National Music Museum, Lisbon, Portugal

The National Museum of Music is the national museum of Portugal dedicated to music, has one of the most important collections of instruments in Europe. Some of these instruments are classified as National Treasures. as is the case of Stradivarius Chevillard Cello – King of Portugal, Carnation Antunes, or Pascal Taskin’s Carnation.

The Museu Nacional da Música houses one of Europe’s richest collections of musical instruments, some of them classified as Portuguese National Treasures, such as the Stradivarius cello – King of Portugal, the Antunes harpsichord or the Pascal Taskin harpsichord. The collection dates from the 16th to the 21st centuries, comprising Portuguese and international instruments, of both erudite and popular traditions. In addition to musical instruments, visitors can find documents, phonograms and iconography. The Museum also houses a Documentation Center. Its vast cultural programe includes concerts, theme tours and workshops. The Museum is located in one of Lisbon’s metro stations.

The Museum’s mission is “to safeguard, conserve, study, value, disseminate and develop the cultural assets of the Museum, promoting the Portuguese musicological, phonographic and organological heritage, with a view to encouraging the qualification and dissemination of Portuguese musical culture.”

In addition to musical instruments, visitors can find in the Museum documents, phonograms and iconography. The National Museum of Music also has a Documentation Center and hosts a vast cultural extension program, with emphasis on concerts, thematic visits and workshops.

Since 1994, the museum has been installed at the Alto dos Moinhos metro station in Lisbon.

The National Museum of Music will be fully installed at the National Palace of Mafra, where it should open to the public in 2021.

The history of the National Museum of Music dates back to the early twentieth century and spans over the years, in a troubled path that would take the collection of space in space until the installation at the subway station Alto dos Moinhos, where it has been operating since 1994.

1911-1931 – The instrumental museum Michel’angelo Lambertini
The first ideas for the creation of an instrumental museum in Portugal came from King D. Luís I and, a little later, from Alfredo Keil, owner of an important collection of musical instruments. However, it would be musicologist Michel’angelo Lambertini who would truly take up the challenge.

In 1911, following the establishment of the republic, Lambertini succeeded in being nominated by the government to start collecting musical instruments, sheet music and pieces of musical iconography scattered in public and religious buildings, a project to which he is enthusiastically engaged.

However, the musicologist is quickly confronted by the unwillingness of the ruling class, and in 1913 an official dispatch removes him from his duties. He then re-equates the museum project, seeking the help of individuals.

In 1915, Teófilo Braga, then President of the Republic, signs a decree establishing, in the Rua dos Caetanos building, the Instrumental Museum of the Conservatory. Lambertini is invited to inventory and organize the collected objects, without any maturity, an invitation he accepts. However, the Museum did not have appropriate facilities or the necessary budgetary protection.

It therefore returns to the idea of creating the Lisbon Instrumental Museum with the help of private individuals. In 1916, he appeals to António Carvalho Monteiro, also a collector, to acquire Keil’s collection, in danger of going abroad. He sells him his own collection and proposes to move the project together.

Carvalho Monteiro accepts and cedes a space for accommodation of specimens in a building on Rua do Alecrim, where the collection of Lambertini, Alfredo Keil and Carvalho Monteiro collections come together. The collection would continue until their death in 1920, when the collection totals more than 500 specimens.

With the deaths of Carvalho Monteiro and Lambertini, the project to create the instrumental museum is postponed. As a consequence, the collected collection remains in the basements of the building on Rua do Alecrim until 1931.

1931-1971 – Instrumental Conservatory Museum
Given the value of the collection assembled by Lambertini and its abandonment, the State seeks to acquire it with the intention of advancing the Conservatory Instrumental Museum, created by decree in 1915. Tomás Borba, conservative of the then National Conservatory Museum and Library, is in charge of proceeding with the acquisition of the collection to the heirs of Carvalho Monteiro. Concluded this process in 1931 is transferred to the National Conservatory, then directed by Viana da Mota.

Later also the instruments that had belonged to King D. Luís, which were in the Ajuda Palace, joined the collection, as well as some pieces sold during the period of abandonment on Rua do Alecrim, purchased at auctions by the National Conservatory.

