments

74, HUCP3313. Virginal by Alec Hodson, English, 1951. On Loan from Professor John M. Ward.

75, HUCP3314. Harpsichord by Chickering & Sons, American, 1906. Painted label: Arnold Dolmetsch, Chickering and Sons Boston V.S.A MCMVI. Gift of Ernest B. Dane.

76, HUCP3315. Harpsichord by Frank Hubbard, American, 1961. Department Purchase.

78, HUCP3317. Harpsichord by William Dowd, American, 1988. Department Purchase.

121, HUCP4201. Harpsichord by Hubbard and Dowd, American, 1950. Painted label: Hubbard and Dowd, Boston 1950. Gift to the department by Mrs. Merle Chamberlin, 2005.

125, HUCP3510. Clavichord, anonymous, 20th cent. No label. Department purchase, c.1999.

126, HUCP3507. Portative organ (late Medieval style) by A & H Westover, American, 1979. Gift of Emil Lehmann from the estate of his wife Jennifer W. Lehmann, 1993.

145, HUCP3509. Piano by Streicher and Sons, Austrian, 1869. On loan from Prof. Robert Levin.

 

 

Wind Instruments

11, HUCP3243. Transverse Flute by Euler, German, 19th cent. Stamped: Euler/ Frankfurt/ A/ M. Gift of Professor Walter Piston, c.1961.

12, HUCP3244. Transverse Flute by H. F. Meyer, German, 19th cent. Stamped: H. F. Meyer/ Hannover. Gift of Professor Elliott Forbes, 1989.

13, HUCP3245. Transverse Flute by Ed H. Wurlitzer, American, early 20th cent. Stamped: ED. H. WURLITZER/ Boston.

14, HUCP3246. Clarinet in A by Noblet & Thibouville, French, 19th cent. Stamped: Noblet&/ Thibouville/ Aivry-La-Bataille. Gift of Professor Walter Piston, c.1961.

15, HUCP3247. Clarinet in B-flat by Eugene Thibouville, French, 19th cent. Stamped: Eugene/ Thibouville/ Aivry-La-Bataille. Gift of Professor Walter Piston, c.1961.

16, HUCP3248. Clarinet in C by Eugene Thibouville, French, 19th cent. Stamped: Eugene/ Thibouville/ Aivry-La-Bataille. Gift of Professor Walter Piston, c.1961.

17, HUCP3249. Bassoon by Berthold Hemricle, German, 19th cent. Gift of Professor Walter Piston, c.1961.

19, HUCP3251. Sarrusophone (contrabass) by C. Mahillon, Belgian, 19th cent. Stamped: C. Mahillon/ Fournisseur Brevete/ De L'armee/ Et Des Conservators/ Bruxelles 40. Gift of Professor Walter Piston, c.1961.

20, HUCP3252. Concertina by Lanchenal & Co., English, 19th or 20th cent. Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Ray C. Blanchard, 1987.

127, HUCP3324. Recorder (tenor) by Moeck, German, 20th cent., 3 piece construction. Gift of Emil Lehmann from the estate of his wife Jennifer W. Lehmann, 1993.

128, HUCP3325. Recorder (bassett) by Moeck, German,20th cent., 3 piece construction. Gift of Emil Lehmann from the estate of his wife Jennifer W. Lehmann, 1993.

129, HUCP3301. Shawms (matched pair--alto and tenor) by Moeck, German, 20th cent. Gift of Emil Lehmann from the estate of his wife Jennifer W. Lehmann, 1993.

130, HUCP4197. Dulcian (bass) by Richard Wood, American, 20th cent. Stamped with two trefoils. Gift of Emil Lehmann from the estate of his wife Jennifer W. Lehmann, 1993.

131, HUCP4206. Recorder (soprano) by Moeck, German, 20th cent., 2 piece construction. Gift of Emil Lehmann from the estate of his wife Jennifer W. Lehmann, 1993.

132, HUCP4207. Recorder (alto) by Moeck, German, 20th cent., 2 piece construction. Gift of Emil Lehmann from the estate of his wife Jennifer W. Lehmann, 1993.

133, HUCP4208. Recorder (alto) by Silverstein, American, 20th, 1 piece construction. Gift of Emil Lehmann from the estate of his wife Jennifer W. Lehmann, 1993.

 

 

Non-Western Instruments

[Several instruments from this collection are now housed in Harvard's Yenching Library.

Plucked String Instruments

26, HUCP3264. Sanxian (Long-neck Plucked Lute), Chinese, 20th cent. Gift of Professor Rulan Pian.

36, HUCP3274. Pipa by Fu Yu Hwa Co., Chinese, 20th cent. Labeled: Fu Yu Hwa/Music Instrument Factory/.../Taipei, Taiwan, China.

