The world's largest collection of antique stringed instruments on display in Bologna

The Museum of St. Columbanus in Bologna is hosting the exhibition Still Alive until January 10, 2021: displaying the world's largest collection of antique stringed instruments.

The Museo di San Colombano in Bologna is hosting the world’s largest collection of antique stringed instruments until January 10, 2021. Still Alive, this is the title of the exhibition, presents more than two hundred string instruments and bows from the collection of Maestro José Vázquez, dating from 1550 to 1780, all restored to their original condition. The Museum of San Colombano is home to the Tagliavini Collection: the harpsichords and spinets belonging to it are therefore placed in ideal dialogue with the string instruments. These are all instruments that are regularly used in concerts, recordings, masterclasses and competitions.

“We are proud to host such a valuable exhibition, which unites in one place two unique collections in the world, in the year in which we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the reopening of San Colombano to the public,” said Fabio Roversi-Monaco, President of Genus Bononiae. “A place that is particularly dear to us, a treasure chest of artistic and architectural beauty, as well as an absolute masterpiece of art history such as the wall fresco by Giunta Pisano, and which also through this exhibition I hope will be known by an increasing number of people.”

“What we are interested in is the living legacy of sound, the sound that these instruments produce for us living today and not the mere aesthetic value as objects found in aristocratic residences of the distant past. We want to hear what these instruments have to tell us,” says Maestro Vázquez.

The entire Vázquez Collection, the largest of its kind in the world, includes instruments such as violas da gamba, violas d’amore, violins, violas, cellos, violons, and barytons. Among the most valuable instruments are a cello built by Simone Cimapane (1692), a very valuable viola da gamba by William Bowelesse (c. 1590) that probably belonged to Queen Elizabeth I of England, a viola da gamba by Gasparo da Salò (Brescia, c. 1570), a viola da gamba by Jakob Stainer (1671), two by Joachim Tielke (1683, 1697), instruments made by Milanese luthier Giovanni Grancino (c. 1700), and a viola da gamba by Pietro Guarneri (Mantua, c. 1700). In addition to numerous Italian instruments, ample space will be given to instruments made in England in the era of William Shakespeare and Henry Purcell, and in the Habsburg Empire by luthier dynasties such as Thir, Leidolff, Stadlmann, and Posch. Notable among the original bows are two twin bows that belonged to the great composer and violin virtuoso Giuseppe Tartini, and two Venetian bows, also twins, from the time of Antonio Vivaldi. Also featured are bows by Tourte, Dodd and others.

From September the exhibition will be enhanced by a full calendar of events, with concerts, lectures and guided tours, as well as a series of events dedicated to schools, universities and conservatories.

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Tickets: Full 7 euros, reduced 5 euros.

The world's largest collection of antique stringed instruments on display in Bologna
The world's largest collection of antique stringed instruments on display in Bologna

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