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A Web Site by Oliver Seeler

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A Bagpipe and Hurdy-Gurdy Museum

"Musikinstrumentenmuseum Lisberg"

Founder, Kurt Reichmann ~ Curator, Rev. Kurt Racky


composite photo from K.Reichmann brochure
Above, a composite view into the museum, from Kurt Reichmann's brochure

Below, photos by the author; click on the small images for enlargements
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click on the thumbnail image for a large view click on the thumbnail image for a large view click on the thumbnail image for a large view click on the thumbnail image for a large view


The hurdy-gurdy suffered the same fate as the bagpipe in many cultures - near extinction, especially during the past hundred years or so. In a few countries the traditional playing of either or both instruments survived - albeit sometimes in heavily modified fashion (witness what's happened to "Scottish" piping since it was reinvented in 19th century England and popularized in 20th century America). The hurdy-gurdy fared best in France, where it seems its traditions never lapsed completely and which today has become the place that comes to mind most quickly in regard to the instrument - though there are many other places in which it has survived and/or has been revived.

One country in which early literature and iconography brims with depictions of and music for hurdy-gurdies is Germany; there, these instruments pretty much vanished from popular view long ago. It is largely through the intense efforts of one man, Kurt Reichmann, that the hurdy-gurdy (German drehleier, pronounced dray'-lyer and meaning, literally, "turn-lyre") is now resurgent there (and not only there - the effects of his work have spread worldwide and reinforce the efforts of other builders, players and scholars of the instrument).

Kurt first heard a hurdy-gurdy in 1964 and by 1967, after extensive research, built his first instrument. A year later he committed himself to building and reviving these instruments full-time. His efforts included exhibitions, numerous museum restorations, organization and participation in major festivals and so on. In 1973 he organized a festival around these instruments at Lisberg - it is now in its 26th year. Also in 1973 his dedication and effectiveness was recognized by the selection of a hurdy-gurdy as the subject of a German postage stamp and in 1978 he was honored with a high civilian medal, the Bundesverdienstkreuz, by the German federal government. Meanwhile, he continued to build instruments and to research their history.

some of Kurt Reichmann's work, from his brochure
Some hurdy-gurdies by Kurt Reichmann (photos from his brochure)


The close association between hurdy-gurdies and bagpipes did not escape Kurt, of course, and even within all of this activity he somehow found the time to build and collect bagpipes; by 1980 one of his museum exhibitions included bagpipes.

In 1990 Kurt Reichmann founded the museum at Lisberg. I had the great pleasure of visiting the museum in May of 1999, although the visit was much too short (as was my earlier visit to Kurt's workshop and graphics gallery). The museum was not scheduled to be open on the only day I could get there, but I was most cordially received by curator Kurt Racky and his wife, who unlocked the doors, disarmed the sophisticated alarm system, and left us (I had taken along a German friend, Berthold Lied who is a bagpiper, hurdy-gurdy player, harpist & harp-builder and music-shop owner) to wander about at will. Rev. Racky also gave me a copy of a recent German newspaper article, reproduced here (citation & translation to follow at a later date):

Click to enlarge
click on image to enlarge


Contact Information:

Förderverein Musikinstrumentenmuseum
Vogelsbergstr. 6
63683 Ortenberg-Lisberg
Germany

Telephone: (0 60 46) 4 67

Kurt Reichmann
Glauburgstrasse 67
D-60318 Frankfurt
Germany



Thus ends this short page about the bagpipe and hurdy-gurdy Museum at Lisberg, Germany and about its founder Kurt Reichmann and its curator Rev. Kurt Racky. However, based on the association between bagpipes and hurdy-gurdies symbolized by the museum, further material on hurdy-gurdies will be found on this site, presently and in the future.

All text and images on this page not otherwise credited are original works by Oliver Seeler and are copyright 1999, Oliver Seeler.
Copyrights to images and text credited herein to other sources remain with the respective copyright holders.


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