cembalophilia? cembalophilia.

May 3, 2016

© Tilman Skowroneck 2016

The Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies, in partnership with the 2016 Berkeley Festival & Exhibition, organises “Cembalophilia: Hidden Histories of the Harpsichord”, a mini-festival with concerts and lectures, which will take place in the Berkeley City Club June 6-8, 2016 (see also the poster below for more information; I will participate in the Tribute to Alan Curtis).

I love the title “Cembalophilia.” Is this even a thing, one might wonder, and yes, be assured, it can be a thing. People do love good harpsichords and their repertoire, and good harpsichordists.

Often they don’t even know it, however, which may be why we usually play for smaller audiences than we feel we should. But this is also why – as I may have written before – after a recital audience members always come forward and want to learn more about the harpsichord on stage. “I had no idea there was so much variation in this instrument!” we frequently hear at that point.

Another recent harpsichord mini-festival in Göteborg, Sweden (see this entry)  has convinced me of two things:

First, it is and remains worthwhile to invest energy, time (and money) in live events that showcase harpsichords and their players. A harpsichord is not just a historically appropriate choice for a given repertoire. A good harpsichord offers an astonishingly wide range of expressive possibilities; it can be a friend and ally to the player, and it can move audiences to tears.

Second, all this needs to be said, and not only done by playing. Some people imagine that harpsichord lovers actually feel they need to defend  their instrument. But a fighty attitude is not what I have in mind here. Gone are the angry days, when the historical harpsichord had to battle against the revival harpsichord of a 20th-century design; and also the Bachian conflict between piano lovers and harpsichord lovers has become stale, mostly thanks to the great amount of excellent, serious and unfazed Bach players on both sides. The real “enemy” these days, it seems to me, is the audiences’ increasing loss of interest in live performances, which for our instrument especially is a sad thing: harpsichords do not sound very convincing out of a laptop speaker. So we must keep telling people that it is the laptop speaker that’s bad, not our instrument; that they should come to the next concert instead.


Cembalophilla_03.jpg

Keyboard Perspectives VIII (2015) now available

May 2, 2016

© Tilman Skowroneck 2016

Volume VIII is the second volume of the Yearbook of the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies Keyboard Perspectives of which I have been the guest editor. It is dedicated to combination keyboard instruments and their repertoire.

My preface and a table of contents can be found here. The volume can be ordered by sending an email to info@westfield.org.

Harpsichord mini-festival in Göteborg

April 1, 2016

Göteborgs Cembalofestival will take place April 15-17. Workshops at the beginning of the first day April 15 (in Swedish) are held at Högskolan för scen och musik, all other events are at the Haga church, including the lecture Roman och den neapolitanska stilen i Sverige by Anna Paradiso Laurin on April 16, 10.00-11.30

The concerts are:

April 15, 6:00 pm: joint recital featuring Ulrika Davidsson, Tilman Skowroneck, Joel Speerstra, Andreas Edlund, Jan Karlsson Delemark

April 16, 12:00, Anna Paradiso Laurin (J H Roman, D Scarlatti och P D Paradies)

April 16, 18:00, Skip Sempé (L Couperin, F Couperin, A Forqueray, J-P Rameau, L Marchand et al)

April 17, 11:00, high mass, with Johanna Thür, harpsichord and organ, and Eva Maria Thür, cello

Link to the poster (PDF): Affisch Cembalo 2016b

Martin Skowroneck obituary published

October 12, 2015

© Tilman Skowroneck 2015, updated 2 May 2016.

My new article “Remembering Martin Skowroneck (1926-2014)” is now available in the most recent issue of the yearbook of the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies,

Keyboard Perspectives Vol. VII/2014, pp. 147-164 (table of contents and editor’s preface here).

The article includes a “List of Large Keyboard Instruments by Martin Skowroneck”. This will be my only article-length Skowroneck-obituary.

Keyboard Perspectives can be ordered directly by sending an e-mail to info@westfield.org.

