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A History of the Harpsichord

"A History of the Harpsichord" was written by longtime ZHI agent Ed Kottick The book jacket says it all: A History of the Harpsichord

A History of the Harpsichord brings together for the first time more than 200 photographs, illustrations, and drawings of harpsichords in public museums and private collections throughout Europe and the United States. Edward L. Kottick draws on his extensive technical knowledge and experience as a harpsichord builder to detail the changing design, structure, and acoustics of the instrument over six centuries.

Based on painstaking research, the book considers the place of the instrument in society and vividly describes the market forces that brought about changes in its form, decoration, and cultural importance. An accompanying CD includes performances on several of the historical instruments described and illustrated in the volume, including a 1580 spinett virginal by Martin van der Biest and instruments built by Ruckers and Pleyel. The volume devotes attention to American harpsichord design as well as to present and future uses of the instrument. This comprehensive volume will prove indispensable to harpsichordists, keyboardists, scholars, and early music enthusiasts alike.


Plates and Illustrations

I. The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries

1. From Psaltery and Monochord to Harpsichord and Virginal

Hermann Poll and the clavicembalum
The psaltery and the monochord
Iconographical evidence of the harpsichord
A digression on pitch and scale
The manuscript of Henri Arnaut
Clavichords and virginals
The Royal College of Music clavicytherium
Summing up

II. The Sixteenth Century

2. The Emergence of the Northern Harpsichord

Archival records
Germany and the Müller harpsichord
Antwerp and the virginals of Ioes Karest
England and the Theewes claviorganum
Summing up

3. Antwerp Harpsichord Building between Karest and Ruckers

The surviving virginals
A virginal by Hans Ruckers
The surviving grands
Summing up

4. Early Italian Style

The earliest Italian harpsichords
Harpsichords, Italian style
Virginals and spinets
Italian scales
Venice and the tradition of opulence
Naples and elsewhere
Summing up

III. The Seventeenth Century

5. The Ruckers-Couchet Dynasty

The Ruckers-Couchet family
Single-manual harpsichords
Double-manual harpsichords
The harpsichord/virginal combination
The late Couchet instruments
The decoration of harpsichords and virginals
The Flemish harpsichord as a cultural icon
Summing up

6. Later Italian Style

New developments in the seventeenth century
Naples and elsewhere
Anonymous instruments
Summing up

7. Seventeenth-Century International Style

Characteristics of International style
Regional distinctions
Summing up

8. France

Virginals and spinets
Harpsichord making in Paris
Lyons and elsewhere
Summing up

9. Germany and Austria

Virginals and spinets
Summing up

10. England

Bentside spinets
Summing up

IV. The Eighteenth Century

11. The Decline of the Italian Harpsichord

Rome and elsewhere
Summing up

12. The Iberian Peninsula

María Bárbara's inventory
Later Spanish instruments
The Portuguese piano tradition
Summing up

13. Harpsichord Building in France up to the Revolution

The development of the classic French harpsichord
The Ruckers-inspired French double
The Blanchet-Taskin dynasty
Other Paris builders
Lyons and elsewhere
The late French harpsichord
Summing up

14. The Low Countries in the Post-Ruckers Era

Summing up

15. Germany, Scandinavia, Austria, and Switzerland

Rivals of the harpsichord
Hannover and Brunswick
Gross Breitenbach
Summing up

16. Great Britain and America

Harpsichord building from 1700 to 1725
Hermann Tabel
Shudi, Kirkman, and their competitors
The Ruckers-inspired English harpsichord
Developments after 1760
Bentside spinets
Scotland and Ireland
Summing up

V. The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

17. The Harpsichord Hibernates

Some builders
The harpsichord played and preserved
Historicism and antiquarianism
Collectors and collections
Leopoldo Franciolini and the collectors
Summing up

18. The Harpsichord Revival from the Paris Exposition to World War II

The Paris Exposition of 1889 and French builders
The "Bach" harpsichord and German builders
Arnold Dolmetsch and the English harpsichord
Wanda Landowska and her Pleyel
America and John Challis
Summing up

19. The Modern Harpsichord

Historically informed builders: Gough, Hubbard, and Dowd
Authenticity with stability: Herz, Schütze, and Rutkowski and Robinette
Built to last: de Blaise, Morley, and Sabathil
The Serien builders: Ammer, Neupert, Wittmayer, and Sperrhake
New directions: John Challis and John Paul
The electronic harpsichord: Wittmayer, Baldwin, and the electronic keyboard
Summing up

20. Into the Future


Copyright © 2003: Indiana University Press. This book is out-of-print; however, used copies can occasionally found on-line (Google can be your friend!)

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