The heritage of the Conservatory’s Instrumental Museum is enriched with important acquisitions of musical instruments, scores and other accessory materials, extending the collection to Afro-Asian instruments. It is at this time that, for the first time, an exhibition space is created, while some instruments are being restored and used in baroque music recitals.

From 1946, with the reopening of the Conservatory after improvement works, the museum is officially inaugurated, experiencing a period of development of the museological aspect and the concern with public access extending until 1971.

1971-1975 – Pepper Palace
In the early 70’s, the space occupied by the museum in the Conservatory became necessary due to the creation of three new schools – Dance, Cinema and Education through Art. In view of the possibility of having their own space, the 658 pieces, which then constituted the collection, were transferred, in 1971, to the Pimenta Palace in Campo Grande, which would later host the City Museum. They remain there until 1975, in precarious conditions. That year, by decision of João de Freitas Branco, then Secretary of State for Culture, and the Conservatory School of Music, they are again transferred, this time to the National Library.

1975-1991 – National Library
At the National Library musicologist Santiago Kastner is appointed Director and begins the inventorying of specimens. From 1977, under the guidance of Inspector Humberto d’Ávila, Director of the Department of Musicology, various types of instruments, sheet music, prints, paintings, concert programs, etc. were acquired.

Although housed in the National Library, the Museum is again open to the public, retaining the designation of the Conservatory’s Instrumental Museum.

During this period, commissions set up discuss the best place to set up the museum and welcome its ever increasing collection. Several buildings are hypothesized, but for various reasons none of them would host the museum.

1991-1993 – The National Library at Upper Mills
In 1991, by decision of the State Secretariat of Culture, and in accordance with the wishes of the National Library Board, claiming lack of space, the collections are packaged and transferred once again. The instruments are packed and sent to the Mafra National Palace, the sound records to the National Museum of Ethnology and the engraving collection to the National Museum of Ancient Art, with only the bibliographic collection remaining in the same premises.

1993-2018 – Music Museum
With the signing, on 1 October 1993, World Music Day, of a protocol, under the patronage law, between the Portuguese Institute of Museums (current Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage) and the Lisbon Metropolitan, they meet the conditions for the installation of the Museum in the Alto dos Moinhos subway station for a period of 20 years (1993-2013).

Following the signed protocol, the works begin, and the Music Museum opened on July 26, 1994. During this period, the Museum develops its activity, regularly presenting temporary exhibitions, organizing diversified events, promoting extension activities. studying, inventorying and developing their collections…

Despite the apparent normality, the temporary nature of its installation in Alto dos Moinhos would always be present on the horizon, so discussions over the years about its future should be renewed over the years.

In 2007, the PRACE (Reform Program of the Central Administration of the State) discusses the creation of the Sound Museum, a structure that should include the Music Museum and a national sound archive that would be responsible for the Legal Deposit of Phonograms. With the change of culture portfolio holder in January 2008, this idea falls apart.

Three years later, in 2010, the then Secretary of State for Culture, Elísio Sumavielle, announces, on International Museum Day, that the Music Museum will be transferred to the São Bento de Cástris Convent, in Évora, in an ongoing process. until 2014.

This decision would be reversed by another Secretary of State for Culture (Jorge Barreto Xavier) in 2014, announcing rather the installation in the National Palace of Mafra, which should happen until November 2017.

However, at the end of 2013 is the passage of 20 years protocoled with the Lisbon Metro to stay at the Alto dos Moinhos station. Given this situation, the protocol is renewed for another 5 years, until the end of 2018, thus ensuring that the Museum, promoted in May 2015 to the National Museum, can continue to develop its activity.

Instrumental Collection
The National Museum of Music has a collection of more than a thousand musical instruments from the 16th to the 20th centuries, mainly European, but also African and Asian, of erudite and popular tradition. Much of its collection comes from the old collections of Alfredo Keil, Michel’angelo Lambertini and Carvalho Monteiro.

The collection includes rare instruments of high historical and organological value, such as the piano (Boisselot & Fils) that Franz Liszt brought from France in 1845, the horn of Marcel-Auguste Raoux, built for Joaquim Pedro Quintela, 1. Count of Farrobo, Antonio Stradivari’s cello, which belonged to and was played by King D. Luís, Henry Lockey Hill’s cello, owned by cellist Guilhermina Suggia or Pascal Taskin’s French harpsichord built at the request of King Louis XVI, more afternoon belong to the Marquise of Cadaval.

