Instruments | Celesta | Percussion
The celesta is a type of keyboard glockenspiel, with a range of four octaves upwards from middle C, and a damping pedal like a piano. Inside the body of the instrument is a series of chromatically tuned metal bars, which are struck with felt hammers when the performer plays the keyboard.
Creation of the Celesta
The celesta was invented in 1886 by Auguste Mustel, a Parisian instrument maker who also manufactured harmoniums and portative organs. It was created at a time when interest in new keyboard instruments was high. Mustel’s father, Victor, invented the typophone (1865), a tuning-fork piano that used a piano hammer action to play graduated steel tuning forks or prongs instead of bars.
Auguste took the keyboard-operated glockenspiel of the eighteenth century (used for Papageno’s bells in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, 1791), and added a box resonator to each metal bar. He also improved the piano’s hammer action so that the celesta could be played like a pianoforte. This gave the instrument a more resonant and sweeter sound than the glockenspiel, as well as a greater capacity to play complex music.
The celesta was first used by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–93) to represent the Sugar Plum Fairy in his ballet The Nutcracker (1891–92). It can create a range of ethereal effects, playing runs and arpeggiated chords with great agility. The celesta is used extensively in Bartók’s music, in Mahler’s Sixth Symphony and in ‘Mercury’ from The Planets (1914–16) by Gustav Holst (1874–1934).
An extensive music information resource, bringing together the talents and expertise of a wide range of editors and musicologists, including Stanley Sadie, Charles Wilson, Paul Du Noyer, Tony Byworth, Bob Allen, Howard Mandel, Cliff Douse, William Schafer, John Wilson...
Classical, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country and more. Flame Tree has been making encyclopaedias and guides about music for over 20 years. Now Flame Tree Pro brings together a huge canon of carefully curated information on genres, styles, artists and instruments. It's a perfect tool for study, and entertaining too, a great companion to our music books.
The ultimate story of a life of rock music, from the 1950s to the present day.
Fantastic new, unofficial biography covers
his life, music, art and movies, with a
sweep of incredible photographs.