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Home | Conservation and research | Conservation and restauration of musical instruments


Conservation and restauration of musical instruments

Harpsichord (detail) by Carl Conradt Fleischer in Hamburgo, 1720 © G. Serra, 1990

An instrument that has been used is something more than just an instrument. It is a historical document. Restoration and research are the tools that allow us to discover and recuperate all that which these historical documents can transmit.

The development of music over the centuries has entailed the creation of new instruments and the transformation of existing ones. The various stages of musical history are reflected in instruments, thus making them veritable documents in which one finds the tracks and the changes that enlighten our musical knowledge of our past.

The instruments that have come down to us from the past are not usually in condition to be played. Being left untouched for long periods of time, adverse conditions, wear and tear, ill-performed repairs or transformations made to meet musical demands of the period can have very detrimental effects on them. The conservation of an instrument includes any measure adopted to control their condition in order to be able to display them to the public.

Although conservation is a priority aspect, it is not an exclusive end in itself but rather a function that allows the unfolding of other activities. The pedagogic, expository or musical use of an instrument allows the society of today and the future generations to enjoy a cultural heritage. The conservation and restoration of musical instruments involves diverse processes and tasks that are linked to the Museum’s programmes and activities:

Study of the condition of the instrument
Cleaning a perforated disc In addition to determining the conservation system for each specific instrument, this programme establishes a set of possibilities of use and generates some intervention proposals. Together with its display, an instrument may have other applications: for teaching, loan, study or making music.
Research and restauration
Cleaning metals The condition of the instrument and the documentation that is gathered on it allows the restoration interventions to begin. These interventions, which are always performed with reversible procedures, may range from the improvement of the aesthetic condition and comprehension of an instrument, to its restoration for musical use. Restoration interventions for musical use are undertaken only when they do not entail a distancing from the original condition of the instrument, allowing a better acquaintance with the sonority of a period and a better documentation of the instrument’s execution technique and musical possibilities.
Musical use and recordings
Concert in 2007 by Luis Antonio González-Marín with organ of Pérez Molero. © Pep Herrero, 2007 On the one hand, this programme allows the maintenance of the instrument’s musical life, always with limitations in order to control its possible wear, and on the other, it gives performers the chance to play historical instruments. The Museu de la Música envisages the holding of concerts and the making of recordings with the instruments which are preferably reserved for suitable demonstrations.

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