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Instruments of the Modern Symphony Orchestra & Their Historical Antecedents

DATES May 01, 1939 through May 14, 1939
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  • April 1, 1939 Today (Saturday, April 1st) the Brooklyn Museum is opening a new and unusual exhibition, one of the Instruments used in a Modern Symphony Orchestra. Only one instrument of a kind will be shown though in an actual orchestra there are many instruments of the same kind, for instance, a whole section of first and second violins. In addition to the actual instruments there will be charts showing the historic antecedents of these instruments, the families of instruments to which they belong. Earlier forms of modern instruments are also shown in the Brooklyn Museum collections of primitive and oriental arts. The grouping of instruments in a modern orchestra will be represented by a chart showing the arrangement and number of instruments in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, which, includes 110 pieces.

    Free programs of music have also been planned in connection with this exhibition to illustrate the playing of the various instruments and the sort of music written for them. Three of these programs have been planned for the month of April. They will be given on Thursday afternoons at 1:30. Cesare Finn and Irving Hopkins, commentators, and several musicians who are professional demonstrators of instruments, will appear on these programs through the courtesy of the Federal Music Project. Each of the programs will be followed by a gallery tour of the exhibition.

    Arthur Prichard Moore, author of a recent book called The Museum-Library of Music, Dance and Art, originated the idea of this exhibition and has advised and assisted the Brooklyn Museum Staff in their plans. The major purpose is to correlate lively demonstrations and to afford an opportunity to examine the instruments themselves with the somewhat abstract study of orchestras and orchestrations in school music courses.

    The Brooklyn Museum, like several of the more modern and progressive museums, has for a long time included musical instruments in the exhibitions of works of art and has given free programs of music of many of the nations represented in collections of painting, sculpture, costumes and other decorative arts, Mr. Moore has seen in these incidental programs and exhibitions the possibility of a new type of museum-library and of a highly specialized and valuable work that might be done by larger museums.

    The Fred Gretsch Manufacturing Company and the Wurlitzer Company of Brooklyn have very generously lent to the Museum most of the instruments exhibited. Many of them are made in this country; but others were made in Turkey, Cuba, China, Germany, France and the late Czecho-Slovakia. Among the instruments exhibited are the violin, viola, cello, stringed bass flute, piccolo, oboe, bassoon, English horn, French horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, bass drum, snare drum, tympani, triangle, glockenspiel, xylophone, chimes, cymbals, castanets, tambourine, torn torn and gongs.

    This exhibition is scheduled to run through May 14th.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1939. 4-7_1939/Exhibition, 171-172
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  • May 4, 1939 SATURDAY, MAY 13th, through SATURDAY, MAY 20th,1939

    SATURDAY, May 13 th,
    11:00 A.M. Motion Picture- “China’s Home Life; How China Makes a Living” (Sculpture Court)
    2:00 P.M. Lecture-Demonstration- “History of Music and Its Parallels in Visual Art” by David Le Vita (Class A)
    3:00 P.M. Songs of Lithuania. Presented in cooperation with the International Institute of the Y.W.C.A. (Sculpture Court)

    SUNDAY, MAY 14th,
    1:30 P.M. Federal Civic Orchestra of N.Y.C., and Federal Opera Co. of N.Y.C. (Sculpture Court)
    3:00 P.M. Sound Motion Picture- “Pilgrim Forests, New England Fishermen” (Class A)
    3:10 P.M. Organ Recital -Dr. R.L. Bedell (Sculpture Court)
    4:00 P.M. Manhattan Federal Band (Sculpture Court)

    TUESDAY, MAY 16th,
    10:00 A.M. Sound Motion Picture- “Pilgrim Forests” (New England) (Sculpture Court)

    WEDNESDAY, MAY 17th,
    1:30 P.M. Motion Picture - “The Frontier Woman” (Sculpt. Court)

    SATURDAY, MAY 20th
    11:00 A.M. Motion Picture - "Bit of High Life; Digging up the Past; Canoe Trails through Mooseland” (Sculpture Court)
    3:00 P.M. Sound Motion Picture - “The Symphony Orchestra, Percussion Group, Woodwind, Brass and String Choirs “ (Sculpture Court)

    ORGAN RECITALS (Broadcast over Station W.N.Y.C. from the Sculpture Court of the Brooklyn Museum)
    Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Frida[y]- 1:05 P.M. to 1:30 P.M.
    Saturday--------------------------------------------10:00 A.M. to 10:30 P.M.

    Exhibition of the Instruments of the Modern Symphony Orchestra and their Historic Antecedents - March 31 to May 14, (Second Floor)
    Exhibition of Mexican Bead Work of the 18th and 19th Centuries. Lent by Mrs. Dwight Morrow. May 6 through summer (Second Fl.)
    Popular Art in America - May 18 through summer (First Fl.)
    World’s Fairs of Yesterday. Material from the Brooklyn Museum Art Reference Library - May 5 to Oct. 1, (Second Floor Library Gall.)

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1938. 11-12/1938, 293.
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