Our German harpsichord is based on an instrument built in Dresden
in 1739 by Johann Heinrich Gräbner and preserved in the
Kunstgewerbemuseum, Dresden, at Schloss Pillnitz. The extended bass
range to DD suggests that it was built for continuo use at the
Hofkapelle or opera. It is the unique survivor of such large
harpsichords often mentioned in inventories, advertisements,
and other secondary sources.
For five generations from the 17th well into the 19th centuries the Gräbner family built and repaired organs, harpsichords, clavichords and ultimately pianos. Several family members were tuners and instrument makers for the Saxon court as well as prominent professional musicians. One, Christian Heinrich, studied organ with J. S. Bach in Leipzig, who surely knew the Gräbner instruments.
The sound of these instruments with colors always suggestive of the organ is uniquely Saxon. Their clean articulation and remarkable clarity in all registers and make them perfect both for continuo and the works of J. S. Bach.
We offer this instrument in two versions. The first is a close copy of the 1739 Gräbner with the original DD-d3 range. The second is a hypothetical reconstruction, based on this and the other surviving Gräbner harpsichords, of what the first Gräbner FF-f3 range instruments might have been. There are subtle differences in sound between the two models.
There are two manuals with ebony naturals and bone-topped accidentals. The exterior of the instrument, the lid, and the key well are painted. The case interior above the soundboard has maple or walnut veneer and Italianate moldings. The undecorated soundboard features a cut paper rose. The instrument rests on a framed table stand with six turned and faceted legs, painted to match the case.
8' 6" x 3' 3" (265 x 99 cm) (FF-f³)