The Music of the C. F. Lehmann Kunstschrank at Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen


This article concerns a highly important Rococo Kunstschrank now preserved in the Rosenborg Castle collection, Copenhagen. Built in 1757 for the Danish royal court by the royal cabinet maker C. F. Lehmann, the Kunstschrank contains two mechanical musical instruments. The upper part housed an instrument with one stop of trumpet pipes that played fanfares for two trumpets; importantly, the pipes are the only Danish reed pipes from the eighteenth century that are preserved unchanged.

A quite exceptional mechanical instrument positioned in the lower part of the cabinet played pieces for flutes and harpsichord, operated by two simultaneously turning pinned barrels. Although the harpsichord and driving mechanism are now lost, it is remarkable that, instead of organ pipes, Lehmann made use of 24 identical transverse flutes, which he imported from the Leipzig instrument maker Gottlieb Crone. Each flute is tuned to one particular note and they are blown by peculiar lip-shaped wooden mouthpieces. Furthermore, variations in external and internal measurements of this unusually large sample provide insight into the working methods of Crone.

Unfortunately, as the barrels for flute and harpsichord are damaged, they can no longer be played with the original mechanical parts. This paper describes how a special decoding method – including laser scanning of the barrels – was developed to overcome this problem and how a digital reconstruction of the 14 pieces of music was accomplished.