The Eternal City’s prized classical instruments
For all the classical music lovers out there, make sure to add this to your list of things to see while in Rome. Located in the Palazzina Samoggia, near S.Giovanni in Laterano Church, the Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali houses a collection of over 3000 exquisite musical instruments.
One of the outstanding masterpieces that await you inside is one of the rare surviving pianos built by Bartolomeo Cristofori. There are only three of Cristofori’s pianos left in the world. The one in Rome dates back to 1722, the one in New York dates back to 1720, and the other in Leipzig dates back to 1726. The piano in Rome is the best preserved of the three. This piano most likely belonged to Alessandro Marcello, who was the brother of the famous Venetian composer Benedetto.
The oldest harpsichord that was built just north of the Alps by Hans Müller is another instrument you need to see while wandering around the museum. Müller constructed this beautiful instrument in 1537 in Leipzig, Germany. This is the only known German harpsichord of the 16th century still in existence. A harpsichord produces sound by the plucking of a string when a key is pressed. They were very popular in renaissance and baroque music. In the 18th century the harpsichord began to disappear from the musical scene as the piano rose to popularity.
The spinet or “spinetta” is a smaller version of a harpsichord and also produces sound through the plucking of a string by hitting a key. This exhibit is the work of one of the most important Neapolitan harpsichord makers of the seventeenth century, Onofrio Guarracino. This particular spinet is very valuable because of its outer case that is decorated with a beautiful still life painting by Nicola Casissa.
This museum also holds a harp that was built in the early 1600’s for the famous Barberini family. Located at the top of the harp you will recognize the three bees that represent the Barberinis. The family gifted the harp to the famous singer and musician Marco Marazzoli. He was also known by the nickname “Marco dell’Arpa” because of his renowned skill for playing the harp. In 1662 Marco became deathly ill and returned the harp back to the Barberini family.
The vast collection of this museum holds roughly two thousand classical instruments of different origins and styles. It’s worth your time to stop by and take a look at some of the world’s most gorgeous and historically important instruments that are located right here in the Eternal City.
Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali
Piazza Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, 9/A
Tuesday-Sunday 9am – 7pm
Entry Fee €5