Three Hundred Years of Composers' Instruments: The Cobbe Collection (BOK)
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The keyboard repertoire comprises one third of the whole of Western music. The very instruments chosen by composers themselves form the heart of the Cobbe Collection at Hatchlands. The eighteen owned or played by Purcell, Johann Christian Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin, Mahler and Elgar, to name a few, are the largest group assembled anywhere of these tangible and audible relics connecting with the musical minds of the past. The collection otherwise comprises a further twenty or so instruments that were chosen to represent instrument-makers who were highly regarded or patronised by composers, all maintained in playing order. Each entry in this lavishly-illustrated catalogue includes a history of the piece, its provenance, technical data and colour photographs of the instrument and notable details. Here, for example, is the piano on which Chopin played his final public concert; we learn of the strips of lead that Mahler had fixed to the hammers in the bass register and that Elgar's Broadwood was delivered to Worcester by river. More than simply a catalogue of a collection, this volume will fascinate anyone with an interest in keyboard music, as well as music historians, instrument makers and restorers, and those concerned with issues of 'authentic' performance. ALEC COBBE has collected musical instruments owned by composers for many years. He is also a distinguished designer, and specialises in the decor and hanging of pictures in stately homes; in early 2014 an exhibition of his work was shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum.