Museum of Musical Instruments of the University of Leipzig
The Museum of Musical Instruments of the University of Leipzig is a museum in Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. It is located on Johannisplatz, near the city centre. The museum belongs to the University of Leipzig
University of Leipzig
The University of Leipzig , located in Leipzig in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, is one of the oldest universities in the world and the second-oldest university in Germany...

 and is also part of the Grassi Museum
Grassi Museum
The Grassi Museum is a building complex in Leipzig, Germany, home to three museums: the Ethnography Museum, Musical Instruments Museum, and Applied Arts Museum....

, whose other members are the Museum of Ethnography
Leipzig Museum of Ethnography
The Leipzig Museum of Ethnography is a large ethnographic museum in Leipzig, Germany. Today it is part of the Grassi Museum, an institution which also includes the Museum of Applied Arts and the Museum of Musical Instruments, based in a large building on the Johannisplatz.-History:The museum...

 and the Museum of Applied Arts
Leipzig Museum of Applied Arts
The Museum of Applied Arts is a museum in Leipzig, Germany. It is the second oldest museum of decorative arts in the country, founded just six years after the Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin...


It is one of the largest music instrument museums in Europe, alongside those of Brussels and of Paris. Its collection of around 10,000 objects includes valuable instruments from Europe and beyond, as well as music-related items from the Renaissance
Renaissance music
Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance. Defining the beginning of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.Literally meaning...

, the Baroque
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

, and Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

's Leipzig period.


In 1886 the Dutchman Paul de Wit opened a museum of historic musical instruments in Leipzig, but he sold the collection to the paper merchant Wilhelm Heyer in 1905. The "Wilhelm Heyer Museum of Music History" opened in 1913, containing De Wit's collection alongside that of the Florentine Baron Alessandro Kraus and keyboard instruments from the Prussian manufacturer Ibach. The collection was bought by the University of Leipzig in 1926, paid for partly by the State of Saxony
The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

 and partly by the publisher C.F. Peters
Edition Peters
Edition Peters, also known as C.F.Peters Musikverlag, is a German music publishing house, founded in Leipzig in 1800.From the 1860s it was largely run by members the Hinrichsen family, who were Jewish. The company was confiscated by the Nazis and administered by the "Trustee of Jewish Property"....

, and was opened in the New Grassi Museum in 1929.

Parts of the collection were removed for safekeeping during World War II, but a large number of the remaining items were destroyed during a bomb raid
Bombing of Leipzig in World War II
During World War II, Leipzig was repeatedly attacked by British as well as American air raids. The most severe attack was launched by the Royal Air Force in the early hours of December 4, 1943 and claimed more than 1,800 lives...

 on the building in 1943, including the Ibach pianos, the archive and the library. After the war it transpired that the items which had been removed were also significantly damaged or lost, owing to improper storage or theft.

Starting in the 1950s, the museum was gradually rebuilt and reopened to the public. The collection was expanded anew over the following decades, through purchases and donations. All or part of the De Wit, Heyer, Kraus and Ibach collections still survive.

The museum is a member of the Konferenz Nationaler Kultureinrichtungen
Konferenz Nationaler Kultureinrichtungen
The Konferenz Nationaler Kultureinrichtungen or Conference of National Cultural Institutions is a union of more than twenty cultural organizations in the former East Germany...

, a union of more than twenty cultural institutions in the former East Germany.


The permanent exhibition presents the major eras of musical history (in particular that of Leipzig) and instrument technology. The oldest exhibits date from the 16th century. The exhibition is chronologically ordered and divided into 13 sections. Besides those mentioned above, the most important collections include bowed, wind
Wind instrument
A wind instrument is a musical instrument that contains some type of resonator , in which a column of air is set into vibration by the player blowing into a mouthpiece set at the end of the resonator. The pitch of the vibration is determined by the length of the tube and by manual modifications of...

 and percussion instruments, piano roll
Piano roll
A piano roll is a music storage medium used to operate a player piano, piano player or reproducing piano. A piano roll is a continuous roll of paper with perforations punched into it. The peforations represent note control data...

s, the collection of Friedrich von Amerling
Friedrich von Amerling
Friedrich von Amerling was an Austro-Hungarian portrait painter in the court of Franz Josef. He was born in Vienna and was court painter between 1835 and 1880...

, and a 1931 theatre organ
Theatre organ
A theatre organ is a pipe organ originally designed specifically for imitation of an orchestra. New designs have tended to be around some of the sounds and blends unique to the instrument itself....

. The museum also contains a sound laboratory where musical instruments can be tested out.

University connections

The museum has been part of the University of Leipzig
University of Leipzig
The University of Leipzig , located in Leipzig in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, is one of the oldest universities in the world and the second-oldest university in Germany...

 since 1929, and includes a teaching collection and a study collection. It also holds teaching events for students of Leipzig University and the University of Music and Theatre Leipzig.

Further reading

  • Eszter Fontana, Birgit Heise: Für Aug' und Ohren gleich erfreulich. Musikinstrumente aus fünf Jahrhunderten. Museum of Musical Instruments of the University of Leipzig, Halle/Saale, 1998. ISBN 3980457419.
  • Helmut Zeraschi: Geschichte des Museums, Issue 2 of Schriftenreihe des Musikinstrumenten-Museums der Karl-Marx-Universität, Leipzig, 1977.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.