The remainder of this very promising Vol. VII, edited by Tom Beghin, is dedicated to Beethoven’s Hammerklavier sonata Op. 106.

new recordings

July 7, 2015

© Tilman Skowroneck 2015

On 22 and 23 June 2015 I had the pleasure to record a mixed program of Froberger, Louis Couperin and Rameau (the first suite, which I hadn’t previously recorded) in the quiet and lovely church of Jonsered close to Gothenburg. Further below are some sneak clips (music edits done, but perhaps not the ultimate final tonal balance). The recording was made by Herwin Troje. As always, please contact me for permission before sharing these links.

The instrument, a little unexpectedly, is a one-manual brass-strung harpsichord after German originals, with a 392-415 keyboard.

25A_0028

Temperaments used: a ‘French ordinaire’ variation and Rameau (which, really, is another ‘French ordinaire’ variation), at a=392Hz. The project was initiated by the instrument’s owner Bengt Nässén.

IMG_0957

Johann Jakob Froberger (1616—1667)

Toccata VI in A minor

Gigue

Lamentation, faite sur la tres douloreuse Mort de Sa Majeste Imperiale, Ferdinand le Troisieme

Louis Couperin (c. 1626—1661)

Prélude in D minor

Allemande

Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683—1764)

Prélude

more keyboard perspectives

August 10, 2014

…and a call for contributions

 

© Tilman Skowroneck 2014, updated 2 May 2016.

In my previous post I introduced my new article about Beethoven’s Broadwood piano in Keyboard Perspectives Vol. V. The next following volume of Keyboard Perspectives, of which I am the guest editor, is rolling out of the press as we speak. A table of contents and the full text of my introduction can be found here. The volume can be ordered by sending an email to info@westfield.org.

Next year’s issue of Keyboard Perspectives, Volume VII, will be “a special issue devoted to a selection of topics that are, in one way or another, connected to Beethoven’s Sonata, op. 106 (“Hammerklavier”), and the question of why it became so problematically emblematic of nineteenth-century pianism.” It includes “six essays, complementing one another, originate from a seminar taught at McGill University by Tom Beghin, who will also be guest editor of the volume.” (excerpt from the Westfield Newsletter Volume xxv/2, p. 4)

I will return as guest editor in Keyboard Perspectives Volume VIII.

This issue will give special attention to the combination instrument of the late eighteenth century (such as the combination of organ and harpsichord, and organ and fortepiano), and such keyboard instruments that had a place in their time, even if they perhaps did not make it into the pantheon of mainstream keyboard culture: various subspecies of the budding fortepiano, for instance (such as the Clavecin Royal, or the Tangentenflügel, to name but two examples). Why were these instruments made, who financed their manufacture, who played them, in what musical contexts?
Contributions that address this topic area are especially welcome, but please do not hesitate to submit proposals that address other keyboard-related topics as well. Proposals can be sent to me via the address provided on the contact page. They should reach me no later than the end of September 2014.

beethoven’s broadwood

August 10, 2014

 

© Tilman Skowroneck 2014, updated 2 May, 2016

My book Beethoven the Pianist ends (more or less) where Beethoven’s piano music arguably becomes most interesting for many people: his late period. So there was no place to discuss his famous Broadwood grand from 1817 in it. I have now published a new article about this instrument: how Beethoven used (or did not use) it, its state of repair (or disrepair), its modernity (or lack thereof) and the various ways that Viennese instrument makers interacted with the instrument and its owner.

In my article, I offer a thorough investigation of the available sources and sort out a number of contradictory claims of the secondary literature. I try to give credit, especially, to the piano maker André Stein for putting the piano back in order rather more frequently, and apparently in a more sympathetic spirit, than a casual glance at the documentation suggests. I include a discussion about Beethoven’s late work and the problem of conflicting keyboard compasses.

The article “A Brit in Vienna: Beethoven’s Broadwood Piano” with a postscript by Tom Beghin “Beethoven’s Broadwood: A Construction Project” can be found in the Yearbook of the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies,

Keyboard Perspectives Vol. V/2012, pp. 41–82

Full table of contents and the editor’s preface of this volume can be found here. The volume can be ordered by sending an email to info@westfield.org. See also the  website of the Westfield Center.

 

 

 


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