Collections of Antique Musical Instruments
Travelers passionate about music and its history will find lots to interest them on this tour!
A number of institutes and museums in and around the City of Modena preserve antique musical instruments. These objects, made with the most disparate of materials, recount a fascinating history.
From Modena to Sestola, a vivacious town in the Apennines, this is a splendid journey through the music of the past.
Musical Instruments in the Palazzo dei Musei
The Estense Gallery, for instance, exhibits such unique examples as the “Este Harp,” commissioned by Duke Alfonso II from a Roman harp builder and made of maple, pear, and pine wood.
Credit for the presence of these splendid pieces goes to Francesco II of the House of Este. A lover of all the arts, the Duke was also deeply interested in curious and bizarre objects. As a result, beginning in 1686, be began to assemble musical instruments made partly of marble and partly of wood that were commissioned more for their beauty than for practical use. What remains of that collection is housed in the Estense Gallery, and three instruments inlaid with Carrara marble (a flute, a guitar, and a harpsichord), along with a violin and a cello with wood inlays, are of particular interest.
The Civic Museum of Modena houses Gennaro Fabbricatore’s lyre-guitar in wood, brass, and bronze; a rectangular, single-keyboard spinet harpsichord that dates to between the 16th and 17th centuries; Pietro Termanini’s 18th-century wooden harpsichord; a late-18th-century serpent (a bass wind instrument) in wood, leather, and brass; and Antonio Apparuti’s brass horn.
The Estense Gallery
In the embrace of music in the Apennines
The Rocca or fortress, located on a high spur of rock, is the symbol of Sestola and offers a breathtaking view of the mountains and the entire river plain. After being rebuilt by the city, it became a multipurpose cultural center and is now home to the Museum of Mechanical Instruments, the Museum of the Mountain Dweller, and a series of other permanent exhibits. At the end of your visit, don’t forget to climb to the top of the tower to enjoy the splendid view or visit the adjacent park for a relaxing walk in the healthful air of a pine forest.