Claudio Merulo's organ
Claudio Merulo, outstanding composer and organist, was a key figure in sixteenth century music. Born in Correggio from the Merlotti family in 1533, he later latinized his last name into Merulo. For nearly thirty years he was one of the two organist at Saint Mark's in Venice along with Annibale Padovano: the two organs located at the extremities of the transept were employed in the execution of Venitian polychoral music. In Venice, Merulo also worked as a music publisher, printing numerous collections of madrigali and instrumental music. He was also involved in organ art: he requested additions of two rows of flutes to the Saint Mark's pipe organ and remodelled the Antegnati pipe organ of the Steccata Sanctuary in Parma. He built for himself a portative organ currently kept at the Auditorium. He Arrived in Parma at the service of Ranuccio Farnese in 1586 he remained there until his death in 1604: he was appointed organist in Parma Cathedral first, and later in the duchy Church of Santa Maria della Steccata. Among his collections of instrumental music two books of Toccatas, Ricercari and Canzoni, stand out as particularly innovative for the alternation of sections of contrapuntal writing with passagework.
One of the highlights of the Conservatory’s instrumental collection is the pipe organ built by Claudio Merulo, first kept at his residence in Parma and later moved to the oratory Confraternita della Morte. In the early 1900's Merulo’s pipe organ was acquired by the Conservatory of Parma where it had recently been restored. The pipe organ built by Merulo is the piece of greatest historical and artistic value of the instrument collection: it is the oldest organ to be found in the province of Parma. Currently, it is located at the Carmine Auditorium in Parma.