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On the Uselessness and Usefulness of a Music Collection: Flavio Chigi’s Library

Thu, March 26, 3:00 to 4:30pm, Hauptgebäude, Unter den Linden 6, Floor: Second Floor, 3059


A music collection has an important function in shaping the identity of aristocracy: the scores serve as objects of prestige, knowledge and pleasure. They represent a double act: intended both for performance and for display, for the ear and for the eye. The Chigi collection is one of the few family archives in which music has been preserved along with other documents. Flavio Chigi was an avid music lover and collector. He created his library in 1656 and promoted mostly vocal music, especially Roman, Florentine and Venetian operas, Roman cantatas, along with instrumental music. The historical and mythological references contained in the works are the traces of an invisible world that Chigi wanted to show through the performance of music, by exhibiting his collection, or by lending it to other less important families. As such it was one part of the Baroque economy of clientelism typical of the Roman aristocracy.