The Museum also stands out for the quantity and quality of instruments of Portuguese making, among them the harpsichord of Joaquim José Antunes (Lisbon, 1758), the transverse flutes of the Haupt family (XVIII-XIX) or the eighteenth century clavicordios of the Lisbon and Porto workshops..

There are also curious examples, such as pocket violins, cane flutes, glass flute, Jean Louis Olivier Cossoul’s melophone or marine trumpets.

Iconographic Collection
The National Museum of Music has in its collections several examples of iconographic material in ceramics, drawing, sculpture, photography, printmaking and screen printing, or painting.

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The painting includes some oils from the 16th to 19th centuries. Among others, one can appreciate the “Assumption of the Virgin” by Gregório Lopes (16th century); a portrait of composer João Domingos Bomtempo (1814) painted by Henrique José da Silva; another by mezzo-soprano, Luisa Tod i, by Marie Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun. Also noteworthy are the paintings by José Malhoa, 1903, consecrating Beethoven and Music, and four medallions by the same author dedicated to Bach, Mozart, Schumann and Brahms.

In the sculpture we find lute playing musician angels (18th century), and a set of biscuit putti (19th / 20th centuries), playing and dancing. With regard to photography, the collection includes several portraits of personalities of the musical milieu of the second half of the nineteenth century, early twentieth century, such as José Viana da Mota, Guilhermina Suggia or Ferruccio Busoni.

Among the ceramics and the drawing, we can mention the “ratinhos” dishes of Coimbra, containing representations of players or inscriptions alluding to musical practices, and a drawing by António Carneiro, representing Bernardo Valentim Moreira de Sá.

The Museum also has about 150 engravings and serigraphs of figures related to the world of theater and music, as composers (ex. Marcos Portugal), instrumentalists (ex. Liszt) and opera singers of the 18th and 19th centuries (ex. Adelina Patti), by famous recorders such as Henri Thomassin or Francesco Bartolozzi, among others.

Documentary Collection
The National Museum of Music has numerous graphic documents, including a few hundred printed and handwritten sheet music from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, composition pieces, light theater extracts and works by authors such as Fernando Lopes Graça, Armando Jose Fernandes, Cláudio Carneiro, José Viana da Mota, Oscar da Silva, among many others.

Also noteworthy are the monographs and periodicals on music and organology, the libretto, the concert programs and the letters of various personalities of the musical milieu, documents that integrate several sets, namely the spoils of Alfredo Keil; his collaborator and author of light theater works, Luís Filgueiras; Michel’angelo Lambertini; Josefina Andersen; Pedro Prado; lyric singer Tomás Alcaide; violinist Júlio Cardona and his father Ferreira da Silva; by pianist Ella Eleanore Amzel and conductor José de Sousa.

A Musician, a Maecenas
“A Musician, a Maecenas” is a cycle of concerts with historical instruments from the collection of the Museu Nacional da Música. This cycle seeks to promote one of the most important instrumental collections in Europe, with the help of exceptional musicians who play pro bono and give voice to Portuguese national treasures and instruments of great historical value. This exhibition evokes the history of this cycle from its first season in 2013 until 2018.

The concerts of the cycle are real journeys to the Museum’s collection, making the instruments known through commented concerts and an historical contextualization, often extended to the chosen repertoire.

The maintenance and interpretation of the musical instruments and the communication of each one’s history are factors that are closely linked and result in a combined action between the Museum and the patrons of the cycle (musicians, builders / restorers and other partners).

At the end of the 2018 season the cycle will feature 53 concerts, performed by more than 50 musicians using 24 historical instruments from the Museum’s collection, 6 of these restored as a consequence of the work done, but several others intervened and maintained.


Harpsichord (1758)
The 1758 Antunes harpsichord was present in all seasons of the cycle between 2013 and 2018, being, together, with the “Stradivarius” cello the most played instrument. José Carlos Araújo (on four occasions), Joana Bagulho, Jenny Silvestre, Enno Kastens, Michele Benuzzi, Cristiano Holtz, Flávia Castro, Masumi Yakamoto and Miguel Jalôto were the musicians who had the opportunity to give life to this harpsichord, in solo concerts or accompanying other instruments of the collection.

