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Commentary

This harpsichord, the most expensive of Kirckman’s models, was far beyond ordinary means. Nevertheless, it placed at the command of one who could afford it, an impressive array of sounds. With its two keyboards, three sets of strings and two pedal-operated devices, it had the most up-to-date specification. The left pedal facilitates quick changes in tone colour and volume. The right pedal operates a Nag’s head swell which creates gradations in volume by lifting and lowering the front portion of the lid. Its buff stop applies a set of leather pads to the strings giving a muffled, less percussive sound, and the lute stop plucks the strings very close to one of its end points yielding a very nasal sound.

English harpsichords of this era represent both the instrument's apogee and the heralding of its eventual eclipse by the piano. During this extended period of transition, music began to demand expressive effects, such as the creation of gradual crescendo and diminuendo within a single phrase, which were more easily accomplished on an instrument with touch sensitive dynamics, like the piano.

See full details Description

Harpsichord with two keyboards, five octaves, FF-f''', no FF sharp, two eight foot registers, one four foot register, lute register, buff stop to front eight foot, machine stop and nag's head lid swell. The swell mechanism was partially removed during a restoration in 1959 and reinstated during the restoration of 2013. The instrument is now in playing condition. Previously restored in 1959, 1972 & 1980 . Previously owned by Lady Braye of Stanford Hall; inscription on back of the nameboard: 'Irvin Hinchcliffe bought this harpsichord from Lady Braye Stanford Park 1948'; Glyndebourne Festival Opera owned the instrument in 1958; it was acquired by the Horniman 1972.

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Details

harpsichord
1972.211
Musical Instruments

1 item (description level: top)

314.122-6-8 True board zithers with resonator box (box zithers) sounded by plectrum, with keyboard
Broad category
Chordophone
Additional names, titles, or classifications
object name:  harpsichords
title:  314.122-6-8 True board zithers with resonator box (box zithers) sounded by plectrum, with keyboard

Maker
Kirckman, Jacob
Additional maker information
maker:   Kirckman, Jacob
maker:   Kirckman, Jacob
maker:   Kirchkman, Jacob
Place
London, England, UK, British Isles, Western Europe, Europe
Additional place information
made:  London 
Date made
1772
Additional date information
date made:  1772 
Culture
West European
Additional culture information
maker or user:  West European 
maker:  German 

Materials & techniques
wood; brass; ivory; ebony; iron; wool
Additional material & technique information
material: ebony (accidental keys)
material: wool (dampers)
material: brass (hinges and hooks)
material: iron (machine stop parts)
material: ivory (natural key coverings)
material: wood (overall)
Measurements
Length of spine: 2366; width at front: 930; Plucking point of C5 (c2) longer 8-foot: 78 mm; Plucking point of C5 (c2) shorter 8-foot: 93.5 mm; sounding length of C5 (c2) longer 8-foot: 346 mm; sounding length of C5 (c2) shorter 8-foot: 335 mm
Additional measurement information
sounding length of C5 (c2) shorter 8-foot: 335 mm
Plucking point of C5 (c2) shorter 8-foot: 93.5 mm
Plucking point of C5 (c2) longer 8-foot: 78 mm
sounding length of C5 (c2) longer 8-foot: 346 mm
overall: 2366 x 930 x 317 mm
Inscriptions
inscription: on name board Jacobus Kirckman Londini Fecit 1772 .
inscription: on back of name board Irvin Hinchcliffe bought this harpsichord from Lady Braye Stanford Park 1948. text only.

Provenance
previous owner:  Lady Braye of Stanford Park 
previous owner:  Hinchcliffe, Irvin 
previous owner:  Glyndebourne Opera 
auctioneer:  Sotheby & Co.  sale 1972-06-29

Use
Inaugural performance by Jane Chapman on 29 January 2014, at launch of At Home With Music exhibition.

Further reading
Khurana, Suanshu, 2015. Of clefs and chords.The Indian Express, [online] 21 May. Available at: [Accessed on 21 May 2015] (discusses)

Related people
used by: Chapman, Jane (2014-01-29 - 2014-01-29)
used by: Lorraine Liyanage (2014-04-29 - 2014-04-29)
used by: Cave, Penelope (2014-04-24 - 2014-05-22)
Related subjects
subject of the demonstration/talk: Hear It Live!
this object was played: Player Audition and Introduction to the Harpsichord
this object was played: Player Audition and Introduction to the Harpsichord
used during: At Home with Music launch
title: 314.122-6-8 True board zithers with resonator box (box zithers) sounded by plectrum, with keyboard
material: brass
material: ebony
maker: German
object name: harpsichords
material: iron
material: ivory
maker or user: West European
material: wood
material: wool

Record created 1999-12-26 by RPERKINS
Record last updated 2016-10-05 by XGVIEWS

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