Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mad (16th Century Royal) Props to South Dakota

 As a Vermillion (South Dakota) native, I can't help but pass this front page story from NPR along:
"Since its opening in 1973, the National Music Museum has become one of the first places people think of when they come across a rare instrument. Its latest acquisition — a 400-year-old Amati Brothers violin, made to order for King Henry IV of France — is one example. Violin expert Claire Givens, who has lent her expertise as an appraiser to The Antiques Road Show, brokered the deal that brought the instrument to Vermillion.   
"The violin was made in 1595 by two brothers who were part of a family of premiere craftsmen from Cremona, Italy, says Arian Sheets, the museum's curator of stringed instruments. 'Their father, Andre Amati, was actually the first documented violin maker in Cremona. And we know he had set up his own shop by 1538,' Sheets says. 'Antonio Stradavari claimed on some of his labels to have been a student of Nicolo Amati. But we don't have any record of that.' Though most everyone has heard of the Stradivarius line of violins — and several can be seen in Vermillion — Sheets says the Amatis were established in Cremona before Stradavari came along.
"The Amati Brothers violin has survived more than 400 years; it was protected through the French Revolution, a number of wars and handing down through generations. After all it's been through, it now has a chance to rest, on display at the National Music Museum."
I've actually been to the museum several times and it kicks ass.  Some of my friends got married there actually. 

The museum has a saxophone from Bill Clinton and instruments from many different times and places.  There is no entry fee, just a suggested donation (last time I went at least).  The only drawback is that it is out of the way -- far from any major metro or airport.  If you're planning a roadtrip through the upper midwest and you like classical music, you should definitely consider driving through Vermillion during business hours and stop at the museum for a couple of hours.

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