Henry Eichheim (1870-1942)


The Henry Eichheim Collection of Musical Instruments, one of the leading university collections in the United States, was acquired by the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1982. Eichheim, an American composer and violinist, was among the earliest 20th century Western connoisseurs of Asian music. Between 1915 and the mid-1930s he made five trips to Asia, meeting with musicians, notating the music he heard, and collecting musical instruments of the finest quality, beautiful in both sound and appearance. At the time of his death in 1942 Eichheim's musical estate consisted of some 350 instruments, several of his compositions, scrapbooks documenting his travels and musical activities, programs of his concerts, lecture notes, and a large trove of photographs. After 40 years the entire collection, originally held by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, was generously donated to the Department of Music at UCSB.

Over the years the collection has continued to grow in number and quality with acquisitions made possible through grants and numerous donations. Highlights include the acquisition in 1986 of 57 Indian instruments which had been given to the Exploratorium Museum of Science and Technology in San Francisco by the government of India for display during the International Festival of India. The gamelan, Kiyahi Selamet ("The Venerable Peaceful One"), a superb example of late 19th century Javanese craftsmanship, came to the collection in 1993. The Seymour Oppenheimer Collection of 320 bells, gongs, lithophones, and rattles was given to the university in 1997. Collected from throughout the world in instruments include rare specimens from China--jade and bronze pieces from the second century BCE through the Qing Dynasty in the 18th century; West African, Middle Eastern, and fine old English bells are also represented. Most recently, five rare musical instruments from West Africa, Turkey, and Japan have greatly enhanced the holdings of the collection. Now numbering more than 900 instruments, the Henry Eichheim Collection, which is global in scope and unique in quality, serves both the research and teaching functions of the university.

Dolores M. Hsu
Professor of Music
Director, The Eichheim Collection


Portrait of Henry Eichheim by Alfredo Ramos Martinez (1871-1946)
The drawing, pastel and chalk on paper, was made in the mid-1930s when Martinez, one of Mexico's most revered artists, was in Santa Barbara painting the renowned frescoes in the chapel of the Santa Barbara Cemetery. Eichheim had met Martinez in Los Angeles at an exhibition of the artist's work which so impressed him that he commissioned Martinez to decorate the chapel. Between 1932 and 1935 Eichheim contributed generously to the completion of the chapel, a George Washington Smith (1876-1930) structure, which was being finished by Lutah Marie Riggs. During this time, Martinez became a close friend of Eichheim's; in addition to the portrait, he painted a series of frescoes on the walls of Eichheim's home, also a George Washington Smith building in Montecito. Both Eichheim and Smith are interred in the chapel. (119.5 cm x 94 cm)