Filippo Buonanni and the harmonic Cabinet
Filippo Buonanni (or Bonanni) (1638-1725) was a Jesuit erudite from Rome, with a keen interest in physics and science, as well as music.
He is mostly known for the long debate he fought with some intellectuals of his time over spontaneous generation – the idea that life can spring from inanimate objects, without any external, organic input, which was at the center of a heated debate at the time.
Buonanni believed in this theory and wrote a number of works on the subject, but his erudition was boundless and often ventured into the realm of music as well.
In 1722, he published “Gabinetto armonico” (Harmonic Cabinet”), in which he wrote about the history of music and illustrated a collection of instruments from the Roman College – the prestigious school founded in Rome by Saint Ignatius of Loyola for the education of priests.
Buonanni dedicated this “catalog of various sound and music instruments” to the prophet David: “You were the first author for most of them, so they could accompany the choir of Singers you entrusted with celebrating the worship of the Creator in the Sanctuary, giving Hebrew people a glimpse of the constant singing with which the Blessed Spirits in the Heavens constantly worship Divine People.”
Here is a selection of the wonderful instruments he presented.