Piano (1922)
The piano that belonged to the Portuguese composer Luís de Freitas Branco (1880-1955) was used in six concerts of the cycle by Duarte Pereira Martins, João Paulo Santos (on two occasions), Jill Lawson, Luís Costa and Akari Komiya, accompanying the “Stradivarius” and “Lockey Hill” cellos as well as the viola built by Francesco Emiliani. The concert by Luís Costa, accompanying his brother Fernando Costa, was recorded by RTP2.

Cello (1st half 19th century)
The “Lockey Hill” cello that belonged to the Portuguese cellist Guilhermina Suggia (1885-1950) shone in four concerts of the cycle, played by Nuno M. Cardoso (on two occasions), Fernando Costa and Teresa Valente Pereira. In the first three cases it was accompanied by the two Bechstein pianos of the Museum and, in the last one, it integrated a quartet with three other cellos from the collection. So that it could be played, the cello was intervened by the luthier Christian Bayon.

Cello (1725)
Being one of the most emblematic pieces of the Museum’s collection, the “Stradivarius” cello was heard in all seasons of the cycle, such as the 1758 Antunes harpsichord. In order to ensure its preservation, this cello is played only a very limited number of times a year. During the cycle this privilege belonged to Irene Lima, Levon Mouradian and Pavel Gomziakov (on two occasions each) and Clélia Vital, Paulo Gaio Lima, Marco Pereira, Maria José Falcão, Filipe Quaresma and Varoujan Bartikian.

Fortepiano (1763)
The pianoforte van Casteel is one of the very rare original pianofortes built in Portugal that have survived. In 2013 this instrument celebrated 250 years. Thanks to the visibility achieved with the cycle, it was possible to move forward with its restoration, an intervention conducted by Geert Karman, a renowned Dutch restorer and builder of old key instruments. Following his work, the pianoforte would then be played in three concerts by José Carlos Araújo (on two occasions) and Pieter-Jan Belder.

Violin (1780)
The 1780 “Galrão” violin is one of two violins built by Joaquim José Galrão belonging to the Museum’s collection. It was played by Raquel Cravino in 2013 and by Daniel Bolito in 2017 in concerts in which it accompanied a cello from the same builder and the 1758 Antunes harpsichord as well as the 1925 Bechstein piano and the 1797 ‘Dinis’ cello.

Cello (1769)
This cello was built by Joaquim José Galrão and belonged to King D. Luís I of Portugal. During the cycle it was played by Nuno M. Cardoso, Amarilis Dueñas Castán, Raquel Reis and Marco Pereira, in concerts where it was accompanied by other cellos of the collection (1781 Galrão, Lockey Hill and Dinis), a violin (also Galrão) and the 1758 Antunes harpsichord.

Bass viola da gamba (1st half of the 18th century)
Viola da Gamba built by the prestigious builder Pieter Rombouts (1677-1749), disciple of Hendrick Jacobs. Dating from the first half of the 18th century and built in Amsterdam, this instrument was played in 2014 by Birgund Meyer-Ohme and, in 2016, by Sofia Diniz in concerts in which it was accompanied by the 1758 Antunes harpsichord.

Oboe (1st half 18th century)
Johann Heinrich Eichentopf was probably the most prominent wind instrument builder of his time. The oboe of his own authorship that integrates the Museum’s collection is an extremely rare instrument. During the cycle it was played by Pedro Castro along with a modern copy of the instrument, built by the Portuguese builder Diogo Leal. This allowed the audience to compare the sound of the two oboes.

Cello (1781)
Esperanza Rama, Martin Henneken and Fernando Costa were the musicians responsible for playing the 1781 Galrão cello during the cycle. In the concerts held it was accompanied by the 1769 cello of the same builder and, in another occasion, also by the “Lockey Hill” and “Dinis” cellos.

Cello (1797)
The 1797 Dinis cello was presented in four concerts of the cycle, benefiting from an intervention by the luthier Elise Derochefort. Diana Vinagre (on two occasions), Gonçalo Lélis and Nuno M. Cardoso were the musicians who gave life to this instrument, along with the organ Fontanes, three other cellos (two Galrões and Lockey Hill) and the Bechstein piano of 1925 together with the violin Galrão of 1780.

