Beni Culturali Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico Artistico ed Etnoantropologico per il Polo Museale della città di Roma

The Harpsichord by Hans Müller

The harpsichord by Hans Müller

 This exquisite instrument, made in 1537 in Leipzig by Hans Müller, is the oldest harpsichord built north of the Alps to have come down to us, and the only known German example from the sixteenth century. The manufacturer's name appears, along with the date and the place of construction, in the long inscription on the front, preceded by a moralistic maxim which reads: “The word of God remains forever to help the poor and the rich.”

The instrument has largely similar characteristics to the Italian harpsichords or cembalos of the same period, such as in the shape of the case and in its internal construction. It most probably had a protective case and was designed to be placed on a table, being devoid of its own legs. Another element in common with Italian instruments is the soundboard made of cypress wood, while an unusual feature is seen in the rose, which is not applied, but instead directly carved into the soundboard.
The instrument was constructed with two unison registers, which together with the presence of a row of jacks for the “nasal” (which pluck the strings near the bridge) and of the lute register (which dampens the strings), lend a wide and greater range of sounds. It is also the earliest known harpsichord to be equipped with a transposing keyboard, in other words, one that can scroll to the right or left, allowing the player to tune up or down a tone.

 

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Page created 12/12/2011, last modify 22/01/2016