Exhibit in detail: organ secretaire “Beethoven”

Another item in the museum Collection from the section “Mechanical Musical Instruments and Objects” (subsection “Wind Instruments”) organ secretaire “Beethoven” built in 1810-1815 in Vienna (Austria-Hungary) got the status "Science and Technology High-level Achievement”*.  The group of wind instruments on display in the museum Collection exposition includes organs, barrel organs, harmoniums, roller organs and organettes, serinettes and accordions. Although they vary in construction, mechanism and technique of decoration, all those items have in common the way they produce sound due to the passage of air through labial tubes.

The Empire style organ secretaire in rectangular wooden case, with bevelled vertical ribs, arched attic, on four pyramidal feet-supports. Decorative black wooden lattice with arrows-beams and gilded bronze onlays, closed with dark green silk from the inner side, is of the attic front side. A pullout drawer with two handles in the form of fancy sea creatures is beneath the attic. A lock with mascaron-shaped onlay, surrounded by arrows-beams is in the center. The secretaire bottom part with two doors and rim locks is separated by the gilded foliage ornamental stripe from the central section with a hinged table.

Two drawers with handles are inside the bottom section, an imitation drawer with two handles is above them, the organ mechanism with a receiver is behind it. A hinged table with a lock and a key closes the central section with the organ mechanism. A frame with an edging and four arches in which the painted allegorical images of the four seasons are mounted. Above the frame are Two shelves are above the frames: the upper shelf is divided into three compartments, the central niche of the lower shelf is framed by black Doric columns with gilded bronze base and capitals, flanked by two compartments with three drawers each. All interior drawers and shelves are made of fruitwood. The lower right-hand drawer has a Rotary knob that activates the mechanism, bellows and pinned wooden barrel with pins and bridges.

The inscriptions in Italian indicate that the orchestration of the Beethoven's “di Beethofen” under the title “Battaglia” (Battle) “di vittoria” (at Vittoria) is encoded on the barrel and the pray ''God save the king” was added (“colla Preghiera a Dio p il Re”) . Part of the inscription was crossed out, and the postscript “da cambiarsi” (to change) was made by somebody else. The barrel carriage locking device is on barrel left side, the drive mechanism with rotation stabilizer and a device for the barrel spiral movement is on the right side. The inscription “Egittus Arzt in Winn” is on the movement mounting plate. The pinned barrel makes six turns in a spiral in four minutes in such a way that the musical piece separate parts are revolving without stopping. Key frame with forty-four keys, according to the number of the main tones, and two supporting rollers are mounted above the pinned barrel. The organ consists of 87 wooden pipes assembled in four registers. The doors that are veneered similar to the front side, with locks and gilded bronze cast onlays, are on organ secretaire lateral sides. The bottom part is blind. Musical media: pinned barrel.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was a German virtuoso pianist, composer and teacher, the last representative of the Viennese classical school, and one of the most performed composers in the world. "Wellington's Victory or Battle Symphony, Op. 91 was written for orchestra to celebrate the decisive June 1813 victory of Arthur Wellesley, later Duke of Wellington, over the Spanish King Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon's brother, at the Battle of Vittoria in northern Italy. Work on the composition began at the request of and in collaboration with Johannes Nepomuk Mälzel, famous for his invention of the Panharmonicon "mechanical orchestra" and his development of the metronome invented by Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel. The first edition of the symphony was published for French horn, clarinet, trumpet, fagott, fagottino (oboe), German flute, flageolet, drum, cymbal and triangle (Hess W., vol. 4 Supplemente zur Gesamtausgabe).

The concert to benefit Austrian and Bavarian soldiers wounded in the Battle of Hanau was held on December 8, 1813. The programme included Beethoven's recently completed Seventh Symphony, one of his most energetic and optimistic works, two marches for the Mälzel mechanical trumpeter and the 'Battle Symphony'. The composer himself regarded the work as 'a greater expression of feeling than painting', most critics described it as 'a mishmash and extravaganza of special effects', but the symphony was very popular and commercially successful. The orchestral version of the symphony could not be performed on a mechanical organ; apparently, a special orchestration was made. The symphony includes the well-known 'Rule Britannia', 'God Save the King' for English audiences and 'Marlborough has left for the War' for French audiences. Among Beethoven's works for mechanical instruments, five are attributed: 1. Adagio in F Major. 2. Scherzo (allegro No. 2). 3. Allegro in G Major. 4. Grenadiers Marsch in F Major. 5. Adagio for Mechanical Secretaire (score not preserved).

It is known that Beethoven wrote arrangements of marches for pinned wooden barrels for the organ clock of the Viennese clockmaker Franz Arzt (1757-1812). It is possible that Beethoven himself arranged the melody for the pinned wooden barrel of the presented organ secretaire, but this was done after his organ builder death. His son Joseph Arzt (? -1848) apparently continued the building of this item.

* In Russian legislation, references to Science and Technology High-level Achievements mentioned in the constitutional charter of the Russian Federation on the protection of cultural and nature heritage No. 73-FZ of 2002 (see article No. 3). The generally accepted definition states, "A Science and Technology High-level Achievement is a material object associated (directly or indirectly) with the pasted off benchmarks of science and technology, requiring, in accordance with its social or scientific significance, preservation and use in the general system of culture".

Bubnov I.E. Science and Technology High-level Achievements: some practical and theoretic issues". Natural history and technology issues", 1981, No. 1, p. 66