69, HUCP3308. Koto, Japanese, 20th cent.

70, HUCP3309. Koto, Japanese, 20th cent.

134, HUCP3457. Yang Chin (Chinese Santir), Chinese, 20th cent.

135, HUCP3500.1-2. Vina, Indian, 21st cent. Department purchase.

136, HUCP3503. Tar, Afghanistan, 21st cent. Department purchase.

137, HUCP3504. Sitar, 21st cent. Department purchase.

Wind Instruments

8, HUCP3240. Duct Flute, 20th cent.

138, HUCP3512. Serunai, 21st cent. Department purchase.

Percussion Instruments

139, HUCP3498.1-13. Thumb Pianos, South African, 21st cent. Department purchase.

140, HUCP3499.1-2. Mringandums, Indian. Department purchase.

141, HUCP3501.1-2.  Drums (Tablas?), India, 21st cent. Department purchase.

142, HUCP3502. Daire, Turkish, 21st cent. Department purchase.

 

Musical Miscellany

143, HUCP3505. Electronic drone, 21st cent. Department purchase.

144, HUCP3506. Electronic drone, 21st cent. Department purchase.

93, HUCP3469. Color Poster from the Encyclopedie Bouasse (Lebel No. 139) entitled “Instruments de Musique”/ Instruments de Musique a Vent, 20th cent.

94, HUCP3470. Color Poster from the Encyclopedie Bouasse (Lebel No. 140) entitled “Instruments de Musique”/ Instruments de Musique a Cordes, Instruments de Percussion, Instruments Sonnants, 20th cent.

91, HUCP3467. Cylinder Phonograph by Edison Co., American, early 20th cent. Labeled: “Edison Standard Phonograph” with brass horn, Serial No. 552995, with patented reproducer, Serial No. 13727. Gift of Prof. Walter Piston, c.1961.

92, HUCP3468. Electronic Phonograph by Kurtzman Phonograph Co., American, 20th cent. Labeled: The Kurtzman/ Electric/ Patented/ Kurtzman Phonograph Co., Inc./Buffalo, N.Y., USA.

 

Isham Collection

Mrs. Ralph Isham purchased these five instruments for the Isham Library because she firmly believed that the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music housed by the library should not only stimulate scholarship but also be brought to life through performance. The collection of instruments itself has an important place in the history of the performance of early music, for it was used by the Munich Quintet of Viols, one of the first professional chamber groups of the twentieth century to specialize in early music. The ensemble and its instruments were assembled by Willi Schmid, a cellist, musicologist, and music critic for a Munich newspaper. Throughout the early 1930s, the quintet toured across Europe performing varied programs ranging from Dufay to Purcell. The members were: Prof. Valentin Haertl, diskantviole, Prof. Anton Huber, altviole, Willy Stuhlfauth, altviole, Josef Koehler, tenorviole, Dr. Willi Schmid, bassviole. Tragically, their great success was cut short by Hitler and a terrible mistake, for Willi Schmid, confused with a different Schmid marked for assassination, was taken from his home during the Night of the Long Knives in 1934 and shot by the SS. The last concert of the quintet was two weeks later on July 16 where the quintet performed with Rudolf Hindemith, Paul Hindemith’s brother, taking the place of Willi Schmid on bass viol.

Thanks to the efforts of countless performers and scholars in the intervening years, it is now known that none of the instruments in the quintet were originally built to be played together as part of a viol consort. Indeed, one of the instruments, a viola d’amore is not a viol at all and was used in the eighteenth century as a solo instrument. Two are pardessus, an instrument that was invented in eighteenth-century France so that amateurs, mostly upper class women, could play violin sonatas easily (with frets) and in a more dignified playing position (in the lap). The star instrument in the collection is the Barak Norman bass viol, but, since this was made in 1717 long after the last consort repertoire was composed, it would have been intended as a solo or continuo instrument in chamber music. The last instrument in the collection, currently a very large bass viol, has been so altered from its original condition that it is difficult to tell exactly when it was made. However, it has been cut down from a much larger instrument of double bass size and is probably eighteenth century work. If so, it would have been used originally in the continuo section of baroque orchestras. Since no music was ever composed for such a disparate set, the Isham instruments are no longer played together as a group; they may, however, still be heard separately on special occasions. Although the collection was originally acquired in order to present the priceless manuscripts in the Isham Library to the public, it is now recognized that the instruments themselves are equally rare and irreplaceable testaments to the musical culture of their time.

 

 

Contact Us

Curator, Harvard University Department of Music
Collection of Instruments
Music Building
North Yard
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138

musicdpt@fas.harvard.edu (subject line: for curator)

617-495-2791

Collection hours: by appointment

DIRECTIONS to the music building