Musical Instruments on the Today programme

On Thursday, March 12, the collection of the distinguished keyboard player and conductor Christopher Hogwood was sold at auction. As part of the lead to this, Collection Curator Jenny Nex, along with harpsichordist Sophie Yates, appeared on the Radio 4 Today programme to discuss the collection and its sale. The segment can be heard at starting about 52 minutes in.

Musical Instrument Museums Edinburgh has benefitted greatly – particularly in the last decade – from private collectors who have made gifts or bequests to the Collection. In particular we have the Rodger Mirrey Collection of early keyboard instruments – a collection which complemented the existing keyboard collection and now has given Edinburgh instruments unsurpassed in scope; the Sir Nicholas Shackleton Collection of clarinets – the finest privately assembled collection of woodwinds, and the Frank Tomes Collection, predominantly of brass instruments.

As with all of our instruments, they are used in teaching from undergraduate to PhD level, and are made available to scholars for research and to allow makers to produce reproductions for practicing musicians. Nowadays reproductions of instruments from the University’s Collection are heard daily on national radio (Radio 3 and Classic FM), and the Museum gets regular visits from makers to carry out examinations of objects.

It was a particular wish of Christopher Hogwood that the funds raised by the sale of his instruments went to support students of music and educational charities he has long been associated with. It is obviously too soon to know where the instruments have gone, but early reports suggest that the sale was very successful with the objects selling for their estimate or higher.

One of the issues that was brought up is whether collections of this nature should be preserved together given the importance of the collector, or whether dispersal allows the creation of future collections.

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