9/28/09 - This year’s annual meeting of the International Committee of Musical Instrument Museums and Collections (short CIMCIM for Comité International des Musées et Collections d'Instruments de Musique) was a week-long event in three beautiful Italian cities: Florence, Rome, and Naples. Well over one hundred participants (museum curators and conservators, private collectors, instrument makers, and scholars) from around the world flocked to this event for inspiring conversations, museum visits, concerts, and lectures, as well as to celebrate the organization’s 50th anniversary.
Gabriele Rossi Rognoni, the main organizer and coordinator of the event, had kindly invited three related organizations to participate: AMIS (the American Musical Instrument Society), the Galpin Society (the British Musical Instrument Society), and the Historic Brass Society. Each of these societies arranged special paper sessions on two days of the conference in the new venues of the Accademia Nazionale di S. Cecilia in Rome.
The HBS session, coordinated by Sabine Klaus, took place in the afternoon of 11 September after a visit to the Vatican Museums. It consisted of two parts, the first reflected one of the meeting’s topics, “Innovation and New Technologies in the Study, Cataloguing and Display of Brass Musical Instruments,” the second comprised free papers with an emphasis on iconography.
Louise Bacon from the Horniman Museum in London discussed the fascinating non-destructive technology of “Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry” for determining the metal content of brass instruments. Gregor Widholm from the Institut für Wiener Klangstil in Vienna gave a report on the latest version of the Brass Instrument Analysis System (BIAS) that provides a means of acoustical testing. A student at the same institute, Hannes Vereecke, spoke about the use of laser scanners and three-dimensional CAD/CAM software to recreate a historical brass instrument to an accuracy of up to 0.01 mm. Arnold Myers and Eugenia Mitroulia from the University of Edinburgh explained their method of measuring brass instruments for the purpose of taxonomy, and they offered a hands-on course on how to make physical measurements on the following day.
The second part was particularly well attended as it featured three Christopher Monk Award laureates, Renato Meucci, Stewart Carter, and Herbert Heyde, all presenting new iconographical evidence on the early history of the trumpet and the trombone, and each providing enthralling insights into little-known documents and new interpretations of materials from the 13th through the 17th century. The afternoon concluded with a report on methods for distinguishing between instruments made by Adolphe Sax and his son Adolphe Edouard presented by Bruno Kampmann and Eugenia Mitroulia. During the coffee break attendees had the opportunity to inform themselves about a recent discovery of a trumpet mouthpiece fragment from the late 16th or early 17th century excavated at Jamestown Island in Virginia in a poster prepared by Stewart Carter and Sabine Klaus.
For brass enthusiasts, the excursions to Italian musical instrument collections were most enlightening. At the Museo degli strumenti in Rome we had the chance to inspect a rare crescent-shaped horn by the little known Nuremberg maker Georg Barth from the 1680s, a maker by whom no trumpets survive as he was not a master and thus limited to the making of smaller items such as hunting horns. The vast storage area of this museum, which was opened for the conference participants, contains numerous fancifully-shaped brass instruments that were used in festive parades until the 19th century, and illustrate a long-lasting tradition described by Herbert Heyde in his lecture. The highlight was undoubtedly the visit to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli during the post-conference excursion to Naples. This museum houses two almost complete Roman cornua excavated in nearby Pompeii that were used to open gladiator games.
It was important for the Historic Brass Society to be represented at this outstanding conference and to mingle with the international fraternity of musical instrument specialists. Our wholehearted thanks go to Gabriele Rossi Rognoni, Annalisa Bini, Laura Bognetti, Franca Falletti, Renato Meucci and their team of helpers who made this memorable event possible.
- Sabine K. Klaus