Have piano, will travel

November 7, 2013 / Art & Archaeology
Bologna, Emilia-Romagna

A fold-up piano? Way back in the first half of the 18th century, some lucky musician owned a portable harpsichord…

BO foldup piano

…it could be folded into a box and pulled out when the spirit struck. The spirit certainly struck Maestro Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini, a Bolognese organist and music historian, when he bought his first spinet in 1969. Indeed, he went on to collect – and play – numerous instruments from as far back as the 1500s. In 2010 he donated his collection – all regularly tuned and in good working order – to a local foundation, which set up a delightful little museum in a deconsecrated church, in via Parigi 5, Bologna.

church interior with organ

A visitor with more than just a couple of days in Bologna should take the time to admire these beautiful ancient keyboards. The museum itself, San Colombano, still has some lovely frescoes dating from the 15th century, and visitors can enter the crypt, which features a mural from the 1200s. The oldest bits of the building date back to Imperial Rome.

To make it even more appealing, a ticket to San Colombano also gains entrance to two other museums in the center of town: Palazzo Pepoli (Museo della Storia di Bologna) and Palazzo Fava (Palazzo delle Esposizioni), as well as to any temporary exhibitions in Genus Bononiae.

BO piano-sewing table

It is all one can do to resist touching the keys and picking the strings on the beautiful antiques, but to compensate somewhat, the museum does organize concerts regularly. On different afternoons and evenings, renowned musicians show what the various instruments are capable of, and all the concerts are free. Upcoming evening performances (8:30pm) are scheduled for 21 November, 19 December, 23 January 2014, 20 February… Afternoons (4:30 and 5:30) on 23 November, 14 December, 8 February, 22 February…

Gyneth Sick

by Gyneth Sick

Gyneth has lived in Rome longer than anywhere else in the world, and still doesn’t want to leave. By day she edits the English version of ASPENIA, Aspen Institute Italia’s highly regarded journal on international affairs, and by night she plays the blues! Check out her two bands The Bucket Band and BRASS OFF!!

3 Responses to “Have piano, will travel”

  1. Nicely done, Gyneth, Btw, my youngest daughter used to work for Aspen Institute in DC for its Internal Health Ministry. I’ll have to check out your two “garage” bands next time I’m in Rome. Have a regular gig somewhere?

  2. Wonderful info. Must be nice to visit and attend concerts around Christmas time.


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