Cover image for The clavichord
The clavichord
Brauchli, Bernard.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge : New York : Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xix, 384 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm.
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Material Type
Home Location
Central Library ML651 .B73 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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The clavichord, forerunner of the piano, was one of the most important instruments in Western keyboard history until the first decades of the nineteenth century. Bernard Brauchli's comprehensive history fills a major gap in the literature on this instrument. Beginning with the earliest-known references, he traces the clavichord's evolution up to the mid-nineteenth century, ending with a study of performance technique. The clavichord's structural developments (traced largely through an analysis of extant instruments), literary documentation (much of it presented here for the first time in English), treatises and iconographical sources are presented in chronological order. What emerges from this study of the various sources is an overview of the essential role this instrument played both socially and musically for more than four centuries, restoring the clavichord to the position it justly deserves in history. Awarded the Nicholas Bessaraboff Prize for 2001, honoring the best book-length organological study in the English language published in 1998/99.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Artistic director of the Cambridge Society for Early Music and cofounder with Christopher Hogwood of the International Centre for Clavichord Studies at Magnano, Piedmont, Italy, Brauchli is well known in the field of early keyboard music. He has researched, performed, and recorded much early music, particularly that for the clavichord. The author makes a convincing argument for the clavichord as one of the most important keyboard instruments from 1400 to the mid-19th century. Because of its small size and soft tone, the instrument was popular for home practice. It was also prized because it could be played with feeling and expression. The author traces structural development of the clavichord, performance techniques, and writings about the instrument's expressive nature by several of the great Baroque and Classical composers (e.g., J.S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven). Brauchli has compiled an extensive list of iconographical documents on the clavichord (appendix 1). He includes 140 illustrative plates and numerous excerpts from monographs of keyboard music. The clavichord has been overshadowed by the harpsichord and the fortepiano. With this welcome addition to the study of keyboard music, Brauchli attempts to restore it to its rightful position of importance. For upper-division undergraduates through professionals. R. Pitts McLennan Community College

Table of Contents

Christopher Hogwood
List of plates
1 Origins of the clavichord
2 The early clavichord: 1400 to the beginning of the sixteenth century
3 The clavichord in the sixteenth century
4 The clavichord in the seventeenth century
5 The clavichord in the eighteenth century
6 The clavichord in the nineteenth century
7 Aspects of clavichord performance practice

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