Volume 37, Number 2, August 2010

Margaret Downie Banks, Editor

NMM Newsletter (PDF version)

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   News and Notes

Kevin Schieffer presents The King Henry IV violin to Andre P. Larson

"King Henry IV's Amati Violin Joins NMM's Crown Jewels"
by Arian Sheets, Curator of Stringed Instruments

A violin by Antonio and Girolamo Amati (Cremona, ca. 1595), bearing the armorials of King Henry IV of Navarre and France (1553-1610), was presented to the NMM on May 14, 2010, by Kevin Schieffer (Sioux Falls), a member of the NMM Board of Trustees. The presentation ceremony, attended by representatives of the NMM Board of Trustees and NMM staff, coincided with the 400th anniversary of the assassination of the popular French king.   [more]

NMM Staff take instruments to Sanford Hospital

"Medical Imaging Enables Staff to See the 'Whole' Picture"
by Sarah Deters Richardson, Curator of Musical Instuments, and
Jonathan Bouquet, Conservation Research Assistant

Several priceless, 16th-19th-century instruments from the NMM's collections have recently undergone CT scans and endoscopic examinations at Sanford Hospitals in both Sioux Falls and Vermillion.   [more]

Sabine Klaus holds State Trumpet made for First Life Guards of Queen Victoria

"Trustees Visit Utley Collection in South Carolina"  
by Sabine Klaus, Joe and Joella Utley Curator of Brass Instruments

Twelve members of the NMM Board of Trustees paid a visit to the NMM's Southern satellite—The Joe R. and Joella F. Utley Collection of Brass Instruments and Institute for Brass Studies—in Joella Utley's home near Spartanburg, South Carolina. They were awestruck by the riches of the collection that was donated to the NMM in 1999.   [more]

Justin Emerich plays NMM's Tristan Trumpet

"Tristan Trumpet (Holztrompete) Loaned to Seattle Opera"  

Justin Emerich, Principal Trumpet in Seattle Opera's August 2010 production of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, demonstrates how this rare instrument is played. The instrument on loan to the opera company was made by Andreas Schoni and Rainer Egger, Bern and Basel, Switzerland, in 2001 and is a modified copy of a Tristan trumpet made by Martin Lehner (Munich, ca. 1913), currently in the possession of the Dresden opera house.   [more]

Blue Star Museums Logo

"NMM Participates in Blue Star Museums Partnership"  

The NMM participated in the Blue Star Museums initiative during the summer of 2010, in a partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and more than 600 museums across America that offered free admission to all active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day. [more]

John Koster

"John Koster Marks Antonio de Cabezón's 500th Birthday"

John Koster, NMM Conservator and Professor of Music, is participating in several projects marking the 500th anniversary of the birth of the great Spanish Renaissance organist and composer Antonio de Cabezón (1510-1566). For the C@BEZON500 project organized by the Festival Internacional de Música de Tecla Española (FIMTE), Koster recorded two works on the NMM’s harpsichord by Giacomo Ridolfi (NMM 4657).  [more]

Margaret Downie Banks

"Margaret Downie Banks Attends MIM's Grand Opening"

Margaret Downie Banks, Senior Curator of Musical Instruments, attended the grand opening festivities for the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix, April 21-24, 2010. The opening represented the culmination of three years of intensive planning and implementation of a project conceived by Bob Ulrich, CEO of Target (retired).   [more]

Maria Kurmanowytsch watches Darwin Wolf clean the NMM's courtyard sculptures

"Courtyard Sculptures by Michael Tuma Get Facelift"  

Sioux Falls sculptor, Darwin Wolf, replaced the violinist's missing bow and showed NMM staff members how to properly clean and wax the Townsley Courtyard's bronze statues that were sculpted by the prominent Black Hills sculptor, Michael R. Tuma, in celebration of the South Dakota Centennial in 1989.   [more]


   Curatorial Commentary

Rare copy of first Leblanc catalog published in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 1946

"Instrument Identification:  Research Tools at the NMM"

by Arian Sheets, Curator of Stringed Instruments

Did you ever wonder where the NMM's curatorial staff starts its research process? How do we know what a particular instrument is, who made it, where it was made, and when? Often, previous research and familiarity with the field will point the NMM staff in the right direction, but even then, staff members frequently have to seek out additional resources in order to fill in the details or confirm attributions. [more]

Earle L. Kent demonstrates electronic equipment for the early 1950s film, The Ear and Music

"Dynamic Research:  Earle L. Kent and Conn's Research Department"

by Margaret Downie Banks
Senior Curator of Musical Instruments  

The Conn company's future Director of Research, Earle Lewis Kent, was born in Adrian, Texas, on the same day that the Conn factory burned down in Elkhart, Indiana--May 22, 1910. Was the date of his birth fate or mere coincidence, Earle often mused. Was it fate, he pondered, that his initials were the same as the first three letters in Elkhart? Was he predestined to spend almost thirty years of his life as Conn’s Director of Research, Development, and Design? If not fate, Kent always said that it was extremely good fortune. [more]

Army-Navy E Award earned during WWII by the Holton Company of Elkhorn, Wisconsin

"Stop the Music! Band Instrument Manufacturing During WWII"

by Sarah Deters Richardson
Curator of Musical Instruments  

It is difficult to image that for a period of three years, musical instrument manufacturing was almost completely banned in the United States. From May 1942 to May 1945, music stores had no new band instruments to put on their shelves. Consequently, the only commercially available band instruments were all previously-owned. Why was instrument manufacturing banned? Simply put, the entire musical instrument industry had been mobilized by the government to manufacture goods for the war effort. [more]

NMM 10871. Guitar by French American Reeds Manufacturing Company (Mario Maccaferri), New York, ca. 1953-1964

"Mario Maccaferri's Styron Revolution: Alternative Materials for Stringed Instruments"

by Arian Sheets
Curator of Stringed Instruments 

The acoustic qualities and visual beauty of wood has, for the most part, compensated for its sensitivity to climate and relatively high cost. However, as high-quality wood from old-growth forests is depleted and tropical hardwoods such as Brazilian rosewood and pernambuco face extinction and severe use restrictions, these assumptions have increasingly been called into question by makers of stringed instruments. Other materials that will achieve desired quality levels, increase reliability and affordability, or even express different aesthetic sensibilities, continue to be explored. [more]

Leblanc's patent B-flat mechanism

"Remedies for the Clarinet's Sore Throat"

by Deborah Check Reeves
Curator of Education and Woodwind Instruments 

It has long been recognized that the placement of the tonehole for the register vent on the clarinet is a compromise. Many players and makers are dissatisfied with this compromise and have long sought a cure for the clarinet's "sore throat" note. [more]


Previous Newsletter Issues

Vol. 37, No. 1 (March 2010) [PDF] and News and Notes [Website]

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