Current Affairs
Manoel Theatre acquires rare and valuable Baroque instruments

Tne Manoel Theatre has acquired by donation a number of rare and priceless instruments, some of which have been built by Dr George Debono. The artistic director of the Manoel Theatre and of the International Baroque Festival, Kenneth Zammit Tabona, a nephew of Dr Debono, stated his uncle possessed an extraordinary technical ability which he mixed with his passion for Baroque music, particularly for works by Bach.

“His way of appreciating music, however, was to build instruments. I recall the first instrument he built was in 1971/72; it was a collapsible guitar which he had designed to fit into a suitcase.”

The collection of instruments includes two viola da Gambas, a cord instrument which is played similarly to a cello. This instrument appeared for the first time in Europe towards the end of the 15th century, and started gaining in popularity during the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

The instruments also include the Baroque cello, bigger in size than a typical cello and characterised by a lower tone, together with two clavichords, a cord instrument with  rectangular keyboard, frequently in use towards the end of the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical periods.

The Manoel Theatre also acquired an 1888 Broadwood piano, which will be the first of these instruments to be used during concerts in the theatre.  The piano has been restored by the friends of the Manoel.

“And as we are presenting a Beethoven anniverary next year, and the Beethoven commemoration…for most of these concerts we will be using this piano… so George has also left us this piano, especially from his collection, for this occasion.”

Culture Minister Owen Bonnici expressed his appreciation for this donation, which he said will continue to augment the priceless patrimony of the Manoel Theatre.

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