In search of lost sounds
Art and music in the instruments of Fernanda Giulini Collection
All the instruments are recorded in a series of catalogues that develop the theme of the first volume written by the great academic John Henry van der Meer. The title of the general catalogue is In search of lost sounds. All the books are written in double language, Italian and English, and have a CD with pieces performed on the historical instruments.
Fernanda Giulini tells the reason why she became an editor. “The catalogue written by van der Meer, an authoritative award-winning worldwide musicologist, was to be published by one of the editors that had always followed the writer’s work, but time passed and the catalogue was never finished. The real reason was that, when asked by van der Meer whether I wanted a catalogue or a guide, I recklessly responded with the request for a catalogue, without realizing the commitment it required.
The preparatory work took many years that were wonderful for friendship, often full of irony, that tied me to van der Meer and for the meeting with colleagues who joined him from all over the world to enjoy his company and define the scientific details that gradually arose. Van der Meer asked me to record the voice of the instruments he was studying because, he said, if I played I would prove that it was possible to switch from a harpsichord to a Steinway. He asked me to record famous songs illustrating “the search for lost sounds”. Under his guidance, the instruments were restored and found their voice again.
Van der Meer had taught at university and his passion for teaching had followed him throughout his life.
I understood that I could not resist the desire of a great scholar who invited me to take a new path, even if full of pitfalls for those who, like me, knew only the modern piano. I accepted the challenge and one day, obviously satisfied with his work as a careful scholar, he asked me to publish the catalogue, complete with CD, as soon as possible because the space of life is unfortunately not endless. He also asked me that the text should be in two languages, Italian and English, so that it could go around the world, without borders, as the true culture should do.
The novelty of the catalogue was to have some wonderful introductions to every sector of instruments and I always thought van der Meer had written them as a university lesson; perhaps also because he had verified that, while loving music and piano, I had enormous cultural gaps, because no one had ever taught me the secret of the pianos mechanics from which the quality of sound derives. Organology is a university examination and not a complementary examination at the Conservatory.
Van der Meer was therefore much more than a teacher to me because he profoundly changed my life and I am happy to have fulfilled, as far as possible, the difficult tasks he entrusted me with. As he had wished, the catalogue In search of lost sounds has become a text known all over the world and, out of affection and gratitude to him, I thought it was right to define “Appendices” the books published in the following years, even if they are in fact complete texts in every content, they dealt with.
The collection of instruments expanded and catalogues followed its development. All books are on our website for those who want to take an unusual musical journey through the history of instruments.”