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The American Musical Instrument Society


32nd Annual Meeting
AMIS Meets with Galpin Society
Oxford, England
August 2-9, 2003

The 32nd Annual Meeting of the American Musical Instrument Society in 2003 will be a special joint Conference on Musical Instruments with the Galpin Society in Oxford, London, and Edinburgh from Saturday, August 2, through Saturday, August 9. The administration of the Conference will be coordinated by the Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments (e-mail:

The Conference will feature visits to the most important collections of musical instruments in the United Kingdom, paper sessions in which members of both societies will present the results of their recent research, concerts, and social events. The schedule will include all the regular attractions of the AMIS annual meetings: the business meeting, a reception, and the banquet and auction.

The following provisional schedule had been announced for the joint Conference and posted on the web at All AMIS members will receive a separate mailing concerning this Conference, which will include an up-to-date version of the schedule (therefore possibly superseding some of the information presented below, which is intended to give readers a general idea of the types of activities planned) along with complete information about registration and booking accommodations and meals. Early booking for the Conference will open in fall, 2002.

Saturday, August 2

Arrive in Oxford. Much useful information about the University, Colleges, Museums, and collections may be found on the University of Oxford website ( This may help you to decide your priorities for the visit. Frequent coach service to Oxford is available from central London and Heathrow and Gatwick airports. Accommodation (two nights) at Wadham College, very centrally located on the corner of Parks Road and Broad Street, almost directly opposite the New Bodleian Library.

Sunday, August 3

Morning: Free time for morning choral service at Christ Church cathedral or other denominational services; optional study visits; AMIS Board of Governors meeting. It is hoped that it will be possible during the day to visit the Holywell Music Room, the oldest concert room in Europe (1748), which stands in the grounds of Wadham College.

All day: Jeremy Montagu has kindly invited conference participants to see his collection of woodwind, brass, strings and percussion, totalling some 2,500 instruments. This collection can also be visited in the afternoon of Saturday, August 2, and on Monday, August 4.

Afternoon: Walking tour of Oxford; AMIS Business Meeting.

Evening: Reception in Wadham College gardens, hosted by the Galpin Society; formal dinner in Wadham College.

Monday, August 4

Morning and early afternoon:Visits to the following Oxford collections: the Ashmolean Museum (Hill Music Room), a fine collection of early strings, plus Kirckman harpsichord and Adam Leversidge English virginal; the Bate Collection, Philip Bate's extended collection of wind instruments and some very fine early keyboards; and the Pitt Rivers Museum, a large and varied collection of 6,500 early and modern instruments in two buildings.

Late afternoon or early evening: Travel from Oxford to London (frequent bus service is available). Accommodation in central London (three nights) at College Hall, Malet Street.

Evening: Weather permitting, Ben Hebbert will conduct an illustrated organological walking tour of the City of London and its surrounding area. Following the history of the music trade through the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the tour is designed to describe the social and historical context in which many well-known instrument makers worked and lived. Sites of interest will include St Paul's Cathedral and the Royal Exchange, both areas of intense musical activity, and also the Inner Temple, home to John Playford and John Carr in the seventeenth century and largely untouched for almost three hundred years. Across the river in Southwark, sites will include Shakespeare's Rose Theatre before we finish the tour with "warm beer" and food at the historic The George, close by the home of Jacob Rayman, England's celebrated "earliest" violin maker, and the only surviving Elizabethan galleried inn.

Tuesday, August 5

Visits to the Horniman Museum and Finchcocks, including a demonstration/ recital on the instruments in the Richard Burnett collection and an opportunity for keyboard players to try some of the instruments; supper in the cellar restaurant at Finchcocks. Coach travel throughout, leaving from and returning to College Hall, Malet Street.

AMIS and Galpin Society members who visit the Horniman Museum will be invited to tour the musical instrument gallery, which opened in October, 2002. A cross-section of the collection represented by 1,500 instruments will be displayed in this beautiful new space designed by RAA Associates. Included in the exhibit will be historic instruments of European art music from the collections of Arnold Dolmetsch and Adam Carse. Recent fieldwork collections, made by the museum's curators, will be animated by their videos capturing performances within original cultural contexts. The exhibition will also celebrate the bi-centenary of the birth of the scientist Charles Wheatstone, inventor of the concertina, with a range of free-reed instruments, printed music, and archival photographs from the Wayne collection, which was purchased in 1996 with the generous assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Galpin Society Annual General Meeting will be held during the visit to the Horniman Museum.

