Horniman Museum launches composer competition for 241-year-old harpsichord

By Culture24 Reporter | 16 April 2013

A young composer will be given the chance write a piece of music for one of the oldest instruments held by a British museum next year after the Horniman Museum announced a competition based around its ancient Jacob Kirckman harpsichord.

A photo of a brown piano in a music room
© Peter Macdonald
Currently the subject of a major restoration project, the instrument dates from 1772. Organisers at the South London museum are asking entrants under 35 to write a work for it, premiering at the launch of At Home With Music, which will link keyboard collections from the Horniman and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The recital will be the first in a series of live performances planned in the Horniman’s popular Music Gallery, accompanying displays of rarely-seen instruments. The winner will also receive £1,000.

Mimi Waitzman, the Deputy Keeper of the Horniman’s Musical Instrument Collection, said the competition gave composers the chance to “get acquainted with the sound world of the harpsichord”.

“At Home With Music will provide a new platform for our own and the V&A’s keyboard instruments,” she added.

“It will enable visitors to discover how these instruments - an integral and familiar part of both past and modern musical life - were used and work.”

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