celesta (sĭlĕˈstə) [key], keyboard musical instrument patented in 1886 by Auguste Mustel of Paris. It consists of a set of steel bars fastened over wood resonators and struck by hammers operated from the keyboard. The compass is four octaves upward from middle C. Its tone is delicate and ethereal. Tchaikovsky, in his Nutcracker Suite, was one of the first composers to write for it.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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