Museum of Musical Instruments

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We stood for eight minutes in the rain in Stary Rynek, Poznan’s old market square, waiting for the fighting rams to appear at 3 o’clock. They didn’t. We’d been told that as the clock in the old town hall strikes the hour, mechanical fighting rams come out of the doors we could see in the clock tower in front of us, we imagined the show would be something like the well known astronomical clock in Prague.

We’d sheltered from the rain during the earlier part of the afternoon in the Musical Instrument Museum opposite the clock tower. This had been warm, dry and full of unusual and interesting exhibits. I think we were the only visitors in the museum, we could see the attendants who spoke little English opening doors and switching on the lights in each gallery as we approached, and closing up after us. One guide wound up an early version of a gramophone so that we could hear a tune created from a revolving warped metal disc, slightly larger than an LP. It was pleasant enough, but I’ve no idea what the tune was. In the next room we saw a square grand piano with two keyboards, one at either end for four or possibly eight hands. It would be fun to play a duet on this. But the best exhibit of all was a genuine Oscar in a tall glass case, bullet proof for all I know, awarded to the Polish composer Jan Kaczmarek, for the musical score to the film “Finding Neverland”. It’s not a film I’ve seen or know anything about, but having come across the Oscar, I’ll certainly look out for the DVD.

On the top floor of the museum there’s a collection of strange looking bagpipes, some dating as far back as back as the 18th century, and many of them having one or more decorative carvings of rams on their drones. It appears that rams are the symbol of Poznan. So why didn’t the fighting rams come out of the clock tower at 3 o’clock? We learnt later that they come out only once a day at noon, and even then it’s an anti-climax. So if ever you’re at a loose end in Poznan, head for the musical instrument museum and forget about the rams at the old town hall.

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