When it came to exhibiting his collection, Kurt Reichmann based his design concept on the "Syntagma Musicum", an outstanding reference work published by the music theorist Michael Praetorius. It’s a book on 17th century organology – in other words, a scholarly study of musical instruments, specifically dealing with the 17th century. Take a look at the back of the display cases, where you’ll see enlarged copies of copperplate engravings from the book.
Note the scale printed at the bottom edge of the engravings. These are technical drawings; so instrument makers can use them to recreate historical instruments. Of course, it’s nice to look at wonderfully artistically designed, traditional instruments made of wood. But ultimately, what’s important about an instrument is always the sound. That's why our display not only includes many old original instruments, but also playable replicas.
Let me say a few words about how the exhibition is organised. The lower display cases contain instruments from the Central European cultural area linked to Praetorius, while the wire mesh above displays instruments from Europe generally to as far afield as China. These include tuneful instruments from the Silk Road, such as a zurna, a conical double-reed woodwind instrument played by all the Turkic peoples, even those as far away as China.
Following this layout, you’ll have a wonderful opportunity to see how the instruments have developed from the early days to the here and now. You’ll see that musical instruments are constantly being refined and improved on a technical level. Modern influences will continue to shape their development. Which is why, as well as showing instruments made of bone and snakeskin, we also have a flute on display that’s made from completely new materials – specifically, carbon fibre. You can see it in the first display case, opposite the entrance.
In one of the showcases at the back, you’ll discover a beautiful Ukrainian hurdy-gurdy, assembled from a 3-D wooden construction kit. State of the art laser technology was used to cut the pieces. “We don't just want to preserve the ashes, we want to stoke the fire and keep it burning," to quote one of the museum's mottoes.
All depictions: © Dagmar Trüpschuch