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High Strung: Five Centuries of Stringed Keyboard Instruments

High Strung: Five Centuries of Stringed Keyboard Instruments

For over 600 years, stringed keyboard instruments have served as repositories for human imagination, science, technology, craft, artistry, and music. They are admired for their stature – and oftentimes stunning beauty – alongside their ability to play both melody and harmony. Keyboard innovation has continuously expanded throughout the world, throughout time.

Opening in March 2024, the special exhibition “High Strung: Five Centuries of Stringed Keyboard Instruments” will explore the form, function and development of keyboard instruments from early harpsichords to the modern piano. The special exhibition brings together nearly 20 keyboard instruments from the NMM’s collections - some of which have never before been on exhibit.

Instruments that will be on display include:

• An octave virginal (NMM 4660), from the same workshop as the NMM’s Neapolitan harpsichord, c.1530 (NMM 14408)

• A highly decorated harpsichord by Andreas Ruckers, 1643 (NMM 10000)

• Harpsichord by Nicolas Dufour, 1683 (NMM 5943, pictured below), made in Paris in a native style that fell from popularity by the first decade of the 18th century

• French grand piano, Clavecin à marteaux, (harpsichord with hammers) by Louis Bas (NMM 4653) from 1781. This instrument, the earliest surviving French grand piano, is exceptional, retaining much of its original action parts

• Downward-striking piano by Nanette Streicher und Sohn (NMM 10298), and a small trapezoid hammer instrument by Gottfried Maucher (NMM 4570) – an example of a lesser-known instrument type, similar to the tangentenflugel by Späth and Schmahl, built c.1784 (NMM 4145), which was once a favorite instrument type of Mozart

• Grand piano by Erard (NMM 5984) and Chickering & Sons (NMM 5413), built at a time in which America led the way in piano technology, not only with grand pianos, but also with the large ”square” pianos by makers such as William Knabe & Company (NMM 14447)

“High Strung: Five Centuries of Stringed Keyboard Instruments” will open to the public on March 23, 2024 in the NMM’s Jason & Betsy Groves Special Exhibition Gallery. It will remain open through the calendar year. Support for the exhibition is provided by generous grants from the Clayton and Odessa Lang Ofstad Foundation and the City of Vermillion, SD.

National Music Museum
Included with Museum Admission
Every week through Dec 31, 2024.
Tuesday: 10:00 PM - 04:00 PM
Wednesday: 10:00 PM - 04:00 PM
Thursday: 10:00 PM - 04:00 PM
Friday: 10:00 PM - 04:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 PM - 04:00 PM

Event Supported By

National Music Museum
National Music Museum
University of South Dakota, 414 E. Clark St.
Vermillion, South Dakota 57069