‘Donated to the Royal Conservatory Brussels, Michotte’. Handwritten note.

The Conservatory yearbook of 1898 mentions that Michotte had offered the library ‘a large quantity of musical works, with Rossini’s provenance’. This mentioning is not very precise and detailed, but luckily there is a letter from 1910 by Michotte to the Visiting Committee of the Conservatory, in which there are more details. It says that the donation is ‘a large amount, with several methods for instruments, compositions dedicated to Rossini, the repertoire of Colbran and the autograph of ‘Matilde di Shabran’. Archival sources revealed that this opera was donated in 1903.

‘Vie de Rossini’, biography by Stendhal, Paris 1824, 2nd edition. FEM-815.

‘Atto primo’ from the opera ‘Matilde di Shabran’, autograph by Rossini, conserved in a wooden box, realized on the request of Michotte. FEM-850.

It is also in 1910 that Michotte expressed his wish to create a Rossini museum in the Conservatory. The original plan was to make it in a room next to the library on the attic floor. Apparently Michotte thought that a garret was not honorific enough. Awaiting another better location in the Museum of Musical Instruments, the collection was installed in the meeting room of the Visiting Committee.

To present the collection thoroughly, folders were ordered on which the subjects were printed with gold print. Besides this, many iconographic pieces were framed and scores were bound, including the ‘Répertoire de la Colbran’. The most notable and largest expense was without doubt the three wooden showcases. The two higher cases contain the suitable, sculpted letter ‘R’. The whole project was ready In the course of 1913 and Michotte received an official gratitude for his donation.

Folders with gold print for the Rossini Museum, commissioned by Michotte.     The famous cavatina ‘Largo ad factotum’ from ‘Il Barbiere di Siviglia’. French edition, with an added impressum from the Brussels music shop Terry. FEM-271.

The symphonies by Beethoven, edited by Fétis in France, from Rossini’s collection. FEM-708.     Fronton with the initial ‘R4 from a show case designed for the Rossini museum.

In 1914 the war breaks out. Michotte passes away in the same year as a result of a grenade attack in his house in Louvain. In contrast to Michotte’s intention, the Rossini museum has a very hidden existence. The meeting room of the Committee is hardly accessible for public and the plans to relocate the collection in the Museum of Musical Instruments have never been realised.

The collections was just known in the world of the Rossini-research. In the course of 1967 the American musicologist Philip Gossett has studied the collection and could identify some items. It is only in 1992, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Rossini, that the collection was moved to the library, where the preservation conditions were much better than in the former meeting room. The collection has been catalogued and several separate pieces from the collection got a preservation treatment: the acid paper on which many documents were assembled, were replaced by acid-free conservation material.