Medium and Support:
Case: Wood, polychromy, metal, gold leaf; pipes: tin and lead alloys, wood
Lent by the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester
Director Emeritus Grant Holcomb speaks about this object.
On October 8, 2005, the Memorial Art Gallery’s Fountain Court was filled with music – the magnificent Vespers, a 1610 baroque masterpiece by Claudio Monteverdi. That day’s inaugural concert heralded a series of new beginnings for the Gallery: a magnificent new work of art; a new installation of paintings and sculpture in the Fountain Court; a unique partnership with the Eastman School of Music, and a new destination for great early music in Rochester.
The story began in Florence, Italy in 1979, when German organ builder and restorer Gerald Woehl recognized and rescued the dismantled components of a 300 year old pipe organ. They languished in storage until Woehl’s 2001 visit to the world-renowned organ department at Eastman School of Music, which included a trip to the Memorial Art Gallery where all the pieces fell into place: the Eastman School purchased the organ, Woehl and his workshop conducted 4 years of research and restoration, and the Gallery (like Eastman, part of the University of Rochester) agreed to house the instrument. In July 2005 the Eastman Italian Baroque organ – the only full-sized antique Italian organ in North America - arrived here in its new home.
Parts of the Eastman Italian Baroque Organ, including the inner wind chest and some of the pipes, date to around 1670. The lavishly carved and gilded organ case dates between 1730 and 1770, representing a rebuilding and enlargement of the original organ to reflect 18th century technology and changing fashions. Today, those elements come together in the Gallery’s Fountain Court to bring authentic sounds of the 17th and 18th centuries to Gallery visitors in the 21st century and beyond.
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