Zuckermann Harpsichords International
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	Stonington CT 06378
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The Moermans Flemish Double: Background

Zuckermann after 1642 Hans Moermans Harpsichord In the early 1990s, Peter Watchorn travelled to London to visit the celebrated British collector of early keyboards, Dr. J. Rodger Mirrey, to undertake the first thorough measurement of one of the most fascinating Flemish harpsichords to survive from the middle of the 17th century, a large two-manual instrument signed on the jack rail by Hans Moermans, Antwerp, 1642. Over the course of two weeks the instrument was carefully measured, photographed and a precise "rubbing" was taken of the interior of the case.

Peter Watchorn's curiosity had been awakened by his long-time familiarity with a fine 1584 single-manual instrument also signed "Hans Moermans", which is in private ownership in Boston. John Koster, who examined both the single and the double in 1972, established that the instruments were definitely products of the same shop, perhaps made by father and son. Deepening the mystery, a third harpsichord, unsigned but dated 1729 surfaced in Brussels. This harpsichord, bearing the same "H M" rose as the 1584 single and the 1642 double, is a full five-octave harpsichord in the late Flemish style of J. D. Dulcken and his pupil Ioannes Bull. Perhaps there was a Moermans dynasty that spanned several centuries, from 1579 (when Hans Moermans the Elder was admitted to the Guild of St. Luke) until 1729 or later. And perhaps the 1642 instrument provides an essential missing link between the era of Ruckers and the late 18th century Flemish instruments.

In 2006 the rubbings and photographs taken in London were used as the basis for a newly designed harpsichord built by Zuckermann Harpsichords International in Stonington. It was drawn by R. P. Hale, and built by the Zuckermann shop with Peter Watchorn's input and musical finishing.

Tonally, this instrument reveals a direct link between the 16th and 17th century harpsichords by the Ruckers family and the impressive mid-18th century instruments by Johannes Daniel Dulcken. It is the first time in many years that an important but relatively unknown original harpsichord has been re-discovered and copied in such detail, and the resulting instrument provides a highly effective "universal" harpsichord: as useful for the music of William Byrd and John Bull as it is for J. S. Bach, Handel and Scarlatti.

  Revised on
  30Jul09

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