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Virtual Tour of
"Beethoven & Berlioz, Paris & Vienna:
Musical Treasures from the Age of Revolution & Romance
1789-1848"


Ĉolina (Chord Harmonica) by Lewis Zwahlen, New York City, ca. 1831

NMM 9591.  Ĉolina (chord harmonica) by Lewis Zwahlen, New York, ca. 1831.

NMM 9591.  Ĉolina (chord harmonica) by Lewis Zwahlen, New York, ca. 1831. This unpretentious-looking little instrument, on which one can play chords in C, D, and G, is one of the earliest harmonicas known to survive. There are sixteen brass reeds, one reed per hole, with a wood casing on the top and the reed plate exposed below. The few other surviving examples were made in Europe and none to our knowledge has an original cardboard box, which is lined, in this instance, with blue silk and carries the label, Sold at The Depository of the Arts, Bourne's, 359 Broadway, New-York. A second cardboard flip-top box (not shown) fits over the first box and has a red shoestring tie. Alan G. Bates Collection, 2000.

Walnut comb

The reed plate is mounted on a walnut "comb" cut with grooves that allow air to enter each of the reed chambers.

Source:  André P. Larson, Beethoven & Berlioz, Paris & Vienna: Musical Treasures from the Age of Revolution & Romance 1789-1848, with essay by John Koster, exhibition catalog, Washington Pavilion, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, September 12-November 2, 2003 (Vermillion: National Music Museum 2003), p. 23 and 71.

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Most recent update: February 26, 2014

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