Organ (1780 – 1790)
The organ built by Joaquim António Peres Fontanes is one of the Museum’s national treasures. In the course of the cycle it was played by Miguel Jalôto in two concerts in the seasons of 2015 and 2016, accompanying, on two occasions the Diniz cello played by Diana Vinagre.

Theorbo (1608)
The 1608 theorbo of the German builder Matheus Buchenberg is one of the instruments that was restored as part of the work developed for the cycle, in this case thanks to the sponsorship of Agostinho da Silva (administrator of the CEI-Zipor Group). The restoration was carried out in 2014 by the builder and restorer Orlando Trindade and allowed the use of the theorbo in four concerts by four different musicians: Hugo Sanches (with soprano Manuela Lopes and Pedro Sousa Silva on the flutes), Pietro Prosser, Helena Raposo (with Orlanda Velez in the voice) and Vinicius Perez.

Piano (1925)
The Bechstein grand piano dating from 1925 was another of the instruments restored thanks to the work carried out for the cycle, in this case by the company Once restored, it became one of the most recurrent instruments, played by Duarte Pereira Martins (on three occasions), Marina Dellalyan, Joana David, Anne Kaasa, António Rosado and Lucjan Luc at concerts in which it accompanied some cellos and violins of the Museum’s collection.

Clavichord (1783)
Given its fragility, the clavichord built by Jacinto Ferreira in 1783 was not actually played in the course of the cycle. However, a modern copy of this instrument would be used by Cremilde Fernandes in a concert in 2015. In this concert the public was able to enjoy the original instrument in counterpoint with its copy.

Bassoon (1801)
The bassoon made by the German constructor Heinrich Grenser was used by Hugues Kesteman in a concert with the Ensemble Contágio Barroco formed also by Filipa Oliveira (Bisel Flute), João Paulo Janeiro (harpsichord) and Remi Kesteman (cello).

Clavichord (1730 – 1760)
Built in the region of Aveiro, Portugal, this clavichord of unknown author is one of the Museum’s national treasures. It was played by José Carlos Araújo to interpret 18th century Iberian Music.

Clavichord (18th century)
This 18th century clavichord of unknown authorship, thought to have been built in Germany, was played occasionally over time, the last one by José Carlos Araújo in a concert of the 2016 season of the cycle. In this concert Araújo played yet another clavichord from the collection.

Portuguese guitar (1959)
The Portuguese guitar made by Kim Grácio, and donated to the Museum by António Brochado da Mota in 2015, was the instrument used by Luísa Amaro and António Chainho in the concerts they performed for the cycle, respectively in 2016 and 2017.

Violin (1867)
The 1867 violin built by António Joaquim Sanhudo was the instrument used by Daniel Bolito to play Beethoven and Brahms in the closing concert of the 2016 season of the cycle, accompanied by the 1925 Bechstein piano.

Viola (1748)
Roxanne Dykstra was the violist responsible for presenting the 1748 viola built by Francesco Emiliani, in a concert of the 2018 season, in which it was accompanied by the 1922 Bechstein piano.

Harpsichord (1789)
The 1789 Antunes harpsichord was one of the instruments restored by Geert Karman following the work developed for the cycle. It will be premiered in the 2018 in a concert where it will have the company of the 1758 harpsichord. The two instruments will be played by José Carlos Araújo and Miguel Jalôto. Until the end of the 2018 season the it will also be played by Cremilde Rosado Fernandes.

Harpsichord (1782)
National treasure and an instrument of enormous historical and organological value, the Taskin harpsichord had been waiting a few years for the conclusion of its restoration process, which would finally happen in 2018, in a process involving several intervenients: Ulrich Weymar (organological restoration), Laboratório José de Figueiredo (restoration of decorative elements), Geert Karman (harmonization, tuning and replacement of jumps) and a few other collaborators. Now that this process is completed, the harpsichord will finally be presented in a concert in 2018.

Piano (1844)
The closing concert of the 2018 season of the cycle will star the Boisselot & Fils piano that Franz Liszt (1811-1886) brought with him to Portugal in 1845. This instrument is being restored following the work developed for the cycle. Once this process is concluded the Museum will have one more emblematic instrument of its collection in conditions of being played.

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