Glass Armonica Virtuoso

The Sound of Music

If you’ve ever made music by running your wet finger around a wine glass, you have some idea of the sound produced by the glass armonica, an instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin.

The armonica was popular in Europe in the late 18th and early 19th centuries—Mozart and Beethoven composed works for it—but as more and more concerts took place in large concert halls, the instrument went out of fashion. Without amplification it simply couldn’t be heard.

On May 1, 2009, armonica virtuoso William Zeitler, one of only a handful of people worldwide who plays the instrument, gave a demonstration and answered questions from students at Cobbles School in Penfield. Zeitler was in town to perform at the Glass Gala, a fund-raiser organized by the Gallery’s Board of Managers.