I recommend going to visit him if you visit Florence also because the Museum of Musical Instruments is attached to that of the Academy where Michelangelo’s wonderful David is also kept. A very wonderful experience!
These ancient musical instruments belonged to the Medici family of noblemen in Florence. For opera, theater and classical music lovers, here is a real jewel of a section to explore with eyes but above all with hearing. Inaugurated in 2001, the Museum of Musical Instruments exhibits about fifty musical instruments from the private collections of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, Medici and Lorraine, collected between the second half of the seventeenth century and the first half of the nineteenth and subsequently passed to the Cherubini Conservatory of Florence, which since 1996 has granted them on loan to the Galleria dell’Accademia in the wing of the ancient Convent of San Niccolò a Cafaggio.
The collection shows how much music played a leading role in the Medici court, celebrating the invention of the piano, created for the Medici by Bartolomeo Cristofori. A multimedia section of the Accademia Gallery allows you to hear the sounds of many of the instruments on display and to trace the birth and development of the theater in Florence through a video.
In the midst of ancient harpsichords, wind and percussion instruments you will find a unique piece by maestro Antonio Stradivari.
The Viola at the Accademia Gallery is the only one in the world built by Stradivari and perfectly preserved in its original state. It was made of spruce and maple wood for the exceptional Medicean Quintet formation of arches composed of two violins, two violas and a cello. Its elegance and extreme refinement can be recognized in the very fine mother-of-pearl, ivory and ebony inlays and in the details of the Medici coat of arms that make it unique. The collection also contains a violin and a cello from Stradivari.
Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1732) was called to the Florentine court by the Grand Prince Ferdinando as a manufacturer of musical instruments in 1688. He devoted himself to experimenting with new materials for instruments and creating innovative sounds, producing elegant spinets and a precious harpsichord with case in ebony. What is most surprising is that for the first time in history a “piano” is listed in the documents. It is the invention of a keyboard instrument in which the strings instead of being plucked as in the harpsichord are struck by hammers capable of producing more nuanced and less “Argentine” sounds than in the harpsichord.
Cristofori’s oval spienetta
In the Musical Instruments section, the museum displays two large-sized paintings by Anton Domenico Gabbiani depicting the Grand Prince Ferdinando de Medici surrounded by his court musicians. Young artists dressed elegantly proudly show violas, cellos, a leg lyre and a cello with a precious silver string to increase the sound.
One recognizes Pietro Salvetti, maestro di cappella and chamber assistant, and Francesco Veracini composer among the best musicians of the era paid by the Medici. In the room dedicated to Bartolomeo Cristofori are instead paintings of still life from the seventeenth century that combine elegant laid tables and meticulous representations of musical instruments of the time.
Pier Paolo Maccarrone
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