Harpsichord french model by Hemsch.


Although I studied, or better said, I put my hands on many instruments, the harpsichord is "my instrument" more than any other, the one to which I have devoted more hours of practice and the one with which I have done more music and played more works, specially with other colleagues both as a partner in chamber music, or as a continuo player.

Although my official studies were a little eventful, my main teacher, Mireia Hernàndez, let me discover the richness of sound and articulation that it is possible to achieve from the instrument, by controlling the "touchée". It is a bold view that I try to apply and go deeper into in the never-ending search for the best musical design.

My instruments

The instruments I have at home are: a harpsichord french model, of two keyboards, which is a copy of one french original HEMSCH of 1756, with a compass of 5 octaves (F 0 - F 5), 2x8', 1x4' i lute registration, transposer 415-440 Hz., size 240x93x28 cm., weight 72 kg., built in the year 1998 by Raúl M. Sevillano, luthier from Zaragoza,

and a harpsichord italian model, of one keyboard, based on an instrument by the italian maker GIUSTI from 1679, with a compass of 4 1/2 octaves (G 0 - E 5), 2x8', transposer 415-440 Hz., size 238x87x21 cm., weight 40 kg., built in the year 2003 by Bizzi, from Italy.

Pedagogy of the instrument

Here there is a writting with my view on the organization and goals of a harpsichord teaching class, corresponding to the Elementary degree, according to the spanish regulation LOGSE. Click here to see my text on The study of the harpsichord.

Note.- This work contains 10 attached documents that are somewhat bulky, as they are scanned documents, so I have put them aside:

            Anex 1. - La meva proposta de continguts pel grau elemental de clavicèmbal.

            Anex 2. - Decret Generalitat grau elemental.

            Anex 3. - Article Vilar: donde debe estar el repertorio.

            Anex 4. - Decret Generalitat grau mitjà de clavicèmbal.

            Anex 5. - fragment de Tomas de Santa Maria: Arte de tañer fantasia.

            Anex 6. - François Couperin: L'art de toucher le clavecin.

            Anex 7. - extret de CPE Bach: Veritable manera de tocar un instrument de teclat.

            Anex 8. - Dechaume: sonogrames comparats piano i clavicèmbal.

            Anex 9. - McPherson: habilidades requeridas para tocar un instrumento.

            Anex 10. - Machado: orientación educativa en los conservatorios.

Miscellaneous Information about the harpsichord

Little informative page (in catalan), written by the harpsichordist Maria-Teresa Julià i Pous.

A french translation of some excerpts of the book by Daniel Gottlob Türk, Méthode de clavicorde pour élèves et professeurs, 1789.

Depening on the country of origin, harpsichords were built with different details in their geometry and others, such as thickness and layout of strings, etc., which affected their sound. In this page you will find some audio samples: Sounds of french, italian, flemish etc. harpsichords.

Very interesting and complete Web page by John Sankey on several aspects like technique, fingering, sound, and many others.

Web page that contains historical data and construction details (in french), based on the descriptions of the instrument as found in the "Encyclopèdie de Diderot et d'Alembert". And at the end of the page, there are more links related to the harpsichord.

Multilingual Harpsichord Lexicon with equivalents in diferent languages of the components of a harpsichord.

In the 18th century the harpsichord, which had so far been used as a solo instrument or to play the continuo in chamber music or in bigger groups, started to be used as well as a soloist instrument in the orchestra. Here you can see an example from YouTube on the Third movement of the Concert for harpsichord and orchestra in D minor, BWV 1052, by J. S. Bach, with Shalev Ad-El as a soloist and conductor, and the group Musica Viva Amsterdam.

During the 19th century the harpsichord practically fell into disuse, and when at the beginning of the 19th century the first attempts were made to recover it, these were not aimed to copy the original instrument but to built an "improved", "modernized" model. The most important harpsichordist of that time was Wanda Landowska, and she played on an instrument of this type. in this video from YouTube, we see Wanda Landowska on a recording at her home near Paris, in the year 1927. The sound is closer to the modern piano.