‘Magical Music Machines’ Exhibit Opens
A monkey playing the violin. A boy playing an organ grinder’s organ – completely carved from wood. And the first “CD” — a metal plate like a super-sized pizza tin revolving in a wooden case, a beautiful piece of furniture for your front parlor, that makes tinkling music like a music box.
You can find these and other captivating musical machines dating from the Renaissance through to computer-controlled rock concerts of a few months ago, at Monarchy – Magical Music Machines (Monarchie -Kouzelné Hrací Strojky) now through January at The Czech Museum of Music.
Even though the mechanical musical instruments vary in age, material, sound, and country of origin, they all share one thing, says the museum’s Peter Balog: They’re all instruments controlled by some kind of sequencer, whether it operates by turning a hand crank or by pressing computer keys.
Opus Osm asked Mr Balog, the exhibit creator, how the idea for it came about. He explains that the foremost expert on mechanical instruments, Alexander Bruchner, worked at the Czech National Museum in the 1950s and was the first to collect and document them as something valuable, thus creating the core of the museum’s collection of them.
“So if you have such beauties just next to you, in your office, really, you have to create an exhibition,” Mr Balog says. “During the preparation of the exhibition I just totally fell in love with these, because they are absolutely beautiful and magical,” he continues.
“You look at them and you’re just staring, looking, saying ‘What is that?!’” Mr Balog also created the recent, popular exhibition on Beatlemania, and says his aim is to provide a similarly captivating experience of the machines for the museum visitors.
“This exhibition is for all ages,” he says, “because if you’re a child you’re staring at it the same as a 70-year-old.” In addition, the exhibition interests not only music lovers, but also people fascinated by technical machines, antique furniture and art, and history, according to museum officials.
At Monarchy – Magical Museum Machines some of the machines can be demonstrated by request, and background information is posted in Czech and in excellent English. The exhibition is slated to run through Jan 28, 2013, and is the first in a series of upcoming National Museum exhibitions focusing on the Czech Republic as part of the Hapsburg Monarchy. — oo
– Mary Matz
Photo Credits: Mary Matz