collection of music automata was initiated in 1958 by the purchase
of a Polyphon (Germany, end of the 19th century). Since then, the
collection has continuously increased by the purchase of new items.
In 1962 it was decided to arrange an exhibition presenting the means
of sound recording and playback in its historical evolution. In
this regard, there was deployed a programme of identification and
purchase of the mechanic music devices in the country, using all
possible investigation means, activity which resulted in a consistent
collection. Most of the heritage items were purchased and only few
of them donated. The donations mainly consisted in recording supports:
cardboard, metal or ebonite disks, wax reels for the phonographs,
perforated tapes and cards for the mechanical pianos and pianolas.
Thus, the permanent
exhibition "Sound Recording and Playback" was inaugurated
in 1966, in its first form, while in 1972 it was rearranged in a
presentation still in use nowadays.
The permanent exhibition
"Sound Recording and Playback" describes the history of
mechanical music, with all its panorama of devices of automatic
music, rustic or cult, simple or complex. Music automata displayed
in the exhibition are grouped according to the recording support,
which contains the programmed melody: pin reel, disk, perforated
card or tape. The recording support determines the functioning of
acoustic elements, such as bells, vibrating blades and strings,
acoustic pipes, etc.
The prehistory of
mechanical music starts in Antiquity, with the water organ named
hydraulis, invented around 200 B.C. by Ctesibios of Alexandria,
device which used the water weight to regulate the air pressure
penetrating through the organ tubes.
The eolian harp,
also known by the old Greeks, can be considered as the first automatic
instrument. Intitled Aeolus, from the name of the Greek god of the
wind, it was musch disseminated throughout 10th century England.
It was a wooden case equipped with a series of strings vibrating
as the air stream was flowing.
related to the prehistory of mechanical music was the viella, a
semiautomatic violin appeared in the 10th century France and which
enjoyed a large representation throughout Europe. It was also acknowledged
in Transylvania under the local name of lauta, and also in Moldavia,
yet here as lerla. The museum collection includes one lerla discovered
in Moldova - Sulita, the county of Suceava.