Edward Turner

Edward (Rainey) Turner. Harpsichord maker, researcher, lecturer, graphic artist, b Noranda, Que, 23 May 1940. He studied at the school of art and design at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts before moving in 1962 to Vancouver.

Turner, Edward

Edward (Rainey) Turner. Harpsichord maker, researcher, lecturer, graphic artist, b Noranda, Que, 23 May 1940. He studied at the school of art and design at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts before moving in 1962 to Vancouver. During the 1960s, prompted by an interest in folk music, he began making banjos, and in 1971 he turned to instrument building full-time, sharing a workshop with Ray Nurse and Michael Dunn. As his interest turned to renaissance instruments, he decorated (in 17th-century style) three harpsichords built by Dunn for the Vancouver Society for Early Music. Thereafter he concentrated on harpsichord building. On grants from the Bronfman and Koerner foundations, in 1975 and 1977 respectively, he studied early keyboard instruments in the University of Edinburgh's Russell Collection, for which he was a consultant draughtsman (1975-85), preparing full-sized plans and researching the instrument's histories for other builders. By 1977 Turner himself had completed 12 harpsichords in 16th-, 17th-, and 18th-century styles. By 1985, when he ceased building harpsichords, he had made over 30 of them and had gained an international reputation. In 1980 he was conservator of musical instruments for the 'Look of Music' exhibition of antique instruments at the Vancouver Museum (see Exhibitions). He was a director 1980-2 of the Craftsmen's Association of British Columbia and in 1982 received the Victor M. Lynch-Staunton Award for his contribution to the crafts in Canada as well as honourable mention in the competition for the Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in the Crafts. In 1984 he built a harpsichord for the Ministry of Culture, People's Republic of China (Beijing) and in 1985 spent three months lecturing and giving workshops in China at the Beijing, Xi'ian, and Shanghai conservatories of music. Two small lutes, a hurdy-gurdy, and an organistrum, all built by Turner, are in the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Que. Turner's instruments are notable for their faithfulness of reproduction - his attention to detail and exquisite workmanship and decoration - and the quality of tone. After 1985 Turner took up other interests, including model making, cabinetry, draughting, and graphic arts. In 1991 he was living in St Lucia, West Indies.


Further Reading

  • McAlpine, Mary. 'True to the harpsichord,' Vancouver Sun, 9 Apr 1976

    Nurse, Ray. 'E.R. Turner - harpsichord maker,' Canadian Crafts, vol 4, Apr-May 1979

    Xioguan, Han, and Guilin, Zhou. 'Pair presents China's first harpsichord,' China Daily, 26 Apr 1985