Italian Harpsichord

Italian Harpsichord by Dietrich Hein - Photo: André Wagenzik
Description: 
Instrument with spilt sharps and 14 keys per octave
Model: 
Giovanni Battista Boni, Cortona, Italy, 1619, now MIM Brussels, Belgium

This harpsichord is a typical example of an instrument from middle Italy, with it's range from C/E-c'', it's pointed tail, it's short octave and the split sharps. Around this period everybody would have expected pure thirds as consonant intervals but at the same time the composers were using keys a bit further away. The only way to make that possible were more keys. The 14 keys on the Boni are minimum but the were instruments with 17, 19, 21 or 31 keys per octave.

The single 8' makes it very fast to tune (under 8 Minutes) and the construction all in cypress, including the soundboard, gives it a very strong and carrying tone that can stand up for itself also in a bigger ensemble and with loud instruments.

From the beginning it was voiced with natural quill, now Berlin crow, which gives it a bright and  brilliant sound.

As a high school student I built  many harpsichords from kits and sold them to people who had the money but two left hands and couldn't do it themselves. But I knew that these instruments were never even close to the league Dietrich plays in. So when I had finished University and made real money as a musician I commissioned this instrument. I was very active playing concerts with high pitched curtals, sackbuts, cornetts, violins and we needed a harpsichord up there at a=460 Hz. This is it!

And I wanted it to look great. The instrument in Brussels is in a case painted in the 18th century with little naked puttos which was ruled out right away. Here Elke Rutz comes in once again. I had found the pattern for the outer case in a book by a Frenchman, Jacques Stella, who had worked in Florence for seven years for the Medici prince Cosimo II. Elke carved it all and pained and guilded the case. Siegfried Gräber made the hinges, picking up the triod between the dolphins.

Italian Harpsichord by Dietrich Hein - Photo: André Wagenzik
Italian Harpsichord by Dietrich Hein - Photo: André Wagenzik
Italian Harpsichord by Dietrich Hein - Photo: André Wagenzik
Italian Harpsichord by Dietrich Hein - Photo: André Wagenzik
Italian Harpsichord by Dietrich Hein - Photo: André Wagenzik
Italian Harpsichord by Dietrich Hein - Photo: André Wagenzik