Culture Minister Ed Vaizey opened The Art of Harmony last night. The exhibition brings together 44 musical instruments from the collections of the V&A and Horniman Museums, presenting the captivating story of European classical music from the 16th to 19th centuries.
Many of these instruments have fascinating individual stories: from connections to prominent historical figures and events to tales of skulduggery and deception. A highlight of the display is one of Antonio Stradivari’s iconic violins, an example of his virtuosic craftsmanship which remains highly prized by top musicians today. Louis, le Grand Dauphin of France - famously “Son of a king, father of a king, but never a king” - reputedly owned the ornate kit (a compact violin used for dance lessons) which forms part of the ‘Salon’ display.
Alongside the display of instruments, the exhibition sheds light on the history of the two musical instrument collections, from the great exhibitions of the Victorian era that both fed and inspired them, to the intriguing individual collectors themselves.
The exhibition was funded by a £65,000 grant from the MLA’s Designation Development Fund.
Commenting on the joint exhibition, Janet Vitmayer, Director of the Horniman said “We are thrilled to be able to focus the Horniman’s curatorial expertise on these exceptional instruments from the V&A as they complement our own collections so well. The Art of Harmony shows just how much can be achieved when institutions pool their strengths.”