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The American Musical Instrument Society


The Curt Sachs Award 2002

Florence Gétreau

Florence GetreauFlorence Gétreau, Curator in charge of the Department of Music and Speech at the National Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions in Paris, was awarded the Curt Sachs Award for 2002 during the 31st annual meeting of the American Musical Instrument Society in Boston, June 19-23.

The Curt Sachs Award, named for one of the great 20th-century pioneers in the study of musical instruments, is the highest honor that AMIS can bestow. Gétreau was the 20th recipient.

Born May 16, 1951, in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, Gétreau graduated from the Académie d'Aix-Marseille in 1969, having majored in music and three modern languages. She received bachelor's degrees in modern literature and art history from the same institution in 1972. In 1976, she received a graduate degree in the history of art from the University of Paris (Sorbonne), writing a catalogue raisonné of the paintings and drawings of the French school at the Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris. 

Gétreau's 1991 doctoral dissertation, also written at the University of Paris (Sorbonne), was a history of the development of the collections at the Instrument Museum at the National Conservatory of Music in Paris, a project that led eventually to the publication in 1996 of her monumental book, Aux Origines du Musée de la Musique: Les Collections instrumentales du Conservatoire de Paris, 1793-1993 (reviewed in JAMIS, vol. 25 [1999], pp. 133-136).

A curator with the Conservatory collection for some twenty years before assuming her current position at the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions in 1994, Gétreau played a significant role in the life of that important collection, including the planning for the new Musée de la Musique (she was in charge of that project from 1986 to 1992), which finally opened in January, 1997.

She was a senior fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1993. In 1995, she also became the founding director of Musique-Images-Instruments, an important periodical devoted to musical instruments and iconography.

A prolific author, Gétreau has contributed to a number of highly important studies about French instruments, their makers, and the cultural context of which they once were a part, including Instrumentistes et Luthiers Parisiens, XVIIe-XIXe siècles (1988) and Guitares: Chefs-d'oeuvre des collections de France (1980). She has published more than 100 articles, dealing with such issues as conservation, access to collections, acoustics, iconography, French instrument builders, and French composers. She has dozens more in preparation and has co-authored many other publications. She has also curated many special exhibitions, including one devoted to Parisian instrumentalists and luthiers (1987-1988) and another to Parisian street musicians (1997-1998).

An indefatigable administrator, scholar, author, and teacher, Gétreau also currently teaches about musical iconography and instruments at the Conservatory of Music, the School of the Louvre, the National School for French Heritage, and the French Institute for Restoration of Works of Art at the University of Tours, in addition to which she is a Research Scientist at the Research Institute for French Musical Heritage at the National Library of France, where she is in charge of musical iconography and instruments.

Previous honors given to Florence Gétreau include the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres in 1987, Officier des Arts et Lettres in 1995, and the Anthony Baines Memorial Prize, awarded by the Galpin Society, in 2001.

         —André P. Larson, Chairman,
Curt Sachs Award Committe

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