ROCHESTER, NY A rarely heard but historically significant instrument soon will join the Eastman School of Musics collection of early instruments, the result of the Schools commissioning of a strict reproduction of a rare 18th-century pedal clavichord. (The original, built in 1766, is housed in the instrument collection of the Grassi Museum in Leipzig, Germany.) The new clavichord will be dedicated in a special ceremony at 5 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 1, in the Schmitt Organ Recital Hall at the Eastman School (26 Gibbs St.).
During the dedication, which is free and open to the public, special guest Joel Speerstra head of the Clavichord Research Workshop in Göteborg, Sweden, who oversaw the design and construction of Eastmans new instrument will perform works by Bach and Buxtehude.
While clavichords can be found throughout the United States, there only are two other pedal clavichords those with two manuals and pedals in America, according to research conducted by Speerstra. One is housed at the Smithsonian Institution, and the other is privately owned. Eastmans is the first clavichord in America to have been built based on Speerstras extensive research on the instrument, written as part of his doctoral dissertation at Göteborg Universitys Göteborg Organ Art center (GOArt) an internationally recognized center for research in performance practice with a program of historical instrument-building.
"This is a superior instrument, and an excellent tool for studying the repertoire of the Baroque period," said Hans Davidsson, Eastmans new associate professor of organ and founding director of GOArt. "In fact, the instrument is so sensitive and gives such response to the player that it almost teaches the right technique and expression. This also is the first collaboration between the Eastman School and the unique organ research center GOArt, designed to help Eastman students develop a deeper understanding of early music."
Widely considered to be the central keyboard instrument of the Bach family, the clavichord played an important role in the music of the Baroque period. The instrument was the most popular one for home use in 17th and 18th-century Europe. With a keyboard and strings that are struck by a small brass blade, it was the first keyboard instrument in which dynamics could be produced by varying the strength with which a key is struck. It is distinguished by its ability to produce vibrato, and by its unusually soft sound.
Note to editors: A photograph of Eastmans new clavichord is available electronically. Hans Davidsson is available for interviews.