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"Special Exhibits at the Fiske Museum"

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THE FISKE MUSEUM at The Claremont Colleges houses one of the most diverse collections of musical instruments in the United States, containing over 1,400 American, European and ethnic instruments dating from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries.

THE MUSEUM’S COLLECTIONS feature instruments of all types from a wide variety of locations and periods.

The Museum has American and European brass instruments; a select group of pianos, reed organs, and woodwind instruments; unusual and rare examples from the violin and viol families; instruments from the Orient and Tibet; and percussion, automatic and electronic musical instruments.

BRASS INSTRUMENTS are the most comprehensive part of the collection. Many rare and unusual examples of cornets, trumpets, tenor horns, baritones, and tubas are represented. These include instruments by Courtois and Guichard of Paris; Distin & Co. of London; E.G. Wright, Hall & Quinby, Gilmore & Co., and the Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory all of Boston; Graves & Co. of Winchester, New Hampshire; and Conn & Dupont and the Conn Co. of Elkhart, Indiana. The jewel of this part of the collection is the only known complete set (1872) of seven over-the-shoulder saxhorns designed by the outstanding Boston brass makers David C. Hall and Benjamin F. Quinby.

WOODWIND INSTRUMENTS include several important eighteenth and nineteenth century examples: a fine one-key flute by Friedrich Gabriel August Kirst of Potsdam (c. 1790), flute maker to Frederick the Great of Prussia; and the earliest dated American metal Boehm-system flute by Alfred Badger of New York (1866), on loan from the Hancock Museum of the University of Southern California. Others include a beautifully constructed oboe by Rudolf Gehrs of Berlin (c. 1850); a 6-key bassoon of the Jeantet school, Lyon (c. 1825); a unique proto-type saxello by the H.N. White Co., Cincinnati (c. 1925); and a fine Conn-O-Sax by the Conn Co., Elkhart (1929).

KEYBOARD INSTRUMENTS include an important square piano by John Sellers, probably made in Philadelphia (1780-85). It is one of the earliest documented pianos to have been present in the United States during the eighteenth century. A fine square piano by Erard Frères, Paris (1799) complements an outstanding grand piano by the Pape firm in Paris (c. 1835). Other notable instruments include one of the earliest American-made grand pianos in a public collection, a 6’6” “semi-grand” by the Chickering Co., Boston (1850); one of the earliest pianos to come to California, a square by Breitkopf & Härtel of Leipzig (c. 1840) on loan from the California Historical Society; a reed organ with a third pedal operating a clock-work tremolo by the Estey Co., Brattleboro, Vermont (1866); and a massive three-manual reed organ by Mason & Hamlin, Boston (c. 1889), the only example in an American public museum.

STRINGED INSTRUMENTS include an important violin by Andrea Guarneri, Cremona (1672); five eighteenth-century violas d’amores, including a notable instrument by Johann Andreas Doerffel of Klingenthal (c. 1750). A fine treble viol by the noted maker Leandro Bisiach, Milan (c. 1895) is one of two examples by Bisiach of a sixteenth-century viol. Other notable string instruments include a rare mandolin by Joannies Vinnacia of Naples (1763) and a late eighteenth-century mandora or lute of the Presbler School in Milan.

The ETHNIC COLLECTION contains a large group of beautifully made and handsomely decorated Tibetan temple trumpets. Also represented are many traditional wind, strings and percussion instruments from China, Japan, Africa, Indonesia and South America.

THE MISSION of the Fiske Museum is to provide a balanced program to collect, catalog and preserve musical instruments; teach about instruments and their evolution; and provide direct access to visitors, students, teachers and scholars through Museum programs, concerts and activities. The Fiske Museum's responsibility is to serve as one of the great storehouses of musical instruments in this country -- as a place for education and enjoyment.

Kenneth G. Fiske Museum of Musical Instruments at The Claremont Colleges. 450 North College Way; Claremont, CA 91711-4491. Admission to the Museum is free. Tours must be made by appointment. Call (909) 621-8307 or contact the curator Albert R. Rice at .



Square Piano by Astor & Co., London, ca. 1805.

Cornet by Boston Musical Instrument Manufactory dated 1871.

Grand Piano by Jean Henri Pape, Paris, ca. 1835.

Square Piano by Breitkopf and Haertel, Leipzig, ca. 1840. The first piano to arrive in California about 1842. On loan from the California Historical Society.

Circular Cornet with Allen valves by David Hall, Boston, 1862-66 with a signed mouthpiece

Flute by Friedrich Gabriel August Kirst, Potsdam, ca. 1790. Flute maker to Frederick the Great of Prussia. This is one of three flutes preserved in the United States by Kirst.

Slide Trumpet, originally a natural trumpet of English origin of the late 18th century converted into a slide trumpet by Ulyate, London, ca. 1820.

Mandoline by Joanies Vinaccia, Naples, 1763. One of the earliest known Neapolitan mandolines made by a member of a famous family of mandoline and violin makers.

Triple-manual Reed Organ by Mason & Hamlin, Boston, ca. 1889. Played for many years in St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Bedford, Massachussetts. One of five examples known by the Mason & Hamlin firm it is also the only triple-manual reed organ in a public museum in the United States.

Melodeon by J. Estey & Co., Brattleboro, Vermont, 1866. Known as a "Cottage Organ," style 31, this very rare example includes a third pedal which operates a clockwork tremolo mechanism. Gift of Helen Gipson, Claremont, 1997.

2-key English Horn, August Grenser, Dresden, ca. 1760

7-key English Horn, Jean Baptiste Tabard, Lyon, ca. 1830

2-key Oboe, Gottfried August Lehnhold, Leipzig, ca. 1800

5-key C Clarinet, Naust, Paris, ca. 1790

4-key F Flute, Friedrich Boie, Göttingen, ca. 1820

13-key C Clarinet, Jean Jacques Baumann, Paris, ca. 1825



International Commission on Museums (ICOM) Musical Instrument Committee

The Galpin Society for the study of musical instruments

American Musical Instrument Society (AMIS)