Associate Professor Nicholas Mathew and lecturer, senior fellow and musical instrument collection curator Carla Shapreau have been awarded National Endowment for the Humanities grants for research and preservation of the Department of Music’s rare and historical instrument collection.
Mathew’s grant of $6,000 will go to the purchase of environmental monitoring equipment, storage furniture, and supplies to preserve and sustain a large collection of historical and rare musical instruments dating from the 17th through the 19th centuries in the Music Department’s collection. The instruments are studied and also played by students. Many of the instruments used in the Department’s University Baroque Ensemble are part of the Department’s collection and used for rehearsal and performance. Because of their nature, diligent efforts are made to protect, preserve, and document the musical instruments in the collection so that they will be available for generations to come, while also providing access for study, examination, and performance.
Shapreau is receiving a $50,000 fellowship grant for research and work on a book project, Orpheus Lost: The Nazi-Era Plunder of Music in Europe, as well as pursuing preliminary efforts on a related musical digital humanities project. Recently she and other members of the Department, working with the Museum of Musical Instruments at the University of Leipzig, contributed information for the catalog raisonné on the Hoffmann family of stringed instrument makers, Martin und Johann Christian Hoffmann: Geigen- und Lautenmacher des Barock: Umfeld – Legen – Werk, the first scholarly study of the Department’s 1731 viola pomposa by Johann Christian Hoffmann.
“It’s a great and unexpected honor to have received this NEH fellowship award. With these much appreciated resources I plan to contribute to a reconstruction of this facet of musical history and to make accessible provenance evidence on musical material culture losses drawn from primary sources,” said Shapreau. “Shedding some light on the unknown Nazi-era past of these musical objects and the lives and historical events that intersected with them, will hopefully offer a new context within which to reconsider these musical works and their layers of meaning, part of our cultural heritage.”
Shapreau also serves as Senior Fellow in the Institute of European Studies and a Lecturer in the School of Law, where she teaches a course on Art and Cultural Property Law.
An independent federal agency created in 1965, the NEH has given millions of dollars in grants for top-rated proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers. NEH grants typically go to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television, and radio stations, and to individual scholars.