The Collection of Historic Musical Instruments of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna – The First 100 Years

Vienna, Neue Burg, from 22nd to 24th of September 2016

In 1916 the newly established Collection of Historic Musical Instruments (SAM) of the then Art Historic Collections of the Imperial House became publicly available. The renowned art historian Julius von Schlosser, who worked since 1914 on the amalgamation of the three historic stocks — the collections of Archduke Ferdinand II, the Obizzi dynasty and Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Este — finally established an exhibition of musical instruments in the Neue Hofburg. Schlosser, who brought out the well-known catalogue on the collection’s stock in 1920, exerted himself for a scientific documentation of the items, high-level conservational standards and numerous acquisitions. After a short intervening period during the Second World War, when the exhibition moved to the Palais Pallavicini, the exhibits were brought back to the Neue Burg, where they are on display to this very day. At the beginning of the 1930s first professional co-operations with instrument makers, like Wilhelm Heckel, have been undertaken, and in 1939 the first concert on original musical instruments of the SAM took place. From that time on, generations of musicians, dedicating themselves to the historically informed performance received important impulses in the SAM.

The organizing committee[1] invites abstracts (200-300 words) for individual 20-minute papers by academic scholars, restorers, instrument makers and performers in either German or English. Abstracts addressed to are welcome by 31st of May 2016. The applicants will receive a notice on the acceptance or refusal of their proposals and a provisional timetable by 14th of June 2014.

In case of enquiries please, contact

Proposed research areas include but are not limited to:

  • Austrian and international instrument collections and their linkages with the SAM
  • The future of historic musical instrument collections and exhibitions in consideration of the SAM
  • Case studies on single items or groups of musical instruments in the SAM inventory
  • New aspects about the historical collection nuclei: Ambras, Catajo and Weltreise
  • The history of the SAM especially in the 20th and 21st century
  • New findings on the biography and/or the work of the modern collection’s founders and initiators, like Julius von Schlosser, Hermann Julius Hermann, Victor Luithlen and others
  • The Early Music movement, its international representatives and the SAM
  • The SAM – its inventory and exhibition(s) – in the international and national museological and museum didactical context
  • Collectors, lenders, donators and their relationship to the SAM
  • Scientific research in musical instrument collections involving the SAM
  • The SAM’s impacts on historical performance practise and on musical education
  • Original instruments in the triangle of the conflicting priorities ‘conservation—restauration—playability’ in consideration of the SAM’s items
  • Copying original musical instruments of the SAM
  • The SAM and musical instrument making

Important information:

  • The organizing committee plans the publication of proceedings.
  • Lecturers and participants will receive no remuneration.
  • Travel cost subsidies are only possible in exceptions.
  • No conference fee; conference dinner at own expenses (in case of registration)

Concerts on instruments of the collection:
Soirée: Friday the 23rd of Sept. 2016: Quatuor Mosaïques
Matinée: Sunday 25th of Sept. 2016: Mitsuko Uchida



[1] Dr Rudolf Hopfner, director; Dr Alfons Huber, restorer in charge; Dr Beatrix Darmstaedter, curator; Ina Hoheisel, restorer.