Musical Instruments of the Ferdinandeum: Works by Bach, Frescobaldi, Castello, Fontana, Corelli

Everything cried out to be cleaned, restored and, if possible, exhibited. I expressed this enthusiastically and pointed out that the instruments could also be stored more properly.

One of the senior museum staff remarked piqued: “What we do with our property is our business.” “Your property,” I shouted. “You are paid to manage public cultural property! Your property? With that attitude, you can burn the junk right away!”

The row produced a strong echo. Shortly afterwards management changed and bit by bit the instruments were taken out of the sink hole. The best were exhibited, the museum started i its own concert series and at some point I suggested to present individual instruments on CD.

“Musical Instruments of the Ferdinandeum No. 1” is the name of our CD, which we made in cooperation with ORF. In the meantime, the museum has produced more than a hundred CDs. The shop in the foyer is overflowing with them. I don’t know whether you can still buy the No. 1. You can try it at

Or directly in the shop of the museum.

The works are beautiful and completely different: the two unstyled, crazy, early baroque works by Fontana and Castello; contrasted by a sensitive and varied piece by Frescobaldi; the highly cultivated Corelli and then Bach, again and again Bach.

The first take on the CD has its own story. This movement is a Siciliano, and as is often the case with Bach, it has a lamenting character – just think of the famous “Erbarme dich” aria from the St. Matthew Passion. When the recording was finished, my harpsichord partner Kurt Estermann, who is also a distinguished composer, noticed that it could be played quite differently: unhistorically, in the “wrong” tempo, alienated, almost frozen. It had already been music quoted in Bach’s time. We tried it out spontaneously, were enthusiastic and recorded the movement again in one move.

Suddenly the Isenheim altar stood before my eyes.