New Life of Old Imperial Clock

'The Mechanical Orchestra', the 18th-century clock commissioned by Emperor Paul I and now housed in the Hermitage is to be restored by 2014. The clock's re-exhibition after at least 150 years is to be a part of the museums 250th anniversary celebrations.
The clock took took its constructor, Johann Strasser, eight years to build. The Mechanical Orchestra is shaped like a temple. It is about four meters high, and has a portico and paired mahogany columns embellished with gilded bronze. The organ is driven by four weights, each weighing nearly 200 kilograms. The music is recorded on 14 removable wooden barrels, with each of them playing an eight-minute classical composition.
It's outstanding in so many ways, as a fascinating example of decorative and applied art, as a technical marvel and a fine musical instrument in which there are recordings of masterpieces of 18th-century classical music, said Igor Sychev, the Hermitage curator responsible for the maintenance of the exhibit.


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