Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali

The history

The National Museum of Musical Instruments, inaugurated in 1924, is located a short distance from the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano and Termini Station and is almost adjacent to Piazza Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. Surrounded by a green area on which stand the archaeological remains of the Imperial Palace (Sessorio), the Castrense Amphitheatre and the Circus of Heliogabalus, it is immersed in an atmosphere of silence and peace.

The collection

The Museum, the only one of its kind in the world, houses an enormous quantity of musical instruments ranging from the archaeological period to the Futurist period. There are around three thousand pieces, eight hundred of which are on display. Most of the instruments preserved here come from the private collection of Evan Gorga, an Italian tenor, who owned around thirty collections of the most diverse objects, but certainly the collection of musical instruments was the most important. To him Italian culture must be grateful for having contributed to the preservation of an enormous artistic and cultural heritage that would otherwise have been lost.

The first collection was later joined by an incredible series of rare and precious instruments, so that there are now more than 3,000 pieces ranging from antiquity to the end of the 18th century, sections of popular instruments from all over the world and toy-instruments.

The museum also houses the salon-studio of the musician and composer Giovanni Sgambati (1841-1914), originally located in Piazza di Spagna at number 93.
For several decades, the Roman master’s salon-studio was a cultural coterie of international significance, frequented by famous musicians, artists and the likes of Gabriele D’Annunzio, Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt as well as the sculptors Ezechiel and Ettore Ximenes. It was the meeting point where the Roman Piano School was formed, which had the famous Hungarian musician and composer Listz as its mentor and teacher.

Among the jewels in the collection are: the first piano in history designed and built by Bartolomeo Cristofori from Padua between 1722 and 1723, the famous Barberini harp (coeval), a model harpsichord in lacquered and gilded wood with Tritons and Nereids from the 17th century, several instruments that belonged to Benedetto Marcello, a trumpet from 1461, the oldest German harpsichord in the world dating back to 1537 by Hans Muller, a series of positive organs, two very rare rectangular pianos from the 18th century as well as an instrument built and painted by Giacomo Balla called ‘Ciac-ciac’ by him.

Photo: Photo: restoration, Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Rome

Piazza di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome, RM, Italy
Opening hours:

Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.

Closing time:

Monday

Average visit time:

1 hour

Books and guides

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