A "sound museum" is what the Munich collector and founder of the "Städtische Musikinstrumenten-Sammlung" (Municipal Musical Instrument Collection), Georg Neuner (1904-1962), had in mind. Along with the beauty and multiformity of musical instruments, it was their use in diverse cultures that served as the criterion for Neuner’s collecting, which embraced every conceivable kind of sound production.
In our time of "depersonalized" and virtualized sound, this type of approach is more important than ever. Few people know why the sounds of an Indian sitâr or a Ugandan amadina xylophone seem so strange to our ears. Fewer still understand the acoustic secrets of Javanese gongs or a German viola d’amore, or indeed which developments were necessary before today’s elaborate, and often highly mechanical, orchestral instruments could be crafted. Long before the advent of mp3 and record players, our Western world sought numerous ways of mechanizing music, as music boxes and orchestrions testify.
Besides well-known instrument makers from Munich like Michael Saurle (1772-1845, brass instruments), Theobald Böhm (1794-1881, transverse flutes) and Hermann Hauser (1882-1952, strings), the Music Collection also features international masters. These include the brothers Antonius and Hieronymus Amati (1555/56-1640, violin), Adolphe Saxe (1814-1894, an entire set of saxophones) and Georges Cousineau (1733-1800, several harps).