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date: 13 November 2019


  • Laurence Libin


Set of musical glasses invented in 1844 by the musician and dance master Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Mattau (b Brussels, Belgium, 13 April 1788; d Brussels, 5 Aug 1867) and shown at the Paris Exposition of 1855. A box 128 cm long and 62.5 cm wide on four legs and standing 94 cm tall had 38 glasses with a range from c′ to c″″. They were played with the fingers. Known also as ‘harmonica-Mattau’, ‘scyphiphone-Mattau’, and ‘hydromattauphone’, it has mistakenly been called an improvement of Benjamin Franklin’s glass armonica, but an instrument of Mattau’s preserved in Museum Vleeshuis, Antwerp, Belgium is simply a large set of normal musical glasses arranged upright in their case. Supposedly Rossini took an interest in the work of Mattau, who as a performer reportedly introduced the jew’s harp to bourgeois society in Brussels about 1835.

J.-P. van Aelbrouck: Dictionnaire des danseurs, chorégraphes, et maîtres de danse à Bruxelles de 1600 à 1830...

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