UNFRETTED SAXON CLAVICHORD
after C.G. Hoffmann, 1784
[For picture (70K), click here].
In the mid-eighteenth century every large town in Saxony seems to have had one or more clavier makers. Their clavichords have many common features: they are unfretted, with a full ﬁve-octave compass, restrained in appearance, with solid oak cases and not much obvious decoration except for an elegant rose in the soundboard. However, they are rich in musical possibilities, with a wide dynamic range, ringing trebles and solid, clear basses. Although he lived in Hamburg for many years, when it came to choosing a clavichord, C.P.E. Bach seems to have disdained the local product in favour of the Saxon type (which he had grown up with). The original inspirer of the Saxon school was J.S. Bach's friend, Gottfried Silbermann.
The design of my Saxon clavichord is derived from an instrument by C.G. Hoffmann which I had the privilege of restoring in 1998.
Unfretted, compass FF–f 3. Pitch: a1=440 Hz (standard modern pitch). Double-strung in brass wire, except for the lowest basses which have specially made open-wound strings.
Dimensions: 1745 × 500 mm (5 ft 9 in × 1 ft 8 in).
Case and lid: made of solid English oak with top and bottom mouldings. Two-part lid with vellum hinge, designed so that you can play with the lid partly closed (e.g. for quiet practice). Brass hinges and lock.
Keyboard: the natural keys are faced with ebony with arcaded fronts; the accidentals are of walnut, capped with bone. The lime-wood keylevers are carved in traditional style.
Stand: the clavichord sits on an oaken trestle stand which can be dismantled for transport.
Accessories: an internal music-desk is supplied as standard, along with tuning key, stand key, tuning wedges, damping strips, spare strings and manual booklet.
One of these clavichords was supplied to the Royal Academy of Music in 1999
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