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date: 19 November 2019

Barnes, John (organologist and instrument maker) (Robert)locked

  • G. Grant O’Brien
  • , revised by Darryl Martin



(b Windsor, Oct 11, 1928; d Edinburgh, March 9, 1998). English organologist, instrument maker and restorer. He studied physics at the University of London and began his career with an English firm making sound-recording tape. In 1962 he began to make and restore early keyboard instruments as a full time occupation. His early work included restorations for the Victoria and Albert Museum and the museum of the Royal College of Music, London, as well as building new historically-based instruments. In 1968 he became curator of the Russell Collection of Early Keyboard Instruments at the University of Edinburgh, a position he held until his retirement in 1983. Through his early work he formulated a number of theories about the stringing and pitch of Italian keyboard instruments; he also wrote an important article about the alterations found in some Italian harpsichords and several important articles about instrument restoration. His restorations were carried out with high technical skill, a solid scientific approach and a respect for the original instruments, resulting in working methods which have set the standard for later restorers. Although his output of instruments was limited, he influenced many modern makers through his work at the Russell Collection, the publication of drawings and a book on traditional spinet construction, and by his association in the mid-1970s with the US firm of instrument kit manufacturers Zuckermann, and with the Early Music Shop, Bradford, in the 1990s. After his retirement from the Russell Collection he continued to build and restore instruments, and to publish research on early keyboard instruments and clavichords in particular. His small collection of instruments includes a number of important harpsichords, a spinet and a clavichord as well as pianos of the English, French and Viennese schools....

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