THE GUITAR - FOUR CENTURIES OF MASTERPIECES
Exhibition of instruments from the 17th to the 20th centuries
Alessandria - Palazzo del Monferrato
September 20th to October 19th, 2008
To tell the story of the guitar by means of some of the most precious instruments made in the last four centuries: that is the philosophy of the exhibition in program from September 20 to October 19 in Alessandria, in the beautiful décor of Palazzo del Monferrato.
About 70 instruments have been selected, covering a chronological period starting in the beginning of the 1700s to the second half of the 1900s. The exhibition starts with baroque guitars, beautifully decorated with refined materials and inlays, amongst which to be noted is a very rare instrument made by the great violin maker Antonio Stradivari; it proceeds with classical ones, that thanks to the art of interpreters like Andres Segovia, could emancipate the six stringed instruments from the role of simple popular instrument.
This exhibition offers for the first time a visit rich with masterpieces, with the possibility of analyzing the transformations that took place in the lapse time of four centuries, adapting itself to the requests and changes of music “d’élite”. Moreover, again for the first time, the exhibition has succeeded in putting together the most precious and rare guitars conserved at the present time, thanks to the contribution of prestigious international museums and passionate private collectors.
Thus, it was possible to put together refined instruments, unique for their constructing qualities together with instruments owned by celebrities: famed musicians such as Niccolò Paganini, but also by the virtuoso by excellence Mauro Giuliani, and members of the royal families, such as Queen Margherita of Savoia.
The exhibition, “clou” of the Festival, that includes a series of important collateral events is an initiative promoted by “Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Alessandria”, in collaboration with “Palazzo del Monferrato” set up completed by “Palazzo del Governatore, Srl”, exhibition conceived by “Edizioni Il Salabue”.
The exhibition takes place on two floors and is articulated in 13 sections, each one dedicated to a specific historic period and a geographical area.
The first section dedicated to baroque guitar is an exception: even though the instruments which survived 4 centuries of history are less numerous, the ones on exhibition are splendid examples, amongst the most significant still existing today. The major aesthetic impact comes from the guitar made by Antonio Stradivari, the most famous violin maker of all times.
Sections 2, 3, 4 are dedicated to the period relative to the second half of the 1700s; it starts with Italy, the area where guitar went through a significant fundamental transformation, that is, the addition of a sixth string, still a characteristic today. Then, it goes on with France, catalyzed mostly around Paris, but fundamental experiences also took place outside the capital. It concludes with Spain, underlining the fact that a certain isolation and the importance of popular music made guitar – over time - an instrument with its own particularities, at least in the Iberia peninsula.
The following five sections represent a uniform chronological nucleus that includes the period relative to the first half of the 1800s. Aside from Italy, France and Spain, nations that remained absolute points of reference in the history of guitar, Austria and Great Britain are also represented; The Habsburg Empire, particularly in Vienna, and London, in competition with the other important European capitals in the musical field, had a wide appeal and were a powerful factor for the development of violin and guitar making – as can be testified by instruments exhibited in sections 8 and 9.
The final part of the exhibition is concentrated on the period linking the 1800s to the 1900s,
transition from the modern to the contemporary times. As passion for guitar declined with the end of the Empire in Austria, and the trend for the six stringed declined in England -- Italy, France, Spain and Germany were left as the leading nations in the world of guitar making. Nowadays, guitar is far from being the baroque object used in the Courts to make music, responding at the same time to the refined taste for works of art; now this instrument has conquered its place in the music “d’élite” and has, as a consequence, to satisfy its requests; starting with the power of the sound. In this regard, makers go on experimenting and exploring the most various solutions. This confrontation concludes the exhibition, completing the theme of four centuries of history.
To illustrate the historic parabola – inevitably synthesized for the purposes of the exhibition – the reconstitution of a real workshop has been set up on the ground floor, half way through the exhibition, where master guitar makers will demonstrate the various construction phases of a guitar, and some of its secrets.
THE GUITAR – Four centuries of masterpieces
Palazzo del Monferrato
Via San Lorenzo 21 – Alessandria (NW Italy)
20 September – 19 October 2008
from Tuesday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM (closed Mondays)
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