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Keene, Stephenlocked

  • Charles Mould

(b ?Sydenham, Oxon, c1640; d after 1719). English virginal, spinet and harpsichord maker. He was apprenticed from 1662 to the virginal maker Gabriel Townsend for seven years, and became a freeman of the Joiner's Company (and, in 1704–5, its Master). Keene was obviously an able teacher of his craft, for at least three of his apprentices, Edward Blunt (bc1678; d before Dec 1718), Charles Brackley (bc1688) and Thomas Barton (b 1685; d before 1736), pursued successful careers as makers of spinets, virginals or harpsichords, while both Brackley and Blunt were taken into partnership with Keene.

Keene’s surviving instruments include two fine English virginals, one dated 1668 and the other 1675, both showing Townsend’s influence. In addition, nearly 30 bentside spinets by Keene have survived; those with dates on the nameboard span the years 1685 to 1711. These are all superficially similar: Keene's spinets have a short octave compass of G′/B′–d‴, although, a few have a broken octave with the C♯ and D♯ split. Many have a distinctive marquetried panel above the keyboard bearing figures of birds and flowers, while the keyboards have black naturals (variously reported as being made from snakewood or ebony) with embossed paper or vellum keyfronts, and ivory sharps.

Bibliography

  • A.J. Hipkins: Musical Instruments, Historic, Rare and Unique (London, 1885, 3/1945)
D.H. Boalch: Makers of the Harpsichord and Clavichord 1440 to 1840