The Finchcocks Collection has been assembled over the past thirty-five years by Richard Burnett, pianist and pioneer of the early piano revival in the UK. It comprises historical keyboard instruments, mainly from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and numbers nearly a hundred instruments in all; these are housed in the Georgian manor of Finchcocks, a Grade-1 building set in a beautiful garden, surrounded by a Kentish landscape of parkland and hopgardens. Highlights of the collection include the wonderfully preserved Guarracino virginals from 1668, a Portugese harpsichord by Antunes, Viennese fortepianos by Rosenberger and Graf, a tiny travelling square piano by Anton Walter, nine pianos by Clementi, and a magnificent house organ made in 1766 by John Byfield. There are also curiosities, such as the recently acquired Euphonicon, a pyramid upright grand from Prague, a "dog-kennel" piano by Mercier, and many others. Many of these instruments are restored to concert condition, and they will be demonstrated during the visit.

Finchcocks is a musical center of international repute, and it presents a varied musical program during the season, which runs from April to October. There is a September Festival, Open Days with music every Sunday, and a lively educational program, with concerts and courses for students and children. About fifty recordings have been made in the house. An ancillary collection of prints and pictures on the theme of the eighteenth-century pleasure gardens is also on display.

Wednesday, August 6

Morning and early afternoon: Visit to South Kensington, including the Royal College of Music Museum of Instruments and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The custom-built Royal College of Music Museum houses an internationally renowned collection of 600 instruments (500 European, keyboard, stringed and wind; 100 Asian and African), including a clavicytherium of c.1480 that is believed to be the earliest surviving keyboard instrument. Gifts since the foundation of the College by the Prince of Wales in 1883 include collections from Tagore (1884), the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII (1886), Donaldson (1894), Hipkins (1911), Ridley (1968), and Hartley (1985). Since its opening in 1970, the Museum has become an important resource for education and research. A brief tour will be offered to enable visitors to hear some of the playable instruments, and it may also be possible to offer a tour of the Department of Portraits and Performance History.

Late afternoon: Travel to Hampstead to visit Fenton House, home of the Benton Fletcher Collection of early keyboard instruments.

Evening: Reception "At the Sign of the Serpent," 11 Pond Street, given by Tony Bingham;  dinner in Hampstead, sponsored by Tony Bingham.

Thursday, August 7

Papers sessions at the Royal Academy of Music Gallery. The nearby Handel House Museum can also be visited.

Evening: Travel from London to Edinburgh. Moderate-cost accommodation (three nights) in Edinburgh at Pollock Halls, in a spectacular location at the foot of Arthur’s Seat.

Friday, August 8

Papers sessions at the Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments. On display in the Collection are 1,000 items including stringed, woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments from Britain, Europe, and distant lands, including many beautiful examples of the instrument-maker's art over the past 400 years. The Collection's galleries, built in 1859 and still with their original showcases, are believed to be the earliest surviving purpose-built musical museum in the world. The museum retains a Victorian atmosphere and gives a feeling of discovery as one explores its crowded showcases.

Early evening: Visit to the Barnes Collection of keyboard instruments.

Saturday, August 9

Visit to the Russell Collection of Early Keyboard Instruments, which consists of over 50 instruments dating from the end of the sixteenth century through to the beginning of the nineteenth century. Instrument types include the harpsichord, spinet, virginal, clavichord, organ, and fortepiano. All are authentic examples from their respective historical periods, many of which retain important and interesting original features.

Papers sessions, followed by banquet and auction.

Sunday, August 10

Optional, informal visits (on your own) to Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments; the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh; or the Piping Centre Museum, Glasgow.

This will be the Opening day of the Edinburgh International Festival, and participants wishing to enjoy the orgy of culture that is this Festival can continue in the same accommodation (subject to availability).

Optional, informal visits (on your own) in the London area for participants arriving in advance of the Oxford events or returning from Edinburgh via London may include: Kenwood, British Museum, National Gallery, Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, Tate British, and Tate Modern.

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