Dolmetsch Family at the Grainger Museum

The Grainger Museum has a rich collection of material relating to the Dolmetsch family, who were pioneers in early music performance and instrument creation.

The Museum contains extensive correspondence between the Dolmetsch family and Percy Grainger, ranging over two decades from the 1930s to 1950s, as well as instruments made in the Dolmetsch instrument workshop, including a treble viola da Ggamba, an alto viol, and three recorders.

Percy Grainger described his friend Arnold Dolmetsch as a ‘genius’ and a ‘musical Confucius’, in an article for the Music Quarterly in 1933. In his work as an instrument maker, Arnold Dolmetsch built harpsichords, clavichords, lutes and viols, working in Boston, then Paris, and finally moving to England and settling in Haslemere in 1917. There he established the Haslemere Festival in 1925, founded for the performance of early music on historical instruments. Arnold Dolmetsch donated one of his alto viols to the Grainger Museum in 1938, thereby supporting Grainger’s championing of early music as one of the aims of the new museum. More

Detail of alto viol made by Arnold Dolmetsch

Image: Detail of alto viol made by Arnold Dolmetsch, 18th century with modifications made by Arnold Dolmetsch before 1938. Donated by Arnold Dolmetsch to the Grainger Museum, 1938. Grainger Museum Collection, University of Melbourne