Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota - AMAZING!

We drove down to Vermilion, SD to take a look at the campus of the University of South Dakota and the National Music Museum located on the campus. The University is a nice sized campus of over 10,000 students and is likely not the place you would expect to find a true, world class museum. 

 However, this museum hosts one of the finest collections of musical instruments and related items in the world. Offering some 15,000 exhibits, the range of instruments is absolutely incredible.

 Housed in an original 1910 Carnegie Library building, the museum offers a great site to explore musical instruments you will see no where else.

 This is the Guitar annex and Orinda was startled at all the guitars and related instruments on display. There were many, many unique and custom instruments located here and it was fun to learn about the history of each one. Many of these are relatively recent in construction -- especially compared to many items in the rest of the museum.

 For example, this Grand Piano from 1815 provided not only piano music, but also bassoon, harp, bells and a base drum. Built and played in Vienna, this gives an idea of the top of the line home entertainment instrument 200 years ago. Notice the spectacular, original condition of this piece -- the woodworking was amazing.

 How about this 1808 organ from Pennsylvania? Used until 1941, this is one of the best preserved American organs remaining. This is a BIG instrument!

 Many years ago, Rick had a brief encounter with violin lessons (which were dropped to the relief of Rick and his instructor!). Anyway, Rick has been intrigued with the instrument ever since and these example are truly unique. The instrument facing us is in original (unrestored ) condition -- which does not seem to be a big deal until you realize if was built in 1792!

 Now the paint on this harpsichord is a bit cracked, but otherwise, the instrument is in excellent condition. In fact, even the paint is in good condition considering it was built in 1530! Think about it -- folks alive in Christopher Columbus's day listened to this very instrument. Wow!

 This was one of Rick's favorite violins. Built in 1613, this is one of three un-altered example of a Cremonese (the location of the builder) violins in the world.

Here are other violins from same period (early 1600's) and in superb condition. Rick thought these looked alot like his rental violin in 4th grade, but he did not think the museum would let him try to squeak out a rendition of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on one of these!

This museum is one of the most amazing museums we have been in. It really gives one pause to look at an instrument that is close to 500 years old. This is well worth the trip if you are in eastern South Dakota. 

No comments: