Harpsichord making

Harpsichord making. Though harpsichords were produced in Boston and Philadelphia in the 18th century, no such activity seems to have taken place in Canada at that time. The instruments advertised by F.H.

Harpsichord making

Harpsichord making. Though harpsichords were produced in Boston and Philadelphia in the 18th century, no such activity seems to have taken place in Canada at that time. The instruments advertised by F.H. Glackemeyer and others in late-18th-century Quebec almost certainly were imports, including a single-manual instrument built by Kirkman & Sons of London. When the harpsichord revival started ca 1910 with Arnold Dolmetsch's work at the Chickering Piano Co in Boston, again there was no parallel activity in Canada. In the 1950s the extraordinary increase in popularity of baroque and pre-baroque music, however, and a growing interest in hearing such music on the instrument for which it was written, inevitably suggested a need and pointed to a market. At about the same time harpsichord building was spurred by the availability of US 'kits' for assembly, by the arrival of European builders, and finally by the return of a few young Canadian craftsmen, most of whom had been apprenticed to US builders. Builders and designers active in Canada in the 1970s included Jan Albarda, Wolfgang Kater, Gaston Ouellet of Île-Perrot (near Montreal), Sabathil and Son Ltd (builders of the first known double-ended harpsichord and, from ca 1980, experts in reproduction instruments), and John Hanaby and Matthew James Redsell (also a specialist in reproductions), both of Toronto. Others were John Bright of London, Ont, who has built some instruments and in 1971 began assembling Zuckermann (New York) kits; and Edward Turner, a builder of exact replicas of earlier instruments. Hubert Bédard, who producedkit harpsichords but was best known as a restorer, moved to Europe in 1967 and died in 1989. More recent makers include Yves Beaupré (Montreal), David Jensen (Winnipeg), Alain Rousseau (St-Stanislas, PQ), Robert Sigmund (Montreal), Craig C. Tomlinson (Vancouver, another builder focusing on reproductions), and Eric Thulin (Millville, NB).

See also Instruments: medieval, rennaisance, baroque:ƒ 1/Building.


Further Reading

  • 'Gaston Ouellet est passé maître dans l'art de construire des clavecins,' Musique periodique, vol 1, Dec 1976

    Conlogue, Ray. '18th-century craft alive on Queen Street,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 31 May 1977

    Ainslie, Barry. 'The rebirth of a delicate sound,' Fugue, Jan 1978

    Knight, Irene G. 'Sabathil & Son Ltd. Harpsichords,' Canadian Music Trade, vol 4, Jun-Jul 1982

    Leeper, Muriel. 'New technology shapes genteel harpsichord,' Music, vol 5, Aug 1982

    Lower, Thelma Reid. 'Richmond harpsichord unveiled,' Richmond Review, 5 Aug 1988

    Staples, Michael. 'A labour of love,' New Brunswick, vol 12, no. 3, 1988

    Scott, Michael. 'Master craftsmanship makes instruments superb,' Vancouver Sun, 10 Dec 1988