Mozart’s Instruments Come To America

Roger Williams' piano. Williams' recording of Autumn Leaves is the only piano instrumental to make it to number one on the charts.(Photo: Boyce Lancaster)
Roger Williams' piano. Williams' recording of Autumn Leaves is the only piano instrumental to make it to number one on the charts.(Photo: Boyce Lancaster)

A few years ago, I stood in the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale Arizona, staring at Leonard Bernstein’s baton, along with the vest he wore while conducting.  Nearby was a piano used by John Lennon, guitars once played by Carlos Santana and Eric Clapton, the ornately decorated piano of Roger Williams.

Everywhere I turned, I came face to face with temptation. I just wanted to play one chord on Lennon’s piano, pick a few notes on the same strings as Clapton, conduct with Bernstein’s baton while listening to the Candide Overture in my head.  There were Do Not Touch signs everywhere, however.  Guitars hung on the wall, inches away from fingers stopped only by the plexiglass cover.

A few lucky musicians in Boston were allowed on the other side of the glass, recently, when the violin and viola once owned by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was flown to the United States to be played in a performance at the Boston Early Music Festival.

Mozart himself might have made it to America, had he not gotten seasick crossing the English Channel.  That pretty well ended his interest in spending time at sea.  His instruments had never been to the New World, either.  Now, audience members and musicians alike were eagerly awaiting their chance to hold history in their hands and get photographic evidence of their close encounter with Amadeus.

Read more: and Watch Mozart’s violin comes to Boston…live in concert (Classical New England)

Listen: to Playing Mozart – On Mozart’s violin (Deceptive Cadence)

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